My Career - Transitioning, Growing As A Pro, Accepting what you don't know!
12+ years ago I had a dream job: teach climbing & become a personal trainer.
I started as a gym instructor working long hours earning next to no money just to see what people wanted and try to answer their many fitness and injury questions. I was happy to juggle this with two young children and whilst I did my personal trainer qualification, after all, that's what we all do, right? I was quickly aware that my personal trainer knowledge (which is a great course) didn't answer the many and varied questions about this amazing body and how it works, or doesn't in some cases, it just told me how to train the average body, not the many and varied bodies with all their complexities. A mentor at the time said that after 10 years of being a PT he realises how little he knew when he was newly qualified. I totally agree, but that is pretty hard to swallow after 2years of night school!
The only way to learn more was to study more, much more. My qualifications are listed on the About Me section of the website, we don't need to go there here. Suffice to say that whilst working as a PT and yoga teacher I studied broadly, including psychology, posture & movement, nutrition, more yoga... always seeking deeper knowledge of anatomy*.
What intrigued me most were the injuries that my clients occasionally came in with. How could I help them to prevent injury, how to assess/test for injury when it happened & how to treat injuries. I felt that I shouldn't be inducing injuries through my programs, after all, my clients trusted me, but some bodies can cope with certain movement patterns and some can't. If we apply the principles of overloading a muscle in order to develop it, sometimes the overload is too great and an injury results, what then?? I decided that focussing more on physiology* was the key. Understand how we work to optimise how to work us!!
Sports massage appeared to be the most appropriate course to explain the body well enough to answer my questions. Whilst I had no interest in treating through massage, there was no better to course to learn where each muscle started and finished, & I felt that if I could identify the injured muscle, then surely I could help it?
My sports massage course was fascinating and taught by an amazingly inspirational personal trainer, sports masseur and sports therapist called Arran Nicholson (think physio for sports injuries, able to assess, treat and rehabilitate). 3years later and with bundles of knowledge I still felt frustrated. I found I enjoyed giving sports massages & understood where the muscles were and how to treat them, but I wanted to understand why those muscles were struggling in the first place, only then could I help my client to prevent further issues.
Each question answered lead to 10 more. By now I was on UTube all the time that I wasn't working (and I work a lot!), a member of forums and associations, training several times a year and reading science journals. There had to be more answers. Thomas Myers gave me a glimpse of why an injured shoulder might present as a painful foot. John Gibbons (Oxford based trainer, osteo, sports therapist...) gave further insight into how to do the detective work of finding out the cause of referred pain. By now I was working with trainers with abundant qualifications and accolades such as "the expert's expert"!
I am still on that journey. As usual I am super busy but I now understand that the training will never stop. I will never know enough because our bodies are so complex that we are all just trying to learn as much as we can, help our clients as well as we can, and its wonderful that each client helps us learn more.
Instead of getting frustrated I am proud to say that I look forward to my weekly half training days. My course content remains diverse, including just this last month sleep, menopause, & the glutes! I am now reviewing books for Lotus Publishing and have mentored for about 5 years. I will continue on my path to becoming a Sports Therapist, treating (& learning from) my clients and loving my work.
I feel that what ever you are doing, however confident you feel about what you do, I think that the key to success is to be passionate, humble and keep learning.
*Whilst anatomy is the study of the structure and learning how to identify the body parts. Physiology is the study of how these parts function and relate to one another