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Bucky Dent’s Keynote Address (Cont.) | Club Industry East 2010

Bucky talks about Image and Instruction and Motivation.

In this post I want to share Bucky’s Thoughts (BTs) in two major categories:

  • Image
  • Instruction/Motivation

If you were at Bucky’s talk, you witnessed the passion with which he speaks about Image, Instruction, and Motivation. The audience really appreciated his heart-felt insights!


BT:  I have been doing this for 35 years.  I have loved every minute of itI have a passion for teaching baseball, and to have kids come and have fun and be part of a great environment.

No matter how long you have been in the fitness business, I hope you still have the passion for the profession and for the people who count on you to guide them to a place of better health and wellness. 

BT:  We act and look like ball players.  In this statement, Bucky was referring to both his staff and his players/campers.

Since it is much harder (almost impossible) to make fitness-exercisers look and act like “exercisers,” I want to center my comments here on fitness industry professionals:  What kind of a fitness image do you portray?  When someone walks in your door, is it obvious to them that you work there, and most importantly—that you work out!!  Bucky told us that he’s out there actively teaching baseball.  At minimum (based on your job), you should always be available to teach fitness or answer a fitness question.  Equally as important—nothing speaks more loudly than the boss and/or staff working out among the members!  


BT: Know what you are teaching.

Don’t fake it.  It is okay to admit that you are not qualified to teach and/or instruct something.  It is better to refer someone to a qualified instructor than to fake it and risk the chance of getting someone hurt and/or not giving them the high-quality instruction they deserve and are expecting.  Feel free to ask me what my limitations are!

BT: You have to have an imagination as to what to do to bring kids in.   Create programs that they will want to come back to (for).  But you must also keep changing things to grab their attention. 

Bucky’s strategies mirror fitness industry tenets that address member attraction, customer satisfaction, and member retention:

  • Give them a reason to join
  • Great programs and programming = happy members
  • Knowing that “variety” is coming will keep them coming

BT: If you have a specific background in football training and conditioning, you are probably not (immediately) qualified to teach training and conditioning for baseball (at my camp).

 Don’t overstep your training abilities/capabilities.  If you fake it you may break it!!

No matter what activity or sport you pursue—on both the participation and instructional sides—there are a myriad of sport-specific training exercises/activities that are exclusive to that sport or activity.  For example, let’s consider “throwing:” The exercises necessary to train for throwing a baseball are somewhat different from those necessary to throw a football.  Within baseball, consider the different throwing motions for a left-side-of-the-infield fielder, a centerfielder, a pitcher and a catcher. 

Respect and study Specificity of Training, both between different sports, and within the same sport!!    

BT:  One of his favorite sayings regarding skill acquisition and retention is:  “Tell me, I’ll forget.”  “Show me, I’ll forget.”  “Involve me, I’ll remember.”

WOW!!  Great saying; great challenge (to the trainer and/or coach).  Think back and reflect on your teaching methods. I realize that everyone may learn a little differently, but to approach skill acquisition with a learn-by-doing approach is not a bad way to start.  Make your clients/athletes take responsibility for their actions; challenge and build their sense of kinesthetic awareness.  Good chance you won’t be hearing, “I forgot how I’m supposed to do that” nearly as often.     

BT: We coach all the kids the same—the best to worst.  It’s all about having fun and making each kid the best they can be.

Do you work with and coach each member/client the same?  Do you help each person find the “fun” in working out?  Do you work with each person to help them become the best they can be?  Ask yourself these types of questions while considering the broad-spectrum of exercisers you come in contact with.  Hopefully, your answer to all of the above is YES.  If your answer is no, don’t offer yourself up to, and fake it with, those you really don’t care to work with.  If you are constantly looking at your watch (during their workout) or secretly checking your e-mails and text messages—that person/client is not for you!

Never underestimate the life-impact you can have on ANYONE if you give them100% of your best effort!  Frequently, it’s those in the worst shape who appreciate your help the most, and will refer their family, friends and colleagues to you.  For me, the ultimate compliment I ever received from a training client is, “You saved my life!”   

BT: I told my kids, if you want to play a sport you must go to every practice and go to every game.  If you can’t make that commitment, don’t start.  Quitting before the end of the season is not an option.  My message to parents is to pick a sport (or a few sports) for/with your kids and make them stick to it (them)! 

The only difference between Bucky’s challenge to his kids and the fitness world’s challenge to our exercisers is that the “game” of fitness is one LONG season.  Let’s translate Bucky’s challenge to fitness-world speak:

  •  Go to every practice = Be consistent with your workouts; challenge yourself to maintain a minimum weekly workout frequency.
  •  No quitting until the end of the season = No quitting until the end of your life.  I’ve always stressed and taught that fitness knows no vacations, holidays and age limitations.  Minimize the excuses; maximize the fitness!
  • Pick a sport (or a few sports) and stick to it (them) = Find an activity/ exercise program you like and pursue it.  A cross-training approach might be best, i.e., selecting a few activities that you like and schedule regular participation in each.  Maximize fitness; minimize boredom!     

BT: There are no secrets, tricks or gimmicks to becoming a professional baseball player.  Work hard, practice, and take endless/countless repetitions—whether it is fielding, or batting.

There is no magic pill (yet) that you can take to become fit.  Fitness comes with a lot of hard work, commitment, and, generally, some element of sacrifice.  Equate “countless repetitions” with significant time/repetitions on a given set of activities.  The beautiful thing is that maintaining “fitness” is, generally, not as difficult as achieving fitness.  One of my favorite saying is, “The next time you get fit, should be the last time you get fit for the rest of your life.  From then on, it’s just a matter of staying fit.   

BT: Kids don’t understand how hard it is to be a professional athlete.

Adults/exercisers frequently underestimate how hard it is to be a successful exerciser, i.e., to achieve prolonged well-being.  If it was so easy there would be no need for personal fitness trainers/coaches.  It is the fitness industry professional’s job to educate and motivate exercisers to pursue, achieve and maintain their fitness goals.  Be a chess-player—know exercisers’/members’ weak-spots; be one move ahead of their personal roadblocks—and do your best to prevent them—or at least get them “back on the horse” ASAP after a lapse occurs.

Message to industry professionals:  Acknowledge your respect for how hard it is to maintain fitness, but DO IT!  No excuses. 

 BT:  Message to today’s kids:  Do not concentrate on one sport year-round.  The temptation is there in sports like soccer—with travel teams; outdoor and indoor seasons.  We found that when a kid pursued other “in season” sports (e.g., football in the fall, basketball in the winter, etc.) then went back to their primary sport (e.g., baseball in the spring and summer) they were rejuvenated; they enjoyed it more and weren’t burnt out.    

In the fitness world, cross training is the miracle rejuvenator.  Over the years, I’ve kept MY primary sport—long distance running—fresh by adding swimming, bicycling, racquetball, group fitness classes, and circuit weight training to the mix.  The well-rounded fitness-level that goes along with cross training is an added bonus.  

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