Never stop learning

 

For me personally, college was pretty much a given. Not that I was coerced into it, but I was encouraged to go by my parents. They wanted me to learn and have opportunities for success, and at that time college was the key. At first, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, but I was going to continue my education after high school.

I was the first to graduate college on one side of my family. It was a proud moment for me, and one I’m grateful for.

 

College is not right for everyone. I’m not going to say everyone must go, or even should go. That’s a personal decision that has many considerations. But, I do truly believe that it is important for us to continually educate ourselves – whether to further your career, or because you love learning.

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” –Nelson Mandela

 

I happened across this quote as I did a little more research on education. How many times have you been discussing a topic with someone and they point out something you didn’t know? You went home, looked it up and it expanded your viewpoint on a subject. Maybe it didn’t change your opinion, but you are now more educated about it.

Why It’s Important

 

I Dream Inc. is an organization whose mission is to provide educational tools to children in developing countries. I found their list of 10 reasons why education is so important very informative – not just for the individual, but for society. A few on their list:

 

  • End poverty.
  • End hunger.
  • Good health.
  • Gender equality.
  • Economic growth.
  • Peace and justice.

 

I found this list extremely powerful. I took a lot of my education for granted. I went to good public schools and had a family that encouraged me to read, learn, ask questions and go on to college. Not everyone has that, even here in our country. So, I’m grateful for that.

 

How I Started

 

While I was getting my degree, I worked in our student recreation center. I was studying exercise physiology, had a background in martial arts and had taught fitness classes in a small fitness center back home. So, I started teaching classes for other students that just wanted to stay, or get, fit. My supervisor encouraged us to get a certification for group fitness. While I could teach at school, certifications were becoming the norm out in the world. So, my best friend and I headed out to take a group exercise certification through the American Council on Exercise. We passed! And we learned some valuable information in the process that made us better instructors.   Then, I got a job at a new, large hospital-based fitness facility a few months after I graduated. I worked on the fitness floor performing assessments, equipment orientations and ensuring the safety of our members. I also taught classes. My boss approached me about personal training, and getting certified.

My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, was interested as well. So, we all signed up for the National Strength and Conditioning Association training exam. Passed! Now, I started training. You can see the pattern.

 

I went on to group cycling, yoga, Pilates, other training and coaching certifications, etc. Currently, I’m considering stretch therapy and continuing my yoga training. I’m also finishing up a medical transcription course. It’s never ending for me.

Different Options

 

There are so many ways to learn! With the internet, you can earn a degree, take a course, watch the news or just about anything else. You can debate topics, ask questions and get connected to people all over the world that can teach you new things. I want to improve my writing, and just with a simple search I found a variety of online courses – some free, some for a cost.

Start with a book. If there is a topic that interests you, hit up your local library before even investing in that small cost. You can buy more books on a topic if it truly interests you.

 

You can also look up lectures or talks on specific subjects. You may find groups in your area that you can join, or just attend a lecture or seminar to increase your knowledge. I recently attended a continuing education seminar at a local community college for my certifications. I met some new people, learned a little and it cost me less than $100. I enjoy listening to other people’s ideas – it often spurs me to think and train differently.

Your local community college may offer a lot of courses that you could take online, evenings or weekends. You don’t have to commit to a full course load, or even attempt a new career path. You can go and learn a new skill that applies to your current job, or just life in general.

 

In Illinois, park districts are huge! My mom signed my brother and I up for a variety of things as kids – from gymnastics to music lessons. But, there are also a ton of classes for adults that don’t cost that much. Some classes may be just one time for a few hours, or it could meet on a weekly basis for a few weeks. It may be a way to try something that you’ve always wanted to do.

 

Have Fun!

 

Yes, education can change the world, but if you just want to have fun…go for it! Take a dance class, try pottery, learn about gardening, try ice skating or join a wine club. Learning can help you further your career and make a better life for your family. It can also help alleviate stress so you have more to give. So, find something you enjoy!

What ways do you like to learn? Have you tried something new recently? Let’s start a conversation!

 

Bethany

Bethany Kochan started her fitness career at a local women’s fitness center at 19 years of age. This part-time job lead to a career that over 20 years later, she still loves. Bethany earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale at the same time becoming certified as a group exercise instructor. After college, she pursued NSCA-CPT and CSCS, group cycling, mat Pilates and YogaFit certifications. In 2009, she and her husband made a big move across the country to pursue his dream job in the field of strength and conditioning. At this point, Bethany began writing and training online to be both with her husband and the fitness industry. Today, the Kochans split their time between AZ and CA, pursuing their passions and enjoying life together with their two rescue Weimaraners.