darren conehead roberts dirt training rehab 137
darren conehead roberts dirt training rehab 137

As fitness coaches the names we call ourselves seem to be getting more convoluted with each passing year...

From Dirt Issue 137 - July 2013

Words by Darren Roberts. Photo by Ben Winder.

This is obviously in part down to the varied and growing nature of what we do in performance. However, every performance conference I attend descends into a game of ‘try and figure out what they do’ on the attendee list. If we’re not busy calling ourselves ‘high performance enhancement improvement training rehabilitation coach specialist scientists’, maybe we tell you we’re a ‘functional training expert’, which is as opposed to what? A ‘dysfunctional training expert’? Where does this self naming end? Are we going to see mechanics become ‘mountain bike performance maintenance practitioners’, suspension guys become ‘bouncy springy attached to bike thingy blokes’?

We’ve started inventing names for ourselves and stopped being ‘fitness trainers’. Why is this? I’m guessing the word ‘fitness’ brings up images of simply working in a gym, training ‘normal’ people. Maybe the word ‘fitness’ is too closely linked to the globo gym world and not ‘elite’ athletes. In an ever–increasing effort to separate ourselves from the crowd, and therefore the norm, we come up with more sexy descriptions of our job. ‘Fitness Trainer’ doesn’t describe cutting edge methodology or rationale, doesn’t portray anyone as an ‘expert’ or the breadth and depth of knowledge required to do this job.

I’m have been guilty of this as anyone in the past. Currently I’m a ‘High Performance Manager’, which describes the programme I ‘manage’. A network of trainers, coaches, physios, surgeons and many other elements to help our athletes in their 'performance' at a ‘high’ level. It’s up to me to try and fit the these pieces of the performance puzzle together, creating a programme of support that is there purely to help the athlete in their sport and in the unfortunate event they injure themselves. The strength of this programme is not in my ability as a coach, but my ability to ensure people much better than me deliver and execute it. It's not about me, my job title or any efforts to communicate how good I may or may not be at my job – it's about the athlete and helping them express their potential. This athlete centred approach is often talked about but seldom actually delivered, in a male dominated profession ego and vanity can creep in – I know as I've let this happen to me before.

We don’t mean to confuse you all with our job titles, it’s just a product of a job which is still relatively new and finding its feet. We don’t have much security and with jobs few and far between we sex up our title, it’s not meant to mislead, but simply try and educate you to our capabilities and ability to help you the athlete or client.  But that's the key, ensuring it’s the athlete and client being helped, not the enhancement of a trainers reputation.

Right, now I’m off to make a brew with my ‘electrically heated water facilitator’...

Darren Roberts is Head of High Performance at Red Bull UK working with the likes of the Atherton family, Danny MacAskill, MX enduro star David Knight and many, many others.

This article is part of the Work Out series. You can find the rest of Darren Roberts’ training tips through the links below: