New Announcement: BC to NZ!

By December 11, 2010 Announcements

I wanted to post a couple of quick announcements for my readers.

1. BC to NZ

It’s funny how things work out. On a Friday night in mid-August I stumbled upon a study by Matt Brughelli on the biomechanics of sprinting. I was supposed to meet up with friends that night but instead I found myself reading the full paper twice, then composing an email to two of the authors. One of the authors was John Cronin. To make a long story short, I spoke to John on Skype, we hit it off, and now I’m going to be leaving in less than two months to go to New Zealand to get my PhD.

I’ll be attending Auckland University of Technology (AUT), which is in my opinion the best college in the world for strength training and biomechanics when you consider the academic rigor, the professors, the vision, culture, and environment. I leave in the beginning of February and my program will be full-time for three years.

On the one hand, I’m ecstatic since I’ll be surrounded by some of the world’s most intelligent folks in regards to strength and sport training. I’m excited to make friends and engage in discussions with other professors and PhD students from other parts of the world. I’m excited to formulate my plan and get started on my thesis. And I can’t wait to soak up knowledge so I can become a better researcher. There is no other individual who I’d rather serve as my mentor than John Cronin.

On the other hand, I’m scared out of my mind to leave my family and friends. I’ve never ventured far from home, and I’m a bit of a momma’s boy. I have the greatest family anyone could ask for. My favorite day of the week is Sunday because me, my twin brother, my sister, and my niece usually visit my mother in the afternoon and my father in the evening. We watch tv, pig out, go swimming or hit up the jacuzzi, and go see movies. I also have a group of friends who I love to death. When I’m around my friends, it’s non-stop ripping on eachother, which I’ll really miss.

But I’m trying to focus on my future and the fact that Skype makes it very easy to stay in contact with loved ones even if you’re half-way across the world. And the fact that I’ll be in New-Freakin’ Zealand!

2. Review Paper on Spinal Flexion

My graduate-level Biomechanics class is coming to an end and I have to submit my review paper. I’ve been working for the last several weeks like crazy on a review paper on spinal flexion exercises. Actually I collaborated with a colleague of mine (Brad Schoenfeld) who is a research-machine and we’re going to get it published. I think I’ve read around 200 full papers in the past few weeks and I realize that I thoroughly enjoy researching. But I’m ready to be done with this paper! I now know more about disc degeneration than I ever thought possible! Anyway it takes a long time for an article to be published so you’ll have to sit tight. But this is a very good paper which I’m sure will be a popular journal article when the time comes.

3. What Makes a Great Trainer?

I’ve spent all this time talking about research, which begs the question: What makes a trainer great? Should personal trainers be devouring research?

The most important thing is your personality and attitude. Clients won’t like you if they can tell you don’t care about them. Clients also won’t like you if you don’t motivate them or inspire them to be better. The next most important thing is your ability to deliver results. Clients won’t want to leave you if they know that no other trainer can get them looking better than you!

These two things are the most important facets of being a good trainer. Here are some other important considerations. You need to work out. How will you know if a new exercise works if you aren’t in good shape to test it out? How will you evolve as a trainer if you can’t test out new pieces of equipment, new programs, and new methods? A side effect of training hard is that you’ll look good, which shows that you “walk the walk.” This is important to many clients.

You also need to read. In my earlier years as a trainer I focused solely on reading sites like TNation and Elitefts as well as books/manuals from guys like Eric Cressey, Kelly Baggett, etc. I also read dozens of “classics” such as Supertraining, The Charlie Francis Training System, The Science and Practice of Strength Training, Brawn, Dinosaur Training, etc. Now I read mostly journal research but I always take the time to read the articles and blogs of my favorite coaches. There are good coaches with years of experience who take the time to write articles and books, film DVD’s, speak at seminars, etc. You gain insight from these coaches experiences which would otherwise take you years to glean on your own.

Finally, you need to train a lot of people. You get good at training and delivering results from training! No matter how busy I’ve been in my life, I always train other clients for at least a couple hours per day. There were times when I trained others for ten hours per day, but that doesn’t allow you to read and learn from outside sources (since you’re also so busy writing so many programs). There’s an optimal balance that should be reached if you want to maximize your effectiveness as a trainer.

As for the researchers; some of them couldn’t coach their way out of a wet paper bag. This applies to many physical therapists too. But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t listen to them. Their input is invaluable. They force us to grow and evolve. They’re the ones who make huge impacts on our training methodology. As you evolve as a trainer you’ll likely find yourself reading more and more research. But you shouldn’t start there – you wouldn’t understand any of it and it would be a waste of time. I have trouble understanding a lot of the research I read and I’m a 4.0 graduate student!

We’re all part of a big family – the sport coaches, personal trainers, strength coaches, athletic trainers, manual therapists, physical therapists, researchers, professors, biomechanists, and exercise physiologists. And we all need each other! I’m excited to take on multiple roles as a trainer and researcher.

