This is a post that has been long time coming for me, but after a recent barrage of personal development posts from a number of professionals in the industry, I see no better time to put in my two cents. While this should be common sense, as my good friend always asks, “how common is common sense.” Unfortunately, I’m betting it’s not very common in our field.
As a whole our industry is atrocious. Many call themselves “fitness professionals” when their conduct and appearance is anything but professional. Unfortunately, our industry is going to be held to the standard of our worst, least professional group of trainers, coaches, etc, so if we truly believe that we belong in an allied health field, we better step up our game quickly before that idea goes to the wayside.
Below are a few thoughts that I have on how we can improve.
I don’t quite get how our fitness and performance conferences have become what they have. Half of the people in attendance are in tank tops, gym shorts, and many reek of sweat and BO. Now, you can argue that it is a “fitness” event so you are simply dressing how you work, but (as I’ll discuss later) that’s not how it should be. If you’ve been to any conference in any profession–scrap metal, rice, dairy, public speaking, an academic event, APTA, etc–you realize that these people are dressing as PROFESSIONALS and not gym rats. That attire can be “profession specific” but should still be professional.
Too many people in gyms are dressing up like they have shown up to work out and not to train somebody else. If you are working with a client in gym shorts, an untucked tank top, and a backwards baseball that needs to change. I recognize the need for mobility and clothing that supports movement, however, that gives you no clearance to show off your “pipes” and tattoos. A tucked in athletic t-shirt, nice shorts or athletic pants, and athletic shoes will help you look the part without hampering your ability to move and demonstrate.
Additionally, I have no problem personally with tattoos, piercings, or other body modification, but if you want to be viewed as a professional, skip the sleeve tattoos, facial piercings, gauges, and brands. I don’t care how much the ladies swoon at that bikini-clad mermaid when you’re at the bars on the weekends, it has no place in the professional world.
For some reason coaches have gotten the idea that they can cover up a lack of knowledge or coaching ability with a bunch of yelling and “big man” attitude. I don’t care how loud you yell, screaming at a guy with 500 pounds on his back with knees flailing in and out will not make that squat look better. Worse yet, however, are the guys who “chest-beat” when that same guy finally racks the 500 pound bar after an ugly squat. Be a coach, not a cheer leader and don’t encourage awful lifting.
Sorry all, but your 6th grade English teacher was right. Capitalization and punctuation was required then and it should be now. If you misspell a word from time to time, that’s fine, but if your sentences look like this: “yo fellas. wuts tha best lift for gettin a better vert?” you are making yourself look like a buffoon. Additionally, if you e-mail somebody that you don’t know personally, don’t call him “bro,” “dude,” or “man” in your initial e-mail.
Don’t be dogmatic in your approach. So you back squat on Fridays, that’s cool, but that’s not the only day to squat. Why do you squat on Fridays, why do you squat at all. Is there a reason why you have 10 exercises and not 6 or 12? Do you really know why you do conjugate periodization instead of linear? I hope so.
So there are a few thoughts (and by no means an exhaustive list), remember, this is an industry that is important to many people and if you, yourself, ever would like to be taken seriously, try to maintain a high level of professionalism all the time.