The Chicago PerformBetter 4 Day Summit Review

 And finally, we get to kick off my review of the 4 Day PerformBetter Summit (technically it's labelled as a 3 Day Summit but offers an extra day free, which of course I attended). Because so much happened over the 4 Days it would take me ages to put it all in one post so I'll split it into 4 posts, one for each day. 

A quick note to say I will of course be sending my subscribers all the recordings and more, so if you haven't already, get to the Community section and put in your email. 

And so I began the conference with a two train and and 10 minute walk to the McCormick Place Convention Centre, which I had just found out was the biggest convention centre in America. Which left me sincerely hoping that they kept all their talks within the one building!

Thankfully, they did and the registration was painless. Credit to PerformBetter for setting up such a great experience. And with the registration finalized, the conference kicked off with Gray Cook and Greg Rose's talk entitled; "3 Principles you can apply to any movement". And so begins my review.

3 Principles you can Apply to Any Movement by Gray Cook & Greg Rose

Behind the Magician's Screen

Okay, so anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes knows that I'm not a fan of Functional Movement Screen. Hence the subtitle above (See what I did there!). But, when travelling to the talk I made a solemn vow under God, Jesus and Satan (just to cover my bases), to go into Gray's talk with an open mind. After all, his system has undoubtedly changed the way fitness professionals look at training, and FMS is not without its uses (a fact I've never disputed). So I was interested to hear what it's creator had to say, regardless of any disagreements I have with the system or how its used (or overused) today.

And wow I couldn't have gotten a more comprehensive experience in the two hour talk. It included Gray's talk, Greg's talk, myself being brought up in front of the entire room and being tested with the FMS and assessed by Cook and Rose, and a final Q&A with both speakers.

So Gray started the talk with the usual spiel. Don't train for ego, ensure good movement quality, don't load dysfunction. Blah blah blah. My first surprise in retrospect was that he didn't attempt to address the recent studies that attempted to correlate FMS scores with Injury prediction, aside from merely stating that his tests were not meant to be used for Injury Prevention, merely as a starting point to identify imbalances. However, they then started talking about how safety in developing clients come first and how to apply the three principles of Protect - ensure the athlete remains Injury free, Correct - employ methods to minimize any Muscle imbalances and prevent any future problems, and Develop- Finally when injuries are a distant worry, then work on developing Strength, Speed, etc. A principle I found myself thoroughly agreeing with. They then ran through how to explain to a client why you may have to focus on corrective work so heavily initially, saying to remind them that it's a long term process that Injury shouldn't be allowed disrupt. Although I did wonder why they didn't address the fact that it is possible to include Injury Prevention in a developmental program. Rose then went into recognition of whether a clients pain or issue was a result of the environment the athlete is in (something they're doing) or due to the athlete themselves (disease, inherited musculoskeletal issue). By the half way point of the talk I was actually looking forward to a great Injury Prevention and movement correction talk. But instead, Gray then jumped into the whole natural movement Bullshit! He actually spent 5 minutes talking about how any of us would have been bested athletically by Tarzan! Tarzan! His justification being that Tarzan survived natures test which were better than any artificial Conditioning created by humans. Let's leave aside the fact that Tarzan was a fictional character. Even if he wasnt, he would have most likely been killed by polio, the flu, rubella or any of the hundred diseases that we're vaccinated against. But that's not what he meant right?! He's speaking athletically. Fair enough. How long do you think Tarzan's joints would have held out with all the running jumping and inefficient landing he did? Not to mention if he got an injury. See many clinics in the jungle? Me neither!

This was only the start of where our disagreements began. Cook actually asked for two volunteers to demonstrate the efficacy of FMS testing. And wouldn't you know it, I got picked. So we ran through the battery of tests, with my left side showing signs of greater tightness than my right (makes sense, thats my jab arm) and my Hamstrings showing signs of tightness, again making sense seeing as how I never do much full range moving with my legs, being a boxer, everything is short steps. But here's where things got weird. Gray stood me in front of the hall and basically asked what my goals were. I stated it was to improve technical Performance and skill acquisition. I also stated that Injury Prevention was always something I kept in mind. Normal enough. Gray asked me if I felt I was strong enough physically when against an opponent. I said I thought so. He asked if I felt fast enough. I sad yeah. He then asked if I ever had much difficulty with fitness. I said not usually. 

