Train To Improve At Life

Andrew Read, RKC, is a highly respected trainer in the fitness industry, and a great athlete in his own right. One of the things I personally enjoy the most about his writing is his honesty and humility. In his early 40's, Andrew isn't exactly a kid anymore, but he sure knows a thing or two about inspiring a youthful enthusiasm in his readers and clients (I would assume, since I've never met him personally).

Recently, Mr. Read wrote an article about athletic achievement, and how it pertains to the "average Joe" client. Below is an excerpt from his article:

"I have to be honest and say that I have never had a client sign up with me because of what I could do. They’ve signed up with me because of what I can get them to do and the results they see in my other clients. Think about a high school PE teacher for a moment. Do you ever see one post on Facebook a picture of them out-performing the kids they are in charge of? I’d hope not because that kind of ego has no place in education....It’s all about your clients – your kids in this sense – having the best experience they can with you, not about what you can do.

" ...Performance drops as you age and there’s no hiding from it. The average age of medal winners at London was twenty-six. That was a good fifteen years ago for me. If the only thing that I derive pleasure from is breaking my personal records I’m going to have a very sad next forty years. But there’s no reason why we can’t be interested in trying to maintain performance, and by that I mean movement as that is the base, as we age.

"For me, that is one of the reasons why I am so interested in movement based programs like the FMS and Primal Move – I instantly knew that these things could make a huge difference and that if I wanted to keep my clients healthy long term than we needed to add these kinds of elements into training.

"Interestingly these are the exact same things that help to build athleticism. In a world that is overly sedentary we are seeing more and more people try to maintain fitness in later life. If they haven’t moved much since they were six (a likely scenario in these days of no physical education in schools and low sports participation numbers) they are going to need to build some movement patterns.

"My interest in all training comes down to one thing – what can I learn so that my clients will be able to go out and use their fitness and enjoy their lives more? If that means they want to go in Tough Mudder, then I need to know how to help them run better and get over obstacles. But it also means I need to make them robust enough that they won’t break while running in training. I’ve never heard of a client being stopped at the end of a triathlon and asked what their deadlift is, only their finishing time. In other words – the lifting is secondary to the performance. Making that vital difference to clients is all I really care about. 

"As trainers we often forget that our clients don’t share the same endless enthusiasm for training that we do. They want the maximum result from the least effort....We need to make clients more athletic and find ways to embrace our own athleticism so that the base layer of movement and strength can be added to in an appropriate setting. Being in the gym is not the goal nor is having success in it. The goal has to always be making your clients’ lives better outside the gym. That is a product of many fitness qualities and methods."

To take what Mr. Read said a step further, I, he, we, want our clients to be better at life, period. We share the same goal in that by providing our clients with a path to their goal that includes better movement skills, mobility, stability, and eventually strength, they will become not only better at performing in their own training, but they will become better at life. As he said, the lifting is secondary to the performance. But strength training is also the foundation of the performance, too.

If a client is still recovering from a long term injury, or just dealing with poor movement in general--to the point it has made their life/sport outside the gym less enjoyable--it may be great to treat training as lab time: a time to hone specific skills to make their recreational sports and activities more enjoyable. I personally can think of a handful of folks, including myself, who have put their respective sports on hold to improve their movement skills and general athletic base (Andrew Read would call this GPP, or General Physical Preparedness), in order to eventually maximize their enjoyment of those activities outside. 

Friends, the gym is by no means the end. Your training is only the beginning. Take your time, be patient, find joy in the process of improving yourself in a safe environment... And then go enjoy your life, as there is only a finite amount of time to do so! 

Train to improve at life, not just to improve your strength.

If you would like to read Andrew Read's article in its entirety, copy and paste this link below: