By Chris Cooper
What exactly is a mentor? It’s a person, usually more experienced than yourself, who trains, educates, and/or guides you through the same field. An advisor.
Having a mentor has been an invaluable asset to my career as not only a personal trainer, but as a blooming presenter/educator in the fitness industry. So right off the bat, I am going to recommend finding a mentor that can guide you through whatever career it is you want. They will be able to elevate your capabilities as a professional to a level that you didn’t even think of.
So why is a mentor so valuable? First and foremost, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can guide you through your career. In a way they are another teacher/professor for you to learn from. Think of it as a course that has no end and is always evolving. Topics that could be touched on could include:
- Avoiding certain mistakes/pitfalls
- Teaching what works/doesn’t work
- Guide you to new endeavors
- Push your limits
In much of the same way a trainer pushes their clients past certain limits, a mentor will do the very same thing.
I almost fell into having a mentor on accident. Just from training at the same club, knowing some of the same people, did I start talking to Dave. I think it was more on his end of wanting to guide me because he saw something in me that he could push, mold, and develop. He saw an opportunity to further educate me so that I could be an asset to the industry.
I will admit that when I first came into the fitness industry, I really had minimal direction and no real goals/ambitions. I had all the theoretical knowledge and some experience through my educational endeavors, however I didn’t really know where I wanted to take my career. Initially I figured being a strength coach for a team would be a cool idea. I mean who wouldn’t think it would be fun to work/train athletes all the time. However that is a small percentage of the industry. Dave actually gave me a direction, steered me in a path that evidently works for me, being that I’ve been training for 8+ years, own my own facility, and creating new endeavors all the time.
Now that’s not to say that I haven’t learned from other people along the way because that just wouldn’t be true. I am lucky enough to have known several great trainers and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them either. Learning from other people, surrounding yourself with a great team can establish a great learning environment. It’s one the reasons that we’ve developed the team we have at AMP. Everyone has their strengths and we all feed off each other’s strengths.
From personal experience, my mentor pushed and pushed and pushed for me to start presenting, to start leading educational platforms because he knew I had a lot to share. However I was always hesitant to do so, being that every conference, seminar, event was led by someone with far more experience and far more knowledge than myself. In a way, I felt like I didn’t belong in that same arena. But I got pushed incessantly, until I just caved, and went for it.
And it’s never too late to find one. No matter where you are, there is always someone with more experience, with more knowledge to share, with more information to share with you.
Even as I sit here, owning my own business, I am still learning, still evolving, still seeking out advice because I know there are others that have been in my shoes before, and I want to learn so I don’t make mistakes, so I know what to avoid. Even now, as my career has grown, it has been filled with partnerships thanks to Dave. Whether it’s partnering on hosting educational events through his organization, FEI, or just throwing together boot camps, our relationship has reached a point where my success helps him, and his success helps me. It’s mutually beneficial.
I think in the fitness industry especially there is a need for mentoring. I think it is in the top 3 of needs for the direction of the industry. Being that as of right now, there is no direction, there is no regulation, there are no standards when it comes to education, mentorships are key to success. Even with my education I had no direction. Now take someone that doesn’t have the same educational experience that I do, how do you think they will fare? My guess is not too well. They’ll struggle, get burned out, and drop off from the industry. Now take that same person, whether they have the education, or are just making a career switch, develop a program that guides them, teaches them, pushes them and in the end creates a fitness professional that is an asset to the industry rather than another that gives up, or worse, is a detriment.