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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

What subjects are the educational base of our profession?

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Panel Discussion: What subjects are the educational base of our profession?

What subjects are the educational base of our profession? I would assume "Functional Anatomy" would be essential, but this workshop has not attracted personal trianers like CrossFit, KettleBells, and TRX courses… What am I missing, or… what is the profession missing?

Moderated by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

This Panel Discussion was originally posted on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/brent.brookbush - on May 14th, 2012

Jemimah Simms I think fitness clubs that hire make it very easy for personal trainers to get the bare minimum of understanding a basic anatomy and it manages a lot of trainers to squeak by. By the time I left equinox, the education was a joke.

May 14 at 11:16am

Mark Mogavero I would argue that the most important base is behavior modification through basic psychology and being a nice person. We can talk X's and O's all day, but most of what we need to do for our clients to be successful is to create something basic that they can be successful at.

I think most fitness professionals can get by with a very, very basic foundation of anatomy, and go from there. The chemistry is the easy part, psychology the hard part.

May 14 at 11:19am

Joe Chabassol Hi Brent, after 7 years of developing the curriculum for and teaching an exercise science college program I was baffled by the same question. In the 18 months since I left that position I was able to set myself apart from that type of education mindset and think differently. And what I found is a simple answer with complex solutions. Those fitness professionals, the ones that are truly driven to better themselves are looking for simple systems (i.e. TRX, KettleBell and Crossfit), that are attached to the ability to generate income. In our industry; additional education must equal revenue potential - and it must be visible from the beginning. I would be happy to speak in detail, if you want, message me and we can arrange a time to chat.

May 14 at 11:20am

Matt Schoeneberger While I think Mark hit it on the head for getting clients results, Joe speaks more to the point of why the classes are differing in their ability to attract trainers. Marketing is key and not a single client will be more attracted to my business if I'm an expert in functional anatomy. But, throw TRX/CF/KB "certified" in there and watch them sign on the dotted line.

Make the term "functional anatomy" or some analogue a buzzword the end user cares about, one they believe will answer all their prayers, and trainers will be all over that class

May 14 at 11:25am

Brent Brookbush Hey Matt and Joe, Here would be my argument, please tell me if I'm on the right track. I do not need to spend $1000 on Crossfit, $450 on TRX, and $250 on a kettle bell cert because I understand functional anatomy. These apparatus are tools put in hands that attach to the same human movement system that I know. You can give me any piece of equipment, it doesn't matter.. because I know my functional anatomy… And there is one big advantage: my knowledge of anatomy prevent me from "creating exercise" that may be hazardous, would contribute to postural dysfunction, or detract from optimal function and performance… I know part of our problem is marketing. We need to find a way to make the ideal education, attractive, marketable, and profitable for the educator, trainer, and owner/operator alike.

May 14 at 11:33am

Jemimah Simms Brent, I get what you are saying, but as far as kettle bells goes, I do believe there is something to be said for learning a technique. Not that its the same, but you can understand the mechanics of ballet from a anatomical point of view, but unless you understand the technique you can't teach it. But for those specialty certifications, if you don't have a good understanding of anatomy the certifications are pretty meaningless.

May 14 at 11:39am

Roy Kamen Brent, It all comes down to marketing dollars and creating a buzz. Years ago there were no certifications and people like Jack Lalanne and Richard Simmons did just fine in actually helping huge numbers of people. They knew how people ticked and were able to motivate successfully (and make a good living doing it). Fitness today has become way too complicated and academic IMHO. Everyone is chasing the next great exercise when we all know a pushup is a pushup as a sit-up is a sit-up and no one is creating anything new. Human being's bodies haven't changed in a very long time and what kept us fit years ago still works. Move more, eat less. Know how the body works and you got it. You class is probably all one needs… that and a bit of creativity in presentation.

May 14 at 11:46am

Joe Chabassol Hey Brent, I could not agree with you more. Personally I think those products/tools are just that - tools that any well trained and educated fitness professional can use. Frankly I am sick of people jumping on those bandwagons. But, like you and Matt said, how do you market Functional Anatomy and the like to Fitness Professionals…they need to be able to make the connection between those courses and earning money. And you already answered it….You need to show trainers that with proper Functional Anatomy, Biomechanics, Exercise Physiology and real science that they can take any gimmick, item, product and use it as a tool with their clientele. A dumbbell can be a KettelBell and any rope with handles can be TRX; that Crossfit is just a blend of functional training, sport conditioning and intervals. Knowing about Functional Anatomy will save trainers hundreds on buying every last piece of equipment out there. Money spend on your course will save them hundreds and thousand attending and learning all the fad programs.

