Monday, October 29, 2012

The Strength & Conditioning Profession - Part 3

The following is an excerpt from a paper I wrote during my time as a Master's student at the University of British Columbia (The State of the Strength and Conditioning Industry in North America) This section looks at how the focus of continuing education in Canada is vastly different from that in the United States.  Since I wrote this paper (a year ago), I have already noticed an improvement with a number of high quality performance conferences being held in British Columbia and Southern Ontario.  The "Fitness" conferences still occupy the biggest venues and draw the most people/attention, but hopefully this trend of smaller performance based conferences will lead to bigger and better things.  There are also a number of new ventures that allow for high quality continuing education to occur online.  My personal favourite is www.movementlectures.com, which allows you to purchase individual lectures from a variety of well known and very informative sources.    


Continuing Education

The majority of training certifications, regardless of their testing requirements, will usually demand that a certain number of continuing education credits (CEC’s) be earned in a relatively short time span.  This merits discussion, as there are continuing education opportunities of very high quality, where the content is up to date with the latest scientific research, and CEC opportunities of very low quality, containing content lacking sufficient research to back up their proclamations. 

Organizations such as the NSCA, Perform Better, and the Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) ensure that quality CEC’s are not out of reach as long as one is motivated to be the best they can be.  National conferences held by the NSCA and Perform Better allow for attendees to be exposed to a wide variety of internationally recognized coaches and researchers.  These conferences are held multiple times per year and will typically be held in a city from the East coast, West coast, and Mid-West United States, with smaller conferences also being held throughout North America.  In recent years, the RKC, founded by Pavel Tsatsouline, has gained international recognition for its’ role in the resurgent popularity of kettlebells as an effective tool in the strength & conditioning coach’s toolbox.  I have decided to single out the RKC because its’ certification exams require that attendees possess the strength and the conditioning of an elite athlete.  The RKC is also exceptional due to the fact that it is also a strength school of sorts, by promoting research backed principles and protocols proven to increase ones strength and durability.  A strength & conditioning coach who has retained the theoretical knowledge required to pass the NSCA or NASM certifications, along with the practical principles and protocols of the RKC will possess the very strong skill set needed for a successful career.

In contrast to the positive contributions of organizations such as the NSCA, Perform Better, and the RKC, there are organizations such as CanFitPro.  CanFitPro is a Canadian certification and education board for personal trainers.  While the certification requirements are more strict than online certifications, CanFitPro does not require members to have a four year degree.  In terms of CEC opportunities offered on behalf of CanFitPro, national conferences similar to the NSCA and Perform Better conferences are held throughout Canada.  Issues arise with the CanFitPro conferences due to their lack of discussion on research backed training principles and protocols.  Typically, attendees to these conferences will possess the mindset of fitness rather than performance. 
With conferences held throughout North America, there is ample opportunity for a strength & conditioning professional to stay up to date on the latest research backed training principles and protocols, while also learning practical applications from some of the top coaches in the world.  While it is true that the cost for travel, accommodations, and conference or workshop fees is a barrier to entry, the most successful strength & conditioning professionals are those who invest heavily in their career.  Those who see the high costs of learning as a waste of time and money are the ones who eventually fall by the wayside, or are unable to provide their athletes with optimal performance and durability.


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