The first rule about getting popular in the strength training industry is that you need to develop thick skin. You can blend with the crowd and hide in the shadows all you want, but if you believe strongly in “a better way” and you want to push new methodology on people, you’re bound to encounter some resistance. It goes with the territory.
If you can’t handle it, you’ll fizzle out very quickly. I’ve spoken to plenty of coaches and trainers in the past year about the topic of “online hating” and I’ll let you in on a secret. Every single one of us takes it personally when someone writes something bad about us. Why wouldn’t it? Just because we rock doesn’t mean we’re made of stone (Me, Myself, & Irene referrence).
We are all human and we have feelings just like anyone else. When someone bad-mouths you in a public forum and you realize that thousands of people are potentially reading the criticism, it’s very frustrating. This is why it’s important to put things into context. It’s nearly impossible to “rock the boat,” change people’s minds, or get people to try something new without opposition. When you face opposition, you must realize that you are making progress. You must also be humble and consider the fact that you could be wrong (or just not entirely correct).
However, this blog isn’t about facing and handling opposition; it’s about how we conduct ourselves as professionals in the industry. Now, I’ve never been the type to swim with the current. I don’t “swim upstream” for the sake of creating controversy; I like to think that I think of shit that other people don’t. Furthermore, I’ve never been very “professional” in some regards. I have an eyebrow piercing, sometimes I rock a fohawk, I tatooed my initials on my arm, I’m certainly not the best-dressed trainer in town, I swear quite often and post pictures of scantily-clad women in my blogs, and I train out of my garage for Pete’s sake. Come to think of it…by some standards I’m one of the most “unprofessional” trainers in the industry.
However, I still have some strong ethical standards. There are simply some lines that I don’t cross. There are two movie quotes that come to mind.
First one is from From Dusk til Dawn, George Clooney’s character: “I may be a bastard, but I’m not a fucking bastard.”
Second one is from 310 to Yuma, Russel Crowe’s character: “Even bad men love their mamas.”
Many now are wondering what in the hell I’m talking about. The members of our strength training industry rely on many forms of education to acquire new knowledge. Social media has been a great way for many trainers and coaches including myself to increase their popularity. We’ve formed a great network through our blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. I have around 2,000 Facebook friends right now and I think that I probably only know around 600 of them. The remaining 1,400 are members of the strength & conditioning crowd, most of whom are fans of my work.
It’s Okay to Disagree
When you read someone else’s work, it’s okay to disagree with them. Questioning things leads to investigation and more understanding. One of the reasons I enjoy blogging is because I can “spread my influence” by highlighting my methods. I disagree with every single trainer or coach I’ve ever met on at least one topic. There are so many variables in strength training that it is highly improbable that you’ll agree with any single “expert” in every area. I’m pretty sure that most trainers or coaches disagree with me on certain topics too, which is fine.
The way I see it, if you disagree with people, you have several viable options. You can go on a forum and post a politely-worded thread to open up some discussion. You can blog about your views. You can comment on the individual’s blog, which gives the blogger the right to accept your comment or trash it. You can email the individual through regular email, Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube. Or, you call the individual and try to arrange a phone-conversation.
Just don’t disagree with them on Facebook. It’s just not good practice. People on Facebook are posting things for their fans and supporters. Many (including me) are friends with family members, “real friends,” and co-workers, in addition to having “networking friends.” Facebook is not a good arena to hash out a discussion. I disagree with many articles and blogs I find on Facebook but I’ve never, nor will I ever, post a comment on the poster’s wall that “calls them out.” Posting negative Facebook comments makes all parties look bad.
Internal Customer Service
In a past-life I was a hell-raising member of the Executive Board of the Scottsdale Unified School District’s teacher union. One of my colleagues liked to say, “You don’t fuck with another man’s livelihood! You don’t fuck with another man’s ability to feed his family!” I’m still friends with this guy to this day. He’s from Chicago and has strong opinions on the subject.
In a past-life, I was also a devout member of the same school district’s Exceptional Customer Service Committee. In one meeting I explained the fire service’s views on customer service and was praised by the Director.
You have external customer service (how you treat the actual customers) and you have internal customer service (how you treat co-workers). A company or service-provider can’t work efficiently without paying attention to both facets of customer service. The way I see it, we’re all a part of the same strength & conditioning circle and we mustn’t forget the value of treating each other with respect. There are good ways to disagree and bad ways to disagree.
In my book, trying to incite a debate or degrade another’s reputation on Facebook makes you an asshole! (unless of course the poster asked for feedback or thoughts) There are instances where it might be warranted, for example if someone was being overly absurd or recommending highly-dangerous practices, but I hope this blog “hits home” with certain individuals and positively influences the way we conduct ourselves as a profession. I’ll now step down off my soap box (of course with good eccentric control, good glute activation, and avoidance of valgus collapse).