May 14 at 11:49am

Jemimah Simms Do you think it's fair to say fitness is overly academic? I venture to say its been dummed-down and that 'anyone' can be a trainer (Jillian michaels and that guy who write the 4 hours body. Neither have certifications.) I counter with, there is a better understanding of the body and there is greater access to the information. It's good and bad. Like webmd.

May 14 at 11:52am

Joe Chabassol You nailed Jemimah, information is easy to come by and as such people are learning a lot but in contrast there are not understanding what they are learning. This is when it becomes dangerous - especially to the clientele.

May 14 at 11:56am

Jemimah Simms I personally liked it when my client told me she did her Jillian michaels DVD workouts. All I could say was: please don't do her kettle-bell workout.

May 14 at 11:59am

Matt Schoeneberger Brent, I agree with you that having a true understanding of functional anatomy makes TRX/KB/CF/Whatever certs unnecessary from the trainer's perspective in a rational world. Where I disagree with you is here:

"We need to find a way to make the ideal education, attractive, marketable, and profitable for the educator, trainer, and owner/operator alike."

This may be true, but you'r leaving out the most important person - the client. Until the client cares about whether or not the trainer is functional anatomy certified (and by cares I mean is more willing to spend money) it can't possibly matter to the trainer and owner and therefore the educator as much as it should.

This is why I'm saying "functional anatomy" or some sexy term in its place needs to be marketed to the client before it can start to matter to those up the chain.

May 14 at 12:09pm

Matt Schoeneberger Me: Hello, Client. I have a Masters in Exercise Science and Health Promotion with a focus in rehabilitation.

Client: Blank stare

Me: I'm also a Corrective Exercise Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Client: More blank staring, maybe an un-sure smile with some head nodding

Me: Sometimes I use kettlebells

Client: Yay! Kettlebells! I know that word! Here's my money!

May 14 at 12:11pm

Joshua J. Stone I think it is a matter of what students want. When I taught Kinesiology and Sports Med classes at the University, students were overwhelmed with special tests, techniques, etc. My message was the same - if you have ABC's (Anatomy, Biomechanics and Commonsense) you can figure it out a solution, any time, anywhere. So I agree, if you have functional anatomy - you have the knowledge base to utilize any modality (TRX, Kettlebell, etc). But you are preaching to the choir, because most of us (at NASM and on this panel) are geeks. We love to geek out on this stuff. Others, not so much.

That being said, no matter how much you create buzz, market, or engage - attendee turn-out will not meet expecations. You look at the metrics for our courses (CPT, CES, PES) - functional anatomy presentations and text is the least viewed of all content, next to professional development. Students consistently perform worse on the functional anatomy related content of the exam. Why, because they don't care. They want the keys to drive. They don't want to build the engine.

We put the feelers out to see how a "functional anatomy" course would go. Sales metrics and forecasts were low. When customers ask for new courses, functional anatomy is hardly ever mentioned. If students are given the choice between a brand new Ferrari or a Nissan 370z plus an educational course on driving, students will choose the Ferrari, even thoguh the student with the 370z and driving school will win everytime. I think students (not all, but most) want the keys handed over and don't want to be bothered with the nuts and bolts. Just my $.01 worth.

May 14 at 12:12pm

DeWayne A. Smith I agree with Josh - the 370Z will win out..every time. #proudowner

On a serious note - One thing I would suggest from my experience as both a professional and a student is catering to demand. It's ok to teach functional anatomy (every pro - SHOULD understand it), but I would put a spin on how you market your classes. For instance, if there is a high demand for TRX or Kettlebell - market towards that, and teach it; but, include functional anatomy into the course as it relates to those modalities. This way, you still cover your bases while teaching the student what they want to learn about.

