It’s seven months since I first cracked open the books to begin studying for my Level 3 personal trainer qualification with Future Fit Training and I’m gaining a greater appreciation for Christopher Hitchens’ genius by the day.
“The measure of a good education is that you acquire some idea of the extent of your ignorance,” the legendary contrarian once quipped, and I’m finding him to be proved more correct with every passing module.
I’ve mentioned in a previous piece how surprised I was by the sheer volume of knowledge that personal trainers are expected to acquire. The level of detail and insight required was something I had grossly underestimated and this has been exacerbated by the fact that the comprehensive course materials provided by Future Fit ensure that no stone is left unturned in your training. Lucky then, that the learning process has so far proved such a joy that I’m genuinely excited and intrigued by how much remains to be discovered.
From a personal perspective, one of the most interesting aspects has been the importance of behaviour change and psychology in motivating an individual to exercise. We all know the stats – physical inactivity costs the UK £20bn per year and claims 37,000 – so these skills are essential weapons in a PT’s armoury if we are to make a meaningful dent in the nation’s inactivity crisis and save the NHS from bankruptcy.
As someone who works in communications and public relations, it’s fair to say much of my day (and nights) are consumed with questions of how to change behaviours. How do we persuade X that Y is the best course of action for improving their health? How can we best demonstrate that taking up Z will lead to a marked improvement in someone’s happiness and wellbeing? You can probably see where I’m going with this – when it comes to PR and PT – it’s all relative. Never mind the initials, across the two disciplines there are huge similarities in understanding motivations, changing behaviours and helping people to be happier.
Being neither a master in public relations or personal training (yet!) I’m afraid I’m not quite in the position to reveal all of the synergistic secrets that can help make both jobs become a doddle. But I can certainly see the parallels and would urge us all in the physical activity sector to treat our comfort zones like our muscles (stretch them often and watch them grow) by constantly seeking out advice and expertise from unlikely sources.
As for my Future Fit PT course, having just passed my Exercise Programming and Coaching section, now all that stands between me and a fully-fledged Level 3 qualification is the Nutrition and Weight Management module. The studying for this has begun in earnest, but of course it’s only when you’re let loose on the public that the real learning begins – a sentiment I’m sure Hitch would heartily agree with.