After school and sport club: how to choose the best

balletbeautifulI am a mover, I love sports: skiing, tennis, volleyball, swimming, gymnastics, pilates … for 8 years and I have been practicing martial arts (jujutsu and iaido). I know the benefits, joy and well-being that comes from connecting constantly with your body.

It’s October now and if you are a parent probably you are thinking like me to enroll your son or daughter in a course of martial arts, dance or gymnastics. No matter which discipline or sport you choose: BE CAREFUL TO DISHONEST TRAINERS!

In all these years I attended the dojo, dance schools and gyms. I have been a student so many times and sometimes I also took a few lessons as an expert assistant and I realized that the majority of the courses are in fact scams and that trainers are conmen.

Since these professions are not yet recognized by the Italian law and have no university training standards, they are full of traps. Good trainers and real professionals are increasingly rare, however they are among us: you have to be able to recognized them.

gattusogambeDon’t waste your time, don’t throw your money away and don’t injury yourself -which is even worse- Here are 5 points to consider for evaluating your kid’s school, sport center or coach:
1. Family-schools: you entered this new gym or dance school and the staff is playing fatuous. The atmosphere is friendly and it’s easy to socialize. The secretary is the mother and trainers are brother and sister or close friends. They invite you immediately on whatsup groups and ask you to be friend on facebook.. oh yes, exactly! You are in a family (in other words SECT) with binding obligations to be respected. Your new friends of the Staff are proud to show themselves in their underwear on Facebook and show pictures of their home life and intimate details of their holidays. They act in this way to create martialemotional and psychological ties: if you’re a family member you cannot ask for the receipt of due payment, right? In these places workout is often emotional, not technical: managers and the Staff often speak of “art”, “culture”, “passion”, “heart” … they are all NOT MEASURABLE and not objective data. They’re hiding their insecurities and incompetence. Run away. Or better you can ask for a loan of bucks to buy your new car: after all, you’re a family member now!
2.There are no competitors: they are the only custodians of the truth. No one can compare to them, other schools, sport centers or professionals just cannot compete. Even the team spirit inside this gym is based on denigrating others. They often do this very subtly: spreading innuendo, false information or gossip about other schools. This kind of mythomaniacs who continually describe how special they are and simultaneously denigrate others are perhaps the worst category. A true and serious professional NEVER denigrates colleagues, because he knows that sooner or later someone better than him will come, even from other schools however he is not troubled by this. He does his job with dedication putting above all his pupils’ growth.
3.The seducers. This point will make you smile, but believe me … the majority of trainers gets up for the students! Also commenting on a female student’s physical appearance during class is just unacceptable. This kind of behavior must be avoided. A true master/instructor/trainer does not flirt in the class or on social nets with a student. A real trainer does not have favorite students or lovers-pupils. Even rude pictures or phrasing hanging on the walls (or social nets) with inappropriate language should make you run away. Believe me: they are not jokes, they are a sign of high personal frustration, incompatible with any teaching.
4.Brutality. Years ago, an instructor caused a serious injury to my husband’s thumb when teaching a technique in a martial arts class. Let’s get this straight: during a martial arts or self defense lesson there should NOT be injuries or bruises for anyone. scene-1684780_1280NEVER. If the techniques are risky there are suitable guards to prevent the damage. Many instructors, to show they are “tough guys” or to lure you into a “group of tough guys” use force inappropriately. If you hear statements like “if you do not want to hurt yourself go to a crochet course” immediately leave the gym. Experience a little pain while learning the techniques is okay, but if the trainer is not able to prevent injury or worse he causes them … GET AWAY and find another instructor. And yes.. you are a tough guy, if you go away from there. A boxer spends years of hard training to get ready to enter the ring and, if after a few lessons you are forced to fight savagely, well.. you’ve come across a huge incompetent. Brutality can also exist in dance schools or sport centers. There are instructors who shout at the students to motivate them to lift more weights and dance trainers that, in fact, push the students to eating disorders. Always observe your son/daughter’s behaviour when they get home after these courses and listen to the stories they want to share with you about their favorite activities. And do not forget to ask for accurate info about the Injury Insurance at the gym when registering.
5. A fit trainer has an athletic body at any age. An harmonious body who shows that his teachings are excellent and beneficial. If you see a trainer with a beer drinker stomach… or, at the contrary lacking muscle mass, it only means one thing: he does not have a clue how to train. Moreover, nutrition and physical activity of any kind (yes even the martial arts, dance or basketball!) are one thing. Any performance is influenced by both of these aspects, so the trainer has to know both, in addition to the basic processes of human physiology and biochemistry. Have you ever seen those dance trainers with their B side out of proportion or with the a football player’s legs? That is fat in muscles, caused by a wrong training.

