Conference Update – What Did We Learn?

Recap of Perform Better Functional Training Summit
August 2011, Long Beach California

Once again, Victoria Wellness staff head off to what has now become the premier strength and conditioning conference in North America.  Us trainers were like teeny bopper girls seeing Justin Bieber in concert!  Alot of the "gurus" that we look up to and admire were on hand to speak and share a beer.  It is a wonderful 2 1/2 days of learning from the best in the Industry.

Here is a short recap of what we attended and came back to Victoria with:

Fat Loss Programming
Alwyn Cosgrove, Results Fitness

This is always one of the most popular topics at fitness conferences.  It is always a pleasure to be able to hear Alywn speak.  As one of the most sought after speakers, his lectures are always packed.   He has been lecturing on the changing face of fat loss for several years now.  The old "fat burning zone" just does not work for fat loss.


A 2009 study he quoted from Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. stated that direct and indirect cost of obesity in the USA is as high as $147 billion annually and the study was based on figures collected in 2006!  That is frightening!  

Alwyn presented a multitude of scientific studies that have refuted once and for all, that the only road to success with weight loss is correct nutrition and high metabolically demanding strength training and interval workouts.

One study from Zouhal 2009 studied athletic performance and weight changes during the "Marathon of Sands".  After 6 days (one marathon per day), average weight loss was 6.1%.  However 82% of that weight loss came from muscle!  Bad news I'm afraid.  We want to hang onto our metabolically active muscle and lose the fat.

Study after study showed that steady state cardio (the old 70% HR zone) does not elicit enough of a  metabolic response to improve fat loss numbers.  Interval training showed the highest numbers with respect to fat loss.

So what does this mean with your fitness programs?  What is needed:

  • Metabolic acceleration resistance training (strength training)
  • High Intensity Anaerobic interval training
  • High Intensity Aerobic training (if time permits)

Maximize the benefits of your strength training program by creating was Alwyn terms – maximal metabolic disturbance.  This is done by heavy resistance, time under tension approaching 60 seconds (time it takes to complete a set) and short/incomplete rest periods.

Alwyn recommends:

  • two metabolic acceleration training sessions per week
  • two strength training sessions per week
  • strong bias towards self-limiting exercises (rope pulls ups, turkish get ups, KB windmills, push ups, sled training).

At Victoria Wellness, we had adopted that philosophy a few years ago, so our programs look quite different from the traditional 3 sets of 10 reps you see being done in most big box gyms.    

The Compliance Solution – John Berardi PhD, CSCS

This lecture was one of our favorites.  Compliance with a nutritional plan.  How to help clients acheive good nutrition goals.  In his lecture, John Berardi talked about the psychology of weight loss and although we might think logically what is required, it is usually our emotional and empathetic right brain that drives most decisions.

John talks about the challenges facing clients because of a scary, emotionally taxing world.  Full of fast food, work and family pressures, commuting, sedentary lifestyles, all make weight loss a difficult path for clients.  

His nutrition program, through guides and supports clients in making the changes necessary to be successful.  His success speaks for itself:

Over 5000 clients helped to date,  these clients do what is asked of them 71% of the time and as a result, they've achieved (and maintained) a weight loss of over 100,000 pounds.

It was nice to hear as well that he will finally be offering a Nutrition Certification program for fitness professionals.  

What is Success – Mike Boyle

This lecture talked primarily about success as it relates to the fitness industry.    Mike talks about his personal journey from graduating from University with a degree in Athletic Therapy to starting his own training facility that has become known for producing great hockey players.  In his lecture Mike, quotes some advice from Bill Gates.  I few a found quite amusing, true but amusing:

  • Life is not fair – get used to it
  • Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity.  Your grand parents had a different view of flipping – they called it opportunity.
  • Television is NOT real life.  In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shops and go to jobs.

Our industry is constantly bombarded with trainers that have never actually trained a client in the gym, but churn out DVD's, sell their business systems, write books or ebooks – all while never having worked in the trenches day to day.  So much of what we learn in the strength training world comes from real world experience – hands on day to day working with every type of client.  This brings us to the 10,000 hour rule as described in Malcolma Gladwell's "Outliers".   

Mike Boyle discussed what characteristics were needed to be successful in the fitness business, what steps to take to opening your own facility, to have or not have partners, managing staff  as well as talking numbers.

This wasn't necessarily a lecture that interested those not wanting to venture out on their own, but it was good to hear that even successful people has made mistakes along the way.  It is what you learn from those mistakes that separates you.

Parting Thoughts:

That is just a brief recap of just a few of the lectures we attended.  There are far too many to mention in one article.

The one thing I think we can bring home from this Conference is that Victoria Wellness is indeed on the cutting edge of science and training.  I think that stems from the fact that all of us as trainers herespend a lot of time reading, studying and keeping current with what the latest science has to offer as well and having a network of awesome strength coaches to learn from.  Keeping an open mind with a willingness to change if paramount to providing the best in personal training services.


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