The More You Know (the more confused you are)

This week, I am back in the classroom.  Or, at least, sitting on the floor of a dance studio with my notebook and pen, watching Powerpoint presentations (and LOTS of live physical demonstrations).  It’s a weird feeling – in a good way.

You see, I’m taking four days of classes with Personal Trainer/Yoga Trainer/Pilates Trainer Claire Norgate, from Australia.  [When I lived in the US, I had no idea how much fitness “stuff” came out of Australia.  Turns out, a lot!]  This particular workshop set is focused on Postural Analysis/Movement Analysis/Trigger Point and Remedial/Rehabilitation Pilates (and some other, non-Pilates exercises).  I am not a trained Pilates instructor and, to be honest, I went in fairly skeptical of Pilates, based on the smattering of group classes I’ve taken.  And although my thoughts on it are changing somewhat thanks to this course, some of the finer, Pilates-centric points of the workshop have been lost on me.

Still, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything I’ve learned (or hopefully learned!) over the last few days.  This is a good kind of overwhelmed, though – and I am very excited to start incorporating some of these techniques and approaches into my coaching programs and into my one-on-one work with clients on posture/stride/gait.  I also plan to share more details about certain topics on the blog, once I’ve had time to process, integrate, and test some of them.  But for now, I have to leave for class pretty soon – so I will leave you with a list.  [I love lists. Also, I’m considering this to be Monday’s “Coach’s Corner” post, kind of – especially since I started it at the beginning of the week.]

10 Tidbits of Learnin’
(from two Claire Norgate workshops)

1. Spending the day with other folks who are just as interested in fitness/movement as I am is pretty darn cool.  I’m a bit of an anomaly – I’m trained as a running coach, but am far less formally trained in other areas of fitness (yoga, Pilates, personal training) than many of the other participants.  There is so much that I can learn in that room – and only some of it comes from Claire.

2. Nothing beats wearing your workout gear to class.  Bonus?  I need only change my shoes to be dressed for my run when I get home!  [It’s like going to class in your PJs when you were in college – only cuter, more efficient, and socially acceptable.]

3. There is contradictory evidence about pretty much everything.  You thought that the barefoot running controversy was bad?  That is merely the TIP of the iceberg.  Should you “roll” your spine up and down (as in “From standing, drop your chin to your chest and ROLL down, one vertebrae at a time.”)?  Is it safe to squat with knees extending past toes?  What sorts of exercises are “safe” for folks with knee injuries? back injuries?  Also, this year’s recommendation may change next year.  Or in five years.  Then, it’ll probably change back.  It’s enough to make you crazy.  Instead, I use it as a reminder of the importance of respecting the differences in individuals, and encouraging everyone to listen to his/her own body.

4. I need a pack mule, or a car.  Carrying course materials, food, workout apparel, and shoes for the day (sometimes 7 AM – 7 PM) makes me not the favorite person on crowded morning buses.

Squeeeezing my yoga mat into my Timbuk2 bag, because my hands are full with my lunchbag and shoe bag...

Squeeeezing my yoga mat into my Timbuk2 bag, because my hands are full with my lunchbag and shoe bag…

5. Teaching group exercise classes well is really, really hard.  This goes hand-in-hand with observations I’m making during the Team Teaching for RPM.  In every class, there are folks of all levels and body types, with unique strengths/weaknesses.  Teaching in a way that properly directs each of them is extraordinarily challenging, and I didn’t appreciate this until very recently.

6. Other people have dorky “favorite things”, too!  I have a favorite science word (pseudopod) and a favorite piece of laboratory equipment (one of the BioRad PCR machines in the Bi lab).  Apparently, exercise/physiology folks have favorite bones (I decided yesterday that mine is the xyphoid process), and favorite muscles to look at (gastrocnemeus/soleus?).

7. We ALL have some postural and movement patterns that fall within “normal” range – and we all have some that fall outside what is considered “normal”.  The goal for those of us in the fitness industry – and the folks I/we work with – is to start moving people toward normal, to allow for safer, more pain-free, and more effective movement and exercise.

8. As the only Caucasian in a room full of Asians, I was the one who asked, “Well, who decided what “NORMAL” is, anyway?”

9. “Lamb Cupcakery” is a very strange name.  But their chocolate peanut butter cupcake is a pretty amazing way to end a day of learnin’.

If it looks like the only thing left is the wrapper....that's correct.  I forgot to take a "before" photo....

If it looks like the only thing left is the wrapper….that’s correct. I forgot to take a “before” photo….

10. I need (want?) to learn more.  And more.  And more.  It’s really fantastic to be learning things that I will actually use!!!  Take that, formalized American education system!

OK, that’s it for today, folks.  As I said – I hope to be blogging about more specific information I learned – and how I’m applying it to my coaching – over time.  But for now, keep on eye out here – the Thursday “Stretch of the Day” will be debuting in less than 24 hours!!

If you work in the health/fitness industry: What is the most useful class/course/workshop you’ve ever taken?

EVERYONE: I’m in ‘learning mode’, so teach me some interesting morsel of information!!!

