5 Fitness Continuing Education Tips to Save Time, Money and Confusion

Before we get into today’s article, I’m proud to announce that I’ve got two brand new online courses now available:

Advanced Bodyweight Training Course

This Advanced Bodyweight Training online course caters to your Personal Training clients who can’t (or won’t) train at a gym, or who need to still maintain their exercise regime whilst on holiday or traveling. In this course, I explain why you don’t need barbells or dumbbells to build muscle and performance, reveal the best way to use resistance bands, and provide a library of sample workouts and circuits for you to adapt for your own training programs.

MMA Conditioning Course

This MMA Conditioning online course pulls no punches in equipping you to help MMA athletes of any level prepare for their next fight. In this course, I focus on the art of constructing programmes that’ll make your fighters hit harder, be less susceptible to injury, and go into their next fight confident that they’ll outlast their opponent.

Also, I’ll be teaching my One-Day Strength Training for Fat Loss & Conditioning: Practical Program Design course in Boston, MA on May 12th, 2019. Early bird pricing ends on April 1st.

Screen Shot 2019 01 18 at 8.02.04 PM

Now that you’re up on the latest news, here’s today’s article, which was originally published in Personal Fitness Professional magazine.

What You Need to Know to Maximize Your Investment in Fitness Continuing Education

“The world of fitness is replete with rules, laws, guidelines and position statements from every personality and organization imaginable. These well-intentioned documents and proclamations can play a role in educating the fitness professional, but the endless variety of contradictions and restrictions generally confuses rather then enlightens.”-Dr. Mel Siff

With all of the conflicting information and various training approaches from which to choose, it can be tough for fitness professionals to decide what educational avenues to invest their time and money.

This article provides you 5 tips that will:

  • Prevent you from making common fitness education mistakes that leave you with less money and more frustration.
  • Help you to see through the confusion created by conflicting information.
  • Ensure you make the most out of your educational investment so you can provide better results for your clients and build and attract a more profitable business.

Tip #1: Understand that a higher education does not equal more clients.

The reality of the personal training world: much of what brings you new clients (and keeps your current clients with you) is your personality and your ability to communicate, motivate and inspire them to exercise not only for themselves but also to do it for you, their fitness professional. You can never go wrong with a higher education. Just don’t make the mistake of going to college thinking that after you graduate you’re guaranteed to attract more clients because of a degree.

Tip #2: Embrace that your clients don’t (really) care about your certification.

Certain fitness clubs may insist their staff hold a certain certification that they bias. However, the average client, the people that hire your services, typically have no clue about any of the certifications offered in the fitness field. Any fitness professional with some experience knows full well that rarely, if ever, does the type of certification affect whether a client hires them, which goes back to what was covered in my first tip. 

Your education (i.e. certification and/or degree) only awards you the ability to call yourself a “personal trainer.”  It’s your personality and ability to successfully apply your education in a practical manner your clients can understand and relate to, that determines how many clients you get and how successful you are as a fitness professional.

Again, it’s great to pursue a variety of certifications and continued education to help add more tools to your toolbox. It’s just that you don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that your type of certification will have much of an impact on the success of your personal training business. Now, if we go beyond the general personal training realm; for those fitness professionals who are interested in attracting a specific population, such as golfers for example; having a specialty golf performance certification should be a part of your credentials.

Tip #3: Don’t mistake the tools of your trade for the trade itself!

When fitness professionals take several different courses and integrate many different modalities in their training, they’re often warned not to be “a jack of all trades” because they’ll just be a “master of none.” Instead, there’s much industry pressure put on a fitness professional to choose specific modalities at which to become proficient, and focus on “mastering” those modalities, which is a glaring example of the confusion the fitness field has created (as a whole) over the job expectations of the fitness professional.

Put simply, fitness professionals are like carpenters. No one ever calls a carpenter a “jack of all trades; master of none” because they use all kinds of tools on each job they do. The fact is, all of the tools they use are just a part of their trade – they are not the trade itself. Their trade is to build stuff and improve stuff. What determines a good carpenter is their ability to successfully assess each job (i.e. each client), figure out what tools (i.e. exercise methods and modalities) are best fit to accomplish the job (i.e. the client’s goals) and understand how to use those tools in a safe and effective manner (i.e. get the client results without hurting them).

The various training modalities from dumbbells to TRX to functional training to bodybuilding and so on… are just tools in our toolbox. They are just aspects of our trade; they are absolutely not the trade itself.

