A Student of Science and Art

I consider both science and art to be lifetime studies.  I believe the ability to effectively Coach requires application of both, with some coaches favoring one side slightly more than the other.  I’m approaching my third decade as a coach and still consider myself a student.

Coaching is a Science.
Putting on a shirt that says “Personal Trainer” on the back doesn’t make you a trainer,a coach or much less of a Scientist. Being frank,even possessing a degree in Exercise Science or Physiology doesn’t make you a trainer either. It makes you a person that passed collegiate level coursework in the science behind the subject.

In becoming a coach, the scientist half examines exercises and asks the questions “How does this work? What is the intent of this exercise?  and How can this be applied, and to whom?”


For all the jokes I’ve made about the BOSU ball (and there have been many) I have also stated two points (a) The BOSU is not totally without use and (b) The BOSU didn’t make the decision as to what was being done with it, a human did…and possibly one wearing a shirt that said “Trainer” on the back of it.

ANALYSIS: Taken as individual exercises, standing on the BOSU is a challenge to a persons righting reflexes and can help rehabilitate ankle or knee injuries.  The single arm cable pull is good exercise to train pulling and rotation or anti-rotation qualities.  When combing the two exercises the load is greatly lowered as force cannot be  adequately produced off the unstable surface. It is possible that the load could create a degree of stability on the unstable surface, which would seem to nullify any benefit. Numerous studies (1) have shown training on unstable surfaces does not improve, or limitedly improves performance on stable surfaces. I’m not sure why the guy is shirtless, but I’m going with marketing.

While I believe exercises have varying levels of return on investment, I believe that none are inherently good or bad on their own. The application and person doing the work determines if something is good or bad.

Possessing a knowledge of basic physics,mathematics and anatomy can create the ability to understand an exercise. Not simply the point (a) to (b), but the actions both seen and unseen that occur in a given motion or movement. This level knowledge creates a deeper understanding,and allows the coach to create truly client defined exercises.

By no means am I suggesting you learn how to split the atom, but knowing what force, inertia, momentum and moment arms should be considered essential.

Coaching is an Art.
Put a paintbrush in someone’s hand and they are not automatically an artist.

Given time, a person can develop their individual artistic qualities. For the non-naturally gifted, interacting with,being instructed by and studying the works of people known to be talented is normally a great start. I believe the assembly of numerous Scientist/Artist level coaches can positively impact an individuals motivation to improve themselves.

It could also be overwhelming and lead to a students failure to absorb anything.  I’ve seen this occur firsthand.

Some people will either never develop,or be resistant to it. They will find a comfortable intellectual plateau and remain there, or see themselves as something far more than they actually are.  They may actually be passably good trainers, or they might be good within the pond they swim.

The art of coaching partially resides within ones ability to communicate what needs to be done,how the work is to be performed and when needed, the motivation to do the work. The ability to impart confidence to another person is a talent typically not covered on page 123 of the certified personal trainer books.

The certified personal trainer certification is a fine starting point, but until you understand the foundations of physics and practical anatomy as applied to training you will never see your full potential.

“Potential” is often expressed as a positive. This isn’t always the case,to some coaches “potential” translates to “that which is holding you back” or even “simply a wish,until realized.”

In fairness,being “less than full potential” might still very good and certainly better when subjectively (or objectively) compared to the average trainer.

That said,I offer three points to consider…
(1) Your “less than full potential” may be far less than what you’re actually capable of doing. Are you the type of person that’s okay with settling for less?

(2) Consider your subjective comparison group. 60-80% of the trainers around you likely vary from borderline acceptable to outright dangerous. Fact is there is a high number of substandard trainers within the industry.

Read about it here:  https://mytrainerchris.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/8020/

(3) The subjective top percentile are always looking to stay on top and ahead of things. This is a fact.

The good news is you can always catch up and we live in an age where credible information is literally clicks away. .

The worst thing that could happen would be for good teachers to relieve themselves of trying to teach you. You can blame whomever you want, but when the dust settles you’re the one that lost. That said, even that isn’t completely insurmountable and a person can move forward and upward having learned from the experience.

If one is open to it.
…is able to put their ego aside.
…is able be a student.
…is able to demonstrate growth over time.
…is willing the become both a scientist and artist.


(1) The effects of ten weeks of lower-body unstable surface training on markers of athletic performance.



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