Turning the page to the new year (and new decade) is always an exciting time for health and exercise professionals. Not only do we get to hear and be a part of the goals our clients and participants are setting, but it also provides an opportunity to reflect and plan for our personal and professional growth.
We asked thousands of health and exercise professionals what they are looking to take on this next year, and their answers might surprise you. Instead of the answers you might expect topping the lists, such as mastering a new format or setting personal physical achievement goals, we heard about philanthropic hopes, behavior-change education and inclusivity dreams. The responses were both heartwarming and hopeful.
Here are the three biggest themes for professional development among your peers in the New Year:
Giving back. Health and exercise professionals are searching for ways to give back. While teaching in exchange for pay and a gym membership is rewarding, many people are finding ways to take their gifts to underserved communities, including prisons, schools, faith-based centers, neighborhoods and more. Could you spare one hour a month (or even a quarter) to put together a class or training session for those that might not be able to attend due to geography or finances? If we’re hoping to get people moving, it’s important we find ways to take our services outside of the four walls of a traditional fitness facility, directly to those who need it most.
Updating cueing. Instructors and trainers are increasingly aware that words matter. We’re constantly striving for the best language to describe what we want to see, what we want our clients to feel and the perfect cue for adjustments in technique. This year, however, we also see health and exercise professionals looking to update their language to remove stigma and build inclusivity. How can we cue to better accommodate a wide range of fitness levels and, more importantly, fitness goals? Not everyone is looking to be bigger, stronger or faster. Instead of leveling up or down, can we find phrases and statements to make all options accessible and equally attractive without attaching any value? As we strive to get more people involved in fitness, we’ll have to redefine what that looks like and how we teach.
Incorporating mind into the movement. The past decade has seen significant growth in mind/body disciplines such as yoga, tai chi and Pilates. While these formats are still strong in popularity, this year we’re hearing more about how habits, mindset and behavior change must be reflected in all of our classes and training sessions. Whether group fitness, small group or personal training, behavior change is at the forefront of educational upgrades for 2020. We are finally starting to realize that, as health and exercise professionals, we are a bit unique in our love of sweat and spandex. We must learn new ways to help others find joy in movement (versus seeing it as a chore). Topping the list of goals for the New Year is obtaining specialty certificates in behavior change or adding health coaching to your certifications as a way to fill your toolbox to make it happen.
Whether the goals above have inspired you or you have big dreams of your own in 2020, we trust you have ideas in mind for how you will grow this year. Here are a few ways to organize and prioritize that list to make this the best year yet:
Look to make an immediate impact. Prioritize one part of your professional development goal that would be immediately impactful. This is something that is easy to learn, easy to implement and will have the greatest impact. For example, if you chose updating your cueing from the list above, perhaps you could audit your cueing and find one phrase to eliminate, one phrase to continue and one phrase to start using that would help all exercisers find success.
Aim for short-term success. Next, choose one part of your goal that you can accomplish within two to three months. This might take a bit more planning and energy, but nothing you can’t handle in the nooks and crannies of your time. Perhaps, if choosing from above, it’s completing a short continuing education course on behavior change and incorporating what you’ve learned into your current teaching or training.
Go on a vision quest. Finally, it’s important to always have something on the horizon to stretch you—something that is just outside your reach that requires planning and perseverance. If you’re following along with one of the three most prevalent themes for 2020, perhaps it’s investing in becoming an ACE Behavior Change Specialist or studying to sit for the Health Coach Certification, adding your newly earned skill set to your list of offerings.
Finally, you know better than anyone the importance of accountability. Find another health and exercise professional and let them know what your plans are for this New Year. Be specific with what you’re hoping to accomplish and in what timeframe. Speaking your truth into the world will get you one step closer to accomplishing your goals for 2020. Best of luck to you as you continue to get people moving. We’re with you!