Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Fitness Summit 2011

Attending the annual Fitness Summit, aka the JP Fitness Summit is the thing to do in May. It's been the thing to do every May for the last 9 years. I have been very fortunate to attend 4 summits and I have loved each and every one of them. Тhis year, due to changed and happy circumstances in my life, I didn't fly in for the summit, we drove, instead. The story of driving from Southern California to Kansas City is yet another blog post itself and I promise to get back to it.

This year's fitness summit was fun, full of great applicable information, challenging workouts, time to relax with friends from the JP fitness forum and plenty of chances to interact with the presenters and experts.

We came back from the summit a few days ago and I tried to explain to a few non fitness minded people what the summit was about: it's about education, networking, and having fun. How is it different from a larger educational event, why do we need another seminar? It's an educational event of very high quality, but executed on a smaller, almost intimate scale. It's an event where you don't just learn, you get to find out. You can approach fitness experts who are there to present and fitness enthusiasts who are constantly looking for improvement and communicate with them on a whole new level, all because they are there to share and give their own experience to the ones who need it and who want to apply it in their life or work. It's an active educational event and it's an active social event, because the JP fitness forum is where the relationships, questions, topics and solutions are born and then get to develop at the summit.

There is a family-like connection between attendees, people who write together on the forums and who have supported each other throughout the years, there is love and tough love and more love beyond that. The summit is a stage for shared dreams and memories and well, shared desserts. The community has long reached from the computer screen and out into real life. Seeing friendships grow throughout the years and being a part of them has been a privilege and true joy.

If this event had a president, it would be Lou Schuler. In previous years he even had a special chair, somewhat reminiscent of a throne and very fitting his position in the fitness industry today. You could not find another book author or magazine contributor who understands the inner workings of what is known, who knows it best and what matters the most at any given time in the huge and complex world of fitness. He has helped us write, dream, think, but beyond all, stay real about the world of writing and publishing. If you are looking for a new challenge, pick up the New Rules of Lifting for Abs and you will find out why Lou is the person whose advice you can always trust.

from left to right Julie Keen, Nick, Bill, Alan, Lou

Lou opened the summit by introducing Nick Tumminello, Bill Sonnemaker, Alan Aragon and Julie Keen, this year's presenters.

Alan has presented at a few summits and he has become the go-to person for everything nutrition and nutrition science related both on and off the JP fitness forum. You can read more from Alan every month in Men's Health magazine, you can subscribe for his state of the art research review , a monthly review and critical analysis of scientific studies on training an nutrition, you can visit his blog, or you can read his numerous posts on the JP forums. Alan's lecture was titled ''Things that matter'', to name those findings, facts, tools and techniques that do make a difference in a world full of growing and often confusing nutrition information. Here are my favorite quotes from his presentation:

1. ''Body fat measurements and calculations vary widely and have errors within -+ 10 points. They are now finding significant errors with the BodPod, too. Calipers always give the lowest readings. Why people still want to know? They want a number they can emotionally attach to.''

This is also the reason why I would rather have my clients use pictures to assess progress, rather than use the scale or an unreliable method of body fat testing.

2. ''Know that on the way to your target weight you will experience several plateaus. Your end weight is a plateau, hence it only makes sense to practice being at a plateau in between. Expect plateaus and practice maintenance.''

I have noticed how sometimes clients get upset because their weight gets stuck. This is a part of the journey, a necessary practice for your body and a time for it to establish new rules, new processes, and a new comfortable weight. Once this weight has been established we can introduce a new stimulus and keep making progress. Expect your plateaus and celebrate them.

Alan pulled a few people from the attendees to share their weight loss success stories. JC, Roger, and Brynda summed it up with ''know that you are awesome, know that you have to believe, be consistent, do not get bored and keep doing the right thing over and over again''. These three people had not only done their best, they had made their best their plateau.

Julie Keen presented on the topic of injury prevention and reminded us about the importance of self myofascial release, using balls, sticks, foam rollers, and various other soft tissue toys that have sprung up since the dawn of that self help technique. She talked about the importance of training the foot and toes and went in depth to talk about what shoes do to out feet (ouch!). Julie also reminded us about how often people come to the injury forum at JP, where they share how they have been to numerous specialists, and yet they don't know what to do about this or that injury...moral of the story: ''participate in your healing and actually do what you are advised to''.

Talking of trigger point fun, that was the topic of Bill Sonnemaker's hands on session, in which we used great toys from the TPTHERAPY store to get into the inner workings of the fascia, break up the fascial knots and free up the lines so we could train better. Bill suggested doing self myofascial release on three spots along a given fascial line, starting with the foot and calf and moving up to the glute medius and rotator cuff or starting at the foot and moving up to the psoas and the pec minor. He suggested not only rolling out the sore spots, but spending time on them under constant pressure while taking the adjacent joint through full range of motion a few times and also moving on the sore spot against the line of the collagen fibers to create some friction. Bill's lecture posed a good question: "If personal trainers do not have the necessary education to properly describe a movement, how will they effectively communicate with therapists and doctors and earn their trust?''. You can learn more about Bill and his state of the art facility here.

Nick Tumminello opened with a quote worthy inspiration: ''think technically, act simply''. He went on to present his view of core training, and did an excellent job of defining the core and its function in performance. His knowledge and comfortable use of research made everyone wish we had at least a week to talk about the TVA. He talked about gaining strength from a neurological and physiological perspective and made a good point that both should be pursued for optimal performance in sport. For someone like me, who doesn't train athletes, but deals with people looking to be healthier and fitter, the part of his presentation describing low level low load pain was the one that made the biggest impression. Ultimately, it would do little good to treat low level low load muscle pain with medium and high level effort. The moral of the story: the next time you try to do a renegade row to help someone with the low back pain they get from walking, think twice and refer out to a physical therapist.

Nick's hands on session focused on fast ways to involve the core in warm ups, such as short circuits of Swiss ball rolling sets, and went on with integrating the core and rotary movement into standing pushing and pulling movements. He also tortured us with his tight rotation 2.0, which you can find on his site.It's a move well worth including in an advanced core progression program, if you have already covered the basics. And the news for those of you NOT looking to lose weight? The heavier you are, the more you can push, so there is something to celebrate.

The above doesn't even come close to describing what happened during the weekend of excellent presentations, novel take home training practice, great communication, new friendships, early breakfasts at the hotel cafeteria, not to speak of the really late conversations over local beers. There is only one way to experience it, and that is not to miss the 2012 Fitness Summit, next May.

I would like to thank JP for introducing all of us to each other and creating a place where our large fitness family can get together, Nick, for being a one of a kind host, who makes this event not only possible, but better, John, for his kindness and support in holding the Mahlership so more of us could attend, Lou, for being a great mentor for all of us believe in the future of writing, Julie, for her helping hand to everyone injured and in need of support, and my wonderful husband Roland, who I met at the fitness summit, and who is my favorite forum peacemaker. I love you all, and I can't wait to see you again in less than a year!


  1. Great, great article! Just started reading, my first step was opening Google maps to see your route but obviously you anticipated my thoughts by giving a route map. First, I would like to say "You've passed through Las Vegas, won't you say something about it :)) ? How does it look? And what about Colorado and Kansas.....?"
    The main topic - the summit, it must be awesome to be with such people, to communicate, laugh, work, eat and entertain with them. I gave an eye to the presenter's blogs and materials. Wonderful experience!

  2. We did not stop in Vegas, so I cannot tell you, kindaaaaa went around it. I see I may have posted a different link, because we went more like Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas. I will do a picture blog to show you ;)
    The summit was amazing, thanks for reading my dear.


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