There are a million and one certifications out there today. In fact, there are so many that it’s hard to know what is worth your time and what isn’t. I’ve done a lot of the dirty work for you already. I’ve attended some excellent certifications, and I’ve also attended some truly excruciating ones—and lived to tell the tale.
After I finished the Pain-Free Performance Specialist (PPSC) certification with Dr. John Rusin, I thought to myself, “What an incredible building block for how to train people.” It’s truly a blueprint from start to finish. But not many people know what PPSC is. Maybe you’ve never heard of it yourself. As someone who has been in the fitness industry for many years, let me save you a lot of time and tell you how useful this certification truly is. Below you’ll find some details on what the certification offers, its structure, and how to best incorporate the knowledge into your fitness career.
What Is PPSC?
In short, PPSC is a guide to delivering high-quality sessions that keep clients healthy, free from pain, and coming back for more. With Dr. Rusin, you’ll learn a system designed to help identify the lynchpin of dysfunction to unlock the opportunity for you and your clients to train pain-free—so you can get stronger and move better.
In a broader sense, I also found that this certification teaches you how to learn. It forces you to ask questions like: Are you caught up in a specific fitness dogma that isn’t serving you? Are you able to listen to something objectively even if you don’t like the sound of it upfront?
This description might sound too general, so let’s break it down a little bit.
Who Is PPSC For?
The first question you should be asking yourself before you take any certification is: How do you know this program is for you? If you’re a personal trainer or strength coach looking to systematize your programming in a comprehensive way, and you’re especially looking for ways to better understand and break down the warmup, the entire workout, and their most vital components, PPSC is for you. You’ll get a template to work from that can be useful for all your clients.
I think trainers who don’t have comprehensive knowledge about the warmup are especially perfect for this certification. And that’s more of the trainer population than you might think. We’re all great at creating tough workouts, but do we really understand the importance of a solid warmup? And even worse, do we even know how to program a comprehensive warmup?
You should go to PPSC if you are a coach looking to take your session delivery to the next level. It will help you systemize your workouts and better understand what your clients need. PPSC breaks up each session into components that you can build a system with. This will help you deliver a training session that keeps your clients healthy, safe, progressing, and happy.
You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve seen the following comment on a forum or Facebook group that hosts fitness and health professionals: “I just got my first client. What do I do now?” More people need PPSC than you might think.
Who Is Dr. John Rusin?
First impressions say that Dr. Rusin is an intense, direct guy that you don’t want to mess with. This is true, in a sense, but he’s not somebody you should be afraid of by any means. Dr. Rusin is a sports performance expert and injury prevention specialist who is also a physical therapist. He’s been training elite athletes for over a decade and he has advanced degrees in exercise science and physical therapy. His pain-free methodology has come to be loved and practiced by many people in the fitness industry.
In fitness we are often simply told, “Do it this way because science says so!” I remember feeling very frustrated by this answer because I needed clearer direction. Well, Dr. Rusin is the type of guy who breaks down a training session into its bare components and explains why and when you should do each of them. He’s someone who has a specific methodology that can answer a lot of different questions
What Will You Learn in PPSC?
Truly understanding the six primary movement patterns is a big part of PPSC: squat, hinge, push, pull, carry, lunge (both rotation and anti-rotation apply as an unspoken seventh pattern). But a lot of people get so caught up in doing certain things—knee extension, hip extension, etc.—that they don’t even know how to create effective programming. PPSC helps you start from what you need to do to get the body to perform well.
In order to prepare the body for stress, we must first prime the body to exert effort. This is a major principle you’ll go over in PPSC. One of the biggest mistakes people make isn’t that they’re training too hard and doing the wrong functional movements—it’s that you don’t warm up properly or even have the proper movement requirements to perform the tasks assigned.
All of this can be taken care of with the 6-Phase Dynamic Warm Up. In the 6-Phase Dynamic Warm Up Sequence, you will learn the techniques and reasons behind the following:
Phase 1: Self Myofascial Release (SMR) Techniques
Phase 2: Bi-Phasic Positional Stretching
Phase 3: Corrective-Based Movements
Phase 4: Stability-Based Activation
Phase 5: Foundational Pattern Development
Phase 6: Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulation
The SMR techniques (both oscillatory and neurological) are great for pre-workout or post-workout applications; you’ll understand breath and its role in the warmup. Bi-phasic stretching is a more specialized and granular approach to basic stretching you might be familiar with; you’ll learn about both active and passive stretching, and where they each fit into our programs. You’ll go over activation drills, movement pattern development, and finish off with some CNS stimulation.
Why Does PPSC Focus on the Warmup So Much?
One of the big reasons why we’re seeing an increase in injuries is because people do not warm up properly. Yes, Dr. Rusin is speaking to all of you who sit on a lacrosse ball and foam roller for an hour before your training session because you’re feeling “tight”.
Warming up is boring. I get it. You’re excited to get after it in the gym, you got your new outfit on, you just slammed some pre-workout, you wrote up a workout so awesome you’re sure people will fawn over the way you meticulously created this session, and then bam! You tweak your shoulder and you’re out six weeks and you find yourself addicted to the bountiful world of happy hour and cheap after-work cocktails.
What the hell? Why did this happen? Well, while your workout might have been the shit, but your warmup was actual shit, and quite frankly, your body was not primed and prepared to handle the level of stress that your workout required.
Don’t worry, you’ll learn everything you need to know by going through the 6-Phase Dynamic Warm Up, which Dr. Rusin has refined over his career working with multiple populations from high-level collegiate and professional athletes to CrossFit Games athletes to powerlifters to everyday people like you and me.
While it might seem like a warmup that has six components is going to take forever, it won’t take up nearly as much time as you think. Besides, the pros outweigh the cons. Your body will be primed to perform the work as quickly and safely as possible.
At the end of the day, Dr. Rusin insists you and your clients shouldn’t be doing millions of correctives for months on end. Instead you should be training and moving your body in the ways your life demands.
What’s the Structure of the Cert?
It’s a two-day certification (usually Saturday and Sunday) that has a mixture of both hands-on learning and lecture style. You’ll get a mixture of theory and science, and you’ll also learn from John what he’s learned over the years—and what he’s been researching.
You’ll work in small groups with different partners. This will require lots of dialogue and feedback for each other. And when you sit down for the lecture portion, you’ll have the chance to ask a lot of questions. It’s not just Dr. Rusin you’ll get to learn from and ask questions to. You’ll work with other instructors like Clifton Harski, Nick Clayton, David Otey, etc. He’s got a stacked team.
The Final Word
Dr. Rusin bridges fitness and physical therapy beautifully. You’ll get a framework and template from which you can build some truly amazing programming. While you won’t need to be brushed up on your anatomy to attend this course, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready to wear your trainer hat. You’ll have to break down whatever you learn and make it more digestible to your clients because they don’t need a ton of anatomical terms thrown at them. Make the jargon more client-friendly after you’ve learned all the nitty gritty.
All in all, I can’t speak of PPSC highly enough. You’ll walk away with some truly invaluable information and feel even more prepared to serve your clients to the best of your ability.
If you want to learn more about Dr. John Rusin, listen to his interview on the Fitness Break Room Podcast: