What are the contributing factors that catapult fitness industry leaders to build flourishing careers and satisfied clients?
Professional growth is most attainable if we are clear about what skillful instruction looks like, accurately assess our own strengths and areas of growth, create criteria to guide our progress, and monitor this progress through self-reflection and peer support.
Honing in on the characteristics of masterful instruction
No need to recreate the wheel. Instead, use the time-tested field notes of others to help develop the template that highlights characteristics of competence. Various venues abound. Read literature such as Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss. Observe adept professionals with detached curiosity. Create a list of “noticings” that lend to their success. What level of specificity during instruction do they use with clients? How immediate is their feedback? How do they set their clients up for success? If you had to guess, what core values drive their instructional approach?
Create specific “success criteria” to guide and distill your choices
As we become more acquainted with the geography of masterful instruction, we benefit from a guidebook to support purposeful choice-making. The terrain that constitutes landmarks of powerful instruction is vast and nuanced. Creating success criteria, or ‘bite-size’ indicators of mastery makes visible the pathway to progress. In this way, criteria of success become landmarks that shepherd us in the direction we aim to go. Vague and loose goals once pondered about in the stratosphere of our mind form into tangible landforms. Self-chosen landmarks, or criteria, become the totem of our north star, and guide us in continuous refinement in action and speech. For example, say I wanted to improve the precision of my word choice with clients to facilitate whole-body alignment and recruitment of proper muscle groups and supporting systems. I might reflect upon what I know of best practice, consider formidable fitness professional’s choice of language, consult literature supporting this target, and reflect on my own experience (as a client or even as a learner) when in the presence of an accomplished fitness professional. The creation of my success criteria, which, I would write down by the way, might look something like this:
Today I will:
- Use the verbs “elongate”, “broaden”, and “align”
- Refrain from using the word “nice” (as in have a “nice” long back)
- Give real-time feedback to clients, identifying correct form
- Lean into my own bodily experience of the movements I am facilitating to explicitly articulate proper recruitment of supporting systems
Notice that even the intent of my general target of improving language specificity was specific to start out with, therefore allowing for more distilled criteria. The more specific the criteria, the more likely the attainment.
On-going reflection based on created success criteria with thoughts for “next steps”
Clear-headed reflection coupled with success criteria offer opportunities for celebration as well as potential for next steps. Reflection through the well-trodden lens of our perception though, sometimes prevents us from developing capacity and growth; it is akin to a house fly trying to exit the window in the exact same way over and over and over again. By reframing the lens through which we consider our actions with criteria as our guide, we can see with more clarity the exactitude of our location in the hills and valleys of masterful instruction.
Recruiting a colleague to provide constructive feedback based on criteria
We can’t see what we can’t see. It is one thing to have good form as you execute a deadlift. It is another to skillfully identify and verbalize what you are doing to have good form. In the field of education we call this meta-analysis. A good teacher is one who does many things that support best practice in the classroom. A masterful teacher is one who can articulate what they are doing and why. Impartial, nonpartisan reflection of our speech, thoughts, and actions is tricky. The weighty barriers of psychological blind spots also happen to be the areas that benefit from curious, committed exploration to harness our potential. Consequently, recruiting a trusted peer or colleague to support you in your courageous evolution is key to unlocking laden potential.
Our ego is affronted when perceived as being attacked. So, without a doubt, the parameters of success criteria are both your ally and your commander. The colleague you carefully select, someone whom you trust and believe can be objective, needs explicit instructions to correctly follow the protocol. Specific, whole-hearted celebrations of success related to created criteria help you feel seen and affirm on-target directionality. Next steps are always connected to the set criteria, stated neutrally and without judgement, such as: I noticed that…I saw… I heard…. Thoughtful consideration of feedback received offers opportunity to become more closely acquainted with the terrain of mastery of which you seek.
Refinement with the intention towards progress is a continuous occurrence that requires commitment. Acknowledge the vulnerability, discomfort, and courage it takes.