40 Comments

  • Dush says:

    Good luck with this! Your posts recently have been becoming increasingly academic so I’m sure you’ll love being actually involved in the research.

  • Norm says:

    Brett,

    I recently made the decision to head back to school to persue a doctoral in physical therapy, inspite of having a marketing degree and being well past the age most would decide to head back to school. I have a ways to go even before I can apply for the program, but it will be inspiring following you along your journey. So, congrats on your decision to persue higher education. I’m sure it was a tough decision that may have filled you with anxiety, but it will all be worth it in the end!

    Quick question. With all the researching you’ve been doing regarding spinal flexion, would you happen to have any thoughts or opinions on the use of a Concept2 rower for cardio with regard to back health and safety?

  • Damon says:

    You gotta love the fact that as trainers and coaches we can improve peoples lives in a variety of ways, thrive to become better educated through reading and researching information, and actually make a pretty substantial living. I love my job!

  • Matt says:

    Welcome to our country! (once you get here)

    You’ve got at least one fan here of your work!

  • Laura says:

    Congratulations Bret, it sounds like a great opportunity!

  • Joe says:

    Good luck! I’ve really enjoyed the academic side of your blogs.

    Keep up the awesome work!

  • Niel says:

    After you finish your PhD, I wouldn’t be surprised if they change the name of New Zealand to Glute Zealand.

    Best of luck!

  • Aaron says:

    Bro, that picture is Tauranga, not Auckland

    🙂

    But Auckland is still fun

  • Congratulations Bret. I’m sure it will be an awesome experience. Looking forward to big things out of you in the next few years.

  • Ian McKeown says:

    Brett,

    All the best in NZ. I have done similar and moved from the UK to OZ to pursue by PhD while still coaching in the awesome environment.

    Good luck and I hope you keep up the great work with the Blog.

  • Rui Umbelino says:

    Congratulations and Good luck, Bret! 🙂

    Hope you can achieve your goals and continue the excellent work you have been doing… 😉

  • Keith and Rene says:

    Welcome to the country Bret. We live in Dunedin and sometimes go to Auckland (JAFAland, you will find out when you get here.) In time for the Rugby World Cup, LOTR, outdoors and activities like you would’t believe and some of the most friendly people in the world. Coming to Dunedin at any stage in the 3 yrs let us know and if we are up in Auk’s will try to track you down.

    Love your work Bret.

    Matt where you from in NZ

  • Piers says:

    Good luck across the ditch mate. It’s good to hear that NZ has a world class strength training course there. Be sure to enjoy the rugby while you are there, it truly is the best NZ export.

  • Steve says:

    Make that at least readers in NZ. In fact, I’m at the same AUT campus myself. See you in the gym in Feb! (Feel free to email me between now and then.)

    I did something similar myself: I went to the US to do my PhD in the 90s. Hopefully you’ll also find the radical change to be life-changing in a good way.

  • Congratulations and good luck with your new adventure. You’re going to love it. As for missing friends and family, I’d suggest you try to schedule someone from home visiting you every few months. There’s no question you’ll meet amazing new friends, but there is something grounding about spending time with people who really know you. The cool thing is that you’re going to NZ, so it shouldn’t be hard to get people to visit – just make sure you’ve got a comfortable spare bed or pull-out couch.

    I look forward to seeing your research in the future!

    Elsbeth

  • Steve says:

    One more thing, if you are wondering, the gym at the AUT (Akoranga campus, where you’ll be) isn’t quite like training in your home gym, but its pretty good. There are two squat racks, a lifting platform, bumper plates, kettlebells, a reverse-hyper, and even powder! Plus a bunch of stupid machines, treadmills, etc.

    Will you be doing some training of others too? Plenty of glutes down here that could do with some of your magic

  • Adrien says:

    Congratulations Bret,

    I guess that means we won’t be seeing you at the JP summit, we’re gonna miss you and your knowledge there this year.

    Adrien

  • Matt says:

    @ keith and Rene, I’m in Hamilton. Little bit closer to Aucks than Dunedin!

    I hope Bret is still keen to do some coaching while he is studying, because I’ll be up for some of it!

  • Oli Wiles says:

    Another kiwi stoked to hear you’re coming and that you rate NZ.

  • Mike says:

    Make that one more reader from NZ!!

    Welcome. It’s pretty much non stop ripping on each other here too, so maybe you won’t miss that so much!

  • Joe says:

    ” How will you know if a new exercise works if you aren’t in good shape to test it out? How will you evolve as a trainer if you can’t test out new pieces of equipment, new programs, and new methods? A side effect of training hard is that you’ll look good, which shows that you “walk the walk.” This is important to many clients.

