Bow to Authority! Seek Professionals to Maximise Success

I am not someone who defers to authority easily, but often the difference between success and failure can be our willingness to trust a professional.

We waste a lot of time and a lot of headspace on self-teaching. This is an important and valid part of any process, but most people delay, hinder, or even sabotage their goals just by being unwilling to defer to those who have gone before out of some misguided need to forge their own path. Learn the basics first. 

I’ll admit right now, there is a financial barrier for many people who could benefit from coaching, but there are also many people for whom there is not. A good book is often better than bad guidance from your local gym junkie — who, by the way, may not know what they are talking about — and realistically the cost of a good book will likely repay itself time and time again

When it comes to training, your time is currency. If we work using BC's minimum wage, a 30-40 dollar, well-researched book is 4 hours of labor. Likely you can get many good books for less (Tom Furman’s Armor of War is less than $15 CAN). How much time do you reckon you have wasted researching your own programs, wondering what to do at the gym, being injured from bad advice or simply wrapped up in self-doubt because you aren’t seeing progress. More than 4 hours? I’d bet on it.

There are many ways to seek professional guidance. Some are even free, or the cost of a cup of coffee. Some are a bit pricier, like one on one coaching.

Read a blog. Read up on programs. Reach out to a coach and ask for book recommendations. Read reviews. Just pay someone to be your coach (after reading reviews of course). Be critical in your selection, but once you have picked a program or a coach submit to their authority (without losing your critical thinking).

Yes, there are a lot of bad coaches out there, but there are a lot of great ones too. Do the work now to find the one that works for you and you could save years of directionless training and wandering between programs.  

While we are at it, ditch the easy fitness infographics that give you a few bodyweight exercises, very little progression and no guidance on form. There are no shortcuts. Some routes are well planned, some lead nowhere (some even have friendly sherpas), but fitness is a lifelong journey that deserves your attention.

Good starting points:


Barbell training
Mark Rippetoe: Starting Strength (also available as an App that does all the work for you! apart from the actual weightlifting)
Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1



Bodyweight training

Tom Furman: Armor of War
Pavel Tsatsouline: The Naked Warrior

Pavel Tsatsouline: Enter the Kettlebell

Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
Read more from Devon Boorman.