Thursday, May 2, 2013

Only at a fitness conference for personal trainers will you see people turning down the Doubletree hotel chocolate chip cookie. Not every person checking in for the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West in Seattle bypassed the heavenly, sweet packet of fat and sugar, of course, but the front desk staff definitely had extras left over for the next crowd.

Pacific Northwest personal trainers finally have a chance to see what all the fuss is about, as this fitness conference shares its east coast charm and high level education with a new set of dedicated fitness professionals. Training With a Purpose under the Evergreeens–it’s not a bad way to learn.

Education in Three Dimensions

Anatomy. What’s not to love about it? The more I know about how and why the body moves the way it does, the more I want to discover. However, I don’t learn much from listening to a lecture or viewing a PowerPoint presentation. Since signing up for a cadaver lab wasn’t an option today, I sat in on Nora St. John’s session Balanced Body: Anatomy in Three Dimensions—The Core.

Remember art class in elementary school? Tempera paint and construction paper was okay, but how much fun was it when you got to play with clay? That’s what we did today. We “built” the core from the inside out, something that St. John said was more effective for retention (you know, when you take the test). We broke off into groups of two and three and made miniature diaphragms, psoas majors and vertebral discs for our matching mini skeletons, learning along the way that not everyone has a psoas minor and, hey, check out how much space the diaphragm takes up.

The sticky hands from the clay were a bit of an occupational hazard, but I’d say a pretty good alternative to a cadaver lab. We got to play with the “body” in three dimensions and it made the information much easier for my brain to process.

Energy Transfer

Do you know how when you decide you want to get a new car, you start seeing the one you want everywhere? That’s what happened to me today with the subject of energy transfer. St. John talked about it in her session and so did Peter Twist in his session, Strengthening the Fascial Lines in 3-D. Our bodies are constantly transferring energy, signals, information, forces, etc. We transfer energy from the lower body to the upper, upper to lower, muscle to bone, nerve to muscle, fascially—if you think about it, we are grand central station for function and movement. Something tells me even with all we know, or think we know, we’re probably just scratching the surface of our full capacities and abilities.

I watched people in Twist’s session bend, reach, rotate and maneuver in ways that train the fascial lines. These patterns aren’t new, really, we’re just in a place where we’re rediscovering them. Sometimes I think we’re working backwards. I doubt my grandparents, who owned a chicken and horse farm in Georgia, needed to be taught these techniques. They just did it. Life demanded it. Since that’s where our world is, it’s good that personal trainers are on the front lines reminding people how sweet a mobile, motivated life can be.

And isn’t that the best energy transfer of all? Transferring energy from trainer to client? I think it’s easy to get caught up in the mundane routine and forget how precious a client’s trust is. Take time to remember this: Every time you interact with your client, you’re transferring more than information. You’re transferring a positive attitude (right?), motivation, compassion and faith. All the excellent education in the world isn’t a substitute for being fully present on someone’s path to health and happiness.

Let’s keep the inspiration volume high!