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journal for strength coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists, athletic
trainers, and other health professionals working in the strength and conditioning
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Rob Taylor, NSCA-CPT, CSCS Rob Taylor is an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT®) and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) who has worked with clients and athletes ranging from special populations through collegiate and international teams.
While his primary background lies in the realm of strength and conditioning, his experience and advice transcend specific groups.
In addition to working with clients and athletes, Taylor is the founder and owner of SMARTER Team Trainer—a company that provides podcasts, NSCA CEU approved quizzes, consulting, and conferences/seminars. Read Taylor’s complete biography here: http://robtaylorjr.com.
1. What does a typical day-in-the-life-of look like for you?
Here is today’s schedule just to pick a random “day in the life”…
2. What attracted you to a career in the fitness industry?
The people. Game day. No day is ever the same. The challenge. The positive impact you can have on others. Teaching others about the complexities and simplicities of the human body. Helping others achieve goals that they would not have attained on their own. In my opinion, coaching is the best field to work in. It is a grind to get started and stay involved.
There are ups and downs with challenges and successes. Good times and times where you question your commitment to the path you have chosen for yourself. But that one moment when a current player, former player, coach, trainee, young athlete or their parent, someone who attends a presentation, listens to the podcast, reads the blog, shares something from social media, etc. reaches their hand out to you and says, “Thank you. Because of you I couldn’t have given up. You motivated me to achieve my own greatness,” it is worth every second of sacrifice.
3. Why did you decide to become an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer? Has your NSCA membership and/or certification helped you? If so, how?
After spending 15 years in the collegiate, professional, and international ranks as a strength and conditioning coach with various levels of responsibilities, I was always curious about expanding my training toolbox and learning more about what others in this broad field were doing.
Since I was already CSCS® certified, I figured it was worth taking the NSCA-CPT® and then also earning distinction (*D) in each along the way too. To be honest, I was not employed because I was certified; it demonstrated that I was “qualified.” The NSCA is largely recognized as one of the top organizations, based on science, and very highly respected. Certifications are important, but it is equally important to earn your experience and continue learning and applying.
4. Who has had the greatest impact on your career?
I would like to consider myself a passionate and observant person who looks to improve himself in many ways regularly. We should all strive to be better tomorrow than we were today in all aspects of life. To name one would lead me to leave out many. When I was in high school, my teacher, Mr. Neiman, would sit for hours with me after school talking about biomechanics and physiology.
How the human body functions has always interested me. In college, Dr. Rose Ann Neff, Coach Brian Wilt (now Dr. Wilt), and Dan Gales challenged me to ask better questions each and every day. “What’s your plan?” is a question I can still hear Mr. Gales asking me regularly from the dugout during batting practice. Coach Wilt showed me how hard you had to work to be better each and every day.
The grueling 5:00am workouts followed up with the 6:30am out-of-the-classroom teaching labs where he would stay and answer questions until my brain was mush. Dr. Neff’s support, persistence, and willingness to believe in me with a relentless desire for me to see what success could feel like. The countless coaches from the many sports I played in primary school through college and into the pros.
So speaking generally, I will say that I had the opportunity to be around incredible coaches, men, fathers, brothers, women, mothers, sisters, and people who had a passion for helping others.
I cannot say anything more than that I am truly thankful for having so many amazing people in my life and to pick just one and say they had the biggest impact would just be unfair. My grandmother once told me that, “You need to slow down and look at what you are seeing so you can see what you are looking at.”
As I have grown in this field, I have certainly taken more time to reflect and appreciate the process of growth in the many different aspects of my life. I am not perfect, nor claim to be, but I do strive for excellence with a “passion unknown to mankind.” Thank you to everyone who I have ever touched, who have touched my life, and I look forward to many more positive influences to come.
5. In your opinion, what are the three most important qualities that a successful trainer must have?
A 100% willingness to do whatever it takes to help others, an unstoppable belief that there is no true “answer,” and my belief that there has to be a commitment to selflessness with a passion for reflection on a regular basis. There are so many qualities that can make a “good” coach or personal trainer. I have been around male and female “tough guy” coaches that never showed weaknesses and were incredible coaches.
I have been around completely emotionally available coaches that accepted and applauded showing that everyone has weaknesses and that we can grow through an open connection, who also were amazing coaches.
I have seen really good marketers become solid trainers. And on the flip side, I have seen solid, knowledgeable trainers not be successful because they couldn’t market themselves or relate to the individuals they are attempting to work with. At some point you have to make a connection with the people you work with by being you.
The person you meet in the next two minutes could be the person who you make the biggest positive impact on. Greet them with a smile and a feeling of comfort. Listen, learn, and develop a plan that has their goals as the primary focus.
