What qualifications should someone have in order to become a barefoot running instructor?

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by Barefoot TJ, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. Barefoot TJ

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    Inspired by the other thread looking for barefoot running instructors...

    There is no "official" certification that is done to say definitively that someone is a competent barefoot running coach or not. We're in the beginning stages of all this. We need to now start laying the ground work for the future. Lee is onto something, but he's not easily assessable to everyone. It would be nice to develop our own curriculum, as I think Jason would be great for this. Until we can catch up to the shod running certifications that are out there, we have to start at home.

    So what are the criteria/qualifications for becoming a barefoot running instructor?

    What should they know, understand, do, to become certified as a barefoot running instructor?
     
  2. stomper

    stomper Guest

    Having actually run

    Having actually run barefoot. A fair amount, not just as a training tool.
     
  3. Barefoot TJ

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    And how much time at it or

    And how much time at it or mileage should they have?
     
  4. Horseman42

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    This is a great topic..I for

    This is a great topic..

    I for one second stompers opinion.

    Someone who wants to teach barefoot running should at least be barefoot running a majority of the time, for at least a year. I'm saying a year because each season brings new challenges to the barefoot dimension of running an instructor should be able to guide someone through these changes having experienced them themselves. Just an opinion though, feel free to disagree.

    Also I think having other qualifications in the health or fitness field would be a definate plus.

    That's all I have for now
     
  5. Barefoot TJ

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    Yes, and so being able to and

    Yes, and so being able to and have run barefoot through the summer and winter would be ideal.

    Barefoot trail running would be a plus as well.
     
  6. Smelph

    Smelph Barefooters
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    this is a tough question to

    this is a tough question to me. I hosted a little workshop a few weeks ago (very informal) due to the plethora of questions I get every time I show up at a race or training group. I had about 10 people show up and from the comments later it seemed everyone had come away with something positive, which was my goal.

    I don't think having a lot of fitness experience was all that important, as it seemed I was able to connect with the attendees a little better when they saw that not only had I run over 20 miles barefoot but that I was just some average schmoe and not some finely tuned athletic machine. This is something I tend to have a hard time with when I attend clinics as the instructors tend towards being pretty fit people, and while fit people tend to know something about being fit (which is a good thing), I tend to have some unintentional incredulity towards them that says "yeah that's geat, but you are already rail thin and can run a 6-7 minute mile while I'm here struggling to break a 10."

    so the short version is I don't think one necessarily has to know a lot about fitness to teach barefoot running, and in some cases people may be more receptive if they are learning from someone like them (i.e. some average schmoe) instead of someone in awesome shape. "Hey, if he can do this then I can too!"

    that aside, I agree that an instructor should have some extensive experience. perhaps managing all seasons (where seasons actually happen) and some "extreme" distances (maybe having runs several half marathons? most people I talk to consider anything over a 5k "extreme"). Might help to have some races under their belts, but probably not mandatory. It was very helpful during my workshop to be able to draw on my experience in winter, over long distances and in the handful of races I have participated in, as those tended to be the types of questions I faced towards the end ("what about the snow?" or "how far have you gone?" or "don't you get stepped on during races?").

    One other thing that seems like it would make a difference to a class is the BFR's story. Mine to my class was about my weight loss and how quickly I have been able to recover from the stress of long runs (I was running 2 days after my marathon while my buddies from the training group all took at least a week, some even longer). An even better story would be someone who has come back from a seemingly career-ending injury through BFR. I don't think this should be mandatory, but I think people are better off shown what BFR can do than told "what I heard from some people". I told a few stories from people I've met about their injury recovery through BFR and people were impressed, but I think if I had been one of those people coming back from injury it would have really driven the point home. So I guess I would encourage people who have come from injury to teach what they've learned. ;) One of the things that made me so passionate about BFR in the first place was reading Michael Sandler's book, where in the beginning he describes the kinds of injuries he has come back from through BFR and it was incredibly inspiring. On the flip side, when I ran Ken Bob's book I wasn't quite as inspired as he had never really been injured like that (although that in itself is extremely impressive).

    dang, got rambling a bit.
     
