Monday, August 11, 2014

Perform Better 2014 Review

Perform Better 2014 in Long Beach was once again a game changer.  I first want to thank Chris Poirier and his staff at Perform Better for over delivering and supplying an extraordinary experience.  Speaking of that word, extraordinary, Todd Durkin’s presentation was the best way to finish this seminar.  Take a great workout that you have done before and add the massive “finisher” to that workout and you put the exclamation point on the training session, making it extraordinary.  We (I was fortunate to bring my staff of 5 Coaches) finished with Todd’s lecture and it basically took everything that we learned and put it together.  It put an exclamation point on the Summit.  We left with new levels of motivation and personal drive to supply our members at California Fitness Academy. 

Here are some key takeaways from this epic 3-day event:

Todd Durkin’s presentation titled “Extraordinary Self” resonated major energy to work on personal growth, life skills, motivation, positive living and straight up EPICNESS.  Take all of the training tools, education and information that we learned over the 3 days and it means nothing if you, as the coach, do not have personal drive and inspiration.  I advocate this message to my team constantly.  Relentlessly pursuing a better YOU should become an obsession.  “Work on you more than you work on your job. When you work on your job, you can make a living.  When you work on yourself, you make a fortune.”  This quote from Jim Rohn runs parallel to what Todd was describing.  We are in charge of our work ethic, our thoughts, our attitude, and the goals we want to achieve.  It’s in our control to reach massive levels.  And I am not just talking about our specific profession.  I am talking about our total self.  Reaching that extraordinary level depends on the work we are willing to do.  Are we willing to obsessively work on our craft?  Are we willing to get uncomfortable?  Are we willing to take risks?  Are we willing to read the positive material?  Are we willing to eliminate the negative people in our life?  Answering yes to these questions will push you to your limits and get you out of your comfort zone, which will expand your limits and make you a stronger person.  Todd has a way to engage and grip his audience.  Everyone, I mean everyone left his presentation with extraordinary energy.  Thanks Todd for giving us an extraordinary presentation!

The next highlight for me was Mark Verstegen.  The word of his presentation that was emphasized was “upgrade”.  As fitness professionals, our job is to upgrade our clients’ lives.  Sometimes our idea of what fitness looks like is not the same idea of what fitness should look like to the client.  We must find simple, realistic and healthy strategies for our clients to work on.  Maybe it’s to drink 40 ounces of water for the person just starting out.  Maybe it’s 3-4 servings of vegetables and fruit a day for another client.  Maybe it’s a detailed food log for the advanced athlete.  Whatever the strategy, we must be in constant pursuit to upgrade the lives we are managing.  “Every day is a game changer.”  This was the title of Mark’s presentation and it’s so true.  Every day can be epic, life changing and full of opportunities and fitness is our avenue to teach these principles to our clients.  Mark did talk about the training system they follow at EXOS.  I am always drawn to the simplicity of their program design.  Think about this concept, one of the best training facilities in the world and their training philosophies follow basic and sound principles.  The rest of the fitness world needs to learn and model off this simple approach.  Foam roll, pillar strength, movement prep., power, strength, and energy system work.  That’s it.  There’s your program.  No bells and whistles.  Just basic program design done with solid execution.  If the best in the world is doing it, why not follow the mold.  Add in major focus to recovery outside the gym, implement sound and healthy nutritional principles and be consistent over the long haul and you have yourself an UPGRADED life!  Thank you Mark for inspiring the industry.

Speaking of simple program design, Mike Boyle is a master at designing simple but very effective training programs.  I have known and followed Mike for over 10 years.  Mike is one of the most genuine people I know.  He goes out of his way to say hi, shake your hand and answer questions.  I saw Mike spend an extra 30 minutes after presenting for over 5 hours, answering questions for attendees.  I like Mike’s idea of a progression and regression model.  You find the baseline exercise and you have 3 regressions and 3 progressions for that exercise.  Depending on the individual (s) you are training will depend on your selection of regressions or progressions.  This is so simple but yet so brilliant.  You can basically train any level of client in a group setting. 
Here is an example:

