Perform Better Summit anyone? Here’s who I’m seeing

“Living in San Diego does not suck” is something my brother is fond of saying. I’m sitting in his backyard in San Diego as I write this, and I have to agree. I could get used to this. I’m here for a little family time before heading up to Long Beach for the Perform Better Summit this coming weekend. That’s my candy store, and today I’m sitting here reading the bios and presentation descriptions for all of the presenters. If that doesn’t adequately demonstrate my high geek quotient (the new GQ), then consider that I just created a table in Excel to highlight the sessions I’ll attend and those where I’m still undecided (click here to download it for anyone who will be attending and wants to be able to do the same). Ya, my GQ is high. And it gets worse: During each session of the summit I will sit in one of the first few rows, take notes and ask questions. I’ll probably even go ask the speakers additional questions at the end. Then I’ll continue to discuss nuances with other high GQ attendees in the hall. At last year’s event in Providence I chuckled to myself at one point as I realized that the 2011 version of me would be keener bingo’d by the 1990s-engineering-student-sitting-in-the-back-of-the-class version of me.

Yep, the Perform Better Summit is my candy store, and I’m feeling like a kid again. So what presentations am I going to see? I thought you’d never ask! :) There are usually four presentations at the same time, with each presenter typically giving one lecture and one hands on session. I love this setup because it lets the attendees choose who to see, but the downside is that you may not get to see everyone you want to: there are 29 presenters, but only 14 time slots.

My selection criteria is based partly about presenters that I really want to see, and partly about topics about which I really want to or need to learn more.

The Gummy Venus DeMilo:
There are two presenters that I am particularly excited about, and for whom I plan to attend both the lecture and hands on sessions:
- Charles Staley and his “Olympic-Style Weightlifting Simplified” presentation. I love Olympic lifting (Clean and Jerk and Snatch) but I know I’m not as good at coaching these lifts as I could be. I’m keen to be better at this and I have a feeling this is a great next step for me.
- Dan John with “The Four Quadrants of Lifting”. I have seen a couple of Dan John teaching videos and I am impressed. I think this is a guy who really knows how to teach exercise. I feel like one of his youtube videos has already had a huge positive impact on my ability to coach the deadlift, so I look forward to seeing what else I’ll be better at after two 75 minute sessions in person!

The downside of having these Must See Presentations, is that it means I will miss Mark Verstegen’s lecture and Michael Boyle’s hands on presentation. Thankfully I’ve been fortunate enough to see both of them in the past, and to have spent a week at Michael Boyle’s mentorship program, which is some consolation for missing them this time.

That’s 4 sessions locked in, what about the other 10? I really want to improve my kettlebell coaching and programming ability, which means I’ll be seeing Brett Jones and Steve Cotter. This is where my first big conflicts arise:
- Brett Jones will be presenting “Dynami=Power”, where he will focus on the push press. which is basically a combined squat and overhead press. I want to start doing more overhead pressing my clients, but with the right technique. From what I have read from Brett Jones, I gather he knows how to teach shoulder-safe overhead pressing, so this feels like a must see session. The trouble is that his hands-on is at the same time as Sue Falsone’s lecture about the neck and shoulders. I saw her hands on in providence last year and walked away wishing I could have seen her lecture. I don’t think I can pass that up two years in a row, so I’ll be picking Sue Falsone (Physical therapist with Athlete’s Performance) over Brett’s hands on. I’m pretty bummed to be missing Brett’s hands on, but I’ll be sure to catch it next year, or I may have to make it up by taking home a DVD. Brett’s lecture is at the same time as Alwyn Cosgrove’s session, “The Complete Action Guide to Fat Loss Programming & Coaching”. I am a big Alwyn Cosgrove fan, but this time I have to go with Brett Jones for the push-press and kettlebell expertise.
- Steve Cotter has two hands-on presentations, “Kettlebell Fitness Fundamentals” and “Kettlebell Sport Specifics”. In an ideal world, I would see both, but his first session is at the same time as Mark Verstegen’s “Barefoot Training – Benefits, Pitfalls and Progressions” hands on. I have to see that for two reasons: I am very keen on barefoot training, and I have not been coached by Mark Verstegen. I’ve seen him present, and I’ve enjoyed a great conversation with him in Providence, but I haven’t seen him coach. And I get the impression he is a tremendous coach. So I’ll be seeing Mark Verstegen instead of Steve Cotter’s fundamentals. That means Steve Cotter’s Kettlebell Sports Specific becomes a must-see. I’m quite intrigued by what sport specific kettlebell will entail.

That’s 8 selected and now only 6 sessions left to choose. The next one is a no-brainer as there is only one choice: Thomas Plummer will be presenting “Evolve or Die: Five Trends That will Define Your Career”. That one’s for me. I love business presentations. I’m not sure I ever learn anything new at them as I have been to many of them over the past 15 years and they are more alike than they are different. But I do find they provide a reminder of these truths and habits that I need to do. Kind of like a good shower: it may be the same old, same old; but it’s still pretty awesome.

Each of the last 5 is a draw for now. The good news is that I get a book with all of hte presentation notes when I register on Friday morning, so I will likely peak at the notes to make the final decision. Here are my challenges:
- Lee Burton and “Corrective movement strategies”, Michael Boyle and “success secrets”, Nick Winkleman on periodization or Robert Yang on breaking the fatigue cycle. This one is a pretty tough draw across the board as Michael Boyle is a favourite (in fact he is the person that has had the single most influence on my career as a trainer), and Lee Burton (co-creator of the FMS) is as well. But for this time slot I think I have to look at the topic more than the presenter, and periodization and fatigue are the topics of great interest to me, so odds are it will be one of them. I’m just not sure which yet.
- There are two time slots where I have to pick between Robert Dos Remedios on “Building Better Athletes: Designing Optimal Athletic Performance Training Programs” and Rachel Cosgrove on “Creating Breakthrough Results with your Female Clients”. Odds are I’ll split the two, but I’m not sure how yet. Who to see for hands on and who to see for the lecture? I suspect I’ll go with Rachel Cosgrove for the lecture and Robert Dos Remedios for the hands on, but lets see. Maybe I’ll ask them at the charity pub crawl that Robert Dos Remedios has organized for Thursday night! All proceeds to the LA SPCA. If you’ll be in the area, consider coming out; if you’re not in the area, consider buying a ticket to support the great cause anyhow.

For my last two time slots there are 3 people I have to pick between:
- John Berardi (Getting your toughest clients to follow the rules), Todd Wright (spherical model of training), and Sue Falsone’s hands on are all on in one time slot. I have seen each of these three presenters before, so that’s a wash. Ordinarily this would be John Berardi for the win, but this time the topic is not as interesting to me. I’m just not sure about this one.
- Vern Gambetta (teaching speed), Diane Vives (functional training for female athletes) and Chuck Wolf on post rehab program design) is also a tough decision. I really don’t know what I’ll do there. I may go with Gambetta because he’s really a legend, but I’ve never seen Diane Vives speak, nor do I know much about her, and I do train many female athletes, so that may push the vote her way. And frankly there are never enough women speakers at events, which is a big pet peeve of mine, so that in itself may be reason enough. Perforom Better has done better this year with 3 of 29 speakers being women. Although it kind of saddens me that 10% is good representation.

5 more sleeps!

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