Home Blog 7 Steps for Attacking Continuing Education in the Fitness Industry

7 Steps for Attacking Continuing Education in the Fitness Industry

Written on August 12, 2010 at 3:30 am, by Eric Cressey

In response to a recent blog, one reader posted a question about how I "structure" my approach to continuing education.  As I thought about it, it's actually a more organized "ritual" than I had previously thought.  Here are the key components:

1.  I always have two books going at a time. One involves training/nutrition/manual therapy/rehabilitation.  The other involves business/personal development.  Noticeably absent from this list is fiction; I really don't have any interest in it, and couldn't tell you the first thing about Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.  I'll usually have a book on CD in the car as well, but nowadays, my commute is non-existent (since we moved closer to the facility), so I have been doing more reading and less listening than previously.

movementlg

2. Our staff in-service is every Wednesday at 10:30AM. This has turned into a great continuing education opportunity for all of us. While one person is "responsible" for presenting the topic each week, it always inevitably becomes a "think tank" among our staff and interns about how something applies to specific clients, unique issues, functional anatomy, or our programming or business model.

For instance, last week, I talked about how to assess shoulder external rotation and address any identified deficits on this front.  We got to talking about which clients were using the appropriate mobilizations, how to perform them, and what would happen if they are performed incorrectly.  Likewise, we talked about how certain people need to be careful about mobilizing their shoulders into external rotation because of extreme congenital laxity and/or extreme humeral retroversion. 

Beyond just the benefits of helping our staff grow as a whole, for me, it has several distinct benefits.  First, when I come back from a weekend seminar where I've learned something good, it's a great opportunity to "reteach" and apply it immediately.  I'm a firm believer that the best way to master something is to have to teach it to someone else.  Second, having pretty frequent "mini-presentations" keeps my presenting skills fresh for seminars when I may have 4-6 weeks between speaking engagements.

ecseminar

3. I get to at least 4-5 weekend seminars per year. I'm lucky in that two of these are generally Perform Better Three-Day Summits where I get to see a wide variety of presentations - with all my travel expenses paid because I present myself.

I think that every fitness professional needs to get to at least two such events per year.  The good news is that with webinars and DVD sets, you can save a ton on travel expenses and watch these on your own schedule.  A lot of people, for instance, have said that they learned more from our two-day Building the Efficient Athlete Seminar DVD Set than they did in years of college - with no tuition payment required, either!

btea_set

That said, a ton of the education at such events comes from interacting with other fitness professionals, so you do miss out on the accidental "social" education.

4. I have one day a week where all I read are journal articles. Sometimes it is entertaining, and sometimes it's like reading stereo instructions.  It depends on journal - and regular ol' luck with respect to what's going on in the research world.  I'll keep it pretty random and just type in a search term like "sports medicine" or "strength training."  We also have The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies delivered to the office so that our staff can look that over.

5.  I read a few blogs/newsletters each day in both training/nutrition/manual therapy/rehabilitation and business/personal development. I've listed several on my recommended resources page.  There are loads more out there; these are just the tip of the iceberg and the ones that I tend to read more frequently.

6. I'll usually have a DVD set or webinar going as often as possible. We've got a great library in the office at Cressey Sports Performance, and I'm fortunate to have a lot of stuff sent to me for free to review here on the blog. I tend to prefer DVDs more than webinars, as I can watch them in fast-forward and make people talk faster to save time!

7. I talk to and email with a handful of other coaches about programming and business ideas and new things we're doing. I wouldn't call it a mastermind group, or anything even close to one in terms of organization, but it is good to know that whenever I want to bounce an idea off someone, I have several people I can contact.  On the training side of things, a few guys that come to mind are Mike Robertson, Neil Rampe, Mike Reinold, Bill Hartman, and Tony Gentilcore.  On the business side of things, I'm lucky to have Alwyn Cosgrove and Pat Rigsby as good dudes who are only an email or phone call away.  I think that the take-home message is that if you surround yourself with the right people, answers that would normally elude you are really right at hand.

This post wound up running a lot longer than I'd anticipated, but hopefully you all benefited from it nonetheless.  Have any continuing education strategies of your own that I have overlooked?  If so, please post them in the comments section below.

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  • Mike

    In your statement above you mention you are reading Movement by Gray Cook and some book about social networking. Followed by a comment the book is not very good. Which book were you referencing… Movement or the social networking book… or both.. ? 🙂 Love your articles man.

