IEFC 2018: A Local Gem

Three Thematic Takeaways

Despite the rigor of physical therapy school, I find it critical to seek experience and information that hones in my personal training craft. While I know I offer an incredibly valuable service to my clients, the profession requires a constant quest of new information, self-reflection, and re-evaluation. This is what the true experts know, the ones who I look to for guidance and expertise. In order to give clients the best possible experience, we as fitness professionals need to grow our methods, skill, and critical thinking alongside our clients cultivating newfound levels of fitness. There exists no finish line in the a field as dynamic as exercise science, and as Chad Landers said in his presentation (more on this later), “complacency kills.”

Tim Arndt, if you’ve ever met him, is one of the most passionate individuals when it comes to the fitness industry. The whole reason he started the Inland Empire Fitness Conference in 2017 was to be able to speak and present, knowing that other conferences were probably not going to ask the same of him. This was essentially a big “middle finger” to anyone that doubted him and his inexperience with presenting. What resulted from this drive was a conference that has now provided two years worth of inspiration, evidenced-based training methods, and a significantly upgraded value for the clients of trainers in attendance. If you are looking for a conference to attend for CEU’s, especially if you live in the Spokane area, seriously consider a trip over to the IEFC 2019. If the jump-in quality from 2017-2018 is any indication, then you will surely not be disappointed with the conference next spring.

I want to conclude this blog post with a big-picture insight into the aspects I saw as most influential and important. So, here are three takeaways from the past weekend.

1.) Complexity does not equal value.

Nick Tumminello may have presented on the fallacies of movement screening during the pre-conference, but a more subtle message I received was an emphasis on simplicity. He made statements like, “resistance training is just force over tissues,” “squatting is just another form of lowering and raising center of gravity,” and “principles over methods.” Sure, on the surface, this seems to be random phrases without any such correlation. The general sentiment however is simplicity. Too often, trainers hold their value in how complex, new, and even “fancy” their methods are. They end up “getting married to exercises or methods, instead of principles,” as Nick said. Their system of complexity is what is advertised. They think, “If I can make this client think I’m saying a whole array of scientific stuff, then they must think I know what I’m talking about.” When in reality, this may cause an often ill-advised effect; that client may leave the session feeling much more uncomfortable, fearful, and unsure of how to exercise. How on earth does that provide value to my client? In case you are completely unaware of what a rhetorical question is, I’ll answer it for you: IT DOESN’T. Instead, we as trainers should hold our value in the level of empowerment we give our clients. That simple process that a lot of trainers scoff at is what gives the client the confidence and belief that they can be a sound exerciser. That is the true value of a trainer, one who makes the process appear as attainable and manageable as it actually is.

2.) The most knowledgeable are often the first to say “I don’t know.”

A prevailing theme throughout the weekend was: intelligent and expert trainers do not present falsely inflated levels of knowledge. Now, maybe this comes from a lack of insecurity stemming from the immense amount they do know, but that is not the point here. The willingness to say “that’s a great question, but I do not have the evidence to support any response I may give” actually renders what someone says that much more credible. If I can trust someone to not give me a fabricated answer, I can generally assume (after a proper search for logical pitfalls) the in-depth answer they give on a topic of interest or expertise is reliable. Not to be redundant, but, the corollary states a person unwilling to say “I don’t know” is a person willing to masquerade educated guesses as scientific fact. Every speaker answering questions used the phrase “I don’t know” without hesitation, and that might be one of the most powerful statements heard all weekend.

3.) The smartest trainer is not always the most successful.

Chad Landers, wow. That is the first, albeit succumbing to such a simple descriptor, thought that came to mind following his presentation. He detailed such passion, inspirational clients, and some downright tearjerker of stories. Not only that, he is certainly a well-polished and engaging speaker. This may not have been one of his main themes, but it struck a chord with me. Us as trainers cannot rely and gamble our success on being the smartest in the room. Sure, that certainly helps and enhances the value we provide to clients. BUT, if we as trainers fail to even obtain clients, how are we supposed to share the wealth of knowledge we work so diligently to earn? Taking this further, how are we supposed to provide value to our clients if we cannot provide complex scientific information in an easily digestible and meaningful package that these individuals actually care about. That failure rests with us as trainers, not the client. Chad knows an immense amount, but I think his mission statement for his own life is not only what gets him clients, but keeps them coming back for more: “My purpose is to motivate the unmotivated, educate the uneducated, and provide compassion for those in need.” If you ever get the chance to hear Chad speak, you will certainly not regret it. A boatload of wisdom presented by a solid and well-respected human being is something you can count on.

Overall, I can say I left the conference this past weekend a better trainer. Not only was this an investment in my own education, it was an investment in my clients' success.

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