Why I Love Exercise Instruction
Posted September 01, 2021 by Matthew Romans
I have been in the field of exercise for over twenty years, and I still get just as excited talking about it, learning about it, and instructing it as I did on my first day on the job back in July of 1999. There is always something new to learn, some insight to glean, or someone to show me an aspect of the field that I did not know. The challenge is constant, and that's why things never get boring for me. The technical aspect of being an instructor is what really moves me; understanding the ins and outs of our equipment, how it works, and what makes it so unique and effective. I really enjoy being able to share what I've learned with clients and prospective clients when they come through the doors at Total Results.
I recently finished reading Ken Hutchins' new book "Big Arthur, Little Me." Ken, as many of you are aware, is the founder of our exercise protocol, and this book is a memoir that largely covers his time working for Nautilus founder Arthur Jones. Hutchins has had some health problems recently, and has had to reduce his overall workload, but still remains a prolific and insightful writer on the subject of exercise. I am always inspired and reinforced when I read new stuff from Ken; it makes me want to keep learning. Here is a man in his early 70s, with nearly a half century in the industry, yet he continues to write and innovate. I can only hope my drive is that strong if I am fortunate enough to reach that age.
Many people are aware that the Total Results exercise protocol was developed during the Nautilus Osteoporosis Study at the University of Florida from 1982-1986. While many positive things did come out of that study, the environment was extremely chaotic and the data that was compiled was ultimately worthless, according to Hutchins (who, along with his wife Brenda, were Nautilus' chief employees present during the study). This was due to three reasons. One, the bone densitometry tools (to measure bone density) were inaccurate. Two, the test subjects' blood samples were not immediately processed. Finally, the exercise physiologist connected to the study insisted on using the VO2 Max test, which isn't a valid test of anything. The real value of the study was the refinement of the exercise protocol, the establishment of the clinically controlled exercise environment, a refinement of detailed instructional language, and the first established definition of exercise. If not for all of this Total Results would not be possible, so a great debt of gratitude is owed to Ken Hutchins.
This book in particular reinforces to me what I love about exercise instruction. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of assisting people to get more out of themselves than they thought possible. There is a creative aspect to my work; I can craft different routines to meet individual needs, and everybody that walks through our doors is different. Some may have orthopedic issues/injuries, while others are dealing with chronic disease. I am constantly experimenting with different approaches on how to instruct, while staying within the framework of our exercise philosophy that guides everything that I do. I regularly look for the right verbiage, and anticipate the right time and circumstance to use it. It is about knowing when to make a correction and when to say nothing; timing is everything. Sometimes, what I don't say is just as important as what I do say, and all of the instructions that I issue are for the purpose of getting the safest, and most effective workout experience possible. I strive to be a "looming presence" during the exercise session, but never be a distraction to the client. My work at Total Results gives me an opportunity to meet many interesting and successful people from a variety of industries, but it also allows me to connect with them on a level that goes beyond just exercise. This gives me a chance to explore what makes them tick, and it helps me to learn how to best instruct and motivate each individual, because one size does not fit all. I am very fortunate that I was able to turn into a lifelong vocation, something that started out as a hobby when I was thirteen years old. The new challenges each day brings helps keep things exciting and fresh. The end result of the exercise is certainly important, but I think the process is what means the most to me.
Finally, a new quote from Ken Hutchins really gives us something to think about, and certainly encapsulates what exercise means to me: "Throughout the excursion, constantly strive to find meaningful resistance. Be on the search, the lookout, the quest, the hunt for meaningful resistance! If exercise has meaning in your life, then the essence of the meaning is the resistance-not the weight, not the movement, not the power, not the work, not the repetitions."