5×5 = I don’t know

5x5 = I don't know

Five years ago I graduated from Otago Polytechnic with a Diploma in Personal Training and Exercise Prescription. Here's a few things I've discovered about myself and the fitness industry. It's more a reflection of my own growth as a person/personal trainer and a reference for myself than anything else. If anybody finds it interesting then that's a bonus.

As always, challenge my ideas and thought processes.


1) Consistency is the only constant 



Training, weight management, study, skill acquisition, personal development and so on. It's true for anything and everything, but more specifically in the health and fitness realm, there is no magic pill.

A) Nothing happens over night, and B) there is no be all end all training program or method. There are many paths up the mountain and everything works for somebody at some time.

But there are principles e.g. progressive overload, recovery and adaptation, specificity, reversibility; as well as certain physiological characteristics that govern the way we as humans navigate our environment. You could think of the later as "best practices". Whether its strength training, body composition, health and wellness, or something sports specific; principles are always there (and should be prioritised) regardless of how you approach your goals.

You don't have to (and shouldn't) run yourself into the ground trying to breaking records every day, you just have to show up and be 1% better than you were the day before.  This is also known as the aggregation of marginal gains.




2) Critical thinking is the foundation

Give a man a fish and he'll feed his family for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll feed his family for a lifetime. If understanding information and making decisions is the fish, critical thinking is the skill.

This is my biggest frustration being in this industry, people become so confused by what seems to be ever changing advice. However it only becomes an issue when you blindly accept a statement, without seeing through it and looking for some underlying principles. Even just applying some common sense usually cuts through all the bullshit and gets you back on track.

If the information comes on the side of a box or in the form of an advertisement, then maybe there's an ulterior motive.


3) Addition by subtraction 

Could this be compared to the technologically induced decline of the human being's attention span? Meaning that just like our brains have adapted to check our phone every 45 seconds (myself included), exercise has turned into exertainment.

Workouts have taken on the need to have "wow factors". Multitudinous movements with doctorate degree level rep schemes to provide some sort of mental stimulation or enjoyment. This isn't nessecarily a bad thing, except when it's every session. As the saying goes, trends come and go, but the basics of training stay the same. If in doubt, stick with the basics - squat, swing a kettlebell, pick something heavy up off the floor, run.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication


4) When you think you've got it figured out, you don't

When you begin to think you know it all and your ego no longer fits through the door, you're on track towards being knocked back to earth by something or someone. It's like medical science, even though we know so much about how the body functions (and what happens when it doesn't) our understanding is still probably pretty crude.

There's so much to learn that the moment you think you know it all, you may as well give it up because you're doing your clients a disservice. And even if you do have it all figured out, the science will have changed so much in five years that what you once thought to be true will potentially be insignificant.

I've just completed my second Diploma (Theraptic Massage Therapy), and the biggest thing I've learnt over the course of my study is the knowledge I've gained doesn't even begin to scratch the surface on the subject. It scares the shit out of me yet excites me at the same time.

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5) Five values for myself, other pts, and anyone else

- Be fucking punctual (especially if someone is paying you to be there)

- Leave your baggage at the door. No one cares why you're late (see above), tired, sick, or unprepared

- If you say you're going to do something, do it. Under promise and over deliver

- The only opposition you have in business and in life is yourself. Build relationships with other professionals and refer to them. Don't isolate yourself from them, or try to be them

- If you want to preach something, you should probably live and breathe it. But make sure what you preach is what you believe in (morels > money)

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