The Weight of Responsibility

Note: I am currently taking a 5-day course as a pre-requisite for starting as a fitness trainer at Fitness First. I wanted a blog entry at the end of each day, but I was staying at a place with terrible Internet access. Now that I’m home with a stable connection, I can throw in yesterday’s reflection. Today’s will just have to wait until tomorrow.

We had another quiz today.

It was the second so far. We’ve been told to expect another one come tomorrow – the final day of the foundation course. Today’s test covered joint movement, flexibility, and mobility. Tomorrow’s will be about cardiorespiratory training.

Neither of the tests so far had a 100% passing rate. I scored high on the first, but just passed the second. Some of the people taking the course with me failed both, and not by a small margin – one of the guys who will be assigned to the same branch as me, scored barely 50% today and just over that last Tuesday.

I’m used to classmates failing quizzes. That’s the reality of the classroom, and I certainly can’t truthfully claim to have passed every test I ever took in school. Heck, we don’t even need to pass – the final exam on Monday will be the sole basis of whether Fitness First certifies us as trainers. Failing these smaller tests is – at least on the surface – of no consequence whatsoever.

The thing is, the stakes are much higher now than they were in Economics 101. The men and women in that room with me will take charge of people’s lives. Someone’s safety and development will become dependent on their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Thus, knowing half the material in a foundation course – a course meant to instil the most basic but essential knowledge – is essentially knowing only half what experienced trainers would consider the bare minimum to do the job properly.

It’s a little scary to me that even one person in my class might only have half the skills he needs. Personally, I guess it’s irrelevant to me even if we wind up in the same branch. Any problems caused by his inadequacies are his to deal with. However, we as trainers – as people to whom others entrust their physical and occasionally mental health – are obligated to be every bit as good as is possible.

As potential trainers, our responsibility is perhaps less intense, but more crucial: are we able to actually do the job?

This is where soul-searching and introspection must come in. While outright failing 40-item quizzes doesn’t necessarily prove inadequacy, it’s worth considering when looking at a job with so much responsibility. Anatomy, biomechanics, and the like are all topics that a competent trainer must know, even if he’ll never have to recite them to his clients. If you cannot grasp them to a reasonable degree, should you really be taking on the position? Shouldn’t you be thinking first and foremost about the ones who might actually suffer the consequences of your failures?

This is, I think, the hardest part of being thrust into a leadership role. You will be forced to contemplate whether you are suited to the task, and if you can handle the consequences of your failures. In fact, you’d be lucky to have to face that question before actually being handed the responsibility.

I’m being magnanimous in my opinion by holding off on saying these people who fail spectacularly – and based on our workouts, aren’t particularly fit either – are not meant to be trainers. It is, however, a possibility, and one I believe should always be strongly considered before heading into such a role.

I know I’m doing it.


30x 4-way Jumping Jacks

Shoulder Tri-Set

3 rounds @ 2x15lbs / 90s rest

10x Front Raise

10x Bent-over Reverse Fly

10x Lateral Raise

More Work

1-5/1-4/1-3/1-2/1x Pull-up

Push Press Interval

2 blocks / 2min rest

Use 2x15lbs

2x30s Push Press / 30s OH Hold

“Big 55”

Looks like 10x Push Press + 10x Ring Row + 10x Diamond Push-up + 2m Rope Climb, etc.

DB Push Press @ 2x35lbs

Ring Row

Diamond Push-up

2m Rope Climb per rung


5 sets

20m Farmer Carry @ 2x28kg

10x Biceps Curl @ 2x25lbs


5min Stretching


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