I work at a university fitness center and run into this problem all the time. I call it “I can ride a bike, I can teach a group fitness cycling class” or “I can do a bicep curl, I can personal train anyone”. It is a fine line trying to encourage the students, but at the same time making them realize there is SO MUCH more to learn. How do you tame that cocky and arrogant attitude? The continuing education for these newbies just stops because they know it all. As an educator I am up for some ideas.
I admit that I was (and even now give the impression that) somewhat arrogant and cocky initially in the fitness industry. I start off coaching and found it necessary to project an Alpha Dog attitude with my team. It carried over into my fitness instruction for a while as well. But with time and experience I found myself being able to turn it on and off as necessary. And after being presented with situations for which I had no clue on how to safely proceed, I realized that I needed to choose to either get educated or refer to those that are educated. Luckily, I was realizing this when a few physicians in my area were looking for someone to assist their post rehab clients. They taught me a great deal and directed my continuing education so I was not wasting time of fluff courses.
New instructors in fitness are not unlike any other profession. Those that are too cool for school will not last. I try very hard to practice what I preach and lead by example. And in my CEC courses, I encourage instructors to find errors in my process. It helps them become better students. And it helps me become a better teacher and student myself.
Today I have issues with appearing arrogant (or maybe I just am arrogant) when it comes to fitness professionals who follow the latest sound bite or news story and don’t take the time to research the information. I have no patience for this type of instructor. And I often can’t hold my tongue when I hear one parroting things like “stretching is unnecessary” or “these supplements will give you the body you are looking for”. I take being a fitness professional very seriously. I expect other fitness professionals to do the same.
I guess that is an issue you will run into at any student rec center. When you employ students then you can’t expect too much from them. I guess, you will have to keep testing their knowledge and then educate them, because these are the trainers who will be training clients out in the real world when they graduate. We all know that there are trainers out there who give a bad name to our industry and then we have to pick up the pieces.
If you are in charge of them, it’s your responsibility to teach them the right way and how to be more professional. If they don’t comply, then you can always replace them. Just think of it as if you had your own business and you had to deal with issues like this. Would you want them in your team or you would replace them and keep the good reputation you have worked so hard to build?
I think we all have seen a few people along the way who seem to have all the answers early on in the game! I think I was probably even like that in some ways when I was just starting out too! Just to add to the great ideas already offered, one word that comes to mind is “mentoring.” I actually wrote an article about the “Magic of Mentoring” years ago, because I had the good fortune to have an amazing mentor early in my career. This person took me under his wing and provided encouragement and guidance–and most importantly, allowed me to make some pretty big mistakes and learn from them. Maybe you could pair your students up with an appropriate seasoned trainer and encourage learning by watching and doing that way. I know for me, it was an invaluable learning experience and shaped the way I moved forward in my career.
I also think that sometimes a person just has to learn the hard way. In terms of valuing the importance of staying current through continuing education, it is a very competitive industry out there these days. Your students will learn that without solid credentials and skills they will not be able to get the best and highest paying jobs that are out there. If they want to make fitness and wellness and career instead of a hobby, they will have to invest in continuing education. That may be all the motivation they need to get on board or move on to another career.
I hope that adds something to the discussion. Take care, Meg
I’m not sure of your position, are you in charge of the instructors?
It’s very obvious that in this industry there are many “off shoots” of exercise programs that have the “I’m “certified” therefore I can do anything I want.”
We must remember that this is NOT a regulated, licensed industry. Once a trainer gets certified there is nothing to stop them from training any way they wish, except a law suit.
With that being said, it’s very important to maintain professionalism and integrity at all times and maintain CEC’s and educational input.