Attending Seminars and Workshops
Attending seminars and workshops can be an interesting and enjoyable way to gain hands-on experience. They are the most interactive means by which to obtain CEUs, but can also be the most expensive. There are sometimes travel costs involved, as well as the loss of income from taking time out of work. If you choose to go this route, you want to find the best seminars and learn as much as you can while you're there.
Choosing Which Seminar to Attend
There is nothing worse than spending the money and taking the time out of work to attend a seminar, only to have it fall short of meeting your needs or expectations. This is both frustrating and discouraging. In order to avoid this scenario, be sure to do some research on the people giving the seminar as well as the content. Speaking to someone who attended in the past may help you decide if the course is for you.
Consider the relevance of the subject matter. Will you be able to use the information being offered? Level of difficulty is also an issue. Some seminars are directed at entry-level personal trainers, while others are intended for a more experienced audience. If the course listing does not state who the seminar is geared toward, contact the provider and ask. You do not want to be bored and unchallenged, nor in over your head.
Remember that you are a professional, and conduct yourself accordingly. This is not a college course, where you can roll out of bed bleary-eyed and show up in your pajamas and a baseball cap. Show up alert, properly attired, and on your game. You will be surrounded by your colleagues, and the last thing you want to do is embarrass yourself.
Finances will also be a factor in whether or not you sign up for a seminar. Only you can determine if the value of the knowledge and the number of CEUs you will receive outweighs what you will pay to attend. Some seminars cost hundreds of dollars and last for several days, while you may find one-day workshops for less than $100. If you are self-employed, these costs, along with travel expenses, may be used as tax write-offs, so make sure you keep your receipts. If you are employed by a club, your employer may pay a portion or all of the costs, but could also dictate what you attend.
Getting the Most Out of Your Experience
The first step to getting the most out of your experience is to arrive well-rested and prepared to learn. A good seminar will always have worksheets and information to take home, but you should still be taking your own notes. You will understand and remember the information more completely if you put it in your own words. Bring a notebook and pen, and sit toward the front so you can ask questions. As you are listening, think of practical ways to incorporate your newfound knowledge in your daily practice, and make detailed notes. For example, if you have a client who has been suffering with low-back pain, and you learn some exercises that will help him, make a note to yourself to add them to the client's program. You will be bombarded with a great deal of new information, and the more specific you can be in your note taking, the more you will remember and be able to apply to your newfound knowledge.
If there is a hands-on section of the workshop, participate as much as possible. You may learn new exercise techniques, verbal cuing, proper spotting techniques, etc. You will remember much more by doing it than you will by simply sitting back and watching. This is also the best way to figure out if you really understand and can perform the task. Plus, if you do have questions, the instructor is available to answer them. If you wait until you are home or at work and find you need more information, you will be out of luck.
Whatever you do learn, practice it as soon as you get back so you don't forget. Sharing your newfound knowledge with a colleague is also a great way to make it stay in your memory.