  7. EricsLearning

    EricsLearning Barefooters
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    Seeing as I can only do 3 to

    Seeing as I can only do 3 to 4 miles barefoot and know I dont know much at all about barefoot running I think that at least a half marathon barefoot with little skin damage would be a minimum. I also think that experiance on all surface types would be helpfull. The differences between running on the grass at the local park and running on slick concrete covered in a thin layer of sand is amazing. Knowing how to handle rocks, gravel, roots and just plain old HOT asphault is a good idea also.



    Just me nickels worth.
     
  8. ajb422

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    I really don't think even a

    I really don't think even a year is enough. A year is enough to get comfortable and really get into the grove of it, but I don't know if thats enough to start listing people as some sort of "approved" instructor, especially if people are going to charge for it. I've been at this for about a year and I know that while I'm finally super comfortable with it myself, I wouldn't be comfortable being labelled as an expert.

    They should also be able to demonstrate that they've done a varied amount of running. I don't care if you've run 100% of your mileage barefoot and have completed a barefoot marathon. If all of that has been done on nice sidewalks and no hills you probably aren't going to have the experience to really help people.
     
  9. Angie Bee

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    From my own experience, and

    From my own experience, and this is an ongoing lifelong learning experience, having ditched the shoes just over 2 years ago I now feel like I am qualified to coach. Not that others have to have done exactly what I have done but I was asked to speak about barefoot running, do clinics, ect last year and I was not ready. I didn't have the confidence. I didn't feel like I had the experience even though I had done cool things like the marathon. I just didn't have it worked out why barefoot is best and how to share that in a concise way to others. It is enough for me to accept that the joy of it is reason enough but it doesn't seem to be the case for everyone or everyone would be doing it!!

    After taking Lees course I have a solid foundation to work from. I have something to work from when I teach the whys and combine it with the hows. I also learned in Lees class that although going with what feels right is nice and certainly the way to start, the way you think you run is often not the way you are actually running. I was able to make huge improvements and it felt very strange at first with video taping myself and then working on that with weighted bars for posture and metronome for cadence.

    The whole charging for barefoot coaching seems counterintuitive as well as the gadgets but I think its something that should be considered and accepted as an inevitibility. People value what they pay for.

    So to keep my ramble under control. I think that its a good idea to have a year under ones belt. Dealing with the seasons is great and its enough time to have gotten comfortable. I think it would be better to go with 18 months. A year gets you comfortable 18 months is more confidence.
     
  10. Abide

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    I wouldn't really go to a

    I wouldn't really go to a barefoot instructor unless they had the following:

    Extensive experience barefoot running in many conditions. Rough, hot, cold, long, short and fast would all matter to me.

    Knowledge about proven quality training plans and the capacity to modify these plans to fit the barefoot runner.

    A lot of tools and drills to help overcome difficult aspects of barefoot running, like hills and sprinting.

    And finally they have to be a barefoot living advocate have the balls to go barefoot everywhere and boycott stores if they don't let them in barefoot.
     
  11. Angie Bee

    Angie Bee Barefooters
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    I like all of Abide's list

    I like all of Abide's list except the last one. I don't think a barefoot running coach has to live every second barefoot. I like my flip flops and mary janes :)

    Barefoot running is a tool for shod runners that don't want to go barefoot all of the time.

    Shoes are tools for barefooters that don't want to be barefoot all of the time.

    Either perspective is useful depending on the context.
     
  12. Jimmy Hart

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    I've been a running coach for

    I've been a running coach for 15 years and have made a fairly lucrative living doing it. I say that to say that this thread is very interesting for the simple fact that what you guys want in a coach is something that no other certification or profession in the fitness industry requires, experience.