21 thoughts on “The More You Know (the more confused you are)

  1. NIcole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    Is it bad that I honed in on chocolate PB cupcake?! Yum! This sounds like an amazing learning opportunity. One of my good friends teaches Pilates, and when I can take her class, it never fails to kick my non-flexible runner’s butt. Every.Single.Time. So cool that you are exposing yourself to new areas of fitness!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Nah, you and half the others did the same. 🙂

      The thing about Pilates, though – is that it was first designed as a one-on-one practice, and was only adapted to group exercise classes much later. Taking this course has helped me appreciate just how challenging it is to be a GOOD Pilates instructor – since you have students coming in with all sorts of spines, postures, strengths, and weaknesses. Helping everyone correct properly with a single set of cues is extraordinarily challenging.

      Reply
  2. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    Gastrocnemeus is certainly the most fun muscle name to say!

    The TRX Suspension Training class that I took almost two years ago was the best class I’ve ever taken. The instructor was really good and so well organized.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I’m toying with a TRX training/cert class. I love that the equipment is so simple: Just some straps, someplace safe to attach them, and my body! But ultimately – any kind of course like this can be made/broken by the instructor (in my opinion).

      Reply
  3. Allison

    Ok I,forgot everything you said once you started talking about the cupcake. Looks delish!

    Australia? Really? No idea that a lot of this comes from there?

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Well…I should be clear. Most of the research comes from the US. So do many of the branded group exercise programs. But there are certainly some schools of thought – and some programs – that originated in SE Asia, mostly New Zealand & Australia. For example, Les Mills (BodyPump, et al) is based in New Zealand!

      Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      It’s probably just a matter of starting in the right place, and building from there. I have my coaching certificate, and a background in biology – that was really plenty for this course. If your training isn’t in biology, I would suggest starting with an anatomy & physiology course from a local community college. After that, you’d be well-equipped to take any/many kinds of classes. If in doubt, ask the instructor if your background matches the content of the class. Everyone has to start somewhere!

      Reply
  4. misszippy

    I think I would be geeking in a class like that, too–so much fun to learn! Oh so true about everything being debated. We could go around in circles on just about every topic when it comes to fitness. But yes, I agree–it is very individual and we have to do what works for us.

    Send me one of those cupcakes, ok?

    Reply
  5. Char

    It’s nice to hear that Australia is contributing positive things to the fitness industry world-wide. I thought that all we had to offer was our high obesity rates and our increasing levels of chronic disease caused by being overweight. The media likes to focus on the negative so it’s good to hear about the positive once in a while.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Well, on the latter two issues – remember that I’m an American. We can probably give you a run for your money on “unhealthy habits”. And the Australian instructor exclaimed, “My goodness, there are SO MANY PEOPLE who smoke in Singapore!” So Australia isn’t all bad. 🙂

      And I should clarify – most of the health/fitness studies still come from the US, as do many organized and branded programs. But New Zealand & Australia have definitely made their contributions (Les Mills being a huge one from NZ), and most everything that isn’t traditionally “eastern” out here (yoga, martial arts, etc.) has been spearheaded and taught by NZers or Australians. That said, I have no hard data to back up my observation – this was just a reminder/observation from someone who thought of the fitness world as very America-centric. [Ironic, given our health stats, too!]

      Reply
      1. Grace

        I think the fitness blogging world is quite US-centric 🙂 Oh and I have to admit I wondered ‘who decides what normal is?’ too, but that’s probably a side effect of being an English major.

        The trouble is, much of the Anglophone world is US-centric. Americans tend to read American authors in both fiction and non-fiction, American news sites, and so on; how is anyone else supposed to compete in that closed market?

        Reply
        1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

          …or a journalist. 🙂

          I think that, to a large degree, you are correct – and Americans aren’t often forced OUTSIDE that sphere, because the sphere is pretty large (in comparison, for example, to Singapore). However, I do think there are people willing to look outside and bring in – that’s how Les Mills got into the US.

          Reply
  6. Heather R.

    So, teach you something – totally not exercise related, but, when you enter a place, take a look around and find your second exit. Human behavior tends to have people leave the same way they entered a space. If there is an emergency, you will have a better chance of getting out. 😉

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Brilliant! I do like to orient myself facing the door (in a restaurant, for example), rather than “back to the door”, but never really thought much about the second exit business – except in an airplane!

      Reply
  7. Alyssa

    Did you know that crows can imprint, and that they are also vengeful and remember those who have slighted them? I don’t work in “the biz” so I have no useful knowledge there! That was my new learning this week courtesy of Jean Craighead George!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I will take any and all knowledge. Do crows remember OTHER CROWS that slighted them? That’s pretty impressive. [I mean, all crows sorta look the same to me, although I’ll admit that my cross-species identification isn’t that great.] I will be sure not to knowingly slight any crows in the future, just in case… 🙂

      Reply
  8. Meagan

    This sounds like a great course to broaden your horizon as a fitness professional! Hmmm if you’re still in learning mode, here’s a tidbit: Did you know 80% of the US’ potatoes are grown in Idaho? I just changed your life, didn’t I. 🙂

    Reply
      1. Meagan

        We learned that in school (these are the things you learn studying food science) so the number may be a bit outdated. I didn’t fact check, first. But I’m sure it’s still relatively accurate.

        Reply

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