sport-1685777__1801Go beyond subltle marketing words and citations on schools and gyms websites, do not be charmed by psychological tricks or well shot photos. Attend, observe objectively and with a genuine curiosity your trainers. Always check out their curriculum: do not rely on them or leave your children with them without knowing certain facts about them. You can contact the organizations or associations they mention on their CVs. Your trust must be based on solid foundations, not on friends’s street talks who have never checked anything about this subject. Ask questions to your instructors: a good trainer is not afraid of criticism and will calmly respond with rieliable info and facts (not with his own personal views). And do not be afraid to change, you or your sons will socialize again in an healthier place. It is not your fault that you’ve met a dishonest or unprepared trainer, because they are so many.

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2 Responses to “After school and sport club: how to choose the best”

  1. Laura 10/11/2016 at 17:53 Permalink

    Ciao, se posso permettermi non ho mai visto niente che somigli ai primi 3 punti soprattutto se si tratta di bambini. Cioé ci mancherebbe che la scuola dove i bambini praticano sport abbia insegnanti che ci provano con gli allievi o che fanno pensare loro di essere in famiglia o addirittira che facciano male ai bambini. Per quanto riguarda i rapporti personali tra maestro e allieve adulte: bé la mia vicina di casa sposó durante l’universitá un suo professore di giurisprudenza che invece è molto molto bravo e competente, tutt’ora invitato a tenere lezioni in università di tutto il mondo è stato preside di facoltà alla statale di Milano. Benché in pensione ha ancora richieste di consigli per le tesi. Se poi intendiamo solo commenti e comportamenti volgarotti è un altro conto.

    • Emanuela Davini
      Emanuela Davini 11/11/2016 at 09:36 Permalink

      Ciao Laura, quello che hai scritto è molto interessante. Sono sollevata e contenta che tu non abbia mai visto corsi pomeridiani ricreativi, sportivi o di arti marziali o danza che presentassero le caratteristiche che elenco sopra. Personalmente io ne ho visti molti. Anche i genitori e gli insegnanti che ho intervistato, e a cui ho chiesto pareri in merito, mi hanno confermato che si tratta di problemi frequenti e reali. Questo Blog racconta la mia esperienza e storia e io credo che, come adulti e genitori, sia utile verificare attentamente la scelta di a chi affidare la propria crescita come atleti, artisti marziali o nuotatori o giocatori di tennis. In assenza di percorsi di formazione riconosciuti (come ad esempio l’obbligo di una laurea in Scienze Motorie o Scienze della Formazione) occorre capire quali siano le qualifiche ed esperienze di un insegnante o allenatore. Senza una puntuale verifica dei curriculum e delle affermazioni di questi operatori si compie un mero atto di fede. La semplice esistenza di una struttura e l’esistenza di affluenza di persone in questa struttura o il parere di compagni di scuola non è una garanzia sufficiente. Come scrive Andrea Biasci “solo chi conosce sceglie, altrimenti crede di scegliere”. In sintesi: 1) L’energia del gruppo sostiene molto l’allievo, ma le dinamiche del gruppo non devono essere manipolatorie o ricattatorie; è più utile prevalga il confronto, il rispetto e la libertà del singolo individuo di frequentare altri centri sportivi/ricreativi. 2) Chi critica gli altri e promette metodologie innovative e uniche sta sicuramente mentendo: tutto è già stato inventato e le metodologie innovative consistono nel rivisitare pezzi di tecniche già esistenti. Se fosse scoperta una metodologia davvero innovativa in qualche campo lo vedremmo scritto su tutti i giornali! Occorre distinguere il marketing selvaggio dalla realtà dei fatti. 3) E’ ovvio che se due adulti consenzienti si innamorano sono fatti loro. Ma usare il ruolo di insegnante o allenatore per avvicinare e sedurre allieve o mamme è ben altra cosa. E’ un segno di allarme. 4) La brutalità e qualche infortunio sono spesso considerati normali, soprattutto nell’ambiente delle arti marziali, ma non è così. Gli infortuni devono e possono essere evitati utilizzando le protezioni idonee e rispettando il livello tecnico degli allievi. 5) Al di là delle parole, lo stato psico-fisico del coach o dell’insegnate è il biglietto da visita numero 1 di come lavora. E’ l’esempio che conta.

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