If you pay attention, there’s a lot out there to be learned.
“Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune”
No one likes a know-it-all. When you’ve been in the fitness and nutrition world for as long as I have – over 14 years, not including my years as a karate instructor prior to that – you could probably argue that you know quite a bit about the game. When I start to think of all the potential knowledge to be had about health, exercise, weight training, and nutrition, I realise that I will only ever skim the surface and have a millionth of the potential information out there.
And that’s ok.
Where I came from
My personal beliefs have changed significantly since I started weight training at the age of 15 and first began reading fitness, karate, and bodybuilding magazines. I used to soak up the status quo. Now I’m a bit more of a rebel and I’m outside the normal everyday advice you get from most government organizations related to health and fitness. A lot of my information initially came from my Sports Science degree, which I completed in 2003. The rehabilitation, anatomy, nutrition, physiology and psychology courses were amazing and I built a base of understanding of these areas.
Keeping an open mind
Keeping my mind open to new ideas – including accepting that what I believed to be true for many years is wrong – has been the biggest factor in my progress. If you stick with the same concepts you learned in University a decade ago, you probably aren’t going to be on top of the game in an ever-evolving field like health and fitness. So I decided to listen to new concepts, research them, and come to a conclusion, rather than just outright dismissing something that conflicts with my current view.
Too many coaches get locked into their beliefs and it impedes their progress, and the progress of those that they work with. Something new might come along that’s better than what you’ve done before. Maybe there’s a new way of eating that might work better for you or your clients. Maybe there’s some exercises you haven’t done before that can result in greater leg development.
Learning from others
Much of what I’ve learned in the past decade has been from other fitness professionals. Some of it has been through structured courses, but a lot has come from fitness blogs and reading original research (although I usually don’t get too bogged down with too much research unless I’m writing a scholarly article. I use trusted sources to disseminate the info for me).
One of the most valuable sources of insight has been trading notes with fellow fitness professionals. I try to get outside my general knowledge and interest zone too, which is why I recently chatted up a vegan fitness competitor about how she manages to get enough protein (quinoa, nuts, some protein powders).
If I just stuck with the information I learned years ago, I wouldn’t be the fitness and nutrition coach that I am today. I’d probably still be preaching about eating plenty of “healthy” whole grains and keeping fat in the diet as low as possible.