Regression 3: assisted squat
Regression 2: Bodyweight squat
Regression 1: assisted split squat
Baseline: bodyweight split squat
Progression 1: Split squat holding DB’s
Progression 2: Split squat holding weight overhead
Progression 3: BW Foot elevated split squat

This set-up is very simple, easy to use as a coach and makes for an appropriate training session.  We must put the client in a successful and SAFE situation.  The idea is not to create a circus environment.  Mike’s #1 rule (and should be all trainer’s #1 rule) is to not injure people in the training session.  In fact, we should stay far away from this risk.  Mike is very adamant and will speak his mind regarding this topic.  Random, high-intensity and aggressive training increases chance of injury.  Injury SHOULD NOT happen in an exercise environment.  Especially when a coach is managing the session!  Mike gave us an easy assessment tool (actually quite funny) to evaluate our sessions.  It’s the “SHIT” test.  If exercise technique looks like shit, then simply regress the client to a more suitable movement.  Just because an exercise is hard and makes someone sore, doesn’t mean it was functional and will improve someone’s life.  Move well first then move more.  Mike you are a mentor to all of us in the fitness industry.  Thank you for supplying us solid, real world information to help us make our training programs better. 

As I look through the rest of my notes, I wanted to give a few short bullet points on some key ideas:

·       Lenny Parracino: “Stiffness you feel in the morning, that is dehydration.”  This was an interesting but valid point Lenny made.  I really feel many people walk around dehydrated which leads to pain, dysfunction and poor quality living.  Simply drink more water, do some tissue work during the week and move consistently and your muscles will start to love you. 
·       Gray Cook: Gray gave us his list of top “functional exercises”.  His first list of exercises were directed to Posture, Balance, Alignment and Coordination.  Here was his list: balance beam, bottom up kettlebell, farmers carry, Indian clubs, jump rope, bear crawl, Turkish get-up and overhead carry.  His second list of exercises was directed to Strength, Endurance, Power and Speed.  Here was his list: sprinting, deadlifts, squats, push-ups, pull-ups and push-press.  I like all of these exercises and utilize many of them in our training programs.  Simple movements but very effective when executed right.
·       Brandon Marcello: This presentation was funny, informative and kept our interest.  I have never met Brandon, but he seemed like a very genuine guy.  His topic was about recovery and regeneration.  This is the missing element for many people in their training programs.  He made a great comment that he “doesn’t necessarily believe in overtraining”, rather he believes people “underrecover”.  When athletes are in this “underrecovered” state, they limit their recovery and stress will occur.  More recovery is needed.  Sleep quality, nutrient foods, massage, meditation and light movement can all be regeneration techniques. 
·       Charlie Weingroff:  Charlie always delivers solid information.  Two things I take from his “I lift heavy things and put them down” presentation…1) Breathing and how important it is to do it correctly and also can aide in our absolute strength.  Practicing deep belly breathing is critical for not just athletes but all individuals.  “Get strong behind the brace.”  I will let you think about that one for a second.  2) The Lowest System Load idea. If we can use a lower weight and still achieve the strength we are looking for it’s a WIN!  I am a big fan of this approach. 

As I put the entire Summit into one key learning lesson, it’s “GET BETTER AT THE BASICS”.  I didn’t really learn some new revolutionary training idea or concept that blew my mind.  I didn’t learn any new exercises.  But my biggest take away was that to get our athletes and clients better, we must put them in a successful and motivating environment.  Many programs in the fitness industry have the “go to the extreme” approach.  Their idea is to do the most extreme workout program with the most extreme diet.  This is completely incorrect and will lead people the wrong way.  Individuals are at their own unique spot.  We as coaches must supply strategies, habits, or techniques to our clients to help them take the next step in their fitness journey.  Not five steps, one step!  Do not give them too much.  And do not let them get comfortable.  Give them just enough to stretch and challenge them.  Let them be successful.  Guide them through this process.  We are not drill sergeants.  We are fitness coaches.  We should be in relentless pursuit to help people UPGRADE their lives by supplying them smart, efficient and realistic fitness education. 

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