The JP Fitness Summit was the brainchild of Jean-Paul Francoeur, who happens to be a modern renaissance man and one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Each year a group of industry professionals and forumites descend upon a pre-determined U.S. city and talk fitness, life, and everything in between. This is their story.
Lou Schuler, the man, the myth, the legend, kicked off the day of presentations and set the bar for everyone else to follow. Lou’s talk focused on how a fitness enthusiast’s foray into the world of exercise and diet can be likened to the archetypal hero’s journey commonly found in mythology. I loved his talk for several reasons. First of all, it connected the English Literature part of my soul to my role as a fitness professional – didn’t see that coming! Secondly, he had pictures…of light sabers. Anytime that what I and millions of others across the globe are doing on a daily basis can be tied-in with images of light sabers and cheesy special effects noises, you’ve got my vote. Lou’s ability to connect the mundane to an epic hero’s journey while at the same time managing to not make us feel small and insignificant, but empowered and inspired, is why I loved his talk so much. I see what you did there, Lou, and I approve. High five!
Next up was the brofessor himself – Alan Aragon. If you’re don’t know who he is, you betta ask somebody! I don’t remember who introduced me to him, but all I know is that the end result was me turning down a night of debauchery to sit in my apartment on a Friday night and read as much of his research review as I could before surrendering to sleep’s sweet, sweet embrace. Now, before you assume that I am just an anomaly in the Matrix with an exceptionally high level of nerdery in my blood, let me say that this could easily happen to you! The way in which Alan writes his research review makes it easily palatable, and, dare I say, fun to read. Even if you aren’t into the nuts and bolts of the research, he provides you with enough brief take home points at the end of a section to make it worth your $10 a month. Check it out here.
But I digress.
In his presentation, Alan brought out the sledgehammah and demolished many of the dogmatic teachings that run rampant in the fitness world today in just 12 short slides. Not one to leave his audience hanging, he made sure to provide us with simplified, easily implementable solutions when it comes to goal setting in terms of body composition and macronutrient intake. He wrapped it up by highlighting a client of his who he prepped for a fitness contest in just 37 days while having him continue to consume allegedly dirty, filthy foods such as dairy and fruit.
Bringing us in to the pre-rib homestretch was Ryan Zielonka, who took the audience through his own fitness journey, detailing how he went from a short, ball of a man (his words, not mine!) to a lean individual and what he learned along the way. Out of all the presenters, I enjoyed Ryan’s talk the most, if for no other reason than his conversational style of presentation. He was able to poke fun at himself while at the same time conveying the message that he understood the big picture of weight loss and body transformation and wasn’t bogged down in the minutia. Given the nature of his talk, I find it funny that they had him lead us into lunch, where I unlocked the cage of my inner fattie and let him loose.
The next man up is going to do to the world of glute training what Sir Mix-A-Lot did to the rap game – Bret Contreras. Bret was the first person to go rogue in terms of his prepared presentation and spoke straight from the heart on some issues that had nothing to do with his presentation, and I loved every minute of it. Bret covered his concept of load vector training, which is just a sassy way of saying the direction of the resistance relative to the trainee, and how it relates to glute training. I can’t possible do him justice in such a short review, so please check out this exhaustive e-book on the subject.
And then there was Nick Tumminello. Nick’s conveyed the why and how-to’s of foam rolling and self myofascial release. As a trainer I thought I knew all that I needed to know on the subject, but Nick dropped some certified cerebral cocktails on the crowd and I would say that he was right up there with Alan in terms of providing information that anyone would be able to take home and apply immediately. He certainly has a unique approach that differs from what I’ve read and have used during my internship, so be sure to check out his website where you can preview a variety of his products to see if any of them fit your need state.
In the past when I’ve attended seminars, the environment seemed very sterile, often to the point of feeling like a press conference. You come in, sit down, listen to some smart people talk, ask a few questions, give dap to your fellow man and then you’re outta there in enough time to catch the first episode of the Golden Girls marathon on the Hallmark Channel (or so I hear). While I always walk away having learned something new, this kind of presentation leaves much to be desired in terms of interacting with the presenters. The JP Fitness Summit is an entirely different beast – homie don’t play that! There is simply no other seminar like it. Every night we while we were in Kansas City, there was an opportunity to go out on the town as a group and hang out with no pretentious barriers up between anyone. Honestly, where else are you going to be able to eat ribs with Lou Schuler and Nick Tumminello, talk Lord of the Rings with Alan Aragon and Ryan Zielonka, and have a gun showdown with Bret Contreras? Answer: only in your nerdiest dreams.
The next JP Fitness fun train is leaving the station May 2011, so make sure you’re on it, or regret it forever.