When it comes to your fitness, are you being given a fish or are you learning to fish?
Giving A Fish vs Teaching To Fish
When I talk about Personal Training, most people immediately think about physical results.
But what if I told you that’s only the tip of the iceberg? What if I told you, when I think of Personal Training I think about peoples becoming happier, healthier, fitter and most importantly, empowered through knowledge.
Lao Tsu said that if you give a hungry man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
As a Personal Trainer, I believe my duty is the latter… to teach my clients to fish. Unfortunately, in a world of instant gratification, the concept of learning instead of being given something is about as sexy as well, teaching a person to fish.
I get it, I like my wifi fast and my marshmallow now. So I understand the draw to purchasing generic online fitness programs. I have a bunch saved on my computer from years past. Buying a workout program off the internet is quick, cheap, easy and sexy. The pictures are pretty, the effort required to make get results hasn’t become a reality yet, and the promised results are amazing!
And don’t get me wrong, if a person is truly committed and follows many of the programs out there to the letter, they will often get amazing results. I remember putting on my first several kilograms of muscle mass following a 12 weeks muscle building program. I never missed a workout, many of which were over 1 hour long, and became part of the gym furniture training 5+ times per week. But once the program was over, it was hard to maintain, as all I knew was that program.
Learning and understanding the fundamentals of exercise and nutrition on the other hand can be a lot more difficult. It takes time, commitment and follow through. Because unlike being given a program which you simply follow over the short term, learning and understanding the reasons behind the exercises, repetition selection and programming itself, whilst empowering, requires looking at the long term rewards and benefits.
Giving A Fish vs Teaching To Fish
1) Giving the fish – I can give a person a meal plan and a training program and say follow it to the letter. Now if this person successfully follows the plan, I know they will achieve their desired results, but the only lesson they would have learnt is that if they follow that piece of paper, they will get the result. The problem, when you remove the plan you remove the results, as the person hasn’t been educated beyond following the plan.
2) Teaching to fish – When I train someone in a Personal Training or Group environment, I am able to connect and communicate with them. I can teach them why we do the exercises we do, why they’re effective for their goals, answer any questions they have about training and the fundamentals of nutrition. Through this process of asking and answering questions, as well as demonstrating, explaining and guiding this person through their workouts and beyond, what they learn is all the fundamental knowledge they need to be able to continue their fitness journey no matter what life throws at them, be it travelling, a time period where they’re unable to visit the gym, or even deciding to take what they’ve learnt and continue on their own.
So whilst I can give people plans and programs, which from a purely business perspective is great as it requires less effort on the trainers part, it means the person receiving the program doesn’t necessarily learn anything beyond following that program and plan. And to me that leaves out the most beneficial and powerful part, the education.
I know some trainers are afraid of teaching they clients, as they feel they’ll be making themselves redundant… But for me, that’s my ultimate goal. I want to give my clients so much knowledge that I know no matter what happens, they’ll be set up to live a life that’s happier, healthier, fitter and stronger then before they came to me. And maybe, just maybe, they might even pass on some of that knowledge to their family and friends and keep continue spreading that knowledge to more of the 7+ billion people around the world.
Distributed to email subscribers on Wednesday, 10th October 2018.
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