What Cooking School Can Teach a Fitness Pro

I have a unique work situation. My gym has a kitchen attached to it. We use it for cooking shows, seminars, and, of course, personal meal preparation. I noticed over the last few months that my friends and co-workers were spending longer hours at the gym, even when they had finished up with their evening clients. Coincidentally, this happened most often on nights when I practiced techniques from The New School of Cooking in Culver City, California.

Once my mind made the connection, my peers’ after-hours presence made perfect sense.

One of my New Year resolutions for 2012 was to take a cooking class, or at least become proficient in the art. I thought learning to cook would provide a skill that would help me both in my personal and professional life. I performed the customary Google searches and found a few one-off classes that made my final list. When finally stumbling upon Culver City’s New School of Cooking, I instantly narrowed my list of possibilities to one. I had found a 20-week course, meeting once weekly for four hours, which culminated with a Certificate of Completion. If you know me, then you know that when I saw the word “certificate”, I was sold. Nothing is more valuable to me than personal validation that I completed a curriculum of any kind, especially one related to health and wellness. It’s my weakness.

I wasn’t quite sure how learning to cook was going to advance the depth of my coaching and training services, but for some reason I knew my understanding of nutrition would deepen and I would bridge the gap between theory and practical application.

Learning traditional cooking methods allowed me to taste firsthand how fresh yet simple ingredients could create a cornucopia of flavor for the palate. So long boring ground beef stir fry, hello Chicken Fricasse and Grilled Salmon with Lime-scented Beurre Blanc sauce. Eating healthy never tasted so good. I now truly understand that flavor shouldn’t have to be sacrificed for the sake of health. All it takes is just a little bit of culinary creativity.

When you cook you control two important variables of food quality and nutrition. It’s all about the ingredients and how you prepare them. The starting point of healthy eating habits is always to select real foods, as opposed to processed foods. The easy way to do this is pick foods that don’t come in a box and that don’t have an ingredient list. But, this is only step one. After that, understanding the source of your food and how it was prepared are equally, if not more, important. This is why learning to cook should be a natural progression for health professionals. 

Quite frankly, learning to cook at The New School of Cooking was one of my most enjoyable educational endeavors. I walked in scared of handling a knife, and walked out with my head held high, armed with a spatula, and confident in my abilities to satisfy even the most critical of palates. The people, the food, the experience will leave a lasting mark on my life journey for sure. And rest assured I walked out of each class feeling I ate a $200 lunch. I was in shock of what our class was capable of so quickly.

Truth be told, I didn’t mind my friends hanging out after-hours to eat my creations. In fact I learned that one of my deeply satisfying pleasures is watching others enjoy the fruits of my labor. The more people that sighed after tasting my meals, the better.

Learning to cook has truly provided the food for thought I needed to satisfy my seemingly insatiable hunger for knowledge. If you happen to be on my good side, just let me know and I’m sure I’ll be more than happy than to practice some recipes for you…. in exchange for some honest feedback of course.

I highly recommend this cooking course for nutritionists, fitness professionals of any type, and the lay person seeking take responsibility of their food supply, and thus their health. Bon Appétit!

Luke Sniewski is a writer, speaker, and fitness and lifestyle expert. He is the CEO/President of LEAF Lifestyle, a Santa Monica based personal training company. He has been featured in Livestrong, CalCPA magazine, LA Business Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Hollywood Today for his works as both an entrepreneur and personal trainer. Follow Luke on Twitter.