The landscape of the fitness industry has changed the past couple of years. Coaches and professionals are required to do more than just be experts in their field if they want to build a successful business.
Over the course of two days, the Sport and Speed Institute brought in some of the best coaches, influences and entrepreneurs in the world to help fill all of those buckets with the Professional Power Summit. The seminar featured a stellar lineup comprised of Amanda Sains, Alison Culley, Christmas Abbott, Nancy Newell, Amanda Wheeler, Ana Tocco, Julia Ladewski, Heather Pearson, Nicole Rodriguez and Elsbeth Vaino.
The event had a more personable, intimate feel as SSI owner Justin Kavanaugh had a personal story on how he knew each presenter and I was able to meet and network with the presenters and other attendees at the two post-seminar social events.
This made for a much more comfortable learning experience and I was able to gain insight from those in the know on a variety of topics ranging from business and marketing to the interpersonal relationships with your clients and to my favorite subjects, rehab and sports performances.
The online business and marketing side was fully covered by Amanda Sains and Alison Culley. Sains, the Director of Marketing & Business Development at B’more Organic, discussed all of these little tips and tricks I’ve never heard of before that she used to maximize her viewership on social media and help her company grow from a regional to a national brand. I’ve used social media primarily as a means to network with other coaches and she even showed how she utilized Twitter and Instagram to meet and be seen by the top influencers. She literally worked her way up from the bottom and, as someone who’s at the bottom with aspirations of opening my own facility, I enjoyed hearing her talk about her hustle to gradually rise to the top.
I was very interested in hearing Culley’s presentation because it’s the first I’ve heard that went into building your website. She’s also always been very gracious with her time to me at the Speed and Power Summit and would be presenting from the point of view of Athletes Acceleration, a company I have a lot of respect for. My website is still in the beginning stages, but I do plan on pushing out more content and growing it this year. Alison touched on all the areas I’m looking to improve such as making your website more viewer friendly, writing better content and develop a mailing list. And, like Amanda’s presentation, Alison showed the growth of AA from its humble beginnings to the juggernaut it is now. She gave us all of the tools that AA used to grow its brand and it was all built on serving and treating the customer with respect.
Christmas Abbott, who’s seemingly done everything from be a best-selling author to NASCAR pit crew member, Crossfit Games competitor and reality TV star, among things, discussed knowing your legacy. What I took away from her talk is you need to know your “why” for being in this business. You need to know what your contribution to the world will be and what your core values are because they will serve as your compass for deciding what decisions to make and opportunities to take.
Communication and relationship building with your athletes has become a real hot topic the past year and I got three different perspectives on the subject from Newell, Wheeler and Tocco. As someone interested in training baseball and softball players, Newell’s talk intrigued me because of her work with softball players at Cressey Sports Performance, one of the industry leaders in baseball training. I work with a lot of female clients and some of them have trepidation and misconceptions about training in a male-dominated gym. Newell presented a four-tier approach that helps females eliminate that fear and build confidence in the gym.
Wheeler, the fitness manager at Mark Fisher Fitness and creator of Formation Strength, gave a presentation that was as informative as it was entertaining. As someone that goes to a lot of seminars, it’s great to hear a speaker that can own the stage and Wheeler brought the juice. She had the crowd reciting phrases from her talk well after it was over. Sometimes I find myself having trouble getting someone new to the gym into the proper positions and am always looking for ways to make the cues as easy to understand as possible. Wheeler showed some of the colorful lingo used at MFF and their “outside of the box” verbiage gave me some ideas on how I could make movements new members struggle to grasp – such as the squat and the hinge – much easier to comprehend. It doesn’t matter how many fancy terms you can throw at your clients to sound smart. To be a good coach, you just need to find a way to get your clients in the right positions.
Most of the new people I train are youth and high school athletes and, along with teaching proper movement, I need to make sure they know the standards and expectations. This can be harder than teaching the movements. Tocco, who is a strength and conditioning specialist at St. John’s Preparatory School in Massachusetts and coach at Mike Boyle’s Strength and Conditioning, discussed strategies she uses to establish expectations that I could employ in my business. Most importantly, she went into how I could make these “stick” and she didn’t give this presentation in a stern or bossy manner. Her philosophy is to make sure we gain a mutual understanding with our clients and reinforce and teach behavior which will eventually empower the athlete.
