Reviewing the PTDC Hybrid Training Seminar: What I Learned (And Stuff)

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WHEW…what a weekend! The first annual Personal Trainer Development Center Hybrid Training Seminar was a ginormous success, and a huge kudos goes out to Jon Goodman for pulling it off with flying colors.

I had every intention of writing a review yesterday (Monday), but to be honest my brain was complete mush trying to digest all the information I acquired.  And, there was just a teeny tiny bit of sensory overload having to be “on” all weekend – but it was all WELL worth it, and all I needed was a good 24-hours to allow my brain to chillax.

All told I believe 50+ fitness professionals made their way to Toronto to listen to a bunch of fitness dudes – Jon, myself, Nick Tumminello, Mark Young, Geoff Girvitz, and Dan Trink, respectively – talk about, well, fitness.

Between Saturday and Sunday, there were 13+ hours of “learnin” going on, where an entire bevy of topics were covered ranging from assessment, core training, and marketing with social media, to fat loss training, group training, motivation, and realizing how much of a brick shit house Dan Trink is.

Seriously, I’m generally used to being the gratuitous jacked bald guy in the room, but I think Dan took the Mr. Clean award of the weekend.  Jerk!

All kidding aside, based off the initial feedback given by all the attendees who were there, I’d say this past weekend was the combined equivalent of going to Disney World, winning the lottery, and that immense feeling of relief you get when you’re finally able to pee after holding it in for so long (<— don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Yeah, it was THAT good.

So, rather than write a Tolkien’esq long dissertation on my experiences and everything I learned this past weekend, I decided I’d just approach this as I would one of my “Miscellaneous Mondays” posts.  Which is to say:  random as shit.

1. Although I’ve been flying a lot more frequently within the past year or two due speaking engagements (as well as traveling for pleasure), I still have to say:  I enjoy flying about as much as I enjoy taking a drop kick to the nut sack.  Even more so when find out upon arrival to the airport that the flying death trap I’ll be riding is powered by propellers.


Regardless, big props goes out to Porter Airlines for a seamless flight to and from Toronto. Well done ladies and gents.  Well done.

2. Nick Tumminello and I shared the spotlight on Saturday and both held a “pre conference” where we discussed both assessment and core training.  The night prior, Nick and I decided that I should start the whole shindig off and speak first since I was covering the assessment component.

Sitting in the hotel room the morning of, I thought it would be cool to have my own entry music – like Dave Tate.  I remember going to listen to him speak back in 2006 in Syracuse, NY and how he had this awesome video montage playing with AC/DC blaring over the loud speakers as he paced back and forth in front of the crowd with a death stare.

For those who have never seen Dave speak:  he’s kind of an intense dude.

I figured I could do the same, and enter the room while something awesome like Biggie’s “Big Poppa” was warming up the crowd.

Then, after thinking about for seven seconds, I realized I’m not Dave Tate and that it would be dumb.

3. All I have to say about Nick Tumminello – other than being a class act, and one of the more knowledgable fitness professionals out there (my man is wicked smaht) – is that he’s an absolute Jedi when it comes to public speaking.  His enthusiasm and passion for what he does is unparalleled, and I can only hope to be 1/8 the public speaker he is in the future.

Also, if you ever get a chance to listen to him speak about the psoas (yes, the psoas), it will blow…… your…… mind.

4.  During his Hybrid Fat Loss presentation, Nick gave a brilliant definition of what “hybrid training” actually is, courtesy of JC Santana:

“Function vs. Strength, Pilates vs. Bodybuilding, Yoga vs. who knows what. These comparisons are not ever accurate; they are like asking what do you think is best to eat for optimal nutrition; apples or broccoli? Of course, “both” is the right answer. Eating only one or the other, although each is nutritious, leaves one without the nutrition of the other. Bringing this simple example to the world of physical training drives home a very important point. Every training method has its benefits (i.e. nutrition), and combining the most effective training methods (i.e. combining the apple and broccoli) will provide better training than exclusively using any one training method. Now, this may sound logical and sensible to us, but the battles and claims rage on between different training camps.”

In short:  EVERYTHING works.  EVERYTHING is a tool.  The key, then, is to figure out which tool is right for a certain job. No one tool is right for EVERY job.  Yes, I’m talking to you Mr. Kettlebell guru.

4.  According to Nick (and I kinda agree with this): the main difference between a “fat loss” program and a “strength based” program is…….


I love Nick’s explanation he gave.

“What do you do for fat loss?”

Nick:  exercise

“Well, what about if you want to get stronger?”

Nick: exercise

Sure there will be some subtle variabilities in terms of rest time, set/rep schemes, etc, but the main “crux” of the matter – when it comes to FAT LOSS – is nutrition.

5.  Jon Goodman had a million and one brilliant things about mastering social media and using it to your advantage as a fitness professional.  The Cliff Notes version:

  • Don’t be a spammer.  Ie:  don’t cold invite people into your Bootcamp group.  It’s shady, and is an easy way for someone to want to punch you in the throat.
  • Don’t “tag” people in your posts with their permission.
  • In order to be relevant you need:  likes, clicks, shares, and profile views.  ALL will help you.  Not one or the other.
  • As far as monetization is concerned:  one “friend” = $2. I did not know that.
  • Understand that your message will be shared by the already converted.  Cater to them.  If you’re a blogger, write your posts with this in mind.  Don’t write for YOU (although, it’s okay to do so), but write for them!  People want to read what THEY want to read, not what YOU want to read.
  • This picture pretty much sums it all up:

6. Mark Young started off his presentation with an interesting question to all of us”

“How many in this room are in the best shape of their lives?”