  • Mike, I was referring to the social networking one, not Gray’s. “Movement” has been great!

  • Mike

    Its on back order now… looking forward to snagging it. I have embrace the functional training and have seen significant improvements. Thanks to all you guys…

  • Jim Lenkowski

    Eric,

    Do you think that there is a limit to how much some people should try to do at any one time vs others, or would you say that the amount of continuing education being done at any one time is an instant barometer for whether or not a person truly belongs on the professional side of the fitness world?

    I find that many times I feel like I am on information overload and trending towards developing a nasty case of ADHD as a result of trying to be an information sponge (even when attempting to be a very discerning one when it comes to sources and topics).

    I’ll presume that there would be a certain minimum threshold level for continuing education in which any and every fitness pro should be engaging, but would it be fair to say there will be a fairly wide discrepancy in terms of how much information any given individual can absorb and apply practically? I’d like to think that we all had equal aptitude for this sort of stuff, but that would be a rather naive viewpoint to hold………………….can we always be better than we were yesterday? Absolutely. But for some that may mean being a slightly less inept version of themselves as opposed to trending toward greatness.

    Simply posting a message of this nature makes me wonder if I belong in the fitness industry or if I’d be better served taking a relatively mindless civil service job and leaving training as strictly a personal passion and pursuit and not a profession/career. On the one hand I feel confident that I am far better than most typical fitness pros out there (not necessarily saying much, to be fair), but at the same time, people like you prove that the real bar is (or at least should be) set far higher. And to be frank, I sometimes feel that if someone like you is operating at 100 or even the mythical 110-percent level of effort, then I’d be satisfied with just being good to very good at around, say, 75-percent. I realize that coping to a desire to be anything but the absolute best is heresy in today’s world, but it’s true, so I have no problem admitting it. This leaves me in the unsettled position of knowing that I have more to offer the general public than a lot of charlatans out there (some of them making far more cash than they deserve based upon the level of service provided) but feeling like an unworthy fraud for acknowledging that I’d be content with existing within shouting distance of shouting distance of where top minds like you reside.

  • Great post! There are so many ways to educate and be educated, and so many topics and systems of knowledge that apply to our profession.

    Jonathan

  • iscariot

    I think it a shame that you have no interest in fiction; although – I guess – it is understandable. [Especially] from the Personal Development perspective there is so much [futuristic ideas/ social concepts/ conventions] that can be learned, and/ or implemented from fiction – science fiction is a case-in-point, look at home many ideas that were speculated on in fiction became reality.

    I will note that there is ‘fiction’ and there is the Dan Brown school of fiction, which is useful for wiping up nasty spills.

    Finally, I’ll also note that many [ostensibly] personal development books end up being more faddish and fictional than many fiction books.

    Heh

    John.

  • Tony Ricci

    Eric; I read the following article on Traps and it makes me wonder if I’ve been wrong all along about the function of the upper traps on the scapulae (is it really a levator scapulae issue?)

    I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this….perhaps input from MR as well since you guys are tight on this stuff. Thanks,

    http://nicktumminello.com/2010/07/the-truth-about-the-trapezius-muscle-part-1-upper-and-mid-traps/

  • I was actually just thinking about organizing this for myselfe, and then I came over your article. So perfect timing, thanks!

  • Eric, I quite enjoy the info I get from you. I recently purchased your Show and Go and am doing it with a buddy and in just one week I see a difference in my mobility. I am very interested in your shoulder health info as I have had rotator cuff surgery as well as Tommy John and I work with a lot of young baseball players. Hope to meet you someday.

  • marc dean

    I have been reading GRAY’S book it is a great read. Lots of good info for the trainer. something i plan on working into how I asses clients.

  • Eric–good points–also add that I use my FaceBook page to quickly post/share items that I want to save a quick reference to–also sometimes creates discussions.

  • james

    Gray has another book I like as well.
    “Athletic Body in Balance”
    Thanks Eric for being accessable.

  • Agree, James. That’s another good one.

  • Said Salem

    Best and only fiction book ive read. Of Mice Of Men…. thanks for the info Eric, alot of helpful advice.

  • Eric,

    What’s the best way/s to find conferences and seminars in one’s area? I would like to attend some in the future. Take care.

  • A’Mar – check out my schedule page, and definitely look out for the Perform Better Summits.  Great value with lots of excellent presenters!

  • Thanks for the follow up Eric, I will check it out. I first heard about the Perform Better Summits on the Fitcast. This is how I found out about you too! Hava good one 🙂


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