A Look at This Spring’s Nor-Cal Fitness Summit
The first weekend of May was friggin amazing at the Spring 2015 NorCal Fitness Summit, held in Mountain View, California at Evolution Trainers. Presenters from across North America came to speak about training, the science behind it, and the business practice needed to get that information to the masses. Here’s a few that connect directly to the fitness side of training.
Jessie Mundell, Training for Two
What an eye-opening presentation on the dos and don’ts of training with pregnant women. Jessie covered pregnancy as well as post delivery, with special focus on the abdominal region. Yes, obviously that part of a woman’s body goes through the wringer during the different parts of pregnancy, but what exactly happens tends to get ignored or put as a side note by medical and fitness professionals alike. Here’s the nitty gritty:
A woman has varying levels of energy during different sections of pregnancy. Second term tends to be the most energizing, whereas the first tends to be throttled by the baby’s first few months, and the third trimester is just plain heavy. There’s a new little being growing in there! This information alone, stamina expectations, can help mom and trainer know when to push limits and when to just lay down on the floor between sets (Jessie, I will not be forgetting that example anytime soon.)
Pregnancy in and of itself is not a contraindication of exercise. Newly pregnant women are still told not to exercise during their first trimester. With newer research, unless there is a very real condition that prohibits movement, and there are a few of those, women can start an exercise program regardless of prior fitness habits. A trainer should always be aware of what level of fitness our mom is currently starting as with all new clients, but training in and of itself is generally a good thing.
Exercising during pregnancy always has the same goal: helping mom bounce back smoothly and as quickly as possible from pregnancy. Having a kid is a big deal! Many prepare their minds with advice from friends, family, and books; working with a fitness professional with an understanding of pre and post natal bodily changes will help prepare the body for what’s to come. Getting your fitness professional in direct communication with your doctor bridges that gap between the clinical and the practical sides of the pregnancy story.
Exercising with the activation and release of the pelvic floor is insanely important! So often we hear about the use of kegels, which is all about tightening the muscles, but there is never any focusing on the release of the pelvic floor when women are recovering from pregnancy. Jessie stressed the importance of a well-rounded pelvic muscle program to strengthen the pelvic floor from a holistic approach: actually letting the muscle contraction AND relax. Hey, I know of a trainer that has a bit of knowledge about women’s fitness in the Bay Area…
Jessie had us focus on breathing as the first move with newly pregnant women to help them breathe and move better, helpful for all areas of training. Nailing the breathing with engagement and release of the pelvic floor opens the door to other forms of training that keep mom aware of her body and training towards a healthy delivery and life with her new family member.
Adam Wolf, Training Shoulder Progressions
Adam spoke about the flow of movement and how traditional lifting ignores the transverse plane, which is the most important plane of motion when it comes to sport and general energy for propulsion and movement. Pretty insane, right? Those twisty exercises my clients know well? Those all address that movement pattern. Utilized in all sorts of sports, having that twist as efficiently as possible helps cut down on the chance of injury during multiplanar movement.
Even more than basic twisting, Adam had us creating variations of basic movements that had us twisting and turning in squat and lunges, creating smooth movements that had much more force generation than the normal up and down. To go through those motions and feel the difference between standard movement versus the variation, it was fascinating to get sweaty from just a few repetitions with little tweaks here and there. We had hands-on examples of how to make training more challenging without re-inventing the exercise wheel.
When someone felt a part of their body holding back, Adam identified another part of training that is still developing: the incorporation of Fascial Training. Our bodies’ muscles have casings around them that historically were ignored by scientists and doctors. Now, as Lauren Shroyer spoke about during the last summit, the fitness and science community are digging in deeper, addressing how releasing fascia can create better movement and lifestyles for athletes and the general population alike.
The connective tissue doesn’t get a lot of love, but it is gaining more attention with the use of foam rolling and triggerpoint therapy for recovery and cooldown in athletes and regular joes. Adam touched on the importance of keeping fascia in working order to help rather than hinder movement. With six major sections, there are countless ways to utilize the fascial lines in athletics and daily work. Throwing a ball? Arm. Bending over to pick something off the ground? Flexion and extension of the entire body!
If you’re interested in learning more about foam rolling and triggerpoint and how it can help your game, you can catch my Flexibility Workshop this Saturday at Serao Academy, where I will be covering aches and pains of the shoulder, low back, and knee, and how to address them utilizing flexibility techniques of rolling and stretching and when to apply them. Part of what Adam discussed will be covered.
Dr. B, Functional Training From the Ground Up
My third most impactful presenter has to be Dr. James Astin, who goes by Dr. B. A little out there and EXCITED to be so, he spoke about how the brain and body relate to each other and how, as trainers, we get the opportunity to reprogram the body with a few simple steps. Speaking as a man who has had more injury and surgery than he can count, the fact that he can walk and carry on conversations is pretty impressive. His mission in the time he had with us was to share what he has learned about the body through his injury and rehabilitation. “Functional” as defined by Dr. B: be able to move.
All those training patterns, programs, all the basic lifting techniques we see in the gym and read about in article after article? He challenged us to throw them out the window. A hands-on experience, he showed us how to get the brain to familiarize itself with the rest of the body by turning everything off while lying down, then only use the neck and head to actually look at the body.
Dr. B helped one of the attendees who was super inflexible into crow pose, a yoga pose that relies heavily on core strength, balance, and being able to get into a freaking weird position. With a bit of opening up, utilizing the whole body in a few stretching moves, that man got into crow on his second try!
Emphasizing the brain’s relationship to the body, not just what we are programmed to tell ourselves we can and can’t do, helps us “unlock” our bodies’ potentials in ways we used to hit milestones as little kids learning how to relate to the rest of the world.
These three trainers had the information that translated best over all scopes of practice related to fitness. All the presenters had amazing subject matter — I highly encourage you to look into Jonathan Mike’s research on eccentric training, Joe Arko’s corrective exercises for muscle distraction, and Jennie Cwikla’s utilization of nutrient timing. Hell, check out all the presenters.