May 14 at 12:24pm

Brent Brookbush Hey Matt, I agree with you, but marketing to the consumer is a huge undertaking. You have to cast a much bigger net with a variety of different presentations. What I think should be focused upon is how understanding of functional anatomy leads to more enjoyment for both the trainer and client. We can help people move more and move better. They can leave workouts fatiqued, but feeling better. They do need to feel like they have been beaten down, they do not need to work through knee pain, back pain, shoulder… and the trainer will have a never ending supply of exercises, modalities, and routines if they build a better foundation.

May 14 at 12:24pm

Brent Brookbush Hey Joshua J. Stone,

You know I can be pretty stubborn - I can assure you that I will continue to offer courses that provide a foundation for personal trainers (anatomy, physiology, etc.). My company is not trying to compete with any certification, but rather, simply fill in the gaps. I would love to talk to you more about the numbers you referred to and see if there is any opportunity for sharing information between us.

May 14 at 12:27pm · Like

Joshua J. Stone And you should continue to offer those courses. I understand and am not worried about competition. There is plenty of business to go around. With regards to the OP, it does not surpirse me that a functional anatomy course is less attractive than a TRX, or KB course. As @jermimah stated above, people love Jillian Michaels - and I dont think she can spell the word anatomy.

May 14 at 12:36pm

Brent Brookbush LOL

May 14 at 12:51pm

Jemimah Simms Its jemimah. And the guy Whi wrote the 4 hour body has amazing marketing skills.

May 14 at 12:54pm

Cathyann Waithe-Hackett Great thread!

May 14 at 1:24pm

Crystal Reeves Hi Brent! I am a personal trainer (B.A Exercise Science & Health, NASM CPT, CES, weight management specialist) I am always on the look out for your youtube videos and find them extremely beneficial. I plan to one day get to one of your workshops, I am just in AZ and NY isn't that close. :) I completely agree that functional anatomy is an essential! Unfortunately, many trainers are not professionals and in my opinion look for a quick program they can complete with their clients versus understanding their clients needs and developing a program specifically for that client. I also agree that prospective clients, for the most part, do not ask about any qualifications of their personal trainer. Maybe they assume there is more control over who is called a personal trainer. I believe many trainers look for "cool" looking exercises instead of ones that are really beneficial for their clients. I think with the poor health state of Americans there needs to be a huge shift and professional trainers are in need more now than ever before. We need solutions not quick fixes. Functional anatomy should be understood by every personal trainer, but there is no control over the profession.

May 14 at 2:21pm

Russell Wynter Hi Brent, This is a great question! I’m a professional trainer (NASM –CPT ,PES) I believe it comes down to marketing, marketing, marketing! People are easily bored and constantly looking for something new. Unfortunately the gym industry influences training and not the other way around. If the industry tells people one way isn’t cool or hip people will follow, at times much to their own peril. I believe some trainers would rather have their clients do something that’s trendy rather than miss out on a client who may really needs help but has been convinced by marketing that Crossfit ,TRX and so on is the way to get great results quickly. I believe many trainers will pay for the next wave in fitness trends to make money instead of learning the why and how which would make some of the crazy things I’ve seen people do obsolete. It should always come down to education… but it doesn’t!

May 14 at 4:21pm

Brent Brookbush Great thoughts Crystal Reeves and Russell Wynter, Maybe I do need a spin, although I am confident this is the best functional anatomy course out there… and trust me when I say I have taken many a semester, and many a course offered in gyms. I have likely taught this or similar courses better than 150 times in the last 8 years, and have carefully assessed outcomes and edited each time. So now, I need to package an upgrade in quality with an upgrade in marketing - would love more ideas from the panel on how to package this course into what my fellow professionals would find attractive.

May 14 at 7:57pm

Laura DeAngelis As someone new to the fitness industry (NASM CPT, AFAA group ex), I have found the exchange of ideas on this discussion extremely interesting. Keep it going!

May 14 at 9:08pm

Laura DeAngelis Forgot to mention, I am looking forward to the workshop on Sunday, and maybe after taking it, I can use my public relations/ production background to offer ideas for marketing.

May 14 at 9:48pm

Crystal Reeves I personally love functional anatomy! But maybe if you demonstrated functional anatomy utilizing different modalities (TRX, kettle bell etc) it would draw more attention from people looking for the "cool" exercises…and maybe they would learn something way more beneficial…

May 16 at 5:48pm

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