    Any one of you could complete a quick online or in person course and become a personal trainer with no limitations on what you are allowed to do with a client. The same goes for the running certications currently out there. Any person can walk in off the street and as long as they have the money and time they can become a professional coach. Experience has always been something that a person either already had before or was willing to try and get after the fact. I have more certifications than I can count covering everything from biomechanics, muscle activation, special populations, running, strength, performance improvement, corrective exercise, and many more including such interesting things like water aerobics. Bottom line is I've paid a lot of money and spent a lot of time getting certified to do just about everything under the fitness sun and I have more than paid my dues in this industry but the average trainer/coach may have only taken a two week course and been working at the job for a couple weeks when they charge you thousands of dollars to help you.

    I like and respect that you guys want experience but I think a lot of your requests are arbitrary. It doesn't matter if a person can personally run a hundred miles on ice if they can't help you figure out why your knee has started hurting or why you are constantly getting hot spots in the same place when you run. No amount of personal experience will give the majority of people the ability to help others on a techincal scale. That was always the fitness business when I first got into it. If you were a fit and healthy person then you must be able to help others get there but none of that accounts for natural ability and genetics. A lot of the fit looking people got it naturally so they have no idea how to get someone with "lesser" genetics to their level of ability so their experience becomes null and void.

    If it were me I would want a coach who has learned and studied the human body, how it works, moves, and functions. I would then need them to have the knowledge base it takes to analyze those things about me and know how to make the necessary adjusments. To that point I understand where Smelph is coming from but don't hold a person's appearance against them, don't require a great story, or anything like. Weigh them against their education and, if they have any. their experience.
     
  13. FreeYourToes

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    I think that mandatory items

    I think that mandatory items include- their own blog (obvisously), had a "too much too soon injury (stress fracture preferred), own a copy of Born to Run, well versed in the "there is no such thing as barefoot shoes" debate, been asked "why arent you wearing shoes" atleast 79 times



    On a more serious note I dont think that there is a need for "certified" instructors. It is too much of a burden because I feel that the requirments would be very demanding. I am all about using the term "approved" instructor. In order for a person to be certified, the issuing body needs to be widely accepted and recognized as an expert in that subject. Atleast for me when someone is certified in something, they have attended a formal training and passed some sort of tests. An approved instructor is someone saying that this person knows what he is doing without a formal training or education on the subject.

    If "certified" instructors were to be such a thing, I feel that major requirements would include: over 1600 miles in 18 consecutive months (logged and able to prove mileage), formal nutrition training, (not just reading from websites online), formal human physiology and sports biomechanics training (again not just websites), knowledge of how to be a teacher (someone who can teach and not just tell someone something). And of course a basic understanding of barefoot running (i.e. different types of minimalist footwear and their respect uses, gait, etc...)

    The first thing to do would be to get a panel of widely accepted, known, current experts to get together and decide the requirments. For example, someone "certified" by a person with the experience of say Barefoot Ken Bob would be reagarded significantly higher then someone with similar experiences to myself certifying someone, atleast in my eyes
     
  14. Barefoot TJ

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    Good stuff, everyone.Great

    Good stuff, everyone.

    Great points, Eric. Those specifications would each need a course in itself. Someone would need to devise each course and define the curriculum including those courses.

    I don't know if even Ken Bob would be qualified in this area: formal nutrition training, (not just reading from websites online), formal human physiology and sports biomechanics training (again not just websites)

    But then again, I am the least qualified in the areas of nutrition, physiology, and such, yet I would be a great instructor, if I could ever just find the time.

    Another issue, folks like KB and Jason probably don't have the time to define such courses. But we need it to be done and soon.

    Sure, lots of us don't need, or don't feel we need, one-on-one or course instruction, but some people do. It's important to be able to fill the need there for them, especially if it helps them to run safer.
     
  15. Matt

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    Gravel.  If a barefoot runner

    Gravel. If a barefoot runner hasn't mastered running on gravel, then I don't care how much they've paid for their certifications.

    I would like to think that experience counts for something, but I've seen people who've run for barefoot for a short time and seem to have mastered the technique, and those like myself who have run barefoot for more years than he can count and still are deathly afraid of gravel.
     
