Perform Better’s 2010 Functional Training Summit

Last Thursday was a very long day.  I woke up at 6am, prepared for school, and was in class from 8am until 12pm.  After class I stopped back at home to get food and get my gym bag ready, for I had work from 2pm-6pm.  After work I ‘snuck in’ a 2 hour deadlift session, then returned home…to pack my suitcase.  At 9:20pm, I got back in the car and left my house…for Providence, Rhode Island!  (If anyone is wondering, driving that late after deadlifting is a very, very, stupid idea.)

Now, I left for Providence at the time because a) I wanted to deadlift, b) I assumed there wouldn’t be any traffic, and c) the perform better seminar started at 9:15 the next morning.  What went wrong was not with the deadlifting, or the seminar, but with the traffic; only Connecticut would close 2 lanes of I-95 and cause a back-up through the entire state.  That sucked.  I digress…

I checked into my hotel around 1:15am; I may have been the most animated checker-inner the hotel staff had ever seen. In bed by 2am, I was up by 7am.  Bad idea?  Certainly, but I appreciated the irony there.  7am wake up call, followed by a shower, followed by a massive spinach/mushroom omelet, a bowl of fruit, and some bacon.  Now THAT is the way to start the day!  By the time I was on the check-in line, I couldn’t believe how excited I was.  It was like being in Oz!

I saw 5 presentations on both Friday and Saturday, and 2.5 on Sunday morning.  I say 2.5 because I had information overload, and spent half of the last seminar perusing the tables of equipment that Perform Better had set up.  From there I purchased my New(er) Toys, and was on my way!

I think that the best presentation that I saw the whole weekend was the first one of the entire weekend; Martin Rooney presented “The Art of Exceptional Training”, and for that hour and fifteen minutes nothing else mattered. Rooney didn’t talk about exercise techniques, or business principles, or scientific theory.  Instead, he spoke of connection and engagement; the oft overlooked psychology of training.  He made a point of showing the (massive) audience that it’s not about the most precise, most technological methods of exercise; it’s about getting your clients and athletes the best results you possibly can, and having them come back with a smile on their face.  Rooney’s presentation was both inspiring and eye opening, and I’m going to be following his work and trying to catch up on his teaching.  After Rooney, I heard the great Mike Boyle discuss ‘Warming-Up’; what it is, wy are we supposed to do it, and what’s the best way to do it.  Because I read so many of his materials, the knowledge bombing wasn’t very severe here, but it was certainly reinforcing hearing him discuss his ideas in person.  Awesome!  After lunch, a hands on with Jeff Anderson, a lecture with the legendary Al Vermeil, and a lecture with John Berardi. To be concise; Anderson talked about protecting the lumbar spine during core training, Al Vermeil gave a no-gimmicks approach to program design in regards to speed development, and Berardi discussed nutrition for injury recovery.  All lectures were fantastic, as lots of power-point sliding, note taking, and question asking occurred.

Saturday was absolutely epic.  With lectures starting at 8am, I saw Todd Wright, Gray Cook, Greg Rose, Sue Falsone, and Eric Cressey.  Each presenter was fantastic, but here are some take-away points that I got from each one:

Todd Wright:  Todd discussed the importance of the foot in movement.  If your feet are your link to the ground, and they’re not working correctly, clearly you’re going to have some problems.  Definitely the sleeper presentation of the weekend, there were a tremendous amount of things that Todd said that I hadn’t thought of before.  And I’m completely stealing his locomotion drills for one of my own workouts.  Thanks, Todd.

Gray Cook:  Gray discussed how we’re training the core in today’s world.  I stay on top of Gray’s work, so nothing here was in-my-face new news, but I still got a ton out of it.  I’ll probably head to Boston at the end of august for the Functional Movement Screen weekend clinic.  He’s that good.

Greg Rose:  The founder of the Titleist Performance Institute, Greg’s done a lot for golf fitness.  He discussed training specifically for a golfers swing, and how it enables them to swing in a more biomechanically friendly manner.  If you didn’t think golf specific training was highly important, you did after seeing this one.

Sue Falsone: Sue talked about the thoracic spine as the missing link in today’s training systems.  With a plethora of functional anatomy being presented, I was in heaven!  Sue really opened up Pandora’s box in regards to the questions I have about kinesiology.  The take away is that we need to breath correctly.  Everything comes from how we’re breathing, and learning how to breath as we did as babies will do wonders for cleaning up our movement deficiencies.

Eric Cressey: Ballistic rotational training is essential for rotation athletes.  It makes perfect sense.  Cressey explained why this is important, and how he uses medicine ball variations with his baseball populations and with others to maximize their power production.  A ton of great videos used during his power point made it very easy to follow, and you can get I’m going to steal borrow a lot of his ideas for my own library of exercises.

After Saturday’s information overload, I spent 45 minutes looking around RISD’s Graduate Thesis Exhibition and saw some amazing art.  Then, after a nap at the hotel, I returned to Providence to go to the Cheesecake Factory with a friend, and probably ate more calories in one sitting than ever before.  And yes, I’m proud of that fact.

Sunday was all about Thomas Meyers.  The author of Anatomy Trains (which has jumped to the top of my reading list) was absolutely fantastic.  I wanted both his lecture and his hands on, and his explanations on the importance of fascia in the movement of the body was fascinating.  I barely knew what he spoke of, and yet I want to learn so much more about it.  One thing that he pointed out was that our model of the body is wrong: Yes, muscles provide movement, but they never will work in isolation, one at a time; that’s only the clean Kinesiology 101 model.  Instead we need to think of it this way: One Mind, One Muscle.  I truly took that to heart.

While I filled out my review of the seminar, I sat in the back of Aaron Brooks‘ lecture which discussed activation drills.  Muscle activation is a big deal in a country where so many people don’t use their muscles, or only do so when they’re exercising.  Learning how to perform movements with the right muscles is essential!

After I completely filled out my review, I dropped it in the box, purchased my goodies, and got in the car.  I had so much information overload that I couldn’t listen to my audio book for a while. (Yes, I’m that nerdy…it’s The End of Overeating)  I’m going to be reviewing the slide shows and notes that I took to reinforce the presentations.  I’m going to research what they presented.  I’m going to go to more presentations: In fact, I’m already looking forward to next years Summit.  The last thing that I wrote on my review that I handed in was that I’m going to be presenting at the summit in the next 10 years.  They were handed in anonymously, so Perform Better doesn’t have a clue who wrote it, but it’s something I’m very serious about; I’m going to be very good at what I do.

8 Replies to “Perform Better’s 2010 Functional Training Summit”

  1. Hi Harold
    I´m a brazilian physical therapist and I´m very interested in functional training. I´m thinking of doing this seminar in Boston in august. Do you think it´s worth I travel so far?

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