Everyone of my blood relatives is an artist of sorts and makes a living at it. My father is a musician, my mother paints, as does my grandmother, my younger brother does graphic work and music and my youngest brother directs music videos and is a visual effects director on movies and such. I used to joke around that the only arts I practice are “martial”. While that may be true, not until I starting reading LINCHPIN by Seth Godin did I realize I was a little off on that comment 🙂
LINCHPIN VS COG
Having been recently unceremoniously terminated from a corporate training facility who shall not remain nameless, Gold’s Gym Venice, for the unscrupulous bullshit reason of violation of their terms of employment, where a part-timer like myself is apparently not allowed to make a living in their chosen profession with private “non-Mecca” clients, I realized this was a really good thing (the getting fired thing).
Corporations are built to amass a fortune at the expense of others. If it can be standardized, put in a manual, outsourced, exploited and replaced easily, it will be the way. Gold’s in Venice has a slew of independent trainers that were grandfathered in when the Mecca went corporate, and only a dozen staff trainers. The staff trainers have a huge cut taken out of their pay, which makes them all unhappy and eager to train outside or leave. Such is the business model for corporations: high turnover so you don’t need to give raises or incentives, milk people for as much as possible and get rid of people like me who actually have a business mind and realize they don’t need to be there. With such a model, there is little difference between a mediocre and a great trainer. The great trainer only yields a slightly bigger profit, but if they’re anything like myself, voicing your opinion and knowing what’s out there, outside of the gym, it creates conflict. A mediocre employee by comparison will abide like a beaten dog and if no longer useful, will get terminated.
In my case, if they’d let me march by the beat of my drum, they could have continued to profit. But I would then be dying inside and the flame that fuels my passion for my work would soon extinguish.
TRAINING AS AN ART
Pavel Tsatsouline uses the expression “paralysis by analysis”, whereby people who rely solely on their academic knowledge, test-tube vacuum mentality miss the big “human” picture and become cogs in a mechanism themselves. While I recognize the importance of education, knowledge and experience, the artistry involved in creating and developing a program that’s suitable for the client’s needs and wants is intrinsic to a good trainer. There are many ways to skin a cat. There are many ways to burn fat, put on muscle, sim down, improve time for a race. Not everything is cookie-cutter. Not every disease is treated the same by a doctor. A good doctor recognizes and acknowledges many factors and variables. There is an art to that. Same with the software engineer who will design an interface that’s pleasant and gets the job done. When you become an artist, as Seth Godin often mentions (and I paraphrase), you become indispensable, unique. Sure, a client can find another trainer, but it will not be a trainer like you. Go to Equinox and you can switch trainers any time because they force clients and trainers into a set design. Put it in a manual, abide and comply and voilà. Do yourself a favor: if that’s what you want, save some cash and buy a fitness magazine instead.
I am going to end this blog with a “status update” I posted on Facebook recently, because it sums up what I am talking about:
A great trainer doesn’t just spew knowledge and science and rehash it. It takes a certain artistry to put together, cue and build that is not taught academically. It’s a balance of knowledge, education and unquenchable thirst for self-improvement that relays the passion coaches have for what they do. It IS art.
In the meantime, get the book I am referring to here. Easy read, great motivation. I’ll keep you posted of what it inspired me to do, redoubling my fire to expand my passion into other areas and share my knowledge and philosophy!