For the record:  NO ONE lifted their hand.  Not even Dan Trink that jacked bastard….;o)

Knowing that no on raised their hand, Mark then asked another question:

“How many feel it’s due to a lack of education?”

Listen, we all know that pounding down an entire bag of Doritos before beg or what mounts to taking a bath in a bowl of M&Ms isn’t the best choice for our health.

Why do we do it, when we KNOW better?

To answer that query, Mark made a reference to the excellent book Switch: How to Change When Change Is Hard.

In in it the authors – Chip and Dan Heath – tell the story of the Elephant, Driver, and the Path.

Think of the elephant as your “emotional” brain (I want it and I WANT IT NOW!!!!!!), the driver as your rational brain (no, it’s probably not a good idea to dominate that cheese lover’s pizza right now), and the path, is well, the path.

All freaking day your rational brain (driver) is trying to steer the elephant (emotional) down a certain path.

Think of it this way.  Many of you reading right now are probably trying to shed a few pounds of fat, and in an effort to do so, you brought a kick-ass salad to work with you today.  Hell, you even omitted the croutons.

You’re making an effort to eat healthier, and that should be commended.  Good for you.

Thing is, how many billboards or signs did you pass today telling you to buy the latest snack food?  Moreover, how many times has one of your colleagues brought in a baked good (Oreo mudpie!!!!!!) to share because it’s someone’s b-day or because it’s Wednesday?

And, throwing more salt on the wound, by the time you’re on your way home (after a 13 hour day no less), you’ve been fighting off the elephant for so long, that the idea of going home to grill a chicken breast sounds about as enticing as sandpaper.

You can’t fight will power forever, and the elephant inevitably wins.  You violently turn your steering wheel to the right and  switch lanes – Jason Bourne style – into the Burger King drive-thru.

Sound vaguely familiar?

They key, then, to fixing these horrendous default patters (hitting the fast food joint instead of cooking a homemade meal) is to give your clients another default pattern that will help them become successful.

As an example.  Maybe instead of crushing Bacon Double Whoppers, you could encourage them to go to a “healthier” fast good alternative.  Say, Chipolte Mexican Grill!

At least there they can order a meat salad with a heaping scoop of guacamole, which is a far cry from the heart attack they’re ordering elsewhere.  Annnnnd one!

7.  Another point which I felt Mark nailed on the head was that in order to change behaviors, we can’t inundate our clients with a laundry list of tasks to do.

Rather than telling people that they need to spend half their Sunday going grocery shopping and prepping food, and that they can ONLY eat carbs on even days (and only after training), and that they should use coconut oil when cooking everything, and oh yeah, don’t forget your fish oil, enteric coated!………

…..why not just focus on ONE behavior and see how confident they feel in achieving that goal?

Ask them on a scale of 1-10, how confident he or she feels about heading to the gym twice per week.  If they say anything less than an eight, then it’s too much and you need to re-assess.

Much like how we incrementally increase the weights on a barbell when we try to get someone to a 400 lb deadlift so that we don’t overwhelm them, we also need to incrementally increase “goals” when trying to help someone change a behavior.

8.  Joke of the weekend:

Q: How do you know someone is Paleo?

A:  They’ll tell you.


9.  Geoff Girvitz, owner of Bang Fitness in Toronto had a profoundly simple, yet profoundly profound statement:

“Get people pain free and moving well.”

When fat loss is the goal, there’s absolutely no need to throw advanced training techniques at people.  Instead of high rep snatches – which I’d argue is borderline criminal anyways – why not implement less ambiguous exercises like Prowler pushes?

10.  As far as periodization in the group training realm is concerned, according to Jeff, that’s a shit show (my words, not his.  Although, I’m sure he’d agree).  When dealing with a population that is already stressed to the bones there is a delicate balance between increasing work capacity and making people feel like they’re going cough up their liver, and overloading the central nervous system.

It’s important to recognize that sometimes you just need to tone it down a bit

11.  To that end, Geoff made everyone in the audience swear an oath that:

Not Every Single Session Must Crush the Bodies and Spirits of My Clients

12.  Lee Boyce and I arm wrestled for the last piece of sushi on Saturday night during the social gathering:

13.  Did I mention Dan Trink was kind of a large human being?  He’s a large human being.  And, quite frankly, one of the most generous and humble human beings I’ve ever met.  Anyone who lives in NYC would be crazy not to seek this guy out to make them a walking wrecking ball.  And, he’s also a programming warlock.  The main knows hows to write brutal (and efficient) fat loss programming.

I’ll just end with saying a HUGE thank you to everyone who attended and who went out of their way to introduce themselves to me.  It was truly an honor to be including in such an amazing event, and I hope to do it again next year (ahem, Jon).

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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