I attend a lot of workshops and continuing education courses every year, and I always take something away. I come home with some new ideas, new ways of looking at things, or potentially new tools to put in the toolbox. The whole goal of attending workshops is to sharpen your skills and get something new to “play with”. I can’t remember the last time I attended a workshop that I didn’t at least take some of the ideas or concepts and try them out.
Unfortunately, I feel like most people attend workshops, listen to what is being said (often times they are very excited with the information presented), and then get back to their facility on Monday and just do the same old thing, or worse yet, they try and apply a few of the concepts in a haphazard manner, leading to undesirable results and the feeling that “this just doesn’t work for me.”.
I find there is a big difference between understanding and applying, and it is the middle ground between those two words that people often get Lost In Translation. Most people understand what is being said in the courses they are attending, but when it comes to the application of things, the get caught with this deer in the headlights look. Some of this may come on the part of laziness from the attendee, who does not want to spend sufficient time thinking about how what they just learned fits into their overall philosophy. And some of it may come from the fact that the individual may not have a strongly rooted philosophy in the first place.
That being said, I have decided to put together some of the tactics I use after attending a workshop that have really helped me “own” the material (so to speak) and put it into something useable that fits into my overall methodolgy. I should note that the proper application of new ideas doesn’t happen overnight, and I am always re-evaluating and refining things to try and get a better outcome.
Have a philosophy first
Before you start to try and apply things, get your bearings straight by developing some sort of thought process for why you do what you do. If it is exercise, think of how you set up programs (either training or rehabilitation) with regard to:
- Exercise selection – What exercises make up the “rocks” of your program?
- Exercise progressions – How do you get from one place to another? How do you progress and/or regress the exercise? How do you decide when the individual is ready to progress to a more advanced movement?
- Program order – The order of things is very important. To often I see trainers or therapists just throw together programs and have people do things in a random sequence. Perhaps results aren’t as good as they could/should be because you haven’t developed an order/hierarchy for doing things?
- Goal – What is the overall goal you are trying to achieve and how are you going to get the client there?
Re-read your notes before adding things in. Make sure your ducks are in order. Can you explain what it is you are trying to do with this new concept? Where exactly in your philosophy (see above) does said concept fit in?
Create a spreadsheet
This one can be time consuming but I have found it to be one of the best way for me to put my ideas in order. After a workshop, I try and sit there with a blank piece of paper and write out a spreadsheet of what I learned and how the ideas fit. I want to know what all the progressions/regressions are and how I can use this new concept to the best of my potential. Having a spreadsheet also helps you refine your thought process and makes things streamlined and systematic, so you don’t have to waste as much time sifting through notes and material to get the information you are looking for – the spreadsheet has already put things in order for you!
Discuss and Teach
Finally, after a new conference I try and solidify the information by discussing and teaching what I learned to someone else (another colleague). I have found teaching to be one of the best ways of learning the material. If it is concepts of exercise you are trying to work into your thought process, taking a colleague through the movements, refining your coaching skills on the movements, and getting their feedback about what you are saying can be very helpful in solidifying the material and will ensure that you don’t make mistakes and bumble around when trying to teach the movements to clients/patients.
Don’t just attend workshops. Really try and grasp the concepts and connect the dots. The material is only as good as the person using it and the better you can develop this stuff into your own thought process the better your results will be when applying it to clients/patients.