  16. Jonny00GT

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    This is a really hard

    This is a really hard question, and I think the questions just got bigger. We’ve now run into the paradox…who is qualified to say, who is qualified and who is qualified to make that determination??!! Who is credible enough to determine competency? “I’m certified!”, but by who? Is a University degree better than an online degree? Who has the best curriculum? Who’s going to teach the coaches? This is starting to remind me of the old Kung Fu movies. “Your barefoot style is no match for my Naked Foot Technique! Master Quan’s school is number 1! Shin Shi’s Academy is whack!”. I’m paraphrasing, of course… ;o)

    Honestly, if some guy I'd never met told me he was accredited to coach barefoot running by BFRs.org and was listed as such on the site, having gotten to know the people on this site and the quality of the information I've attained here, that would be enough for me.

    -Jonny
     
  17. Jennifer Gwirtz

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    I've been a Pilates

    I've been a Pilates instructor for about 8 years, have studied and practiced it and other modalities for about 16 years. I've been running barefoot 1+ year, both in VFFs and without. I've rehabbed my own injuries, and I have done a lot of therapeutic work with clients. I can't speak for other certifications, but at least the certification programs I've done have been pretty hard core - several months of study (if not years), labs and training at least. My own feeling is that if I study barefoot running with someone - and I hope to soon! - that they'd have barefoot running experience but would also have a good grasp on some of the information that's circulating these days on how the body works in a deep way, whether that's yoga, martial arts, Aston Kinetics, the work of Thomas Myers, Feldenkreis...it doesn't matter what it is, just so long as there's some of that depth there. I wouldn't feel comfortable as a student with someone who did a 2 week on-line personal trainer certification.

    I think there's more than one way to go about training and teaching. It all depends on the student and what they need. I'm sure there will be plenty of students coming from running, who want a teacher of similar background (or maybe not - it all depends on what they want to get out of the training). When I've talked about barefoot running and training to people who started with Pilates or yoga, who may or may not be runners, there's been a great response. Their approach would need to be a lot different than someone who is currently running 10Ks in shoes who wants to transition to minimal shoes or barefoot. There's also the WillPower Method, too. I think that Stacey Lei Krauss may also be teaching barefoot running.

    Anyway, this is a great thread. Thanks for starting it, TJ.
     
  18. Barefoot TJ

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    I think most of us can agree

    I think most of us can agree that if KB or Jason (Lee) were to develop a curriculum, we could call it done, right? Then they set the standard as to what needs to be learned by a coach in order to teach. Case closed. So, until we get that from them or something else equally legit comes along available to all in a reasonable manner, we can use terminology Eric brought up, Approved Instructor, with a clause that states what specifically? Go ahead throw it out there. What is the clause we should add, you know, the small print stuff?
     
  19. BarefootAthena

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    I dunno TJ!  Now that this

    I dunno TJ! Now that this conversation is going sideways... I tend to think going down the path of certifying is a slippery slope!



    Just because someone can repeat a curriculum does not mean that they have anywhere near the understanding of the person who created the curriculum, and it doesn't mean they are a good teacher. Often such folks are very dedicated, but they miss the main points of the master.



    Great coaches and teachers will attract students without having certifications, and lousy instructors who get certified will take people's money without delivering enough value.



    Other industries have shown that having a pyramid with certified instructors is certainly a proven profit-making business model, but it is often not in the best interests of the students...
     
  20. Smelph

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    What if it was simplified

    What if it was simplified down to avoiding the whole certification/approval hornets nest, and a simple standard curriculum was devised that anyone who wanted to run a clinic could follow?

    The bignguys like Ken Bob Jason and Michael Sandldr could keep doing whatever they want, but for us poor schlubs who have a bunch of interested locals but no other local BFR who teach, we would have a solid class plan we could follow.

    I know i would have loved something like that for the one i hosted. It was super hard to organize my thoughts on it without getting all rambly!
     

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