When it comes to food there are cooks and there are chefs.   Both are important roles to deliver the end result of a well prepared meal and the pleasant experience that come with it. However; they are very different people with very different skill sets.

A chef is a creator; through a deep understanding of every ingredient and how various methods of preparation effect food they create unique and inspiring dishes.

A cook is a doer; they know their way around the kitchen and how to use all the tools correctly to make the dish come to life.  They use all the tools available to them to create a dining experience through food, pairings, service and presentation.

Each group has unique strengths and potential weaknesses.  A chef is a person who is able to see the end result and magically pull all the pieces of out their head to get there.  A cook is a wonderful linear thinker and thrives on executing the details at the precise timing to create the end result.  Great chefs don’t always make great cooks and being a great cook does not always mean someone is a great chef.  A spatially oriented thinking  chef can become lost in the details and stifled creatively while a linear thinking cook can have trouble  focusing only on the end result becoming overwhelmed not knowing where to start and how to get there.

In fitness there is overwhelming pressure trainers feel that they have to be both a chef and a cook.  Trainers often feel that they are responsible for creating workouts and programs and also coaching clients through them.  There are those who possess the ability to both create and lead a fantastic workout but for the majority of us we tend to be stronger on one side than another so why not embrace our strength and seek to pair ourselves with those who are strong where we are not?

I am referring to program design for clients and athletes.  I see too many cooks who force themselves to be chefs in this area.  Creating a solid workout program is a very challenging part of fitness.  Like a great chef understands all the ingredients and preparation methods available to him, a trainer who can design purposeful workouts has a deep understanding of anatomy, energy systems, biomechanics, physics, the fascial system and the unique benefits and characteristics of all the tools that will be used during the workout.  When a trainer is comfortable with all these areas and can blend them together into a workout they are able to create something this is fun, engaging, and purposeful that will drive results for clients.  Throwing exercises into a workout that are “Hard” or look cool without specific purpose is like tossing random indigents into a pot; you might end up creating something that is palatable but not necessarily enjoyable.

The chef is just part of the equation, the recipe is just the starting point or blueprint but it’s the cook that takes the plan and turns it into an experience.  Once the workout is created it takes a sold trainer or instructor to lead it.  The best workout in the world can sink fast if you don’t have a great coach connecting, motivating and creating energy during the workout.  Just as a great cook creates the dining experience people remember a great trainer/instructor/coach has the tools to make people leave a workout smiling and wanting to come back for more.

So which are you?

If you are a chef never underestimate the value of honing your skills as a cook and cooks; spend some time getting to know some basics on your “indigents” to help you prepare the best experience.  Most important lean on each other, play to your strengths and seek those who complement your weaknesses.  You can be a great programmer and developer of workouts and plans but it will take a lot of work with great instructors and coaches to help deliver those to your clients and groups.  Sometime the best course of action might be to explore ways you get your recipe in the hands of those who can lead workouts beautifully.  If you are a great coach and leader don’t feel like you have to design every workout as well.  If that is your least favorite part of fitness seek out those who love it, connect with other fitness professionals and combine your talents with their workout to create something special.

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About caseystutzman

Casey Stutzman is an AFAA certified trainer and has been actively involved in the fitness industry since 2004. Since 2006 he has acted as the Head Trainer at the Bay Athletic Club in Alpena Michigan. Casey’s love of athletics and competition drove him in to the fitness industry. He uses his experience as a division 1 college football player, amateur bodybuilding competitor, strongman competitor to help others reach their goals in all areas of fitness. Casey spends his time at Bay Athletic Club teaching Boot Camps, small group training sessions, training clients and working with participants in Bay Athletic Club’s Corporate Fit Challenge program. He also develops strength and conditioning programs and does performance training for a number of local athletic organizations and high school teams. As an Ignite Performance Master trainer and Master Instructor for TRX Casey travels North America to educate and connect with fitness professionals to help them offer more to their clients and athletes. Time outside of fitness is occupied with reading, travel, indoor rock climbing, snow sports and being an active outdoorsman. He enjoys spending free time with his wife Mary Beth, his daughter Vesper, son Indiana and Turkish the family dog.

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