It is okay to have a basic formula for helping others during a workout, etc. But most of the time the workout is the easy part. Finding what motivates the individual (what truly drives the person to a new level) is key to achieving success in athletics, the classroom, at home, and in life..
6. If you could go back 10 years, what advice would you give yourself?
I am very proactive when it comes to “staying current.” My question back to this one is, “What is ‘current’?” What is posted in a magazine on a rack in the grocery store? The information in a peer reviewed journal that took five years to publish? Data that has more “uncontrols” than “controls” with vague statistics and non-reproducible results?
The trends have already come and gone and are now coming back again in just the short period of time that I have been working in the field. So many people or programs claim to have “figured it out.” Yet, as a society we are still increasingly less active.
I used to challenge the concepts of “sport-specific,” “momentum vs. no momentum,” etc., but I have realized that it all works when it is done safely, progressively, and has a prudent approach towards productive training. Just because it is different than how I “do it,” does not mean it is “wrong.”
There are many goals out there that need to be reached, and how you get there may be more rewarding than actually getting there. We learn through adversity and are encouraged through success. I do not want to be around those who claim to know it all, but I do want to be supportive of the question, “What has worked for you?” This question has led me to have over 150 conversations in just the past year with the best names in and around our field that I share on iTunes at http://sttpodcast.com.
7. Fitness trends come and go, how do you decide what to incorporate and what to discard?
This one is easy. I do not really do “trends.” They do not really stand the test of time and eventually you will go back to your rules for success. What is your mission? What steps are necessary in your program to achieve success? Are these plans safe, progressive/regressive, time efficient, and purposeful? There is no “magic” found in supplements or strength training formulas.
You have to be willing to work hard today and a bit harder tomorrow.
Not only when strength training or conditioning, but the 47 other hours between workouts need to be a primary focus. A continuum shift needs to occur which leads us to realize the 47 hours has much more to do with the success of the 1 hour than the 1 hour has to do with the success of the 47. Eat well. Sleep better. Hydrate often. Train smart and consistent. Believe. Improve. Try something new and challenging physically, mentally, and emotionally. Then repeat..
8. What has been your favorite experience as a trainer and strength coach?
Helping someone get off of their medications, rehabbing back from an injury, graduating from college, losing the weight and getting back in game shape, or building their bodies to a point where they can start as a fifth year senior are just some of the many inspiring stories that I can consider my “favorites.”
9. What advice do you have for personal trainers trying to get involved with professional development (deliver presentations, becoming known in the industry, etc)?
Start small and be big. By that I mean we all need to work on our craft each day. If a coach or personal trainer has a desire to present, write, talk, etc., then begin with how you interact with others on a daily basis. Develop a culture that has positivity, support, passion, and a clear message. The best way to learn about a topic in my opinion is to have to coach or teach about that specific topic. More often than not, a lot of the questions I had occurred while on stage, thinking through things in my own head while speaking or interacting with the audience. I do not have all of the answers, but I sure do appreciate those who have better questions.
The best at anything makes it look easy. But what goes unnoticed are the 100’s, if not 1,000’s or 10,000’s, of hours of practice, preparation, and failures that have elevated their game to a point that we can all admire.
Get involved. If you are looking to contribute articles or video content to STT, visit this link; http://www.smarterteamtraining.com/contact-us/contributor_info. If you want to present, try developing an event of your own to start so you can appreciate the effort that goes into organizing clinics.
Hold people accountable to a higher level of professionalism. Have expectations when people speak at the forum you have established. People hate to love discipline but enjoy the process while appreciating the rewarding experience in the end. More information on presenting for STT can be found at http://www.smarterteamtraining.com/contact-us/want-to-present.
10. You’re an established professional in the fitness industry. Can you describe what you do to contribute to continuing education?
Giving back to the field has always been a passion of mine. Starting my website has opened the doors to providing a number of opportunities such as free podcasts and NSCA CEU Approved Quizzes. We have just recently surpassed the 500,000 download mark, something I never thought possible when this all started. The trainers, coaches, and industry leaders that have participated are amazing.
In addition to the podcasts, I have been hosting the annual Strength and Conditioning/Athletic Development Conference in Baltimore, Maryland each July for the past seven years. I’ve also been able to present STT Regional Clinics with people who are willing to host them; this has given me the opportunity to work with sport performance facilities, high schools, and personal training clubs.
Working with such diverse groups has taught me as much as I have been able to teach myself. Having the NSCA’s support throughout the process has been very inspiring. Being able to offer traditional and non-traditional content through several unique technologies, whether it is on the website, weekly newsletter, podcast, or social media, has been rewarding for me.
For information on upcoming events: http://smarterteamtraining.com/events