Friday, November 12, 2010


As much as I hate to admit it, I've made a lot of mistakes as a personal trainer/strength coach. Actually, I'm proud to admit the things I've done wrong or could have done better. I've learned from each mistake and I have become a better trainer and my clients and athletes have had much better results. The more I thought about the mistakes I've made, the longer the list seemed to get. I thought to myself, "man, I sucked at this when I first started!" I'm gonna list and describe a few of the mistake I've made and trust me, there have been many more, and there will be many more, but that's how I will get better.

1- Not focusing on continuing education. I know I mentioned the importance of this several times and I will keep repeating myself, I feel continuing education is that important. Once you attend a seminar or conference you will be influenced to keep gaining knowledge in the fitness field. Buying and reading books is almost just as addicting. I've spent a lot of money at on books relating to movement, nutrition, and strength training as well as some books on business and relationships. I really wish I would have done this during my first year as a trainer, I could have been so much better at client relations, writing programs, and discussing nutrition with clients.

2-Having a one track mind. Steady state cardio is out - you need to do intervals. Doing exercises on the stability ball is the only way to activate the core. There is no need to perform static stretching. Carbs are bad. You should always train until failure. Those are just some things that I read or heard and I took that advice and ran with it 100% , and didn't look back. Now that I'm older and wiser I realize there are "many ways to skin a cat". I think just about everything has its place, and too many trainers rule things out completely or add thing in without clearly thinking on what is best for the client or the situation. Don't rule everything out and don't think the newest thing is the best thing. Oh yeah, and research can prove whatever you want it to prove, you just have to find the right research.

3-Reading/Buying Muscle and Fitness type magazines. If I had saved all that money instead of wasting it on bodybuilding magazines, I would have my own gym by now. I wasted a lot of time following "bodybuilding" routines and getting wrapped up in the Joe Weider philosophy. Being in great shape should focus on movement, not just getting the "pump". Following these routines that involved 6 different exercises for chest was really useless when trying to improve the way the body should function. A side from that, the steroid influenced physiques really were not realistic to obtain. The worst part is, I had some of my early clients follow those routines. (I can't believe I wasn't fired).

4-Working at a commercial gym for 8 years. When I think of all the bad habits I picked up from training at a commercial gym, I really want to kick myself in the head. The gym itself is basically a "sales and marketing" compound. Everything that is done that looks like the goal is to get the clients/members in better condition is sales driven. I'm all for making money, but at what expense. I once saw a trainer sell a 60 year old women Muscle Milk and Creatine so he could make his supplement goal. We were given "cookie cutter" routines to follow that involved machine based circuits which could create more muscular imbalances to the already posture challenged client. I have been through several fitness managers at commercial gyms, and they should all read my #1 mistake. None of them attended a seminar that wasn't put on my the gym we worked for, and they thought they knew all........ I wish would have found a private gym earlier in my training years. I work with great people and we are driven through client success.

5-Not assessing and analyzing client movement. A lot of people have movement deficiencies, not understanding way to evaluate them or correct them is a big problem. We are dealing with peoples health, they should not hurt or injure themselves when going through a workout. I am a big fan of Gray Cook and Eric Cressey when it comes to advice on what to look for and how to progress when analyzing a clients movements.

Those are just some things that I think were mistakes that I could have avoided during my first years as a personal trainer/strength coach. In Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, he focuses on the 10,000 hour rule. Basically devoting 10,000 productive hours of time to be truly successful at any endeavor. I think I'm getting there. Everyday I am one step closer to getting better at what I do, and making and learning from my mistakes is just part of the process.

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