“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C. S. Lewis
Meesus TTP and I were in the Denver/Ft. Collins area over this last weekend, scouting possible venues for our satellite Paleo f(x) event and conferring with our web re-design team. We also took the opportunity to view this area through the Efficient Exercise lens, scouting the area for possible EE expansion. If you’ve never been to this part of the country, make a point to do so. Physical culture is alive and well here.
We met with a couple of potential trainers over an absolutely awesome Thai dinner, and the conversation turned toward what it is I/we look for in an EE trainer.
A quick aside: we also chowed-down at Eden, in Denver (most awesome Paleo fare!), and took a grand tour of the EXDO Center (thanks, Autumn!). And what trip would be complete without scouting the best coffee offering in the area? Crema, my friends, has you covered here. Rocket fuel-grade joe, great atmosphere, and solid, enthusiastic baristas.
Okay, back to the post-Thai-food conversation. Anyway, I used the analogy with them of a good trainer being akin to a master carpenter. Really, though, it could be any trade (I’ve used that of being a chef many times) in which there is a love of the art, a knowledge of the scientific underpinnings, and a sense of progression from apprentice, through journeyman, and on to mastery. In this sense, an apprentice may have a natural affinity for the hammer and saw. He or she “gets” the idea of progression via basic S&C work. They understand, at a gut level, the basic idea of training for strength vs training for hypertrophy, and can cobble together fairly sound methodologies for achieving each goal. And maybe more importantly, there is a burning desire to progress, and an understanding that what they now know is but an eddy in an ever-changing river.
But this, I told them, is paramount: I can’t have trainers on staff who are skilled solely in a small subset of tools and methodologies. Our trainers have to be good with all of the tools and methods available to them. They may go out into a particular training session armed with a well-stocked and particularly focused tool belt, but they need to be able to demonstrate mastery with every tool in the shop. Because at some point, they’re going to have to call upon that mastery. The magnitude, diversity and expectations of our clientele makes it so.
Methods/methodologies are of utmost importance as well. You may be able to frame a house, but can you also craft the fine cabinetry within? tongue-and-groove the hardwood floor? Shingle the roof? Many of the tools used are the same, of course, but the methodologies are entirely different.
Our trainers have to understand that, to some extent, every single method works — but that no single method works forever…or, for everybody! And certainly not in every circumstance. Framing house after house is fine (25 for a bigger engine?), but a frame is not a finished product. Progressing toward the finished product (though the “product” is never really finished) requires much, much more in the way in the way of utilizing and weaving together other tools (ARXFit equipment, for example) and methodologies; Jreps, negatives and plyos are just a few examples — and there are countless others. And all of this, of course, must be leveraged against, and evaluated through the lens of, each individual’s Five Ts.
And that’s just the nuts-and-bolts of the actual training side of the equation.
Now consider that I expect our trainers to be the point guard in their clients’ overall health and wellness. A true wellness concierge.
This is a concept I expect to more fully flesh-out at next month’s AHS symposium in Atlanta (complete with a couple of interesting case studies), but essentially I expect our trainers to maintain a robust network of professionals (dietitians, internists, PTs, chiros, massage therapists, etc.) that they can, if the need arises, refer their clients to. And, too, they need to know which follow-on professional to refer a client. Does the client need to see a PT or a massage therapist? A dietitian, or an internist? A solid, Tony Parker-like wellness point guard is invaluable to a client’s overall wellbeing over the long-haul.
Two ideas are at work here. The first is that if we can get a client on an appropriate-for-the-client slant of the Paleo diet, and keep them involved in a smartly-programmed exercise regimen, we’ll have addressed most every concern a client may have presented with initially. Secondly, when issues do crop-up from time-to-time (or remain even after the solid exercise + diet prescription has been implemented), the “reinforcement troops” will have a much easier time addressing and correcting the issue. Paleo f(x) alum Dr. Lane Seabring has spoken extensively on the subject of treating patients who are solid in the Paleo/smart exercise camp, and those who are not. The expected outcomes are miles apart.
And lastly, I expect our Efficient Exercise trainers to be educators. “Just do as I say” won’t work at Efficient Exercise. If our clients want to know the whys behind what we ask them to do, our trainers need to be able to explain the reasoning behind the expected action, or (as I don’t expect anyone to be an expert in everything), know which in-house subject matter expert to refer the client to.
So, all I ask is that our Efficient Exercise trainers be Da Vinci -like with methods and tools in the gym, Tony Parker-like in managing our clients’ overall fitness and wellness, and Hawking-like educators. Is that too much to ask of a health and wellness professional? I don’t think so. Not if we at Efficient Exercise intend to be game-changers in the perception of what the term personal trainer entails. And we intend to do just that. And if you’re looking for a personal trainer, you shouldn’t settle for anything less.
In health, fitness, and ancestral wellness –