Friday night I was invited to a meeting of the minds by Carmen Bott of Human Motion who is also the new provincial director of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). This meeting brought together some of the top Strength and Conditiong Coaches, Personal Trainers, Physiotherapists, Kinesiologists, Yoga Instructors and Fascial Stretch Therapists in Metro Vancouver.
One big question that came from this gathering was “How can we elevate the standards of fitness professionals?” This was in order to figure out who we could invite to present at a provincial NSCA conference who would attract the veterans and the rookies.
I have been involved in the health and fitness field since 2000 and since that time have always surround myself with people who will motivate and encourage me to elevate my standards of practice. To raise our standards as a collective we need to lead by example, those who are poor or weak in one profession will eventually leave.
Anyone who is in the top echelon of their profession is there because they have they too have sought to be mentored by those who have been in the trenches for many years if not decades. I have been aware of a pervasive feeling of annoyance because many Personal Trainers are lured into the business with promises of a quick few weekends of study, an exam and then being able to bill out $65 per hour without really honing their craft and leading clients through exercise that they cannot execute properly – possibly doing harm soon or in the long-term. They quickly learn that after expenses their take home is not $65 per session and hopefully they learn that they are billing their time not their expertise.
The state of the industry is that young and easy to get into the fitness industry, but there is also a lack of mentorship afterwards. I have had clients, have used the services of trainers for years, say “Wow, I have never had someone teach me that,” with some something as simple as cueing scapular retraction and depression during a lat-pulldown (that scares me). Trainers get their certifications and then think they can become independent trainers right away – are you an entrepreneur? No, you own your job that is it.
The independent training studios are so full to brim that the experience of clients starts to decrease in quality. Does the consumer know the difference between an expert trainer and someone who is fresh on the floor – who is there to push you to your limits? Generally not. The culture of these studios is to hold on to the clients that you have, don’t coach other trainers – because they are the competition. Could they become better than you, maybe? If you have any business sense you will know that there are plenty of clients for everyone and that each professional has their own niche, or at least you should!
Six Ways to Raise the Bar
Is it up to us to elevate the game of those who do not wish to? You can only coach those who wish to be coached.
It starts by creating an environment where we speak to each as peers whether you have 1 year of experience or 20 years of experience – we all have different life experiences, therefore different insights into human movement and how to teach people to become better at it.
Surround yourself with peers who challenge your way of thinking (whether you end up agreeing or not).
Be open to new ways of thinking, new ways of teaching, new ways of doing business – e.g. look at all the technological changes.
We need to mentor the young ones who are eager to learn and are ready to be coached.
Be proud of your profession. It doesn’t entirely define you, but shout it out!
- Learn from everywhere – books, peer-to-peer discussions, workshops, even outside of your profession
When I told someone I was going to be a Personal Trainer they asked, “When are you going to get a real job?” It took awhile to make a living, because I had to buck the trend that “there is no money in fitness!” What BS! By the way – I am a Kinesiologist (another pet peeve is Kinesiologists calling themselves Personal Trainers, just because not many people know what a Kinesiologist is or does).
Only those who really want to be the best at what they do will go out and meet the best at what they do. They follow in their foot-steps while creating their own path.
Today I met some of the leaders in our field in Vancouver as well become reacquainted with others who I haven’t seen in a long time. As Canadians are we too meek to step-up and say confidently “We know stuff! Let’s share!”? Today was the first step in sharing our knowledge. Step up and be confident, people pay us for expertise not our time.
Other thoughts from this meeting by my peers that were written in less than 24 hours: