FITNESS: COMMODITY OR PROFESSION?

Those who know me know I am passionate about what I do. I have been a student of fitness for over 25 years, learning as much as I can by going to dozens of Practical Seminars, National Conferences, and Workshops in an effort to gain as much practical experience and knowledge as I can in the field of Exercise and Fitness. My college degree, as well as every certification I have ever had is 100% worthless without solid practical experience to back up what I learned from school and books. I NEVER claim to know everything, and I continue to learn as much as I can to this day. Once you feel you have arrived and are comfortable with what you know, you might as well be dead, no matter what profession you are in.

It is not enough to simply watch videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or social media in an effort to gain practical experience. However, and unfortunately, today that is what is going on in the field of Fitness as a whole. Social Media has led to a complete pollution of Fitness, and an explosion of overnight experts, gurus and "IG Fit Pros" who literally think they have it all figured out in a matter of a few years or months. It does not work that way.

I get it, I was once a rookie, and a newbie too, but the difference between me back then, and the newbies today, is that I knew I did not know JACK SHIT. I was humble, and I was motivated to learn as much as I could from people who knew much more than I did, and who had far more experience than me. I took notes, mental and written. I was a freaking student. Today what you see is largely Circus acts with Trainers posting exercises on social media that are overly "sexy" and "shiny" with zero alignment with the level of fitness of their clients. There is no progression from simple and basic to more technical and complex. There is a total lack of knowledge of the basic laws of Physics and common freaking sense. It is literally nauseating to me because I have committed more than half of my life to this Profession in an attempt to learn as much as I can and strive to be the best I can be. 

Instead of following basic and fundamental concepts of progression and sound exercise programming many trainers do shit just because its so over the top different that it catches peoples eye because it's "sexy".  Vern Gambetta said it best at a practical workshop I attended back in 1996, "learn to separate the need to do from the nice to do". You are training clients to help them with their fitness goals and to get them results, you are not in the gym to reinvent the wheel or entertain them by doing totally off the wall exercises that lack any degree of progression or technique whatsoever. 

A large contributing factor to this problem is that it is way too easy to become a trainer, and it is way too easy to open up a CrossFit or other gym. You can get a "Certification" on the internet overnight. Today's generation of trainers, for the most part, have done little to expand their practical experience and knowledge base outside of attain a participation certificate that literally skims the surface of the bare minimum information that is required to become a true Professional. Even worse, is that this can and often does lead to a distorted level of accomplishment. 

I credit a large part of the blame to the business models of big box commercial gyms, who have literally prostituted fitness with low membership rates, personal training fees, used car dealership sales tactics, and an exorbitant number of inexperienced personal trainers. Big Box Gyms have made Personal Training a Commodity, I assure you, quality personal training is not a commodity, but the majority of what I see in these environments is just that. These gyms pay trainers so poorly that in defense of some, they can't afford to pay for practical seminars, and workshops.

My wish is to elevate the Profession as a whole, but it seems to be an overwhelming task when there is such a complete lack of humility as well as disconnect and distorted perception of reality. You don't go from Little League Baseball to the Big Leagues in a few years, nor any other Youth Sport to professional level overnight. Becoming a qualified personal trainer is a skill, and all skills take time, and persistency to develop.

If I had a solution, I would offer one, but I don't. Fitness as a whole has become a profession full of hacks and it is truly sad to watch. We live in a Push Button society, with so much immediate information available to us thanks to the internet, but unfortunately knowledge and information without wisdom and the practical experience to back it up is completely dangerous, and has led to an extremely low quality of training and professionalism in the field of fitness.

My advice to new Personal Trainers is to check your ego at the door, and be humble. Know that you know what you know, but don't know what you don't know, and trust me, there is so much more that you don't know about Exercise and Fitness, I was there once too. Learn from those who have been doing it for YEARS, learn from a variety of experienced trainers who are smarter, more experienced and are more knowledgeable than you. Learn exercise technique, and develop an eye for technical breakdown, and how to cue and correct bad movement patterns. Learn appropriate exercise progressions, and how to coach movements well. Learn how to program for peoples needs and goals, not for YOUR training Philosophy. Don't assume the title of an overnight expert or guru, and above all, respect the Profession.

That's my rant, and I'm sticking to it.