It was only after I’d tested The Whatever Pan from Jean-Patrique that I discovered it’s a sell-out success and a favourite among pro chefs and caterers. No wonder everyone loves it.
Griddle pans have been my new favourite thing lately; I bought a cast iron long griddle plate from Ikea when I had my kitchen refurbished earlier this year and it was the thing I was most looking forward to using. Yes, griddles are not just for meat – great for vegetarian and vegan cooking too!
So when the Jean-Patrique team got in touch, inviting me to try The Whatever pan, I couldn’t wait.
Good news, my Level 2 Fitness Instructor exams are out the way and now just a few weeks away from the Level 3 Personal Trainer exams, both with No.1 Fitness Education.
Having Level 2 under my belt means I’m qualified to work in a gym environment, show people around the gym floor, instruct the resistance machines and free-weights and write generic programmes for clients, advising generally on machines and exercises and helping clients feel more comfortable navigating the gym floor alone.
So what’s the difference between Level 2 and Level 3 certification? As a Level 2 Fitness Instructor I wouldn’t be able to create personalised fitness and nutrition plans – that only comes with Level 3, as you’re then qualified to work as a personal trainer. With that, comes the wider scope to programme for individual needs and specific training or weight loss goals.
What is the Level 2 Fitness Instructor training like?
If you’re thinking about doing a Personal Trainer course then Level 2 is your gateway to get there. I chose No.1 Fitness Education because it’s one of the last remaining classroom based personal trainer courses, which I feel is super important when learning to teach something physical and practical.
There were eight of us in the class and the sessions were every Saturday for seven weeks in London. To complete Level 3, it’s a total of 12 weeks.
LOTS of anatomy and physiology – it’s was most definitely school years that I last looked at the inner workings of the body so it was time to brush up and get familiar with the heart, lungs, muscles, nervous system, etc again. I thought I’d struggle but actually the e-learning materials were easy to follow and I found it all surprisingly interesting.
I had to organise my time – in between each weekly classroom session there was homework and e-learning modules to complete, which probably took around five to six hours a week. I had to prescribe set hours each week to get this work done and then enough time ahead of the exam to revise.
Having real teacher time was invaluable – now I’ve seen how valuable teacher-student contact is on a PT course, I think choosing a class-based course is essential. The collective of tutors at No.1 were so dedicated to our learning it was impressive. We had them on WhatsApp whenever we needed and there were regular checkins throughout the week. Plus, it was more than just delivering the curriculum, as they were continuously imparting personal experience and industry knowledge along the way, which is what made them stand out.
We learnt useful teaching techniques – it doesn’t matter how well you know the gym floor, what’s important is being able to relay that information clearly, concisely and safely to a client. So we learnt specific teaching cues and formats. Once you learn the techniques of how to teach, you can apply it to all aspects of fitness instructing so spending the time to get this foundation right it’s super useful.
Webecame very familiar with the gym floor – if you already train in a conventional gym this part will be familiar to you. It’s been years since I’ve used traditional resistance machines in a conventional gym (literally can’t remember the last time I used a leg adductor / abductor!) as I train in a functional training CrossFit box so I was a bit rusty on some of the machines but after spending every weekly class practising our teaching cues on each other, by the time the exam rolled around I felt like a pro.
I learnt a few new moves – we spend much of the classroom sessions learning how to plan and instruct a full hour’s session with a client and the practical exam was based on this. This included dynamic warm up stretches and mobility moves so I was pleased to learn a few new moves to add to my repertoire such as the squat and lunge matrix where you take a client through a 360-degree range of motion.
The Level 2 exam felt quite scary but worth it – I won’t lie, we were all terrified of doing the exams but it’s a hill not a mountain and once over it, it’s a smoother and more enjoyable ride through to Level 3. Working through past and mock papers was the trick that helped me through.
Level 2 is a good foundation for what follows – however uncomfortable it felt at the time, learning the anatomy and physiology at Level 2 has set me up for Level 3 as everything else is layered on top. The teaching techniques are also a good grounding for whatever you go onto do in your fitness career.
So far, Level 3 has been diverse and super interesting. We’ve been learning about all the different training systems, how to programme a nutrition plan to meet a client’s goals, eg for weight loss or building muscle, and most importantly how to have an effective consultation with a new client so that we meet their goals and exceed expectations.
The consultation process at No1 Fitness Education is particularly detailed and multi-layered so it’s an area of learning the tutors take a lot of pride in.
