This January marked my ninth Progressive Calisthenics Certification since first becoming PCC Certified three years ago. In that time, I have been a student, an assistant, an instructor, and now, a Team Leader for this organization. I’ve had the privilege of attending and teaching in seven countries spanning three continents, and I continue to grow with each experience. In addition to PCC, I have attended and repeated an extraordinary number of workshops in numerous modalities, from RKC to Gym Jones. I can tell you firsthand the skill building advantages, knowledge development and incredible motivation that come from doing so.
But that wasn’t always the case…
When I started as a personal trainer a decade ago, I had very little practical information or experience working with real clients. I wrestled with what every new trainer feels at this point: Am I an imposter?
I had the good fortune of being introduced to kettlebells early on in my career which lead me to attending my first RKC kettlebell certification. I spent my hard earned money and precious time to see what I could learn. That weekend changed my life. I eagerly attended RKC Level II and continued to read extensively on the topic. Over the years, I found other mentors, systems and methodologies ranging from yoga to powerlifting. I attended courses all over the world to learn from the most experienced trainers and coaches of our time. I can tell you without hesitation, the PCC stands at the front of this list!
Between events, I built a solid clientele and got to put my lessons to use, weaving the fabric I began threading years ago. I learned about proper technique, exercises for strength and flexibility, client assessment and ultimately, to see the virtue of each discipline and their own unique philosophies on training. Feeling less like an imposter, I began implementing these methods with my clients, filtering out the minutiae and honing my craft. For many years I felt that this alone, learning the information, was the foundation of my experience as a personal trainer. I was wrong. Well, partially wrong.
It is a mistake to not revisit the original information.
The pursuit of any skill (not limited only to training) takes consistent practice, attention to detail and frequent evaluation. Many years ago when I first began playing piano as a child, I hated it. There was so much theory, remedial scales and lots of esoterica. Over time I began playing short tunes, incorporating the pedal and experimenting with different tempos. I had achieved a competency that allowed me to read music and remember songs. Eventually, something crazy happened: Piano became fun. I continued to explore and found classical bass, which would become the tool of my first career. Like with the piano, the practice became a consistent habit. It soon became time to find a new teacher, play with a larger orchestra and make professional advances. As the old phrase says, after skill acquisition, “The student becomes the master.”
That really isn’t the case.
Perhaps what people call “mastery” goes beyond having knowledge. To me, it is the understanding that (despite all this information), there is so much more to know. In other words, you can never have a complete command of everything.
The amount you can absorb and retain the first time around is limited. This is why it is so important to recertify your PCC. As both a musician and fitness professional, I can attest to how skills can degrade without further exposure to good coaching and feedback, along with regular practice.
Another reason to recertify is that it is electric to be surrounded by so many like-minded individuals. Training together, sharing stories and investing in the collective experience of learning are priceless. Each event draws professionals and enthusiasts from all over the world who bring with them their own individual experiences (as well as that of their clients). There are very few times in one’s professional or personal lives that offer so many unique perspectives. Everyone comes in with their sliver of the world and they want to share it with you.
There are two dimensions to growth, two timelines that are intertwined. There is the dimension of you the person and then the dimension of the information you have received. You, the person, are constantly changing. You are getting older, falling in love (or out of love), trying new foods, reading new books and traveling to new places. The way that you understand your clients expands because you have expanded. The PCC has also changed over time. The curriculum has evolved. The level of instruction has been refined. The depth of knowledge has deepened.
Not too long ago, paleontologists made the surprising revelation that the Tyrannosaurus Rex walked tilted forward with its tail pointed up, changing the overall posture and gait of the animal. This made it considerably more dangerous and menacing than the slow moving, tail dragging Godzilla of my childhood. Were the paleontologists wrong before or are they wrong now? Well, facts change. Positions on things change when new information is introduced. It has to. Given the information they had at the time, they could not have come to any greater truth. In a way, paleontologists were correct then, but are closer to the truth now. This is the process of growth.
When you recertify, you are coming back with new observations, experiences and skills that you didn’t have the first time. You may be in a better place to receive information. In the beginning, everything is new and it is difficult to retain all that is being presented. As you grow, you may find some of the lost information is now relevant. Your needs change over time.
So, why should you recertify? Because you are a different person and it’s a different PCC.
Annie Vo is one of New York City’s most successful and sought-after personal trainers. As a PCC Team Leader, RKC Team Leader and Level III Gym Jones Instructor, she has taught certifications and seminars all over the world. She has been featured in The New York Post, NPR and Mademan.com. A diverse and complex talent, Annie Vo holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Columbia University and is a renowned classically trained musician. Learn more at annievo.com.