In June, we extended our partnership with Active IQ to bring even more valuable insight and services to training centres, learners and graduates. In addition to discounted services and insurance for Active IQ clients and FitPro members, we also collaborate on blogs, webinars and podcasts to help extend your knowledge and skills. We recently sat down with James Clack, Head of Digital Learning at Active IQ to talk about the importance of ongoing education.
The leisure sector has sometimes struggled to be seen by those outside the industry as a serious ‘profession’. We refer to our colleagues as fitness professionals and, indeed, that is what they are! But not everyone shares the view that fitness instructors, PTs and coaches are professionals in their field and the perception that people have jobs rather than careers in fitness still persists.
Not only can this undermine talented and skillful fit pros, but it can also reduce the value and impact of our work and limit our potential to bring real health and lifestyle gains to people. Having worked with clients as a fitness trainer before moving to work as an educator/master trainer and now in my role with Active IQ, I know the true value of a well-trained and disciplined fitness professional. From first-hand experience, I also recognise and appreciate the sheer scale and scope of their work, from working on technique with elite young athletes to maximising mobility gains for elderly clients and everyone in between!
As in many walks of life, qualifications and enhanced skills will help fit pros be taken seriously. And that’s where education comes in. We all know that qualifying as a fitness instructor or PT is just the starting point for a fitness career, with CPD and additional specialist training both key to shaping our career pathway.
There is clearly a wealth of courses and qualifications to choose from to enhance skills and broaden knowledge. So much so, it can be hard to know where to start!
A good way to focus your mind and consolidate your skills is to specialise in a certain field. This will not only help to streamline your training options, but it will also help you to develop specific skills to attract people looking for an expert in a certain field. You could argue, too, that in a more specialised and highly trained role, you can command a professional fee for your time and work.
You may think that specialising might narrow your options but, in fact, you are more likely to find it expands your horizons with transferable knowledge and skills. By building skills and reputation within a certain area – such as mid-life wellness, pre- and post-natal training or strength and conditioning – you’ll be more likely to be known for your specialism and stand out from the crowd. People will start to seek you out, knowing you have specialist skills and relevant experience to help them achieve their fitness and wellness goals.
Follow your heart when deciding which field to specialise in. Working in an area that means something to you will be both authentic and motivating. Having a clear focus on your training will reinforce your credentials and help you cut through the multitude of CPD options as you home in on areas that are most applicable to your chosen field.
It’s advisable to come up to speed gradually and start with some smaller and shorter CPD options, as they will feel accessible and help you get back into a learning frame of mind. Added to which, they will also show you quickly if the subject area does indeed spark and hold your interest!
Remember, not all CPD and upskilling options need to be paid for. The Skills Hub from Active IQ is a great example. It has a wealth of free content, which is accessible to anyone studying an Active IQ qualification. Also, for anyone studying an Active IQ qualification, you get a complimentary one-year FitPro membership as part of our recently renewed partnership.
Together, we provide even more options, including a free FitPro webinar and podcast each month plus a selection of blogs, articles and white papers. Alongside this, you’ll find a host of free CPD options to extend your knowledge and skills. Don’t be overwhelmed by this: it’s all clearly set out and, particularly if you’re focused on a specialist area, you can easily cut straight through to those options that will be the best fit for you.
Last but by no means least, fitness professionals must be properly insured and, again, our association with FitPro brings reliable and cost-effective insurance packages within easy reach. It’s important to seek expert advice to ensure you have the right cover for the type of sessions you deliver, their location and setting.
Armed with specialist skills, an eagerness for ongoing education and the security that comes from being properly insured will help you demonstrate your credentials. Quite simply, it puts the ‘pro’ back into fit pro. This, in turn, will encourage clients, colleagues and the world at large to recognise your true value and the professionalism of the fitness industry.