The classroom vs the exam hall – where are your training sessions taking place?

When it comes to training ourselves, whether its exercise sessions in the gym, sports sessions on the field (or in my case on the rock), or learning and applying food and lifestyle habits, try to treat the experience as a lesson, and every now and then throw in a test to see how you’re doing.

From my experience of working closely with clients over the last 5 years, they initially treat everything as a test. This is detrimental in a few ways:

  • Taking a test without studying (training) for it rarely goes well;
  • We are so preoccupied with passing, that even if we do, we don’t necessarily learn the ‘how’, so can’t repeat the performance;
  • We often miss an opportunity to learn new techniques and information that can help hugely;
  • We can put ourselves down when we fail, and when it comes to health and performance and striving to better ourselves, this can come often. Just to note at aps we embrace failing but that’s for another day.

Exam Hall

For instance let’s say a client is trying a new exercise like a single leg deadlift. This is quite a complex exercise and if you haven’t done it before you probably won’t master it during your first exposure to it (unless you’re Clark Kent). If I treat the session as if I were in an exam hall taking a test and didn’t keep perfect form for the desired number of reps and sets at a predetermined tempo with a specific load then I failed. However, if I treat the training session as if I was in a classroom, learning a lesson, then no matter how many reps or how well I did the exercise I learnt tonnes about myself and my current capabilities whilst potentially pushing beyond my perceived limits.

The same is true when it comes to changing food habits. If you walk into a nutrition session with the idea of trying to pass the ‘nutrition test’, then you will more than likely fail and feel a bit deflated. You could also miss out on a valuable opportunity to learn how you could improve or enhance your journey towards your goals, visions and dreams.

Every now and then of course we need to throw in a test; enter the ‘exam hall session’ in the form of a challenge day, an assessment or in sport during that all important competition. And that’s cool, time to see what we are made of, try to hit some pbs and hit our peak performance, but once the test is done and we’ve got our results it’s time to return to the ‘classroom sessions’.


How about trying to view your next sport or exercise training session, whether training yourself, or with a trainer or coach, as walking into an awesome, lively, unpredictable classroom and see where it gets you? My prediction, a whole new level!

Live healthy,

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