Learn (Adapt) or Die

Adapt/Learn or Die


The band Vulfpeck makes $20,000 for their tour essentially selling silence, and that’s not a Simon and Garfunkel reference.  The Wu-Tang Clan produces one, single album and will sell it for a lot of money.  Yes, just one single, double album.  Figure that one out.  And Robin Thicke sells, well, sex but also his song, through a music video (Blurred Lines).  The days of an MTV are long gone but Thicke had a hit song and a video to go along with it.  What does this have to do with training?

Thomas Plummer is a fitness business guru.  He often says “Adapt or die”.  For whatever reason today I was thinking about that concept and the phrase “learn or die” came to me.  I suppose learning without application means one didn’t adapt, but I’m going with the learning concept.  The music industry has drastically changed over the last 15+ years.  The fitness industry is constantly changing too and if you aren’t learning you can expect to die.  I think constantly being involved and always pursuing more knowledge is one of the most important things in the fitness industry.  The more you learn the more you know what you like and what you don’t like.  Now, does constantly learning and adapting mean that you have to try this, and this, and change that every time you gather new information?  Next week are pull ups and squats going to become obsolete? No.  I think your core values can still stay intact even as you adapt.  Adapting could be as simple as learning to speak the language of the client so that it’s easier to relate.  Or, identifying new training equipment that may at first seem trendy, but if you are open to learning you may just find that it can be very useful.  A simple example is the TRX suspension trainer.  It’s super popular.  So much so that there are classes dedicated to using solely the TRX.  Now that is a little too extreme for me, but I think the TRX is valuable enough to use on a regular basis even if only to do mostly rows and, well, generally more rows.  Being well versed in multiple skills or disciplines such as kettlebells is another example.  The ‘bell may not be incredibly important to you as a coach but knowing the ins and the outs can help one better coach movement and adapt to another change in the industry as they become more popular.  Compromises of core values?  Nope, just learning.  Think about, the Wu is still making music the way they want and they’ve been doing it for 20+ years at this point, Vulfpeck is simply raising money to tour and Robin Thicke is making hit songs and looking good doing it, as pop stars often do.


Skill Practice or Workout

Max and I went to the Clippers and Thunder Game 6 last week and one of Max’s observations was that a few players were shooting free throws during the halftime warm up.  Fundamentals people.  An interesting point considering these guys are literally masters of their craft and although they might be practicing more complicated plays and trying isolate match-ups in a fast moving game, they are still practicing the most basic play of all.  Keeping your skills sharp is important even when it’s something that you are awesome at.  And of course, that always makes me think about training.  Consider the difference between actually practicing your skills in something as simple as a push up or squat as compared to just trying to get a solid “workout” in, aka feel the burn, break a sweat and move on?  I think there is room for both of those things in this world.  Just getting after it and pushing yourself certainly has a lot of value and for different reasons.  Some movements/exercises are better suited than others for that, as I’ve mentioned in the past.  Some of your training should be skill practice, and yes that’s a broad statement that more articles could be written about, and some should be just “working out”.   It’s just important that you (or your coach) know the difference.

– Mike Baltren