Connect to Fitness Conference

Yesterday I spent much of the day at the 2nd Annual Connect to Fitness conference here in Las Vegas.  Connect to Fitness is a network started by Dr. Darian Parker for fitness/health professionals in the area to connect with one another.  The conference was a day long event held at the Professional Fitness Institute with lectures and exercise demos.

I was a little bit bummed to realize that the exercise demos were full-length classes that happened concurrently with the lectures.  I wouldn’t have minded having 15-minute demos in between lectures so I could have learned more about them.  But as it was, I really wanted to go to the lectures and I am still recovering from bronchitis so taking part in several hour-long workouts throughout the day wasn’t really feasible.  But to recap the demos, here are the exercises that were demonstrated throughout:

I did see the tail-end of the Bulgarian Bag Training class as it was just before lunch.  It looked intense!
Check out the video on YouTube!

They had a professional photographer (Camilla Sjodin) who took headshots of each attendee, so I will receive web-ready versions in my email in a couple days.  I’m excited to get those, I can use them on the site for my “about” page… assuming I look alright in them!

They did provide lunch, sandwiches from Port of Subs.  They were on wheat bread and the condiments were on the side.  They had water for everyone and snacks of granola bars, nuts & fruit leather.  I would have liked to see a big bowl of salad or a fruit tray with lunch too… but that’s just me being nit-picky!

But on to the really interesting stuff, the lectures/presentations!

Keeping Clients Motivated While Avoiding Trainer Burnout by Michael Norwood, Ph.D, NSCA-CPT

I’ve heard Dr. Norwood speak before at our local Fleet Feet Store, but that was more from the perspective of motivating people to start or stay with a fitness program.  It was fun to hear him speak from a different perspective.  He’s a very smart and nice man, he just exudes a feeling of zen.  I wouldn’t mind working out with him sometime! He’d probably kick my butt, while doing it with kindness.

In fact, one of the things he talked about was using the sandwich technique: where you praise, correct, praise.  Example: Joe, you’re doing really well. Let’s focus on keeping our stride smaller and turnover light this time. Keep up the great work!

He also told us about the 55-38-7 principle in communication.  55% is body language, 38% is tone and 7% is the actual message.

The number one thing when working with a client is developing TRUST.    You need to maintain confidentiality, help them establish realistic goals, provide feedback, believe in them, praise them around others and correct them privately.

He talked about trainers that see a move on TV (i.e. Biggest Loser!) and try to immediately incorporate it into a client’s training without figuring out the proper build up to that move.  He used a whole progression that I found particularly useful for running:
Squirm > Wiggle > Crawl > Walk > Jog > Run > Sprint > FLY!

Impact of Exercise on Cancer Survivors by Hilary Harper, M.Ed, ACE-CPT, CHES

I was really excited to hear this one, simply because of my strong family history with cancer.  We learned in this that 70% of cancer deaths are related to lifestyle (smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, etc.) and that living well can postpone disease by 10 or 20 years.  This isn’t a be-all-end-all rule, because there is obviously still some level of genetic involvement that is at play, but taking care of yourself can definitely make the process less difficult.  My mom is a huge testament to that!

She showed us some stats from the CDC on obesity rates in the US… it’s kind of scary to see it illustrated in this way.  Putting a visual point of reference instead of just using numbers of pretty powerful.

We learned that exercise should be part of the treatment for cancer patients.  It doesn’t have to be super-intense, walking 2 or 3 times a week resulted in a reduction of 67 percent in breast cancer death rate.  Exercise reduces the risk of death in various cancers pretty significantly: Prostate by 20-30%, Colon by 50% and Breast by 30-40%.

She told us of a certification to help cancer patients/survivors with exercise/fitness.  I am really interested in that.  I had two women on my last Team Challenge team that were dealing with cancer, either with current treatments or having just finished treatments.  I like to think that I have a certain level of empathy/understanding of their trials since my family has had to deal with plenty of cancer, but I wasn’t fully aware of any precautions that I may have to take when coaching a patient.  This certification sounds really interesting, and if we can bring it to Las Vegas, I’m going to do it!

Biochemical Uniqueness by Angelique Marquez, RD

my genetic sequence
Image by CyberAndy via Flickr

A big focus of this presentation kind of flies in the face of things my dietitian tells me in eating disorder recovery.  However, I believe both approaches…

My RD tells me, “A calorie is a calorie is a calorie.”  Which is true, in terms of getting fuel and sustenance in the body.  If faced with a situation when my only option was to eat a food that was formerly on my “forbidden” list or no food at all, obviously I need to get food in to live.

This presentation focused on SNPs in our DNA strand that can cause you to metabolize foods different.  In this regard, a calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie.  If someone can’t produce the necessary enzymes to digest/absorb things they eat, they’re getting sicker with each day.  And I liked her definition of health, “Health is optimal gene expression.”  Yet another definition of health that has nothing to do with the size of jeans or weight on the scale!

