I had the pleasure of volunteering and attending the 2010 Can-Fit-Pro conference in Vancouver, British Columbia this past weekend. There were incredible presenters and an amazing location, the Vancouver Convention Centre, if you are ever in the area you need to visit this state of the art green building that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly. Back to the conference and the amazing roster of presenters, probably one of the best line ups I’ve seen at a Can-Fit-Pro conference. I personally saw Douglas Brooks, Sherri McMillan, Adam Wood, Amanda Vogel, Mark Stone and Dr. Len Kravitz. There were many other great presenters I didn’t get a chance to see and hear like Peter Twist, Carmen Bott, and Chad Benson to name a few but I will be meeting with my colleagues during the week to get a full rundown on the presentations I missed. Once I have gotten the rundown I will post information regarding the sessions I took part in and the information I have gathered in coming blog posts over the next couple of weeks.
With much internal debate regarding writing the following rant I’ve decided to share my thoughts on something I heard too many times over the weekend: “cool new exercises for my clients on Monday morning.” I have two issues with this statement and it is not that it isn’t great to learn something new and share it with the clients we care so much about because we should always be learning and studying to improve ourselves and the lives of those who surround us.
Issue #1 – There is rarely a new exercise that is going to improve the performance of the body if your fitness philosophy is geared towards teaching/coaching movement (think athletics, dance, everyday life) not muscle (think bodybuilding)*. There is however new ways to teach/coach, new forms of an exercise (fitness kickboxing, Zumba, etc), and new equipment to aid in teaching movement skills. There are really only 7 movement the human body can make (squat, lunge, bend, push, pull, twist, and walk/run). Fitness professional should be focusing on teaching/coaching our clients to perform these movements with perfect technique, which may include teaching the movement as a whole or in parts as well as using some supplementary rehab/prehab type exercises which for the most part still fall within the above 7 categories. When our clients can perform these 7 movements with great technique (and yes there is an incredible amount of variety within these 7 movement – planes of motion and angles) we can combine these movements to create an endless amount of exercises. If we as fitness professionals can incorporate this way of thinking into our programming our clients will constantly be experiencing new exercises when they are ready to perform them not just on a Monday after a great fitness conference.
*This isn’t a shot at bodybuilding. Bodybuilding is a sport within the field of fitness that is for those who are dedicated and committed to it, not for the average client who has little time to train.
Issue #2 – Unfortunately from what I have seen most individuals do not perform these movements with great technique, fitness professionals included. Keeping this in mind how can we expect our clients to be able to perform a cool new exercise on a Monday morning when we have barely had enough time to practice and experience it ourselves. Should a fitness professional find an exercise that is brand new to them than it would be best to train it and perfect it yourself before you teach it to a client who is paying you $75/hour for your expertise.
I may be going out on a limb with these statements but in the past I have made the above mistakes and I had to learn from them the hard way; a client looking at me perplexed as I fumbled to explain an exercise I didn’t fully understand and could barely perform myself. These mistakes made it clear to me that I needed to create a fitness philosophy that I truly believed in and would help to guide all of my actions in the fitness industry. If you are relatively new to the fitness industry keep these issues in mind when attending conferences/courses/workshops/etc but don’t take my word for it make mistakes, learn from them and start to develop your own philosophy. If you are an experienced fitness professional and you have a philosophy that differs from mine please feel free to comment and help me develop my philosophy further; after all I have made mistakes and am not too proud to admit when I am wrong and change my point of view.