You may be “certified,” but to truly be a “qualified” fitness professional – just like being a qualified carpenter – you must possess a wide variety of tools in your toolbox.  More importantly you must understand which tools should be used to accomplish the job, instead of trying to use only one or two tools for all jobs. 

The take-away message here is simple; pursue education in a wide variety of fitness modalities because being a fitness professional means being an exercise expert, not a specialist in using only one tool.

Tip #4: Stop looking for “the right way” to train: Take a hybrid approach

Fitness professionals often leave continuing education courses with more questions than answers because they are frustrated with the conflicting information and varying approaches that they are taught, with each approach often being touted by the educators as “the right way.”

The first thing you need to do to avoid this confusion is embrace the reality that there will neverbe a generally agreed upon consensus on the “right way” to train because 1) each training situation is different, and 2) these training debates are not even about training to begin with; they are about human psychology. 

All of us, especially those in leadership roles, have some level of what the psychology world calls “illusory superiority,” which is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others.

You may have heard the quote, “The average person thinks they aren’t.” Well, the science proves that to be true. In a survey done at Stanford University, 87% of MBA students rated their academic performance as above the median. And, it gets worse with people in leadership roles! In another similar survey done at the University of Nebraska, 68% of the faculty rated themselves in the top 25% for teaching ability. 

So, the solution here is to 1) understand your own illusionary superiority and 2) go into educational courses knowing the educator(s) are only human, so they are also going to have their own illusionary superiority, and likely to a greater degree. 

Using this mindset will help you understand that no one has “the answers;” all the educators can do is share their experiences and perspective with you. This perspective will prevent you from becoming a guru-worshiper and from living in confusion by constantly wondering “who’s right?” 

Remember, fitness professionals are like carpenters, all training modalities are simply our tools, not our trade. Like tools, different forms of exercise have their benefits and their limitations. Therefore, certain training methods are best for certain goals, and no one method is best for all goals. 

For example:

  • Yoga is great for mobility and breathing 
  • Bodybuilding methods are great for gaining muscle
  • Kettlebell training is great for total body fat loss workouts, especially if you’re short on time (you can string lots of kettlebell moves together into complexes)
  • Powerlifting methods are great to improve your maximum strength

Put simply, optimizing health, fitness, and performance requires several different components (i.e. a hybrid training approach) because no single piece of equipment or training method will be ever able to fully address all its complex demands. This is what my book, Building Muscle and Performance is all about!

51kbaCmKwxL. SX384 BO1204203200

Tip #5: Know the science

Fitness training is a billion-dollar industry with zero regulation, so there is plenty on pseudo-science and plain nonsense that unfortunately is used as the basis for many popular training practices. This vicious cycle continues because many fitness professionals don’t know the science and don’t ask for evidence before using various practices.

Now, it’s unrealistic and very expensive to read through several journals each month. But, there are services such as research reviews summarizing the latest research in strength and conditioning, physical therapy and nutrition in straight forward language, so you can easily understand what the science tells us about what works and what doesn’t work. When you understand the science, it becomes much easier to know what sources are reliable and determine where to invest your time and money.

Pursuing and maintaining your education is an investment of time, money and energy. These five tips will help you navigate the continuing education world and give you a hybrid approach to the future of your business and career. 

Nick’s Upcoming Live Events

In Spokane, WA on April 12-13 attending the Inland Empire Fitness Conference.

In Boston, MA on May 12, 2019 teaching a Strength Training for Fat Loss & Conditioning: Practical Program Design Course.

In Lexington, SC on May 17-19, 2019 attending the Sorinex Summer Strong 12 Expo.

In Toronto, Ontario on June 1-2, 2019 teaching at the Strong Summit.

In Mexico City, Mexico on June 28-30, 2019 teaching at the One Fitness Weekend congress.

In Washington, DC on  July 20-21, 2019 attending Gregory Lehman’s course on Reconciling Biomechanics with Pain Science.

In Bangkok, Thailand on October 10-14, 2019 teaching at the Asia Fit Conference.

Learn How To Program Like A Pro

Using My Must-Have Programming Charts

Learn how I how I quickly and easily create programs that get results and keep clients coming back for more by downloading my 2 must-have programming charts and watching the included video lesson.

With these two charts, you’ll be able to combine the most important functional movements with isolation exercises for the perfect balance of strength, hypertrophy and performance.

In this video lesson you’ll discover:

And much more!

If your goal is to write better programs for your clients and save time while doing so, then you’ll want to sign up for this free lesson!