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  • Writer's pictureJen Curtis


An open letter to health and fitness professionals in Tel Aviv.

I had an interesting experience recently that I’ve been churning around in my head and I think the most healthy thing to do is to get it out there in a blog post.

In the fitness world, there’s a lot of competition. I mean in physical numbers, there are just tons of trainers. I always check out other people’s pages to see what they’re doing – Facebook pages, Instagram, blogs – especially trainers in Tel Aviv. I want to know who’s doing what, and who else is doing good, meaningful work (and not just running people into the ground with cookie cutter programs). Who’s getting results? Who’s looking after their clients? Who’s sharing important and compelling information? Who’s playing safe and who’s challenging the industry? Who’s doing something interesting, new, and compelling that is backed up by science/anatomy/physiology and/or evidence?

In this sense, there’s not that much competition.

But there are some awesome people doing awesome things. My work is evolving into something between training and physiotherapy, so I look at both trainers and physios to see what they’re doing and saying.

I’ve come across some amazing professionals in both Israel and around the world that way. I’ve learnt SO much from these individuals, and I’m so inspired by the work they do. But you know what? It’s a little scary and intimidating too. There are some really smart people out there, and I come across information where I think to myself “HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS?!?!” “HOW DID I NOT THINK OF THAT!” And then that little voice of self-doubt rears its ugly head and says “you’re a really bad trainer. You’re conning people and you know nothing. You need to do nothing but study for the next 10 years and you need to know EVERYTHING before you ever see another client!”

But you know what? All the best people in the industry are saying the exact same thing. They are all learning all the time. I see that they talk about other people’s work, what they learned from it. They share each other’s posts, collaborate on podcasts and ask each other questions.

Sadly that’s not the norm here. I came across a fairly popular trainer here in Tel Aviv a few months ago and was just checking out her page. She seemed to be doing pretty decent work, nothing out of the ordinary, but pretty sound training methodology. Then I came across a familiar looking post – I started reading and realized that it was MY post. Not a share though. She had just copied and pasted my EXACT words onto her own Facebook post and pawned it off as her own (I think she still follows my page so I kind of hope she’s reading this). I was horrified (but also a little flattered – I knew what I had written was good, and original, and well-written and scientifically sound AND helpful for people, but it must be REALLY bloody good for someone to want to post it as their own!) I sent her a message and carried on scanning her page – I found ANOTHER ONE! And then ANOTHER!! Lots of expletives going through my head at this point… I sent her a really angry message about plagiarism and how I’d sue her if I ever saw her do it again (over-reaction much? Ah well, I’m human too). She answered back in a panic saying, “I’m really sorry, I didn’t realize!” ER, sorry, WHAT didn’t you realize exactly? How can you accidentally do copy and paste my post? Maybe she didn’t realize that it wasn’t ok to do that. Bullshit. Of course she did.

I told her that if she liked my work, I would be thrilled for her to share it with her people – but do just that. THAT’S WHAT THE SHARE BUTTON IS FOR. That way, you also don’t have to go through all the trouble of holding the shift button down, highlighting the text and pressing C and V… Just SHARE it! That way we both get credit – me for writing compelling posts, and you for sharing compelling posts. WIN WIN.

She kept apologizing and said that she will delete it, never do it again that she is new at this and didn’t know how to do it and she won’t share anything I write ever again. I told her that she can share, that I would love for her to share my posts, just don’t try to pawn it off as your own.

She kept insisting that she would prefer not to, just in case. I told her that I thought that was a shame, that we both miss out that way, but she wouldn’t agree.

Sohee wrote a similar post about content theft recently, that inspired me to post this, it's been sitting unpublished for some months .

This happened quite a few months ago, and it’s been at the back of my mind ever since. Why wouldn’t she share my posts? Why did she do it in the first place? Of course I know the answer. There is a lot of competition out there. There are lots of trainers here in Tel Aviv, and most find it hard to get enough work. The industry standard is that we all work independently, we don’t help each other or bounce ideas off the other. In fact, we usually learn training methods from different schools of thought and disagree wholeheartedly with each other and bitch about each other behind each other's back. We talk about how bad this method is and how dangerous that trainer is or how dumb that method is. We stay in our little bubbles with our little following and don’t venture outside those comfort zones.

I get it, it’s hard. I read the work of physios like Lori Forner, Julie Wiebe, Antony Lo, Sivan Navot, and trainers like Jessie Mundell, Briana Battles and Ido Portal. I work with awesome trainers like Courtney Mann, Yonatan Schweitzer, Pavel, Menachem, Olga Rubin, Maayan Moskow, and we all have different methods and ways of thinking. I get challenged by my colleagues on a regular basis.

I see local trainers that are doing a great job and I admire them. My biggest heroes are mainly in Australia and the US (as they’re the ones talking about the pelvic floor and core) and it’s intimidating how much they know.

But you know what they’re ALL doing? They are all talking about each other.

It’s scary sharing a post from a local trainer – what if people start going to her instead of me? What if people think she’s better than me. So the knee jerk reaction is to hide it, to try to make sure people won’t see.

But this is a false economy because the good people will get exposure. And not aligning yourself with them will make you look bad.

Besides, I have learnt a lot from books and courses, but I have learnt a hell of a lot more from picking Sivan’s brain, or 4-hour conversations with Liron Murphy about the pelvic floor and exercise. I have learnt so much from posts that one physiotherapist has shared from another, from podcasts where they are just sitting and having a chat, or learning from each other's experience and training.

The best in the industry don’t try to do it alone. They don’t try to depict themselves as lone wolves and the only one that knows what I know. They acknowledge and praise others who are doing good work. The main reason to do this is because it's the right thing to do. But it does benefit you at the same time, because you are sharing important information and aligning yourself with the right people. So many trainers share posts saying "I'm a great trainer, for personal training contact me on this number", or some variation on that theme. Sharing fantastic, reliable information is the BEST way of showing that you know what you know, that you are a trustworthy professional. People don't just want to see pictures of you in a sports bra, they want to know what you know. Enlighten them. It's great if you want to write your own blog post or make your own original content, but it isn't always necessary. Share their work and you both get credit, and good information gets spread.

The truth is that we can learn so much from each other. Despite what you have been taught about competition and being a shark and sink or swim, it’s all lies! There is enough room for all of us! There certainly seems to be enough room for bad PTs and trainers to do BAD work – so why wouldn’t there be enough room for us all to do GOOD work?? Why don’t we all share what we know, spread the love, spread our knowledge, and spread awareness about our tiny little niches. Let’s lift each other up instead of tearing each other down, let’s raise the standards of the industry. Let listen and explore and be open to new ways of thinking.

If you are interesting in collaborating in any way, reach out to me! We can see if there is a way for us to work with each other, whether it’s a workshop, or just coffee and conversation!

I am starting to run workshops on Pre- and Post-natal fitness so that I can teach other trainers about my niche: Core rehabilitation and Strength training during and after pregnancy. No trainer I know has done as many courses and as much research as I have on this topic, and none have as much experience. The way we are teaching this in this country, and subsequently training women is appalling. I want to change that and share what other professionals in the field have taught me.

So guys, you might consider doing the same, but even if you don’t feel like you have a specialism that you can share, you CAN share great information from other trainers. Give praise. You don’t have to do it all yourself. The information is already there in blog posts and YouTube videos. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Everyone wins when we work this way.

I’ve got some incredible content on the gram for you

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