I know this is going to sound blasphemous coming from me, but I’m going to go ahead and say it: There is a boring side to fitness, and I’m delving into it head-on right now!
In my endeavors to become a mentor and knowledgeable in my conservation fitness program, I felt I should get some sort of professional recognition to help back up many of my fitness claims and suggestions. So, I found an online personal training certification course and I’ve signed up. I have no desire to be a personal trainer, even if I get the certification, but the title will give me some credentials that I can’t get with the “zookeeper” or “conservationist/environmentalist” titles.
So, when I quit my job to work on my books and EarthFit program, one of my main focuses was studying for this certification. But it is taking FOREVER!!! You want to know why? Because a lot of this information is BORING!!!!!!! (I can’t even put enough exclamation points after that word to emphasize how utterly uninterested I am in most of these topics).
BUT! As uninteresting as I may find the course, there is some very relevant information in there. And I have found it helpful when planning my workouts with Chris. For instance, in Exercise Physiology, I learned that with muscles, there are the Agonists, or the Prime Movers, which are the muscles responsible for desired movement, and the Antagonist (yes, like a Greek tragedy), which is the muscle that directly opposes the movement.
This is important because when I’m planning workouts, I often just want to focus on exercises I’m “bad” at, or need to improve. I mean, how else do you achieve a pull-up without practicing getting better at a pull-up, right? Well, yes, I should practice pull-ups, but it’s also important to strengthen the Antagonist as well, with dumbbell external rotators or dumbbell presses.
When I made our monthly goal plan for exercise focus, I used the Agonist/Antagonist scheme to make sure we are hitting everything to improve our strength. For instance, today we worked biceps with curls. A good antagonist to bicep curls is tricep extensions, so we added those in as well.
So, learning this stuff seems kinda boring, but applying this stuff I’m learning is getting kinda cool. I’ve thought about it, and I think sharing some of the cooler tidbits I’m studying with my EarthFit followers would be a very good idea. Because, there is SO much more than just Agonist/Antagonist muscles. I also believe sharing some of the information will help me learn it better, and remember it.
The test I have to take for my certification is supposedly intense. Studying for it has given me a whole new appreciation for actual personal trainers, who went to school for training, have SEVERAL certifications, and know this stuff inside and out. Apparently, they are more than portable torture chambers…. They’re KNOWLEDGEABLE torture chambers!
And knowing exactly what personal trainers are was my first lesson. The textbook tells me there are 12 characteristics of being a personal trainer, and, again, trying to find the relevance in the lesson, I decided to apply how being a personal trainer would help me in my EarthFit endeavor.
Personal trainers are expected to be knowledgeable (obviously! why else am I taking this course?), professional, and empathetic. They are often something of a psychologist and companion. This is interesting, because so often trainers try to keep it professional and distance themselves from their clients, but speaking from the experience of a client, that’s hard as HELL to do. A trainer will see you in a way that even your spouse will not. A trainer will see you at your weakest, faltering to finish a rep scheme, and they will see you at your point of exhaustion. This is an incredibly personal feeling the client is having, and the trainer there is sharing in this incredibly personal event. Of COURSE there is going to be a closeness. Doesn’t mean you should discuss your son’s potential drug habit, but it also doesn’t mean you can’t share that moment of glory when you hit a Personal Record.
Trainers are teachers and communicators. They teach exercise routines, nutrition, stretching, and proper form, but more than just telling someone, they conform to the individual’s learning curve. If demonstration works better, they need to be able to visually teach a client, and work with the client in a comfortable manner to present the exercise correctly. Trainers need to be patient (that’s it, I’m out!) and considerate (totally out!).
Chances are we didn’t get fat overnight, or out of shape overnight, no matter how much we tell ourselves that. So, getting in shape or losing the weight we want won’t happen overnight either.
The last three characteristics I thought we somewhat more geared towards a personal trainer working in a gym. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw the relevance, no matter if I plan on becoming a trainer or not (not, definitely not). They must be versatile. In a gym, if you are planning on using certain equipment with a client or even a group class, and when you go to use it, someone else is using it, you need to be able to think on your feet and change the game on the fly. I’ve had to do this on a number of occasions. The one time I didn’t, and I had a complex circuit planned, it ended up getting me and Chris super cranky and we ended up giving up. This past Sunday was a prime example, too. It was raining, and we decided to go to our park but work out in the covered shelter. Only, when we got there, some stupid brat was having his birthday party in OUR shelter (I know, he wasn’t a brat. I don’t know if he was a good kid or a brat. But his part was in OUR shelter)! So, what were we going to do? QUICK! Let’s hit the nature park by our place and see if the rain is bothersome with all the trees. And so we did that instead.
Trainers must also be proactive. Thinking ahead! Being prepared. Like a boy scout! And trainers should be salespeople. I balked at that one, at first. No way in hell am I going to pimp myself out. But then I entered the International Congress of Zookeepers and had my (humiliating) defeat at the hand of NO attendees at my workshop. Because I hadn’t sold my workshop to anyone. This is NEW! This is DIFFERENT! Of course you’re going to have to sell everyone on the idea. I’m thinking of ways to improve my message, and also trying to cut it down to market in publications with articles that may generate more interest, so when readers see the workshop offered, they will be more inclined to attend, knowing a little more what to expect. I am going to have to be EarthFit’s saleswoman.
So, will I remember every single characteristic of a trainer during the test? Probably not, but I’ll have a better understanding of why these characteristics are important, for the trainer, and the public.
In the meantime, I’ll keep on keeping on! Maybe it won’t be boring for long, and hopefully I made it a little more interesting for you!