    You also need to read. In my earlier years as a trainer I focused solely on reading sites like TNation and Elitefts as well as books/manuals from guys like Eric Cressey, Kelly Baggett, etc. I also read dozens of “classics” such as Supertraining, The Charlie Francis Training System, The Science and Practice of Strength Training, Brawn, Dinosaur Training, etc. Now I read mostly journal research but I always take the time to read the articles and blogs of my favorite coaches. There are good coaches with years of experience who take the time to write articles and books, film DVD’s, speak at seminars, etc. You gain insight from these coaches experiences which would otherwise take you years to glean on your own. ”

    Sounds very much like myself at the moment, I am 23, with a Masters in Sports Science in the UK, I read and train people aswell as myself. Really great advice and it just helps to reitorate that I am doing the right things.

    I wish you all the best in NZ Bret. Thanks for sharing the information you do, it’s really insightful.

    p.s my main christmas present is Optimal Shoulder Performance by EC and MR, haha. 🙂

    Kind Regards

    Joe Rogers.

  • Coach Sam Leahey says:

    I’m so happy for you Bret. This is a perfect route for you my friend and I can say unequivocally you’ll continue to benifit our field with your mind, your research, and your ability to disseminate information. I wish you THE very best man!

    All the best,
    Sam

  • bianca says:

    Hi Bret, this is such great news. I am sure it’s going to be a wonderful experience and a great opportunity for you, for your work and for your future life.
    I only have a small question to ask you: will you still be training online when you are in New Zealand? (my glutes were insisting with me that they wanted you, though online, as their trainer).

    Bianca

  • Matias says:

    Wow! Bret, as a follower and a fan I feel proud to have seen you grow. I’ve learned a lot from you.

    If you can squeeze in some leisure reading, pick up The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

    (Awesome plane ride reading, especially this kind of plane ride.)

    P.S. You’re my hero, kid.

  • shama says:

    Hi coach Bret,
    first up, my hearty congratulations to you. Its great to know that you are stepping in to Terra In incognito! hope i got that right. NZ is an awesome place with great people. i vouch for this fact coz i have many kiwi friends with whom i have worked & had great times in the past. To me you are one of the most sought after fitness & conditioning professionals in the world & it only goes on to show how seriously you take things which are most important to you. all the very best to you. like they say in NZ, KIA KAHA (BE STRONG). I want to keep reading about your adventures, new ideas, etc. don’t disappear in the vast beauty NZ is.
    cheers
    all the very best
    sham

  • Yike Lu says:

    Holy crap Bret! New Zealand? PhD?

    You gonna keep writing, here and for T-nation?

  • Nick Horton says:

    Congrats, Bret! That’s fantastic!

    Grad school can be tough, but in a good way — like weightlifting. Do you know yet which courses you’ll be taking your first term?

    Oh, and have you checked out their gym yet? Gotta have a place to train!

  • Matibu says:

    Brett enjoy your trip to NZ, I ve been twice and its a beautiful country. Hope you get to now a lot more about rugby and start writing about rugby specific strength training.
    Best wishes from Argentina!!!

  • The best thing about New Zealand is it’s only a couple of hours to Australia 😉

    Just wanted to ruffle some feathers amongst your NZ readership, because really, outside the All Blacks, I’m not really sure they have much going for them.

    Good luck in your adventures.

  • Henry says:

    That’s insane Bret, I am impressed you are able to make such a change to further yourself.

    I know you’ll do very well!

  • spartan222 says:

    um where do u chek to see whats the tution fees and that for the place im looking at the site but cantfind it

  • Howard Gray says:

    Bret
    Great news – congrats!
    AUT has a very strong program and I know you will make the most of it. Working and living in a different country will also be a fantastic experience!
    Good luck
    Howard

  • Jeff Cubos says:

    Congrats and all the best!

    We’ll cross paths soon!

  • Chris says:

    Hey Bret,

    This is awesome. Does AUT have a masters degree in strength and conditioning?

    Thanks

    Chris

  • CONGRATS man!!!

    Wow! That is awesome!

    I know it is scary to jump ship like that, but I can virtually guarantee you will look back and it will be one of the best decisions you ever made.

    If you can just concentrate on your PhD full time, it will save you a ton and tons of stress. While it can be done while working full time, I don’t recommend it at all (first hand knowledge). PhD programs are hard enough as it is, but when there is a will there is a way and you will succeed.

    Now I have someone else to visit in New Zealand 🙂

    Keep up the great work man and congrats again

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  • Bonnie says:

    Congratulations! I went to school overseas, and it was one of the best experiences of my life! Good luck.

  • Victoria says:

    Kia Ora! Congratulations! It will be a wonderful adventure! I am an American who has been living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Very excited you are coming to this beautiful place. I really hope you enjoy your stay. Hopefully you’ll have time to hold a few seminars while you are here:)

  • Bonnie Sayers says:

    Congrats on this wonderful opportunity Bret. Look forward to reading of your adventures and seeing pics during free time, if you get any.

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