„We don’t need fitness models as athletic coaches!“
That was one of the claims made by Manuel Ruep at last year’s Athletikkonferenz (athletic conference) in Bonn.
Why he is right when he says that athletic looks are nothing to neglect in the fitness business, though, will be the topic of this week’s Tutorial Thursday.
aerobis was one of the exhibitors at last year’s Athletikkonferenz, the first one of its kind and organized by recognized sport scientist Robert Heiduk and our good friends at pullsh, and also organized a workshop. The emphasis of this event was clearly on the diverse lectures of several athletic coaches, sport officials, and speakers from different professional sports.One of the speakers was Manuel Ruep, experienced athletic coach and manager of Trainingzone GmbH. The aforementioned quote is from his lecture about the pros and cons of CrossFit in athletic training for soccer.
His sentence resonated with me and I have now had quite some time to think about it. What did he want to say?
Are your looks a manifestation of your expertise?
To pick up from our recent blog post about muscle growth: there are so many fitness coaches, fitness enthusiasts, and/or hobby bodybuilders that distinguish themselves by their muscles and see them as some kind of justification to claim their competence. As if their muscles made their training tips more meaningful. But do we need that? Does a bodybuilding coach have to weigh 120 kg in order for his protege to be able to win the Arnold Classics? Does a personal trainer have to have a six pack in order for their clients to reach their goals? Does an athletic coach have to look like he is one of the players he is supposed to train?
What about the role model function?
Wait! Somehow they do, though.
Or would you buy a prevention package from an employee of a health insurance if that employee looks like he collects risk factors like overweight and smoking like they were rare stamps? The discussion about the Belgian minister of health, Maggie De Block, goes in a similar direction. It has something to do with authenticity.
No, you don’t have to be a fitness model in this job, but a role model. A certain athletic look makes you more credible as a coach. In the end, it is important that you have experienced or regularly practise what you preach.
In my personal training sessions I notice it every time that clients need some kind of incentive. An idol or something like that they can follow and aspire to become themselves. And often times, that’s the coach…
So when I step in front of a soccer team all the players are guaranteed to be much better than me. Ultimately, that is what they make their money with. But when I explain and show the functional exercises I have to excel with knowledge and performance. As an athletic coach (and in all the other fields of training), I should be able to do the specific workout session myself at that moment. Form follows function… and then my clients follow me! The coach shouldn’t just be theoretically sound but practically as well.
Top of the class in biceps curls
Unfortunately, many of today’s self-proclaimed experts have a wrong understanding of the aforementioned principle and have only a muscle diploma to show. Following the motto: ‘Listen to me! I was on the school for hypertrophy and majored in biceps curls and bench presses.’ Final grade: A-.
How nice! Of course, you have spent many hours of hard (and hopefully honest) work and masses of protein on your biceps. But why should you be seen as an reputable coach? Because you spend more time on your training equipment that all our clients combined?
Well, I gotta say: we don’t need fitness models as coaches! And especially no coaches that try to create attention for their services by posting topless pictures of themselves on Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram.
At the same time, however, you are equally less credible if you spend all your time in front of books, research and publicize, design great training plans, and give a detailed biomechanic analysis of the target movement of a certain sport but can’t do one pull-up. Who do you want to train if you can’t even lift your own bodyweight from the ground?
What do you think? How important are looks in a job in the fitness industry?