Training Philosophy

The search for training knowledge…

    My old Geography teacher once told our class that school is irrelevant. He told us the most important tool in the world is the ability to read. He reasoned that if you teach a man to read, he can teach himself anything. Whether or not telling this to a class of 15 years olds who are already disillusioned with school was wise, he had a point. That advice has stayed with me, and was the catalyst for my constant thirst for knowledge since.
    With my work, I am directly responsible for my results. Working one-to-one with people ensures that fact. I see physical and mental changes in clients based upon my decisions and actions. I don’t work in admin for a large organisation- there are no hiding places. I can’t blame mistakes on other people. If I don’t make the right decisions, my clients don’t achieve the results they pay for.
    I take my professional reputation seriously. I try to stay ahead of the game by reading as much information on my subject as possible. One of my clients is interested in personal development and has introduced me to a whole host of new resources and information. I read and absorb as much of this as I can. We should never stop learning, never stop trying new things and innovating where possible. Much of what we do may be wrong or ineffective, but without trying we will never know.
    I subscribe to various journals, online resources and buy lots of books on a whole host of topics related to my field. Information, now matter how small or seemingly insignificant can be the difference between staying put and making progress. If you can have even the slightest edge, you are ahead of the pack. Innovation is the forefront of progress in any field. Without trying new ideas, testing new theories and making mistakes, progression never occurs.
    Human beings have a group mentality. We follow, conform, idolise and copy. I see this in a daily basis on the gym- people train in a certain way because it worked for someone else. There is nothing wrong in this at first- everyone needs a starting point. Without proper education and guidance in a subject it seems logical to copy an approach that has produced results for another. I accept this as a starting point, but from there on in we should try our own different methods, find out what works for us. We are all different; we don’t and won’t all see the same results from the same approaches.
    I am deeply sceptical of anyone who trains in one particular way. My own training philosophy is a mixture of different approaches. I don’t subscribe fully to one single method. No one programme will cover all aspects of fitness- even if it does, it won’t for long. The human body adapts to stimulus. We need to push our boundaries, try new approaches. Nothing ever changes by standing still.
    It is here we have to reach out and learn more about ourselves, about our aims and approaches. Evaluate, look for where we can improve, what we can learn more about. It is a never-ending process, but one which will reap huge rewards when applied correctly.
    The search for knowledge and progression is the reason there are scientists and athletes all around the world on training pitches, in gyms and in laboratories making sacrifices to discover something new and groundbreaking. If you can open your mind just enough to take in information, advice and guidance then you can make that small step to improvement. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete competing against others or a person just trying to lose weight- if you can learn something new it might just be the difference between success and failure.
    Call it what you want- be it a thirst for knowledge, a means to an end, a journey or whatever technical term you can pull out of your arse- the message stays the same. There are two ways you can learn- you learn by reading and you learn by doing. Neither one is more valuable than the other. They mutually exist and will continue to do so- the marriage of science and practice is a fruitful one.
    When I graduated from university I had a theoretical knowledge of my subject but limited practical experience. It was only when I started working with real-life clients and observing similarities and differences in how training regimens affect the outcome en route to a particular goal. With each new client there arrives a new goal, a fresh challenge. Some have physical limitations, others mental. In most cases there is some obstacle in the way. My job as the trainer is to either move that obstacle or navigate a suitable path around it. Without constant learning, there will be a day when I find myself without a map. It is my intention to not let that happen.
    There is so much information at our disposal now and that can only be a good thing. Regardless of your knowledge or understanding on a given topic, there is always more to learn. Anyone who thinks differently displays arrogance that will only hold them back in the long run.
    That is not to say all information is valuable or useful- much of the information around is misleading, and in some cases, absolute rubbish. It is up to us to filter out the quality and discard the rest. I developed a deep sceptical side during my university years and now have a finely-tuned bullshit detector when it comes to information resources on training. Like anything however, that comes with experience. In the meantime you can always check the source of the information- does it come from a place you trust? Is the author/reporter someone in the know? If you are satisfied it may be worth something, give it a try- you will soon find out whether or not it is good.
    I said earlier my training approach is a mixture of many methods- I take what I have learnt via my own experimentation in the lab during my studies and add that to the work of others. I use this approach on clients and myself and chart the results. I measure physical changes and progress. It is how I gauge progression and success of the work done. I am not pretending to be a pioneer- I still have lots to learn. I am developing a unique approach to my work, and through its constant application and refinement I know it will be successful.
    I have developed this by doing everything I have spoken about here- reading, remembering, processing, developing and applying. We should all learn from others and ourselves then apply what we know to the task in hand. It brings us back to experimenting to find what works for us as individuals, not the masses.

It takes time, but then so does anything worthwhile.

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One Response

  1. This is a great philosophy for life in general Steve, and not just for your knowledge of sport and exercise science.

    I shall apply it, and plagerise it at every opportunity.

    Knowledge half-life; the time it takes for half of your knowledge to becombe obsolete (Ted Blake). And that time is getting shorter and shorter.

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