Jan 29, 2015Is Experience the Same as Wisdom?
By John Platero
John Platero is the Director of Education for the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers. His work has been published in a variety of books and magazines.
When I’m at conferences and workshops, or conversing with and observing other strength and conditioning professionals, I often hear them say “I’ve been training people for 20 years” or “I’ve got 20 years of experience.” When I ask them questions or observe them during training, it seems obvious to me that they don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing. In fact, they probably have one year of experience and repeated that same year 20 times.
I own a company that certifies personal trainers, and all my instructors have to pass an instructor exam. It surprises me when I see someone with an MS or PhD who can’t answer the questions for the exam. This is a problem. It seems the personal training industry is gearing toward accreditation from “higher education” (a college degree). However, once you obtain your degree, there is no requirement to maintain your knowledge, as opposed to certifications, which expire–thus requiring the person to continue their education to maintain their credentials.
Since this industry is fairly new and information continues to change rapidly, most colleges are using textbooks or training manuals that are out of date or still presenting information that is erroneous, and in some case dangerous. Printing costs can run into the hundreds of thousands, so many texts are not updated in a timely manner. Don’t get me wrong, college and higher education is fantastic. But like any other industry, there can be both good “experts” and bad “experts.”
My advice for anyone in the strength and conditioning field is to attend workshops and conferences, and obtain as much education as possible in addition to their degrees or certifications. Also, be wary of those professionals who have obtained all of their education from the same certification source. Most certification companies focus on or emphasize a certain aspect of training, so it’s important for a person to hear and learn other views from additional educational organizations.
People are different and the human body is vast. No one knows everything, and sometimes experience can actually be limiting. The desire and passion to learn and the ability to change and keep up with the latest information and techniques are the most important aspects I look for when hiring a trainer or instructor. I would rather have a person with zero education and the desire to learn than a PhD who thinks they know it all. Every day is a new “experience.”
Try and approach each day with an open mind. The one thing you can count on for sure is change. My mother used to tell me, “your mind is like a parachute–if it doesn’t open, it isn’t worth much.” To me, that’s wisdom.