What would the fitness industry look like if personal trainers thought more like midwives?
Bear with me here.
OBs are highly skilled in dealing with obstetric emergencies. Without question, OBs provide an essential service ensuring the birth of healthy babies and the health of their parents. They often manage the course of labor in order to intercept common problems they have learned to expect.
Midwives are highly skilled in managing low-risk childbirth. They are equally essential. They treat birth as a safe, physiologic event and address problems only when they crop up. They refer out when an issue arises beyond their scope.
My personal training certification was taught from a lens of “corrective exercise”. We were taught to assess for “dysfunction” and apply corrective strategies from the onset of the training relationship. Not only do I feel that skims dangerously close to diagnosing and treating, I don’t feel like a self-study cert really qualifies anyone to do that.
I do think trainers are well-qualified to help people move. And a good trainer is qualified to help their client find better, easier versions of movement. An experienced and highly trained fit pro (–> more than that one self-study course) likely has skills to help people within their niche manage common compensations and pain points. But here is what we could all do to serve our populations better- rather than first looking for dysfunction:
What if we just take a hot second to observe? Just get folks moving?
We know that early interventions in birth can actually cause more problems down the line. What if our early interventions in diagnosing and overcorrecting movement are doing the same thing?
What if we take a midwifery approach? What if we treat movement as a normal physiologic event? What if we accept more variation in movement as normal?
Let’s watch our clients move. Let’s give them the confidence and encouragement to move more. Perhaps, in the absence of an egregious compensation, we don’t try and “correct” every single deviation from “normal” before we get them moving.
And of course, let’s make sure to refer out when appropriate.
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