What I’ve Learned So Far: A Response from Justin Rabinowitz

Today’s post is a guest blog from our good friend, and my favorite New Jersey Native, Justin Rabinowitz. A few months back I published an article called “What I’ve Learned So Far.” Justin liked the article so much that, in response, he decided to share a few of his lessons with us.



Hey guys and gals, I’m glad to be back on the BSP blog! The idea for this post came about after Todd did a re-post of his ‘What I’ve Learned So Far’ article a few weeks ago. Truthfully, these types of introspective articles are my favorite to write. They give me a chance to basically sit in front of a computer and brain dump all of my thoughts on paper.

 Sometimes, it even makes sense.

 I thought Todd did such a great job with his post that I decided to disagree with everything he wrote.

 Ok, it all seriousness, Todd did a fantastic job with his post so I asked if I could possibly add my perspective to some of his thoughts.

 Todd: Be Humble

Me: Being humble, yet confident.

 Too many times I have had conversations with friends trying to make them believe in themselves. I have found that generally, people talk themselves out of any skill set or positive attribute(s) they may have.

 Yes, we all need to be humble, but confidence in our abilities as a coach or therapist cannot be downplayed. Besides, how will our clients believe in what we do if we don’t believe in ourselves?

 I’ve always stated that when I graduate school, one thing I cannot and will not have is experience. There is no way I can have more patient encounters and experience than Dr. X who has been in practice for 25 years. It’s impossible. Does that mean if someone wants to come to my office, I should refer him or her down the street?

 Absolutely not. 

 Why? Because in my heart, I honestly believe I can provide a better service and will care more about my patient than Dr. X.

 Really, it’s that simple.

 Now don’t get me wrong, I have A Ton to learn. Please don’t get it twisted. If you don’t believe me, email me and I can give you a round about figure on the cost of my continuing education expenses to date. (Hint: I could put a hefty down payment on a really, really (really) nice car)

 Like Todd says, humility allows us to continue to learn. However, confidence allows us to establish trust with our clients. And remember, we need to trust ourselves before anyone else can.

Todd: Reach Out to the Big Guns

Me: Reach out to the Big Guns, yet don’t be surprised if you don’t get a response (and be ok with that)

 This is one where I actually took a piece of advice from Todd on his lesson yet learned the second part the hard way.

 I’ve always asked Todd how he made contact with some of the big time people in the industry and he told me just what he wrote in his post.

 So naturally, I began to do the same.

 As you may have guessed, not every person I contacted responded. In fact, I would say less than half wrote back to me. A few times, the contact info was so overused that the email account was shut down! I guess they are Big Guns for a reason, huh?

 Early on, this really upset me. Was I not good enough? Was I annoying them? Did I ask something offensive?

 I really have no idea the answer, but that’s not the point. The reality is that I am probably just one of hundreds, if not thousands of emails these people get everyday and the chances of them responding is slim because of shear volume.

 The lesson here is not to stop. Don’t stop contacting the Big Guns. Seek them out. If you email 100 people and get 1 response, be happy and learn from it.

Todd: Repetition is Not Synonymous With Experience

Me: See my ‘Be humble, yet confident’ response above.

And Todd, that’s why they make slip-on and Velcro shoes. (If you don’t get the reference, read Todd’s article)

 Todd: Travel and Be Social

Me: Just listen to Todd on this one.

 Honestly, without even knowing it, Todd taught me a lesson in this.

 When I first met Todd, I was at my school for about two years and he had just started working at the on- campus gym.

 Within about two weeks of him starting work, I observed that Todd knew the names of more people at the gym than I did, many of which I went to school with. Now, I pride myself on not making small talk at the gym because 1) it’s annoying and 2) my swell would decrease dramatically.  

 This does not mean I couldn’t seek these same folks out during the school day and at least introduce myself.

 Anyway, since that time I have made it a point to introduce myself and talk to many more people than in the past. Trust me, it makes for a much more enjoyable day when you actually know others’ names, I swear.

 Todd: Take Chances

Me: Take chances, but make sure they are calculated.

 This, I think, should be implied but let me say it anyway.

 Both coaches and trainers deal with people. When it comes to our clients, be very cautious and make sure the chances you take with them are well thought out. I like to call it the ‘worst case scenario’ test. Let me explain.

 In Todd’s case, he discussed how he took a chance by submitting an article to a major online publication. Putting this scenario through my little test, we realize that the worst possible thing that could happen was rejection. They could have said no, we don’t like your stuff and that would have been the end of it. Todd still would have red hair, in the process of balding, and his mother would still love him. This ‘worst case scenario’ really isn’t so bad.

 Let’s take another example now. Lets’ say you are working with a client who is about 4 months post-op on a shoulder. They are making great progress, so you decide to step up their training. Instead of following protocol, you push the limits in order to get a training effect. Now, use my test.

 The worst-case scenario reveals that you could really mess this person up if you push them too hard. Calculating this risk reveals a plethora of complications. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are always situations where pushing a client is warranted. The point I wanted to make is simply to think through each risk and realize exactly what you may be doing.

 Todd: Be Balanced

Me: Be balanced; yet certain times call for you to be unbalanced.

 Again, in training and rehab, we are in the service industry. For most of us, this means if we are not working, we are not getting paid. I’ve spoken to many people in both professions and this topic always comes up. “If I’m out of the office, nobody makes money.” The funny thing is, most guys that say this are the most successful ones. This is also probably the reason why they are successful.

 From an outsider’s perspective, I always wonder, “Would seeing two less patients today so you can get to your son’s baseball game really be that big of a deal?” I tend not to think so. I know I am an outsider and it’s much different when you actually see the bank account decrease, but sometimes an outsider gives us the perspective we need.

 I believe that situations in our life should dictate how we work. Using myself as an example: I am relatively young and do not have my own family at this point. To work extremely long hours in order to better myself as a professional is warranted. My situation gives me this ability. Later in life, this may change.

 Again, the situation in your personal life dictates this and everyone’s situation is different.

 Todd: Pay it Forward

Me: Pay it Forward

 For this, I am literally going to copy and paste what Todd wrote. It’s such a great message that it needs to be shared again.  I am a huge fan of Todd’s writing and certainly can’t do anything better this:

 “We are nothing without the help we receive. I’ve asked busy people a lot of questions and they have always found the time to answer me. People have connected me with other people just because they thought it could help me. The list could go on for another 1000 words. Without question, the self-less action of others on my behalf has gotten me where I am today.

I’m sure that you can relate. People have given to you without expecting anything in return. Indubitably, someone has lent you a buck when you were short, a coach has pulled you aside and put you on a better path and people you don’t even know have given you kindness. It’s what makes the world a better place.

It’s our obligation to extend the help that we’ve received to others. I follow a simple motto: If you can  help, do something. Please, steal my motto and use it as your own.

These are just a few lessons that I’ve learned about the fitness industry and the world at large. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of parallels. Hopefully my experience can help you.”







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Todd Bumgardner
M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger
Todd Bumgardner

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M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger