I joined the industry just over 7 years ago. Fresh out of the college, out of the research lab, and out of graduate classes that consisted of advanced statistical analysis, biochemistry, and biomechanics. Sure, I could really nerd out behind a computer screen and build a 3-D model of the alpha-amino acid tryptophan and put together a really solid statistical analysis on, well, basically anything.
I didn’t have much experience working with people through exercise, but I loved exercise and I wanted to help people, so I used that combination to help jumpstart my thirst for knowledge and align my course once joining the ranks of the fitness industry as a personal trainer. I knew from the very first session I shadowed that this was the industry I wanted to be in. Soon, any thoughts of being a physical therapist were put on hold and I transitioned to another point on the spectrum.
As I began my career as a personal trainer, I had to make myself familiar with the gym, the equipment, and get creative with the space we had available with my clients. I didn’t have any questions on the strength and cardio machines available at the gym. In fact, I actually taught some of the other coaches the automated programs on some of the cardio equipment and gave tours to new members on all the strength equipment.
However, there were two pieces of equipment that I was unfamiliar with: a foam roller and a kettleball…Yes, I used the word “ketteBALL” intentionally because that’s how I initially referred to it. We had two of each in our gym, both of which belonged to our head trainer, so only his clients could use them (we were independent contractors, so to speak). I get a good chuckle out of that memory these days (and I cringe when I hear the word “kettleBALL”, but I remember being there too).
I’ve said it before, but I learned more about personal training and exercise and exercise sports science and nutrition in the next couple years than I had in the previous six. There were so many “aha” moments along the way, too many to remember, but the two “aha” moments I remember most during my first couple years were the power of the foam roller and kettlebell. Both pieces of equipment reign supreme in my mind today, but in different ways.
I’m a big fan of the foam roller. I was skeptical at first and I know what the research says (conflicting in some areas), but I’m a big, BIG fan of beginning and ending sessions with some rolling and soft tissue work as well as some recovery work on the off days. The roller offers so much to your soft tissue quality, your recovery, pain thresholds, nervous system, etc. I was quoted on my first podcast with Clinically Pressed as saying it was “My favorite piece of equipment under $100.” That statement still stands true today.
The kettlebell is still that piece of equipment that you seem to discover new things about yourself and the bell each time you use it. It keeps you honest, humble, and excited. It’s an incredible tool for teaching movement patterns and stability. It’s one of the best bang-for-you-buck tools you can invest in and it’s probably right under the foam roller on the list of equipment I love under $100.
Even though I feel like I’ve learned so much and I can handle my own with a kettlebell, I decided to learn from the masters of the kettlebell and have undertook a Strongfirst SFG L1 cert with two other coaches from Unity Fitness. Our cert weekend is coming up at the end of this month and I couldn’t be more excited to learn even more about this amazing tool in our tool box and how we can help harness more out of each time we touch the bell, which will in turn help us help more people. It still blows me away how much you can continue to learn about ONE THING the more you want to learn about it. The adage reigns true: the more you know, the more you don’t know.
As I go into my seventh year as I coach, there are a few other pieces of equipment that I continue to learn more and more about, like the barbell or ultimate sandbag or TRX to name a few, but the roller and kettlebell still stand hold that iconic feeling to me. Regardless of the piece of equipment, as long as you’re investing your time and knowledge into it you are bound to find out more and have your own “aha” moments. There’s plenty of rabbit holes to go down 😊.
But, if you’re interested in learning more about the foam roller and soft tissue mobility rabbit hole, then make sure you stop by the facility this Saturday for our Foam Roller and Soft Tissue Mobility Workshop where we’ll be going over how to use the foam roller correctly as well as other soft tissue mobility tools. There’s still a few spots left for you to learn how to feel better and move better! See you there!