“….Personal Trainer” Part 2

I’ve already covered personal trainers – and a lot of us (both SC coaches and physical therapists) have certifications and experience with this kind of occupation.  It is a great stepping stone – a way to work on your coaching, network with a wide variety of clients, learn from experience and even figure out which type of client (athletes, elderly, weekend warriors, etc) that you fit the best with.  Some personal trainers, like I’ve alluded to before, are very successful and go on to own their own businesses.  They’re extremely competent and know what they’re doing, so I’m not trying to “diss” them….only some of them…most of them…. okay, I hate everyone.

There are plenty of strength coaches that want to increase their market value that will take on extra general fitness clients on the side – and are awesome at it.  It’s just unfortunate that the good, the bad and the ugly are all mixed under one label – and I’m sure the successful ones agree with me.  Its kind of like how, at the end of the day, the general family practioner and the orthopedic surgeon are both known as “doctors” – there are KEY differences, obviously, but they’re sort of the same “job”.  If you’re the surgeon, it gets annoying.  Make sense? Moving on….

Earlier, you had powerlifters and/or ex-football players/coaches that just started training everyone like football players.  This makes no sense and makes me want to dropkick a child. (Not really, I’m nice, but oh my gosh it drives me crazy). The “good ol’ boy” system where you return to your alma mater because you really don’t know much outside of football and then you start training everyone the way you were trained  [i.e. having football players run 2 miles just because they had a coach back in the day that made them do it]. This = stupidity. Then, probably by accident, it was discovered that this stuff actually doesn’t work, and there has to be an alternative. BAM – new age strength coaches.

Now there’s a new breed out there that is eventually going to take over the industry [if I have any say about it, 😉 – and I’m a loud Italian, so you better believe I’ll be heard].  Their focus/specialty is performance training- kind of like how the doctor specializes in orthopedics – and sometimes, they even narrow it down to a specific sport or age group [again, using my doctor example, like the way a surgeon will be an expert at the knee or shoulder].

So what’s the major difference between a personal trainer and a strength coach [besides the exponential degree of awesomeness?]

Performance coaching is like tuning an instrument.  You have the pieces, and you know exactly what the thing is supposed to sound like, so you make sure you focus on the variables that will get the instrument to perform optimally.  It is more structured than the protocol for someone trying simply to lose weight – that’s all about getting someone to move in any capacity to burn the max amount of calories that they can.  This is more about assessing the athlete: fixing the imbalances, recognizing the demands of the sport in question, understanding the cycles [in-season, out of season, recovery, etc] and being very astute about technique. Your job is to keep your athlete healthy and in the game, while hopefully increasing or maintaining a high level of performance.  Now more than ever, with a better understanding of how training helps athletes, these coaches are imperative to help an athlete go from ‘good’ to ‘great’.

Of course, there are different schools of thought and approaches even among the best coaches, but I’m just talking about the profession as a whole.  These coaches are more focused on certain goals, and tend to know more about functionality, biomechanics, kinesiology and anatomy – AND HOW TO APPLY IT – than even some of the best doctors.  The most profound studies in exercise physiology don’t hold a candle to the things that go on in the weight room because sometimes, those are all just theories.  We know what ‘SHOULD’ happen, but the human body is so intricate that sometimes things happen that defy explanation. That’s why I chose this route – I’m more a fan of reality than theory – but that’s just me.

(Check out Eric Cressey’s 2 part series on Exercise Phys degrees HERE – he makes some great points beyond the scope of this post that people might find interesting).

But for the record, I’m one of the biggest advocates of coupling formal education with valuable EXPERIENCE. Mentorships, internships, assistant coaching, volunteering – they are all integral components for success.  They won’t pay, but the return is huge.  I’ve learned so much by being thrown into situations and having to put my knowledge into practice – and you know what? Sometimes, it didn’t always work, and that’s how I got better, and still improve every day.  A piece of paper doesn’t ensure that someone is a good coach – there are clearly other variables that go into it.  Some of the best strength coaches around don’t have a degree in the field, or one at all, and yet still know how to get after it because they hustle, respect the people ahead of them, and learn from doing. That’s true in a lot of professions.  I’m just happy that there is starting to become a definite recognition nowadays as to how important this position is in athletics, and how amazingly smart some of these coaches are.

Last but certainly not least, we will cover the physical therapists – Part 3 comin up!


About sten06

Master's in Kinesiology: Strength & Conditioning BSed in Exercise physiology -NSCA CSCS -NASM CPT, PES -Varsity Lacrosse Coach Saving the world one workout at a time ;)

Posted on December 16, 2011, in Fitness, Strength & Conditioning, Training and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Don’t lie, you would so drop-kick a child…..only if it deserved it, but still. Love youuu!

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