Clarity, Focus and Flow: An Intro to Yours by Shelley Lynn

I loved this session… it’s exactly the kind of crunchy, granola stuff that I’m into!  But I think it’s really true too, so much of our culture is about losing touch with ourselves as opposed to being in tune with ourselves.

One of the first things she mentioned was that peak experiences, performance and energy comes from peak thoughts.  What we think can have an immediate change in our body.  In 125,000th of a second, a thought can trigger a lot of hormonal events that have a physical affect on our bodies.  A positive thought can trigger endorphins while a negative thought can increase cortisol and adrenaline.  (And apparently, adrenaline can be toxic t our bodies in large amounts.  We only produce about a thimble-full in our lifetimes, but if we’re constantly negative or under stress/duress we can produce more that messes with all of our internal systems.)

We talked about how the concept of  the third eye is actually real in the way people’s faces react when talking about or thinking about certain things.  If we talk about something we like/love our faces actually light up, that is a “Lights on” moment.  If we talk about things that bring us down, our faces actually physically display that and it is a “Lights off” moment.

The instructor gave all of us in attendance a coupon for a free one-hour consultation with her which I’m totally going to use.  I could definitely use a little more focus and clarity in my life!

Social Media Strategies for Fitness Professionals by Michelle Kruczynski, RYT 200
Social media revolution
This session didn’t necessarily teach me about any tools that are new to me, I’m already somewhat of a social media junkie and a major web nerd.  But there were some interesting bits of info and some good comparisons about etiquette on various networks.

First of all, some stats:
78% of people react on a referral from someone they know or trust.
92% of people prefer to have a referral first before making a purchase.
80% of consumers are now using social media to make purchase decisions.

Those are some pretty impressive numbers, considering most marketing measures are considered successful of they have a much smaller number for ROI.

I really like the comparisons Michelle made about what each main network is like.  First of all, if you use the same status update across the board on all of your social networks… STOP IT!  Take an extra 15 seconds and craft a message that is more tailored to that environment.

Facebook is like a BBQ: mostly it is friends that you know, but there is a chance to meet new people here.  Show your personality and use it to spread information about your personally and professionally.  Photos are key, but use discretion.  Make sure to post your professional information as that can open doors/conversations that you might have not had before.

Twitter is like a frat party: A lot less formal, a bunch of people you won’t know and you will probably be sharing all sorts of messages.  It was recommended that to be successful with Twitter as a marketing tool that you post about 15-20 times a day.

LinkedIn is like a black-tie event: This is the most formal, as it is all about business.  It was recommended that you regularly keep tabs on LinkedIn to track what you have been doing in your career.  Then if it does come time for you to work on your resume, you have a whole bunch of that information right at your fingertips as opposed to trying to remember everything.  I’m thinking I may have to try that, because I have to come up with a list of my yearly accomplishments each year.

In the world of Social Media, especially if you are using it to market a business (or yourself… you are your own brand!) you need to answer some questions to make sure you focus on the message you want to project:
Who am I talking to?
Who do I want to be talking to?
What interests this audience?
What can I offer?
Write down a strategy and stick to it!

Overall, this conference was totally worth the entry price (only $15) and then some.  I was entertained for a day, I got a bunch of new information to ponder (I love learning), have a whole new set of questions that I’m asking myself and I met some new people.  I really hope they do it again next year, because I am definitely interested in going!

Oh, and one other bit of good news that I learned at this conference… there is an Lululemon showroom in Summerlin now.  That is so much closer and easier to get to than heading down the The Strip and visiting Fashion Show Mall (which I rarely do) to shop.  Of course, this could introduce me to an expensive habit… unless the showroom experience is so stripped down from the full store that it’s not really worth my time.  But I will be checking it out!


  1. Thanks for sharing all this information. It sounds like the conference was really interesting! I’ve been thinking of signing up for coaching training through RRCA, and this makes me want to do it even more.

    Also, that Bulgarian bag training video was insane! I can’t imagine doing any exercise like that. Oof!

    • I think you’d be a good coach. Kind of along the lines of where I am… I think you could help spread a message of positive body image and health coming from a different area than just numbers!

  2. I’ve been trying to think about what is different about exercising as a cancer survivor as opposed to exercising as someone who has never had cancer. I really don’t think I do anything different than the other people who I exercise with. I’d be curious what they would teach in a cancer survivor exercise certification program. This sounds like an interesting conference, and the price definitely seems right. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • A lot of it is about knowing how to help people who are fresh out of treatment. Or taking note of things like measurements around the arms on patients who have had lymph nodes removed and if they swell too much, they need to back off. Also, things about what happened with their treatment. They talked a lot about breast cancer, so things that you discovered… about tightness in the chest after reconstruction, finding those spots and helping them to work on the flexibility/strength in those regions so they don’t develop imbalances in other areas from compensating. They mentioned the back is weakened after breast reconstruction too, and they encourage patients post-reconstruction to do little things like making sure they’re pulling their head back against the headrest in the car/desk chair or things like that, to work on keeping the back & back of neck engaged.

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