We live in a day of age where variety is the spice of life and in order to be different, you have to do something outside of the box consistently. Right?
Well, not if you’re Onnit Academy. They’re bringing simple back with their Foundations Certification and it’s one of the best courses you can go to if you want to improve not only as a coach or trainer but with your own movement practice as well.
What Is Onnit Academy?
These days we’re constantly tempted by the next best thing yet the Onnit Academy Foundations Certification focuses on the basics. Not just any basics, though. They’re getting primal — Onnit Academy uses primitive-inspired weaponry as modern-day tools for training all different types of people, from the desk jockeys and knowledge workers to some of the world’s most elite athletes and beloved celebrities.
When you walk through the doors of Onnit, you see squat racks, rowers, Ski Ergs, and dumbbells, but you’ll also see a plethora of monkey-faced kettlebells, short metal baseball bats known as steel clubs, and long metal rods with a metal ball on the end called steel maces.
Led by the efforts of John Wolf and Shane Heins, Onnit Academy has set out to challenge dogma in the fitness industry by building community and providing tools to those in the business of helping people develop better relationships with their bodies. Onnit also wanted to build a course that emphasizes meeting people where they’re at, not just tailoring a message to strength coaches, clinicians, and trainers, but athletes and everyday enthusiasts as well.
Onnit Academy believes that good information should not displace good information, so try not to get defensive when you hear someone else with a message you’re not familiar with, but rather see what you can learn from them and how you can add value to their efforts. Onnit has an entirely different philosophy from most other fitness systems, in which it’s believed that everyone should be doing the same for the same thing for the same reasons, no matter what.
What Is the Foundations course?
The course is focused on simplifying communication so that we can all focus on what matters the most —helping people improve their health. So don’t worry about not being brushed up on your anatomy and physiology; just be ready to come in and look at context and application.
Over the course of this two-day seminar, you’re going to develop a lens of perspective to view training from. It’s not about saying what’s right and wrong but rather about asking why, who it is for, and what’s being risked to achieve that task? You’ll also be going over each of the unconventional tools that Onnit offers, including the suspension rings, sand bags, battle ropes, kettlebells, steel clubs, and the steel mace. You’ll learn how each of these tools affects the primary movement patterns such as squat, hinge, push, and pull.
From the outside it seems simple, because it is. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. And this course will prove it.
Each day starts off by going through a joint-by-joint movement prep series, looking at every major joint structure, from our ankles to our necks, and filtering our movement through a lens that questions how that particular piece of the body feels that day. It’s about having a conversation with the body and understanding how it feels when we move rather than just doing things because someone tells you to.
The focus at Onnit Academy is longevity and performance. Longevity is defined as “a long duration of an individual life. However, right now the fitness industry celebrates how much you can do, how fast can you do it, and with how much weight. Someone who posts a video on social media of a 20-minute burpee deadlift ladder usually results in fatigue setting in and their form breaking down. This type of content reinforces and promotes effort, speed, and weight being prioritized over form. That style of training over a long period of time has the potential to increase your risk of injury.
All that being said, it doesn’t mean that Onnit Academy doesn’t want you to care about performance. In fact, some of the highest achieving athletes in the world train at Onnit, but it comes down to ensuring that we’re putting our athletes and clients in the best possible scenario to be successful — not just for that day, but for the longevity of their careers and, more importantly, their lives.
What Are the Benefits of Taking the Foundations Course?
Onnit uses this course to help people mitigate injuries by training smarter. Whether you’re a professional powerlifter, an NFL Running Back, physique athlete or weekend warrior, you want to reduce injuries as much as possible. It’s really hard to get stronger, make millions of dollars throwing a baseball, compete in a fitness competition, or do the activities you love if you’re hurt.
For example, when you walk into the gym one day and your shoulder feels a bit stiff because you slept funny, ask yourself if anything will change tomorrow if you don’t hit the prescribed weight or sets of today’s workout. The answer is, probably not. This doesn’t mean we don’t train hard and push ourselves to create an adaptation; it just means that we need to pay attention to our bodies and do it intelligently.