As I write this, we’re currently in lockdown for Coronavirus so our Level 3 exams have been postponed until we don’t know when. While on the one hand it’s frustrating as we were just a few weeks away from qualifying, it’s actually not so bad as it means more time to revise all the nitty anatomy and physiology details. Those 50 muscles, origins and insertions will be printed in my mind by the time lockdown is over!
UPDATE:Since the Coronavirus lockdown, No1 Fitness Eduction has been quick to adapt and has just launched a new online PT course that is actually as face to face as possible, with the live calls and live group sessions. Once the lockdown is over students can come in person to do assessments and catch ups.
See you on the other side with my final Level 3 review.
But, through a coincidental twist of events a few months later, I was invited by BWL itself (the UK governing body) to attend the course at Third Space in Canary Wharf. Spoiler: I found it really useful, had a great time, and passed!
I’m now so pleased to have done it as it’s been so useful and relevant for my training. So even if, like me, you have no plans or intention to coach, you’re still likely to get something out of it.
Here’s what the course was like, what I learnt and what you need to know if you’re considering it, or if you’re just intrigued to find out more. Maybe you can surprise yourself by getting qualified too.
What is BWL Level 1?
A two-day face to face course in a small group environment with highly experienced Olympic lifting coaches alongside comprehensive e-learning modules.
It’s an opportunity to build your knowledge of the two Olympic lifts: the snatch and the clean & jerk, and learn how to apply that knowledge to a class and coaching setting. You’ll also go through supporting lifts such as back squat and front squat.
The Level 1 qualifies you to assist a more experienced coach who is already qualified at Level 2 or higher.
Who is it for?
You don’t need to be a coach or PT to do this course, in fact it’s designed for people with no coaching experience.
Experience in the lifts isn’t even a prerequisite although it’s advisable. (I couldn’t imagine attending a course to learn how to coach the snatch if you’ve never snatched before.)
You’ll be introduced to the principles behind how a weightlifting class is put together, how to deliver it so students are safe and how to evaluate the outcomes and experiences.
Even if you don’t plan to become a coach, it’s a great opportunity to deepen your knowledge of the lifts, which will help in training and progressing.
What we learnt
>> The key components and cues for each of the three Olympic lifts – the snatch, clean and jerk – as well as accessory lifts such as back squat and front squat.
>> How to teach with minimal talking time – turns out coaching isn’t a continuous stream of instructions. You have to master the art of observation followed by selective, efficient and concise language to cue only the most important thing so not to overwhelm or confuse the student. Less is more.
>> How to plan, deliver and evaluate a weightlifting class and how to effectively assist more qualified coaches (level 2 and above).
>> We even learnt non-verbal instruction eg for the hard of hearing, which was an interesting twist.
>> We had access to the e-learning hub with lots of great video tutorials. The hub also covered off: roles and responsibilities of a coach, safety in the sport, basic rules of the sport, technicalities of the lifts and supporting exercises.
Few things that pleasantly surprised me
I have no sports coaching experience but I didn’t feel out of my depth. I think the years doing these lifts in a group and one to one setting have meant I’m familiar with the cues and instructions, which definitely helped me absorb and apply all the information received.
Don’t be scared of the assessment – everyone wants you to do well so there’s lots of practice and the teacher breaks down each element so you’re fully prepared. At the end of day one the thought of being assessed the next day felt terrifying and daunting but once you get there it’s actually totally doable and ok.
You don’t need to worry about being perfect at the moves yourself. The most important thing is understand the key points and safety cues and this will help better your understanding of them.
I started applying the knowledge straight away – in the training sessions immediately after the course. I’m now so aware of my positioning and movement through the lifts and mentally use the cues I learnt every time I lift, which is great, a testament to how useful the course was.
Before you book…
Even though it’s not a prerequisite, knowing the moves will help. As mentioned, you don’t have to be a pro Olympic lifter but at least know what a snatch and clean and jerk is and have some experience of them.
Allocate some time before the course starts to do the pre course e-learning. You’ll need at least two or three evenings to work through it without rushing.
Don’t make plans on the night after day one as you’ll have day two’s assessment to prepare for. There’s a lot to take in so it’s not worth rushing, panicking and not feeling prepared for the assessment.
If you think this could be for you, let me know! A limited number of exclusive discount codes are available through me, so message for details if you’re keen.