By Rebecca K. Oliver, SSWAA Executive Director
On a recent family vacation, we embarked on some new adventures. With two, teen-aged, active, young men with us, it was imperative that we select activities that they would enjoy – which meant active! During this vacation, we participated in a ropes adventure course. This was something I had attempted before and do enjoy. It was a challenge, however, because it was necessary to manage my fear of heights as I attempted to traverse across shaky wooden slat bridges, moving logs, and other obstacles high in the air. We also tried another adventure that was new to me – indoor rock climbing. I got strapped into a harness and was trained on use of an automatic climbing belay. As I navigated from one small climbing grip to another, gradually ascending the wall, I became very grateful for the belay which would slowly lower me to the ground once I reached the top – or fell off of the climbing wall.
The world of fitness is vast! There are a wide array of fitness activities for every kind of personality and preference. There are outdoor activities like walking, hiking, cycling, running, kayaking, and rowing. There are extreme sports such as rock-climbing, rappelling, wakeboarding, skiing, surfing, snowboarding, and mountain biking (along with many more). There are gym activities such as treadmills, rowing machines, stationary bicycles, and weights. There are fitness classes including yoga, WERQ, step-aerobics, Zumba, interval training, CrossFit, and Barre. And, there is the ever-dreaded burpee! All of these workouts can be a step along the path to building and maintaining fitness. Yet, fitness is more than exercise and achieving it requires commitment.
“Excellence does not happen overnight. You have to wake up and press start every day.” – Stacy Clark, IFit Trainer
Fitness is often achieved through diet, exercise (aerobic, strength, and flexibility), adequate hydration, and recovery. Many trainers will point out the importance of rest, hydration, and good sleep as ways to allow your body to recover adequately so that it can be prepared for the next physical activity. All of these components – diet, exercise, hydration, and recovery – are essential in building fitness.
So, with this in mind, what correlation can be made to professional fitness? HOW is professional fitness developed or achieved?
Diet – It seems that diet has become synonymous with denying oneself certain foods or limiting foods for weight loss. Diet, however, essentially means the sum of nutrients taken in. When building our professional fitness, it is key to take in a nutrient rich diet of quality training in best-practice strategies. These trainings will feed your knowledge, sustain your practice, and nourish your expertise.
Exercise – Building any skill will take time and practice. Exercise is carrying out an activity for a specific purpose. As professionals, it is essential that we apply our knowledge through practice. Many individuals learn best through hands-on learning. Thus, some of the best trainings include time for practice or application. Professionals exercise by practicing and evaluating their practice skills.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.” - Aristotle
Recovery - It seems likely that recovery is the least emphasized aspect of fitness. Perhaps this is true in professional fitness as well. Recovery includes taking the necessary time to rest, refuel, and rejuvenate after doing work. For School Social Workers, this would involve setting boundaries to ensure time to reflect, time to process, and time to rest. Recovery would also include self-care practices like reading, journaling, meditating, or yoga.
How can SSWAA help you as you increase your professional fitness? Will you join us for a diet of professional development trainings? Will you join an in-person training so that you can exercise, discuss, and practice your skill set and apply your learning? Will you set boundaries and focus important time and energy on rest and recovery?
Come flex your professional muscles with us at SSWAA’s Regional 2-day Workshop, October 4 & 5: Professionally Fit & Fabulous!
For more information: https://www.sswaa.org/regional-workshop
Coming Soon: Watch for part 3 of our Fitness blog which will suggest a secret to success in meeting your professional fitness goals!
Rebecca K. Oliver is the Executive Director of the School Social Work Association of America. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, Mrs. Oliver served on the SSWAA Board of Directors and has over 20 years experience working as a school social worker. In her current role with SSWAA, Rebecca is able to support school social workers across the nation and advocate for the profession about which she is so passionate. When not working, Rebecca enjoys traveling with her husband Jon, singing, running, reading, doing home-improvements, and outdoor activities including walks with her two dogs, Abby & Buddy.