This is the lens of the Onnit Academy system. Are you or your client moving in that particular pattern because you chose to be there, or because you’re forced there since your body doesn’t have the necessary capabilities to complete the task without borrowing mechanics from other joint structures? In other words, do you squat with your feet in that position and go to a certain depth because you are choosing to squat in that pattern or are you forced to squat in that pattern because you can’t access a squat in any other way? These are the kinds of concepts you’ll learn at the Foundations course.
In addition to the joint-by-joint warmup, you’re going to go over the four basic movement patterns —the squat, hinge, push, and pull — and drills you can install into your movement prep sequences to help your clients, athletes, and yourself be more successful in executing these patterns. You’ll also challenge these movements using the unconventional tools Onnit has made. Each tool provides a unique input of stimulus that will challenge your rotary control. As you’ll see, a squat can feel entirely different with a sandbag in your arms vs. a steel mace.
Who Should Take the Foundations Course?
Whether you’ve been in this industry for five minutes or 50 years, this is the perfect course for you because, at the end of the day, we’re never too experienced to refine the fundamentals.
As the famous John Wooden says, “There are three things an athlete must do. You must be in physical condition, you must execute properly and quickly the fundamentals, and you must have the eagerness to sacrifice personal interest or glory for the welfare of the team.” This quote is relevant for trainers, coaches, and therapists. You don’t have to be the most shredded person out there, but you need to be on a fitness journey that helps you inspire, motivate and help others. That means you need to execute the basics — and that doesn’t just mean squat, hinge, push, and pull. You need to understand the basics of human connection.
Your clients are coming to you for help because they see something in you that drives them to be better. They may not have the same exact goals as you and that’s OK. It’s about meeting them where they’re at and helping them find success so they want to push themselves to achieve more.
Additionally, we think this course is exceptionally fitting if you’re new to the industry or just getting started. Onnit’s community-driven approach and commitment to open dialogue make this course perfect for anyone who’s getting their bearings straight, delivering a great session or program experience, building a business, and deciding which community you want to associate yourself with (functional movement, physique, performance, prehab/rehab, etc.). It’s a safe and fun space for anyone looking for multiple tools to fill their toolbox. Once your tool box is full, you can specialize in something, but make sure you have a well-rounded foundation to stand from first. Because if your only tool is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.
The Foundations course also great for anyone who is managing a group of trainers and is looking for a framework or standards from which you want a team of coaches to live by. The system is very open-ended, allowing room for freedom to use whatever tool you deem is best for a particular client. It doesn’t close you or your team into a box but rather allows you to focus on the big picture, giving your coaches the chance to express themselves while upholding the standards you set for them.
How Should You Prepare For the Foundations Course?
When taking a certification like Foundations, it’s important to go into it with an open mind and be ready to receive new information objectively. When you sit down to start the Onnit Academy Foundations Certification, you’ll quickly discover that you’re sitting in a room with people from all over the world from various walks of life — clinicians, athletes, trainers, strength coaches, and enthusiasts. But this seminar isn’t about showing off how much you know, what other courses you’ve been to, and what your accolades are. It’s more about communicating with those around you. This course is a great opportunity to network and meet people. The Onnit team encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and connect with other coaches and enthusiasts and have a dialogue around the “why” behind training and fitness.
Even when something challenges your current belief system, we encourage you to take a step back, not be reactive, and search for the root reason why that message is being communicated rather than pointing out all the reasons you feel it’s pointless. Maybe the content is a review for you, but it might be brand new information for someone sitting next to you and a poor attitude will make your neighbor self-conscious about participating and receiving value. It’s OK to disagree, but don’t ruin someone else’s experience because you have a differing opinion.
All in all, the Onnit Academy Foundations Certification is everything you want from a practical training seminar. This course is not a replacement for a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification or a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification but rather a great tool for you to take the information you learned from the other amazing courses and apply it in a realistic scenario.
A huge thank you goes out to the team over at Onnit and their generous hospitality in letting us attend.
Get 10% off the Foundations Certification by going to: www.onnit.com/fitnessbreakroom
Learn more about the creators of the Onnit Academy education system by watching the podcast here: Fitness Break Room Podcast with John Wolf and Shane Heins