I love hip hop music.
In rap songs galore I constantly heard the quote “I’m a product of my environment” during the verses. I didn’t really think about the meaning of that line until I became an adult. Many of these guys grew up knowing a lifestyle of struggle, hardship, and exposure to things that most parents would prefer their kids weren’t exposed to, if they could help it. Certain life decisions weren’t options if they wanted to get by. As a result, that upbringing shaped just who they are today, and it has an effect over what they decide to talk about and share based on their experiences.
In the training world, the same exists. I don’t mean trainers everywhere are getting the Tupac “thug life” tattooed banner style across their chest (well, maybe some of them are). I’m talking about the mentality towards exercise. On the one hand, we have the commercially trained folks. People who got into the industry, possibly as a career change, because they’re already fit, love to work out, and decided to take a weekend cert so they can make a penny. The ones whose knowledge base is basically influenced by others who came up with their gimmick and got successful (read, rich) enough to have people think that this is what real fitness training is all about. When someone tells me that Shaun T, Tracy Anderson, or Jillian Michaels are the people they look up to as great minds in the industry, the conversation continues none of the time.
On the other hand, we have the stock who schooled to oblivion. The ones who can go through the body picking out issues like they’re going out of style. I sometimes have a hard time determining whether these people are doctors or personal trainers, and if the answer is the latter, whether that’s truly what they want to be. It becomes worse when their entire base of knowledge comes from ONE coach or practitioner’s methodologies.
It’s a tough line to straddle – and by that I’m referring to the line between being a good, knowledgeable coach, and being a coach who starts losing touch with the reality of life, human nature, the body, and goes for the most science-approved method, all the time.
Back to my example of being a product of your environment, by extension, the fruits are usually a telltale sign of the background. Keep in mind, I’m heavily generalizing here which is probably a bad thing (but hey, this is my blog), and many times the buff, cosmetically inclined big, jacked and lean “showtime”- bodied trainers that I see in my city also carry with them a commercialized education complete with its lack of “deep” training knowledge, from a relative standpoint. I’m not sure why this is, and there surely are exceptions to this comment. And hey, let’s be sure not forget steroids are a hell of a thing.
Having said that, looking at things from the other side, many of the guys who have enough knowledge to feed thousands with two small fish and 5 loaves would have the masses do a double take sometimes if they were to tell an unsuspecting random what they did for a living. Again, a generalization with plenty of exceptions – save the inbox hate for another article.
THIS IS MY TAKE.
Those with the deepest knowledge regarding all things training develop a case of analysis paralysis. So many things become contraindicated that it becomes a questionable thing to even lift the empty bar. Workouts begin with so much prehab, programs have so many intricacies, and there are so many issues to chase around that it takes away from actually lifting anything.
It almost seems like it’s against the law to have shades of both styles into your training philosophy. I see so much black and white that there’s no room for the grey folks. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some trainers who are capable of putting on the diagnostic hat and make use of the endless knowledge they possess, but also get right down to the dirty work and crush some solid lifts with awesome form to make for some ankle-buckling workouts.
The cool thing about the hip hop artists I mentioned earlier is that the most successful ones made it to the top because they could stick to their roots, yet wear the hat of occasionally putting out music that applies and appeals to the most people, so that different crowds could respect and appreciate what they do. Maybe we could take a lesson from that idea and wear both hats in our training. I’ll be the first one to say I’ll take knowledge any day of the week, but I also believe that “looking the part” is to some degree important. Acquiring knowledge to apply is one thing, but knowing when to ‘turn the volume down’ to the exhaustive prescription, diagnosis, and issue chasing (within reason) so that we can get some quality training in can be just as beneficial. We don’t want to be stuck with 5thdegree Analysis Paralysis.