The end of the second day shifted towards the training side. Ladewski, a former Division 1 strength coach, former physique competitor, powerlifter and elitefts sponsored athlete, took us over to the power rack and broke down the “big three” – the squat, bench press and deadlift. She said since she knew Kav the longest, she was going to through him a curveball and head to the racks. She apologized for not having a Power Point presentation, but at a training event, what’s better than getting technical, hands-on advice on how to maximize your strength on the three main lifts from a highly-regarded powerlifter and coach? The power rack was exactly where I wanted her presentation to be and she broke down every minute detail of each lift. It only enhanced her presentation.
Recovery is often misunderstood and underutilized. Pearson, who is the only female Lead Instructor for ART in Europe, provided clarity in her thorough presentation. Pearson, who works with soccer teams and elite athletes in multiple sports at 1Body4Life, works with medical staffs and is also a continuing learner who travels the country to learn from the best doctors in the country. She went in-depth on nearly every recovery method at our disposal from hot and cold treatments to ART and massage, stretching and foam rolling and sleep, diet and meditation. So many times, and I’m guilty of this myself, we give recovery strategies just because we know it works, but couldn’t really explain the reasoning. I got the chance to listen to one of the best rehab specialists in the world thoroughly explain each type of treatment, give the reasoning behind why each is used and how to properly incorporate it. And, she presented all of this information in the simplest way possible. She certainly has the background to throw all of these fancy terms around, but, like any real great professional, she was more concerned about educating everyone. Listening to the depth of her presentation gave me flashbacks to some of the high-level presentations I heard at the SWIS Symposium.
After hearing from one of the best in strength training and one of the best in rehab, I got to see one of the best in athletic movement. Rodriguez, who I’ve heard speak before at the Speed and Power Summit, is an international human performance coach who has worked with teams all over the world and, most recently, was the Education Department Head for Team EXOS. She mentioned earlier in the day that she was trying to grow her social media presence and I just found that so hard to believe. Her follower count is nowhere near her coaching acumen and that’s just unacceptable.
What’s so entertaining about any talk Rodriguez gives is she is equal parts lecturer and coach. One minute she’s presenting, then, when she has to demo an exercise, this switch flips, the voice changes and she gets in coach mode. Even though she isn’t really “coaching” anybody at the moment, it is cool to get a glimpse of a high-level coach in action, even if its brief. What I loved about her presentation is I got expert insight on how to get the most out of every session with your athletes through her three layer system on teaching movement. Time and space are two things that work against me and she seemingly has a fix for everything. Like me, she considers every second and rep of a session valuable and none of it can go to waste. Whatever situation I thought of in my head, she came up with a solution during her talk. I’ve actually employed some of the plyo prep exercises she demonstrated with my youth athletes already.
Vaino, the owner of Custom Strength in Ottawa, closed out the event with a presentation that was part lecture, part hands-on on motor control. I haven’t seen a presentation on this before and it was big for me because it covered an area I encounter often: an athlete not “feeling” an exercise in the right areas. Vaino, who, like me, didn’t start off as a trainer, showed how she used her background in engineering to break down a movement and regress it to help show your athlete how to fire the proper muscles during a movement. This was refreshing because I’ve seen a well-known coach online say, “if you want to fix your squat, just f’n squat more.” Elsbeth actually gave me real answers to my questions. And, as an added bonus, I got paired off with Tocco, Rodriguez, Coach Kav and Allan Africa during the hands-on portion. We were suppose to each take turns “coaching” each other, but I was selfish and had them all coach me up. It’s hard to pass up an opportunity to learn different cues and techniques from four coaches I highly respect.
As you can see, the entire group of speakers was female. But, that wasn’t the main focus of this event. As Coach Kav said throughout the event, it was gathering of the best this industry has to offer in multiple areas. Taking out the names and just looking at the bios and information provided, it can be seen that this event covered all of the different aspects needed to run a successful business and was given by leaders in the field.