Disclaimer: I’m writing this fresh out of the third day of the summit. I’m physically, intellectually, and because I’m so far from home, emotionally tired and I’m not consulting my notes. I believe that the most important things that you learn from these summits are those that stick to you like duct tape on a hairy leg. It’s stuck there so much and you don’t want to get it out because doing so would hurt so bad.
I tried to absorb as much as I can and I tried to be systematic about it. The thing with these conferences is that usually you will have to make a choice between 4 or more good presenters for every time slot. I wanted to watch every single one of these presenters but I had to be systematic and balanced about it. Last year when I went here, being a guy from Manila, and that being my first trip to the US and my first trip to meet my industry idols, I stuck with them. Of course, more often than not, I knew what they were talking about already because I had followed them for most of my career. I still learned a lot, and I was a better trainer just by listening to their energy but this time, I wanted to listen to presenters presenting on different topics. Topics that I wasn’t comfortable about like manual therapy, motivation, and group dynamics. I have to thank of course Coach Dos who is one of my biggest influences and who wrote a great guide for the summit.
Get ready because this is a long one. I’ll be expounding more on the ideas I got in future posts but for now, this is a gist of what I got. This isn’t only for coaches or trainers mind you, everyone can benefit from this.
Ok, time for the good stuff, there were some big realisations for me during this weekend that I want to share with you guys. Some I already knew but was already reinforced, but the best ones are always those that blindsided me like a sliding tackle on the pitch. Like this first one.
You know what you know, and you know what you don’t know.
That was said multiple times during the weekend and I think I got it. Believe me, I did, but let me add a little bit to that though:
You have to accept that you don’t know everything.
It’s just impossible. If one group has got it all right, then everyone would be doing the same thing and that group would be controlling the world of fitness and it would be undeniable. The sooner we get that as an industry, the better we all will be because one more thing that I got from the summit, care of Martin Rooney is:
Hit the right Target.
And that target isn’t us. Oh this was a big one for me. We spend so much time trying to make ourselves better, making us be the bigger man, the better gym, the stronger team, me, me, me. Yeah I was guilty of this for sure. We think we’re the target, wrong. The person in front of us is the target. Our clients are the most important person in this client-coach relationship. You don’t think so? Say you love to olympic lift, and you looooove it so much that you want everyone to teach it. Let’s say you have a client who is an accountant who sits on a desk for 8 hours a day in a flexed position, everything happening below the neck. Then you out him through a snatch day with everything above, who benefits more here? Definitely not the client. Maybe you were able to push your ideology but the client could care less, he just wants to get better/thinner/stronger (and trust me, it’s usually in that order). So stop thinking about being the best and start thinking about what your client actually needs, and if you have more than one, it’s usually a little different from each one, so here’s another gem that I got:
Plan. Plan like you’re planning your child’s birthday party and execute.
This makes so much sense but we rarely do it. How much time do you honestly spend planning your client’s sessions? Some people might argue that there isn’t any need since periodisation gets thrown out the window anyway when your client goes on their regular absences but really, if you planned correctly, even when your client leaves for a vacation of something, you won’t have to worry because you’ve planned for it and you can just give them the session for them to do, and you trust them because you’ve laid down the groundwork for my next realisation:
The way you relate to your client is as important as what your program says.
Here’s a secret. It’s easy to learn all of the technical stuff. You just have to read it. It’s great if you’re in the forefront of the research that gets us this stuff but really, just reading, studying and having good common sense will get you the technical stuff. Of course a degree would help as well as continuing education (not really licensure, or certification, but more of education) but they’re not enough.
We often hear about motivation, but we often forget the importance of relatedness. You have to relate to your client and not let it be a boss-employee relationship. You can be leading as much as you are following if you do it the right way. Because as Mike Boyle said:
Know your Audience.
Mike was saying this in to context of knowing what exercises to give to a certain population but it can also as easily mean knowing who you are training deeper than their physical needs. Sure they hired you for their physical needs but really, as I’ve harped on before, that’s only really around 2-4 hours in a week. If you’re working with athletes, maybe more, but it’s still the minority of their waking hours. It’s how you strategize so that you are affecting their waking hours as well which will make the most impact. Remember most people come with you after sitting down for an extended period of time, which neatly ties up to:
Address the Mobility Issue before the Stability Issue
This is simple really, because you can’t even diagnose a stability issue without mobility. Let’s give an example, it’s 10am in Manila time right? Most yuppies would have been sitting since 6 or 6:30am. Sure, you probably got up to walk from you car or the train to your desk, and maybe a trip to the com for room but most of the day has been sent on a flexed hip position, like most of the rest of the day. I will bet you that the back pain that you’re feeling right now, or later in the day will be fixed by mobilising your hips AND THEN, only when they are mobile, adding stability to the core. Or abs. Whatever. This is exactly what I mean by:
We as an industry NEED to stop the hate, and start being a team.
Those are some of the top trainers, colleagues, coaches, therapists, and a whole lot more, in the industry today. That’s a beautiful thing to see. And Todd Durkin really knows how to bring it out of you but the point really is that we need to start thinking of ways to improve our industry WITHOUT bringing the other guys down. Sure there will be disagreements and differences in ideology but the end goal has to be the same and that is (more often than not):
Lose Fat. Build Muscle. Feel Good.
Martin Rooney could not have said it any better.
If you’re one of those trainers who don’t think these conferences are important, I implore you to change your mind. Sure we can read all the books and journals in the world, but nothing beats communicating and relating to our colleagues and to learn from them first hand. I’m telling you, they don’t tell everything in their books and sometimes, what they leave out could be better than what’s on it. Another thing, if you don’t want to spend the money or think you don’t have the money, think of it as an investment. Or a small sacrifice to get better. Maybe it’s a couple of nights of not eating out, or missing the next few movie dates or even biking to work instead of driving your car. Make it work. I guarantee you, you will be a better coach just by being there.
More on the Perform Better summit in later posts. Thanks so much to the Perform Better, who is more than just a regular equipment company, they really are an education company.