Ask DR. BUFF: SCHOOL OF PROFESSIONAL PERSONAL TRAINING Train the Personal Trainer
Q. What is the program you are offering all about? A. Over the years I’ve seen an influx of individuals into the field of personal fitness training. Unfortunately, many of the trainers, although certified, are not necessarily qualified to teach at an advanced level. Let me use myself as an example.
In 1987 I got a part time job working at Tacoma Community College (TCC) in the physical education department. My supervisor, Steve Brown, MPE, ACSM, CSCS, and director of the Physical Education program, noticed that I had a knack for attracting the college athletes who would ask me questions about training, nutrition, and building muscle for their sport. Although I had over 13 years in the field,
36 had competed in numerous
contests, and trained hundreds of individuals, he noticed that I did not possess true knowledge and understanding of the human body from both a physiological and psychological perspective. He recommended that I return to school to increase my knowledge base. I ‘argued’ with him stating that I knew everything I needed to know until he asked 3 simple questions which I still use today to determine a trainer’s knowledge base.
1. Can you name all the bones in the human body? 2. Can you name the muscles that attach to those bones including origin, insertion, and action?
3. Can you tell me the names of the Quadriceps muscles and tell me which one crosses both the hip and knee joint.
Needless to say, I couldn’t answer any of them. Many trainers can’t. I know this because when I ask those questions I get the same blank look I gave in 1987. With 13 years’ experience, all the people I’d trained, the magazines I’d read, and competitions I’d competed in, I suddenly realized that I didn’t know anything! Let’s just say that the following semester I enrolled in TCC, and the rest is history.
To be perfectly honest, I ‘knew’ everything I needed to know about being a personal trainer and helping people…or so I thought. But after those 3 simple questions I realized that I didn’t have a clue as to how the human body truly operated. Even though I knew how to put people on programs and designa nutrition program, I couldn’t answer the “WHY’s” of the ‘what to do’ and how to do it’. I could tell someone what to do and how to do it, but didn’t really know the scientific answers to the ‘why’ it should be done a certain way. That’s the knowledge Steve Brown, Norm Webstad, and Phillis Templin, the three instructors at TCC possessed. That’s the knowledge Professor’s Sara Officer, Colleen Hacker, Tony Evans, Leslee Fisher, and all of my other college professors at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) possessed. That’s the knowledge I wanted to possess.
Q. What is your background with reference to the field of personal training and nutrition? A. I have over 37 years’ experience in this field as a personal trainer and 30 years as a competitor. I started training people before the term ‘personal trainer’ was coined. More importantly, I received my Master’s Degree in Physical Education with concentrations in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Biomechanics, Sports Psychology, Sports Nutrition, Athletic Training, and Injury Prevention. The desire and goal for me going back to school was to learn as much as I could to make myself a better trainer, teacher, and educator. From there I discovered the need for teaching other individuals interested in becoming trainers as well.
In 1996/97 I wrote the Washington State guidelines for a Personal Training program that Ashmead College and other private vocational-technical institutions implemented. I opened up my School of Professional Personal
Training in 1997 and personally trained over 200 trainers who, for many, went on to become successful independent trainers or the leading trainer at their respective facility. I ran this program for several years until a corporate fitness program that I developed and implemented eventually required more of my time.
Q. With all of the certifications available for trainers to increase their knowledge and ability, how can a trainer ensure he or she is selecting the right program?
A. It’s difficult to tell the credibility of a program. This much I know – there are hardly any true knowledge- based programs. Many of the certification programs are weekend courses. That means the typical trainer spends 8-10 hours on a Saturday, 3-4 hours on a Sunday, and then takes a test to become certified. I’m not saying they don’t learn anything, but how can one gain true knowledge in such a short period of time? Most of the weekend programs are simply classroom-oriented, with no hands-on training or facility to put into practice what you’ve just learned.
Online courses are another point of contention with me. You may learn the bookwork but there’s no practical experience to complement your learning. Plus it’s difficult to truly learn much of the science of the human body without a live instructor to explain things. For example, I frequently run into certified trainers who cannot correctly pronounce anatomical terms,
much less know them. Is this important? Well, look at it this way…if I claim to be a Fitness Professional and I happen to incorrectly pronounce a word or attempt to teach beyond my knowledge base to someone who actually KNOWS this information, at the very least I’d lose credibility in his or her eyes, and in the worst case I’d not only lose a client but very probably future referrals.
I’ve been asked many times over the years to be a certifying agent/teacher for certification programs, including Ashmead College, ACE, AFAA, and IDEA. One administrator actually said, “We realize that they’re not going to learn a lot. Our job is to get trainers out into the field. Once out there, their job is to learn.
Our job is to certify”. I’m not saying all organizations are like this, but it does appear to be a common theme.
Q. Why should veteran trainers seek continuing education if they are already in a position they are content with.
A. Well…the key words are “… in a position they are content with”. Fitness Professionals should not be content with a basic certification. I’m never in a position of contentment. After 71⁄2 years in school, I graduated with the thought that with everything I’d learned, I still had so much more to learn. I realized that there was a world of information I knew nothing about. To this day I still have a thirst for knowledge. It’s so interesting that whenever I learn something new, I pick up a client a bit later that literally has or experiences what I just learned. Without additional knowledge I wouldn’t have been able to help this person.
Another reason why trainers should seek continuing education is the 1+1=3 phenomenon. The more one learns, the more one is able to infer – to make sense of something they knew nothing about. Knowledge gives one the ability to figure things out and answer questions that otherwise wouldn’t or couldn’t be answered.
Q. What makes your program different from the other certifying programs? A. First off, this program is not a certifying program – it is a knowledge-based program. Upon completion of the School of Professional Personal Training,
in which class is held once a month on Saturdays for 6 months, you will be issued a Certificate of Completion. If you’re already a certified personal trainer there’s no need to seek additional certifications unless you desire to do so. If you are NOT certified and wish to get a certification, you will be provided with the skills necessary to sit for any of the major personal training/health fitness certifications, including American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength & Conditioning Association’s Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA- CPT), American Council on Exercise (ACE), and National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
Q. Where can I learn more about your program or to register?
A. Visit my website at http:// www.TheDrBuffExperience. com and click on the S.O.P.P.T. header link. All of the pertinent information is there including class schedules, curriculum, and cost.You can also contact me at 253-576-4859 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.