How to learn anything

By Yusef

Think “What”, instead of “How”

I’ve spent a lot of time recently perfecting a gymnastics move called “The Corkscrew.”

This taught me a valuable lesson about learning something new (or developing a skill) in general:

It’s not always about doing hundreds of reps until you get it right.

In the end, it took tweaking one small thing to realise what I needed to fix.

There are two types of people when it comes to learning:

  • The armchair expert: they know everything they need to do, but never turn up to put in the work
  • The person who grinds away and puts in the reps, but is doing the wrong stuff

What is more important than How.

Before thinking about how to get somewhere quicker, ask yourself this:

Is there actually where I want to get to?

So, how do you deconstruct a skill as an online coach and figure out where your blind spots are?

Hire a coach

A photo of feedback from coaches on Yusef's technique
Getting feedback from coaches was an invaluable way to accelerate my learning.

There are some blind spots you’ll never be able to see without someone else’s help. I worked with a few on my gymnastics move, who were able to spot what to tweak straight away.

This allowed me to improve on my technique and move to the next level bit by bit (watch the YouTube video to find out which coaches I used).

Remember that when learning a skill, you will pay for it either with money, or with your time. Speaking to someone who has already been through that learning process will help you get to where you want to be so much faster.

If you’re starting out as an online personal trainer and you’d be interested in finding out more about the coaching we offer at Propane, follow this link to book in a call.

Picking resources

The skill of learning anything is divided into three main pillars:

  • Learning
  • Practice
  • Feedback

Dump useless resources 👎🏻

There’s a wealth of resources to help you pick up a skill, so don’t feel as though you need to persevere with something that isn’t working for you. It will only slow you down.

Use textbooks 📚

Textbooks are an absolute goldmine of information. They’re also the densest resource you’ll pick up. This puts most people off, and they’ll gravitate towards videos on social media designed to give quick tips to achieve your goal. But if you use a textbook as your reference, you know you’ll always get the gold standard of information in its purest, most applicable form.

Speak to an expert 💬

Coaches are synthesisers: They are able to take everything from the main source and deliver it to you in a way that’s packaged and personalised.

They’ve made all the mistakes already, so that you don’t have to.

In my case, I hired Johannes, a gymnastics coach and expert who’d made all the mistakes that I had while learning his technique. Paying him to accelerate the journey for me was invaluable.

And having specific feedback from a coach saves so much time and effort.


Deliberate practice is looking at a skill to find out what the sub-components are:

So, rather than just doing hundreds of reps, think about what you need to tweak about your approach.

If you try to focus on ten things at once, you’ll not improve any of them. Focus your attention on improving one specific thing at a time that need work; you can tie everything together later.

Drill the basics. Nobody wants to do this, because it’s boring. You might assume that there’s no need for this once you get to a certain level. But for any skill, 90% of it is getting the basics right. If you try to skip ahead, those cracks in your basic technique will show.

Make practice as hard as possible for yourself. We talk about isolating the variables when learning a new language. For example, focusing on speaking on the phone will remove some of the elements like body language that would allow you to give yourself an easier ride. But if you make things as difficult as possible when you’re learning a skill, it will feel so much easier when it comes to using it.

Notes 📝

An image of Yusef's notes on Second Brain
I use Second Brain to help organise and store information online.

Don’t underestimate the importance of take note-taking. Notes are an archive of curated, hand-picked things that you have found the most helpful. And you can keep referring back to these, and adding to them. Find out how you can use Second Brain to help organise and store information in one place online.

Separate planning from execution

A flowchart of a classic learner vs. smart learner.
A smart learner will gather feedback in the planning phase

Figuring out what you need to do and gathering feedback in the planning phase are what will help you execute your plan.

Remember: it all comes down to knowing what reps to do, and doing the reps.

What to do next

At Propane, we have years of experience as in online coaching and help other personal trainers to move their service online, reach more clients and accelerate their path to financial freedom. You can arrange a call with us to find out more about our business coaching.

If you’re not quite ready for a call, you can access our free online resources here to learn more about our process, what we teach and how our system works.

You can also subscribe to the podcast for more advice on growing your online fitness business.

Finally, you can find more useful business advice in our How-to guides, or read our Productivity article.

free video guide: ⬇️

The EXACT process we used to build PropaneFitness to 15k/month: