Become a “Conference Commando”

I just came back from attending the National Strength and Conditioning Association‘s annual conference. On my return, people ask, “How was the conference?” Hmmn? Let’s talk about what I actually get out of attending a live conference or clinic (Live offers so much more than online).

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Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, has written about being a “Conference Commando” or, going into a conference with a definite battle plan to get the most out of the conference.

So, what should you get out of a live conference or clinic?

Learn from the sessions. Naturally, the conference sessions are what most people think of when attending an event. This is where a lot of up-to-date information can be found and you should absolutely make sure that the program fits your learning needs.

Choose your presenters. The speakers are another thing to consider. A bad presenter can make it challenging to learn even if the material they are presenting is good. (Attending a session by Tudor Bompa, “the father of sports periodization” comes to mind. I’m sure it was great information, but he put me to sleep and I honestly missed most of what he said.)

Connect with your presenters. Now, beyond those first couple obvious reasons, you should also attend live events to connect with presenters that you liked and that inspired you. Stay after the session to ask further questions or just introduce yourself and thank them for what they just shared. Most presenters really appreciate hearing that and may strike up a conversation with you. Ask if you could email them an additional question or two and if they agree, you now have a new, trusted resource for information. If you nurture that relationship, you may also find yourself with a mentor who can help guide you in your career.

Connect with manufacturers. Most conferences and many clinics will have an exhibit hall or trade show. Here you can see and try new equipment, sample supplements (I often live on trade show protein bars. LOL), and connect with the manufacturers or distributors. Ask them questions about their products. See if they are right for you and/or your business. They will often have conference discounts too, if you’re interested.

Connect with other attendees. I find networking with peers one of my favorite things about attending live events. Discussions between the scheduled sessions about the topics presented, training modalities, business issues, and just getting to know other like-minded people can be so rewarding. Take contact information, connect on social media, stay in touch. Fellow attendees can also turn out to be mentors, general sounding boards, and, as I’ve found to be often the case, lifelong friends.

The key to becoming a “conference commando”, however, is to plan ahead. Go to the conference with a plan. What sessions will you take? What presenters do you want to meet? What products do you want to check out. Finally, plan on where and when you can connect with your peers. Then, execute that plan and come home with far more than just what can be learned online.

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Time to Huddle Up

I was a football offensive lineman (tackle in high school and guard in college). Before a play, we would huddle, or get in a tight circle and lean in to hear the quarterback tell us what the next play was. Then we would line up and execute it. Huddle

I just received an email advertising “Huddles”. They explained that these were  intimate gatherings where professionals could discuss the state of the industry (could be any industry) and come up with strategies to build their business and push the industry forward.

I LOVE THIS IDEA!

As I prepare to go to the NSCA National Conference in Indianapolis, IN, one of the things I look forward to most is the networking in small groups (huddles) with other fitness professionals and talking about the issues and challenges that we all face and coming up with possible solutions. No matter how knowledgable we think we are, we can’t think of everything, and discussions with other like-minded individuals can lead to bigger and better ideas.

This email got me thinking. Why not “huddle up” with the fit pros in your area to help create a stronger message to your community about the importance of living a healthy, fit lifestyle? I know many of you will immediately dismiss the idea because you believe that you would be helping your competition (you would, btw). But, here’s the thing. With a more powerful, cohesive message, coming from several sources, you’re more likely to engage your community and more likely to increase business for all of you. So, it may help your competition, but it will help you too. What’s the result? The result is a more healthy community (which, hopefully, is what we’re in this business for).

Reach out to managers or other key people from local gyms, clubs, studios, etc. You can organize a group marketing campaign, fitness event, or help some charity together. There are all kinds of ways to join forces.

Now, call for a huddle, come up with the play, and then execute it!

TOP 10 TRAITS OF SUCCESSFUL PERSONAL TRAINERS: #1

#1 Successful Personal Trainers – Know the Up-to-Date Exercise Science.

Now, this is #1, not because it’s the most important (although it is essential), but because it’s often what Personal Trainers think is the only thing they need to be successful. So, I just want to get it out of the way and move on.
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Yes, if you’re a Personal Trainer, you need to know your science. In fact, if you are going to position yourself as an expert in exercise, you had better make sure you can bring it. Your clients will never reach the results they could if you can’t create safe, effective programs to get them there.
Whether you have a degree or a certification or both, your education should never end. Research changes the answers more frequently than many of us care to admit. i.e. Fact: the way to lose body fat is to do cardio… Not any more. Fact: HIIT is far more effective in fat loss.

Successful Trainers know the science. They are perpetual students, go to conferences, clinics, take classes, read journals. Never assume that exercise science is static and that you know enough.

Check out the full series.

Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #1
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #2
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #3
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #4
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #5
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #6
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #7
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #8
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #9
Top 10 Traits of Successful Personal Trainers #10

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