A story of a Personal Trainer that just wanted to do the best for his clients
In 1997 reluctantly I joined the fitness industry, in my mind, I was a Footballer that was not good enough so had to become a Football Coach. My introduction to training was a new gym in Nottingham which had a pool, a brand new gym and toning tables.
My fitness background was a Degree in coaching, a YMCA course and some small courses at University.
I took a course in posture, and I was hooked. I could see problems before they happened and caused pain and injury; I could do funky exercises and solve people’s pain it was fantastic.
Posture training – 5 Movement Screens, RMT 32 Screens, NASM – CPT, PES, SFS, IFS
Some of my clients started to feel better, and I could ignore the ones that didn’t, so I began to fall.
Unfortunately, this was based on me believing the research that I was being presented, which was a problem for me later on.
The Cult of Functional 3D movement
I moved out of the clubs and into education, that is where it kicked off. As I finished my MSc in Injury Prevention and Performance Enhancement, I started to notice the industry was becoming a mess. But I chose to ignore that and join a cult!
MSc Injury Prevention and Performance Enhancement (Year 1), Chain Reaction Biomechanics and GIFT (Year 1)
This training helped me help people immediately. I could use my hands, people in the industry were talking about me, and as long as I ignored the fact I was making this up, based on the courses I had been on, then everything was great. Some of the results I achieved were incredible, but then some went spectacularly wrong, I never mentioned those though. Safer for my fragile ego not to.
At this point, I also started FASTER, with a genuine want to make the industry better and share my skills as an up and coming guru. I was being asked to present everywhere because the industry liked my newness, confidence and although I was not to realise it yet, complete bullshit confidence in my ability to beat science to an answer.
Scrapey Rubby Pushy
It got tough, pushing people around, telling them they were great and building symmetry did not work enough. Plus other people were starting to replicate what I did.
So instead of learning to research again, and pushing myself to answer the questions that my clients were throwing my way, I decided to level up my guru-ness and got myself on two fascia courses.
Fascia courses were awesome, all made up, based on bad research and with enough grey areas I could hide in them. It also allowed me to build up the other techniques I was using and make out fascia was the answer to these too. When I did get to research, then I am a bit gutted I fell hook line and sinker for these. Also, my hands on confidence got better.
Stecco Myofascial Release and Tool Assisted Massage
I brought these techniques into my courses and encouraged people to learn from the people who taught me. In the early 2000’s I had got a name for myself for bringing Foam Rolls into the UK from a company in the US, I was a minor celebrity known as the foam roll man, something I would like to bury but I have inadvertently told the 10 of you who have read this far!
The US of A and research
After qualifying in Fascia and becoming a guru who fixed people, I still wanted more. My drive for more, powered by the feeling of being the expert, plus the drive to help more people. To do this, I decided to listen to the people around me, who were pushing me to read the research and to challenge all my preconceptions.
It leads me to a horrible realisation; I had been lied too, hoodwinked, taken in by the business requirements and the massive egos in my industry. People were taping, pressing, rubbing, pushing and making claims about posture that they could not back up.
Facebook was changing this, but not fast enough, so I started writing courses again. My first was on Energy Systems, which turned my thoughts on Hypertrophy on its head (or it just said move and eat). As all movement in a positive calorie balance caused hypertrophy, and optimum hypertrophy techniques are easily debated, I was stuck; it was kicking me in the knowledge.
My next stage was to write about speed training. However, I ended up challenging what I knew and started writing about performance and also fatigue management. Finding the thoughts of Noakes and his research on how fatigue management could be a feedforward process, then going further and finding a lot of the papers that also backs this up, was fantastic.
Brain and Body – It’s about them stupid!
Reading on fatigue, skill development, energy systems, pain, injury prediction lit my fire again. Using my new-found love of defining questions and then answering them using the latest and best research, I rewrote everything. It did not make my skills obsolete, but it improved my client’s experience, exceptions and results. No crazy results that are good or bad, but proper long-term improvements.
It also helped me to communicate better with the medical world, and it helped my trainers to get a foothold in respectability.
Stopping Curing and Starting Training – Improved Curing and Prevention
I went back to what I do well. Taking a scientific approach and aiming to be the best at what I do. Especially not jumping on the bandwagon of the expert in the latest cool area (check out the pain trainers, who were fascia trainers, 3D instructors and specialists in everything for the last five years).
Now I am back training high-end clients, clients with special requirements and educating the new breed of FASTER trainer.
Moral of the Story
From a business course, that point me back in the realms of helping my business, to completing my first Improv shows and Stand up comedy shows, this year of starting to find my place with a real scientific backing has been immense.
My only current problem is arguing with people who are just me from years ago!
“Don’t get so wrapped in a technique you lose your ability to change your mind or do the thing you know is best. Take time to read, challenge everything you think is true, regularly, and if you find yourself saying – I am ahead of science, science cannot answer everything, it works so who cares how then please go and take a month off and re-evaluate your career choice.”
The last six years of my life have been the toughest professionally so far. Taking a courageous decision to dump fascia, posture, symmetry and just rely on the research has made my company less popular. Now though, after years of working on this, I see the fruits of that labour, and I am seeing my new breed of trainers doing so much better than the ones who craved answers and more techniques like I did.