For some people, realizing that there are individuals out there that are more knowledgeable than they are can be a frustrating and even impossible thing to admit. We all have known that person who has watched Food Network for a week and suddenly thinks they are Rachel Ray. Or the friend that constantly spouts off about any and every topic like they have a doctorate in it. Heck, maybe YOU are this person!
Unfortunately for the staff at The Spot Athletics and other educated coaches out there, this issue plagues the strength and conditioning/fitness/nutrition community worse than most. There is literally tons of misinformation floating about the internet and by word of mouth that eventually funnels down to the impressionable beginner who then either a) believes what they are reading/hearing, b) passes it on to another poor soul or, most likely, c) does both. What this is doing is creating an army of “broscientists” and “weekend experts” who believe they know everything there is to know about this industry and refuse to except that their beliefs may be misguided.
Luckily, there is a solution!
"Whether it is you, your friend, or just that random guy at the gym who is always giving BS advice, the first step to salvation is to realize that in the grand scheme of things, we know absolutely nothing."
Let that sink in…
Yes, it is true. It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie who just picked up a dumbbell or a professional bodybuilder because the truth is that there is just too much information out there to truly ever be able to scratch the surface of knowing it all. And to make matters worse, this information is on an ever-evolving continuum where previously held truths are being proven or refuted almost daily as well as new practices and principles that are taking the place of outdated ones. Our industry is one that is predicated on knowing the body inside and out and the systems of the body that effect performance when it comes to training and nutrition. However, we are constantly progressing in our understanding of the human body and many times this can lead to changing the way we think in terms of being a coach. So as you can see, we know very little, in part, because nothing is ever fixed so it is important to always stay educated and at the forefront of your field if you plan on being the best. This applies to all things as well, not just the fitness world.
With all of that being said, no matter how much you want to look to the present and future as a way to educate yourself, we must not devalue the past. There is something to be said about the people who have been around for decades and the knowledge they have accumulated from sheer experience and time. These are the people who you should surround yourself with and learn from. Yes, you can always go back to trusty old Google, and do a quick search, but what you are not always getting is that irreplaceable, firsthand knowledge that can only be accrued from years and years in the field. These people have made the mistakes, been forced to fix them, and found success many times over for a long time. Talk to these people!
For example, when I first started as an intern at The Spot, I had been lifting for years and thought that I knew most of what there was to know about technique, exercises, sets and reps, etc. It is customary for new interns to train with the staff as part of the interview process so that they can be evaluated on many things but most importantly their ability to listen, learn, and apply quickly. About halfway through my first warm-up set of squats in my first staff training, JL stopped me and said, “That was terrible.” Word for word. I had been squatting the same way for years and it took about 10 seconds for him to identify that my technique was pretty poor (being generous.) But why had nobody ever said anything to me before? Was I doing anything unusual now compared to before? It’s just going down and coming up, right?
The difference was JL’s trained eye. He has seen thousands if not millions of squats from the good, bad, and downright terrible. Because of this, he was able to see my problems, tell me what I was doing wrong, and I fixed them. I was able to accept that I was no longer the most knowledgeable and experienced in my small pond. I was now the tiny guppy in a vast ocean, and my only choice was adapt or get eaten. So I adapted. I allowed myself to take a step back and reevaluate everything I thought I knew. By doing this, I have become a better coach, lifter, and person as this has permeated to other aspects of my life. If you ever get to the point where you feel like you know everything there is to know and there is no more knowledge left to learn, go find your JL! Or just wait a day or two until the next groundbreaking study turns your field upside down.