Sunday, June 29, 2014

Perform Better Summit; What I Learned and What Stood Out

A couple weekends ago I had a great chance to go down to Providence and attend the annual Perform Better Summit at the Rhode Island convention center. While the weekend didn't get off the to greatest start (found out my hotel reservations were non-existant, oops), but it recovered quickly with the first hands-on section of the day I attended and only got better.

The Highlights

Hands down the highlight for me was hearing, seeing and meeting the man the myth the legend Dan John. Dan had both a lecture and then a hands on session he did later on that day. Dan really makes things super duper simple so a drunk monkey can understand them. In not so many words, SHUT UP AND DO IT. That's pretty much how he gets it done. Now granted he's not completely blind to the fact that soft tissue work and mobility are needed, but he's more about focusing on the core task at hand, then breaking it down if it's needed.

I'll be honest I did have another person I was going to hear speak instead of attending Dan's hands-on that went with this. I reconsidered after I finish his lecture because I really was blown away by how he made everything just fall into place. I said to hell with the other person, wont name names, and went to the hands-on instead. On top of all this he was more than happy to stay after both sessions and answer questions, shake hands and just converse in general with everyone that attended. Side note I shook his hand my hand suddenly felt like that of a 5 year old's. I may be wrong, but he he is probably one of the most approachable high profile figures in this business.

Now just so you don't think I just blindly follow a single person's methods and call it good, there was 1 thing I couldn't get behind with Dan, his view on single leg work. He's not a giant believer in it, but to his credit we did do some single leg drills in the hand-on session, for the most part he doesn't value single leg exercises too highly. It's his opinion and he's entitled to it, and it's not the word of god. I don't value single leg work to the point where I find it to be the work of guardian angles either like certain strength coaches out there, but I find my body, and the bodies' of my clients, feel better when there is some good loaded single leg work mixed in there. I did still pick up his book Never Let Go so that's going to keep my readings a little busier.

There were 2 other people I got the chance to hear speak that I have wanted, I mean REALLY wanted to, those were Charlie Weingroff and Eric Cressey. Weingroff's sessions was titled I Lift Heavy Things and Put Them Down, so if you've met me for 5 minutes you know I heard/read the name of this one and sprang up like I'd been hit by lightning. Yeah I was down for that. He reminded us all that there are about 1000 ways to skin the fitness cat as it were, and he would argue his was best when done right. He had a few good cues and some tools to put in the tool box for deadlifts and overhead presses. In all honesty though, whichever way your way is for getting patterns like these hammered down, make sure you execute it to the best of your ability and you own it. 

Cressey was definitely a little more technical than my brain is adapted to processing. The session (or for that matter the whole seminar) was a bit like trying to drink from a fire hose. You get what you can and try not to worry to much about the stuff you missed. Eric's expertise on the shoulder and scapula movement gave me a few tools and tricks to help those of my clients with shoulder pain and issues. Again as the case was with Dan John I hadn't originally planned to attend both Eric's lecture and hands on, but I made an audible and figured this is probably an area I could afford to improve in so I'll get what I can. Learned some new drills and new things to look for so couldn't ask for more than that really. Eric was also really good about answering questions and shaking hands after his sessions so I gotta give him his props for that.

Things That Stood Out

There was certainly some other interesting things that stood out for me, most of them, not exactly positive in this case. The biggest thing was Saturday morning they had a very large spread for breakfast and with all these fitness experts and everyone well informed on the things we probably SHOULD be eating (notice the heavy emphasis) what did they put out? Bagels and Muffins, now I know eggs and bacon probably isn't practical, and I am certainly not one to completely snark at these items because I've indulged plenty. All that considered you would think they could have come up with something a little more, appropriate shall we say? Even if the convention center had limited options, surely someone could have used their noodle to make this better, luckily I'd already had mine so as much as I wanted to partake I didn't need to.

Next item of note isn't something that totally shocked me because I have experienced this in reading many articles and books, it was just a different experience because I heard it in person with my own ears. There was quite a bit of contraindications, such as one speaker being a spine expert telling us not to round our spines during any exercises (in layman's terms) and another speaker demonstrating a series of exercises that he believes you need to flex your spine. 

Things like this is where I use my super brain power (or not so much) and have to decided when and where this information is applied to. The answer when it comes to the things that pop up in this field is almost always a it depends because if you just blindly apply things you pick up, you're probably going to get an athlete or a client hurt. Use that 3 1/2 pound organ between your ears before applying stuff you learn at a big seminar like this and you'll be better off.

Overall the experience was great, I saw a lot of people that I've worked with in the past and it was great to rub elbows with some of the absolute best in the business. Have a good day everyone go out there and get after it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Next Chapter...The BU Chapter

Well last Thursday started a new part of my life. For the rest of this summer on Thursday morning I will be scarce at the Brookline facility because I will be doing observation hours at Agganis Arena. Yeah I'm sorry if you feel like I've failed you, all you Maine grads and faithful Black Bear hockey fans. I am working with what some might call, the enemy. While I am still a fan of the alma-mater hockey program I know this is going to be a great chance for me to learn from some of best in the area.

"The Ugly" Maine fans will get it

The plan is to do some observation hours this summer and then get a little more hands on come this fall. I am very excited to work with the athletes at BU and know I can only get better. I decided to take this on this past winter after my colleague and friend Mike left Brookline to pursue other ventures. Once that happened it pretty much put me to the top of the food chain, a place I feel personally I am not ready to be at. While it is cool to be THAT person many come to you with questions and for advice about programming and technique. At this point there's no one for me to really draw from on a personal level. I had this issue before at the first facility and made the move to Brookline, this internship is the move I'm making now.

Some of you may recall I've had a chance to see this world once before, at Maine with their strength and conditioning department. That's now 3 years ago since I left that position, doesn't seem that long ago, but it was. I remember a good bit of what I learned in those months, but 3 years is plenty of time to have lot's of valuable information leave my memory. Also more recently some of you probably recall that I have stepped away from my rugby playing to have my time taken up by something important to my career, if you haven't figured it out, this is that something I spoke of.

It's amazing that in one day I already have things popping into my head with thoughts of "oh yeah I remember when we did that at in Orono" so I can't wait to see what else is rekindled along with all the new things I will learn. That's all I got today guys, go out and get after it.