‘Providing experiences’, ‘the exerciser experience’, ‘it’s all about the experience’ are all terms which for the past 24 to 36 months, have formed a great deal of the column inches in our trade press, presentations at annual conferences and at exhibitions. This is not a bad thing, it is a worthy ‘Just Cause’, a virtuous ‘North Star’, and one that needs to be embraced by everyone.
Experts in experiences tell us that growth in the economy will only happen, if service industries move towards providing unique end-user experiences.
These experts define experiences as; services with positive feelings. It’s the feelings that drive the end user back to the service that is being provided, and in most cases, will pay more for the experience received.
So how might this industry change (moving from services to experiences) affect the instructor and personal trainer? How does this change affect the continued education, training and Continuing Professional Development (C.P.D.)?
Before moving on, this article embraces the concept of continued (not continual) professional development, in any form. The development of knowledge, skills, behaviours, attitudes, and the maintenance of professional competence, in an ever-changing industry.
No-one wants to be labelled as unprofessional.
Changes within any industry are going to be challenging, there will be causalities. For the instructor and Personal Trainer (P.T.) to be continually successful, there is a need for a lot more focus on the HOW of a session.
Experiences are expressed in the end-user as feelings, and these feelings drive individual behaviour.
This is not taking anything away from the WHAT an instructor or P.T. does, which is to support the end-user with content that is both safe and effective.
There is a need for balance between the HOW & the WHAT though. Just as there are factors that affect an end-user’s content, there will be factors that affect an end-user’s context. And, just as content changes as an individual moves towards their goals, the context may also change as they (the end user) become more confident and competent.
The VALUE of instructors and personal trainers to all stakeholders, as we move towards an experienced lead industry, will be in the balance between the science of exercise and a sound understanding (and application) of both interaction and engagement behaviours. This will be combined with relationship management skills, and both introspection (looking at one’s own personality and actions) and reflective skills.
C.P.D. does not have to be in the form of attending workshops or presentations, working with/modelling a mentor, or reading books however, these are extremely useful activities, in developing one’s self, and becoming a more rounded individual. As we know, more rounded individuals, make for better trainers.
Reflective Practice is ‘the process of internally examining and exploring an issue of concern, triggered by an experience, which creates and clarifies meaning in terms of self and which results in a changed conceptual perspective’ [Boyd & Fales, UKSCA Journal Issue 46].
Reflective Practice deepens understanding, it put the learning into a context, which will support a better end-user experience.
C.P.D. is NOT about the input, it’s about the output. It’s about what we have learnt and how it affects both content and context for us as trainers and more importantly the end users experience. Reflective Practice helps the instructor and P.T. do this.
Reflection supports the integration of practice and theory, into a context. Dr J Peterson comments; that we should compare ourselves to who we were yesterday, and not who someone else is today.
My Mum would tell me; not to ‘go to bed, as stupid as I woke up’. This means success is a journey, not a destination (someone else said this first) and reflective practice helps us all along this pathway.
Every end-user is different, and this must be remembered. As instructors and P.T.s we want as many different independent ideas, that can be integrated into a session for the individual end-user, both in the forms of content and context. This will help ensure that the experience for the individual is as unique as possible, filled with positive feelings and sensations.
Keith Smith – with help from:
- CIPD-What is Reflective Practice
- UKSCA Journal [issue 46]
- Challenging Professional Learning- S Crowley
- 12 Rules for Life-Dr J Peterson
- Keith’s Mum