Home Posts tagged "Continuing Education"

7 Steps for Attacking Continuing Education in the Fitness Industry

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.

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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.

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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!

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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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Random Friday Thoughts: 10/16/09

1. I got an interesting surprise the other day when I all of a sudden noticed that Cressey Performance had pictures like this posted all over the place:

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It turns out that CP athlete and boxer Danny O'Connor had posted pictures of world title belts all over the facility as motivation.  You've got to love a guy who makes sure that the goal is never out of sight!

2. On a semi-related note, the only thing more dangerous than a professional boxer might be a West Virginia Ninja (as promised, Ryan and Evelyne):

3. For those who missed it, I contributed on a pretty cool new compilation over at T-Nation.  Check out In the Trenches: Volume 1.

4. I came to a bit of a shocking realization the other day about just how many so-called experts in the field - those writing books, giving seminars, and making television show appearances - actually train few (if any) actual clients.  As I thought about it, this would never work for me (regardless of how many years of experience I'd have accumulated by that point) simply because I view interaction with athletes as one of my primary means of continuing my education.  Simply coaching athletes, getting their feedback on things, and watching the adaptation process take place is a great way to enhance one's perspective.

Right now, I'm out there coaching about 35 hours per week, and it'll pick up a bit more as our pro baseball training group fills up in the next few weeks - and that will last through the third Monday in March.  Interestingly, this kicks off the time of year when my writing is always the most creative and prolific.  In other words, as I digest those 5-6 months of training, it's very easy to put a lot of new ideas on paper.

Had I just been sitting at a computer that entire time, there's no way I'd have that perspective.  Just some food for thought: the next time you are about to buy a book, DVD, or attend a seminar, ask yourself whether the "expert" in question actually interacts with athletes/clients/patients on a weekly basis.

5. After Wednesday's blog post about shoulder health drills, I got several questions from folks asking what I thought the best few shoulder education resources were.  Here are my top three (the first two are for the more geeky of you out there, and the third is more readily usable drills):

a. The Athlete's Shoulder, by Reinold, Wilk, and Andrews

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b. Physical Therapy of the Shoulder, by Donatelli

c. Optimal Shoulder Performance, by Reinold and Cressey (I'm biased, I know)

6. We've got a few cool announcements next week.  In the meantime, though, have a great weekend.  And remember that girls just wanna have fun.

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A Sweet Deal for the Manual Therapists in the Crowd

Last year, I wrote a newsletter on my awesome experience at Dr. William Brady's biomechanics course in Boston, MA.  It was without a doubt one of the most beneficial events I've attended in recent years (in spite of being the only non-manual therapist in attendance). It's that time of year again; Dr. Brady's 2009 event is scheduled for October 17-18 (in Boston again).  If you treat patients, it's well worth the investment. You can sign up HERE. Now, Dr. Brady also has a new online subscription that's loaded with similarly great content.  It's already a great deal, but to sweeten it even further, he hooked me up with a discount for my readers who plan to attend.  Here's what he's got for you (straight from the man himself): I went ahead and set up a discount for the guys who sign up from your site. The professionals can get $75 off and students can get $49 off the regular price of $180 and $118 - so it ends up as $105 and $69 per month, respectively. Professional (anyone not in school) can type "cresseypro" and students currently in school or graduated in the last six months (yes, we check) "cresseystudent" in the promotion code area. Definitely check it out; you can get more information at www.IntegrativeDiagnosis.
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My Accomplishments to Date

Something New for EricCressey.com

Not a week passes that I don’t receive a handful of emails from people – especially “up and comers” in the fitness industry – who are interested in not only how I got to where I am, but how I did so at such a young age.  I can say without wavering that I’m the last person you’ll ever hear toot his own horn, but I would say that my accomplishments to-date (I just turned 25) speak for themselves:

  • I published my first article just prior to my 21st birthday, and since then have gone on to author over 80 more articles in various online and print magazines
  • Mike Robertson and I released a very popular DVD, Magnificent Mobility.
  • I just completed my first training manual.
  • I’ve worked with or consulted for thousands of athletes at all levels, and even more ordinary “weekend warriors” in a variety of contexts.
  • I’ve set state, national, and world records in the sport of powerlifting.
  • I’ve been an invited guest speaker all over the country.

Again, I list these accomplishments not to boast, but simply to offer a frame of reference for the recommendations I’m about to make.  With that said, when someone emails me and asks how I got to where I am, and what resources I recommend, I make recommendations in several areas: work ethic, professionalism, demeanor, free resources, trial and error, seminars, and paid resources in terms of training, nutrition, and business.

Work Ethic

This is the foundation for everything.  I’d like to be able to give you a quick-fix answer, but the truth is that nothing will ever go as far as elbow grease and perseverance.  It sucks, but work long hours - longer than you could even imagine. I have regularly worked 80+ hour weeks for as long as I can remember; at times, it has been 40 of athletes/clients (some for free) and 40 of writing/online consulting/forum responses. I did it in the past so that I could get to where I am now, and I do it now to capitalize on the foundation I put down in the past and so that I can spend time with my family when that day comes.

I had a conversation with Mike Boyle on this back in December, and asked him flat-out where I should draw the line on work and play.  His response: "At your age, you don't.  Sleep in the office if you have to.  It'll all pay off."  You won't find someone who works harder than I do, and when one of the most sought-out performance enhancement coaches in the history of sports gives an overachiever like me that kind of encouragement, you not only pay attention; you go from really productive to crazy productive.

So, in short, the truth is that I have busted my butt from day one and wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t done so.  I didn’t spend a penny on alcohol in my college career; it was better spent on resources such as books, DVDs, seminars, and quality food and supplements to make me the lifter and coach that I am today.  I never went on Spring Break; I worked in gyms and with athletes at universities for every single one of them through my six years of college education (undergraduate and graduate).  I didn’t abuse my body with excessive late nights – or any alcohol or drugs – because I knew how such behavior would affect my training, coaching, and writing.  I haven't even watched an episode of Survivor, 24, American Idol, Lost, Alias, Will and Grace, The Apprentice, or any of a number of other popular shows I'm forgetting to mention; I'd just rather be doing other things.  Don't get me wrong; I've still had fun along the way, but I've gotten better about finding a balance.  Life is all about choices, and I chose to be where I am today.

Professionalism

It doesn’t cost a thing to be punctual, professional, and polite.  I credit a ton of my success to the fact that my parents instilled these values in me at an early age.  Write thank you notes to people who help you.  Shake people’s hands firmly and look them directly in the eye.  Show up on time.  Dress up for seminars that warrant dressing up.  Spell-check everything.  Say “please” and “thank you.”  You’d be amazed at how far these things go – seriously.  Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People should be required reading in every high school for this very reason. Demeanor

If you don’t love what you’re doing, find something else.  Be enthusiastic; you can't teach passion. If you love this, act like it and have some fun! You’ll be amazed at how your athletes and clients get excited when YOU get excited.  And, if you're just training for you, you'll be amazed at how much better you progress when you find something that excites you.  Going to train should never be an undesirable experience; if it is, you need to shuffle things up.

The Meat and Potatoes

With all that said, here's a link to the newest addition to EricCressey.com: the Recommended Resources Page.

Have a great week!

EC

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