But then things got strange. He then asked me how I thought I would fair if I wrestled my opponent to the ground and started a grappling match. I was a bit taken a back but I said I felt I wouldn't fair that well considering I've never trained in grappling techniques before. He nodded as if he was diagnosing a problem and then asked me an even stranger question, how do I feel I would perform in a work thing match with my opponent?! I said I don't usually Sprint because of my tight Hamstrings and then he nodded again. At this point I couldn't help but feel I was being asked loaded questions here. He then asked me to perform a few movements and asked if I could feel pain. I said no. He then kept asking if I was sure. I eventually said I felt a bit of tightness bug no pain. Both him and Greg Rose didn't seem to like those answers because they then went on to explain how some Athletes can be too proud to admit if they feel pain, or try to justify it away. After explaining that I clearly had some Mobility issues (based on my denial, as Gray put it) I was asked to sit down and the other volunteers were assessed in, what I thought, was a similarly biased way. When I brought up the point that I haven't been injured in 3 years and none of my clients have either, despite performing poorly on some of the FMS tests, they explained how my clients must have been using their poor Mobility or stiffness to "rush through" certain movements like the Back Squat and that problems could occur later on down the road (funny because some of my clients have been with me Injury free for 3 years now). However, Gray did raise an interesting point about Boxers, saying he found they usually have forward flexed necks and that soft tissue work along with farmers carries could help (Although he did recommend Farmers Carries as a remedy for literally every imbalance he talked about. Yet another issue I had with the talk).

Gray and Greg then wrapped up the talk by summarizing the Protect, Correct and Develop Principles, and the importance of ensuring whether the pain or limitation a client is feeling is due to them or their environment. It's worth noting that there was no mention of hereditary joint shape (such as taking into consideration if a client has deep or shallow hips) or ligament length or joint laxity, every problem regarding posture a person had was labelled as a muscular length tension problem that could be detected with the FMS. Which was a gaping hole in the talk and the subject of body alignment and posture as a whole!

Overall, I was pretty disappointed at how the talk went considering it started so well and the basic principles they were trying to preach arevgood principles, in my opinion. Just a shame that Cook & Rose seemed more interested in overemphasizing the value of the FMS screen over an integrated view of the FMS screen and associated corrective exercise could Augment development.

Rick Mayo: Building Your Dream

Rick brought the Flair

After a fifteen minute break, that was very welcome, the business-oriented talk with Rick Mayo began. Truth be told, going in I didn't even know who this guy was. Only finding out halfway into the talk that the guy runs the most profitable gyms per square foot in North America (North Point Gyms), not to mention a gym licencing and business consultation company. This guy was arrogant, foul-mouthed, crude and one of the best damn speakers at the entire conference. If he wasn't maiking a point about business practices, he was sharing his last experiences with certain business tactics or cracking one of many hilarious jokes throughout the talk.

He started the talk by introducing who he was and started into a story about how he came to realise he had finally reached his entrepreneurial goals, by being locked out of his gym (because his staff changed the locks) and having to deal with the police (because they installed a new alarm as well), his point being that his gym had finally become self-sufficient.

He then went into a number of brilliant marketing ideas, from developing a marketing calendar for Facebook Posts on the business page to using emails and texts to try and attract back old clients, via messages offering deals and discounts for past clients and delivering marketing care packages to other businesses under the guise of a "Business of the Month" award.

He then went into the size of a personal trainer's facility and the best focus for each facility size. For example, if the facility is under 3,000sq. ft. the best play is to run personal training or small group training, however, if the facility is larger, then Personal training AND group classes were recommended. 

He also gave a few tips on personal development, one tip being to, each day, write down five tasks that you will accomplish each day.

Fast forward through a few extremely funny videos making fun of current fitness trends and he then went into the process of hiring people, emphasizing that he was "the dumbest person on his team". Throughout an hour and a half of talking this guy never lost the interest of the audience. Wrapping up his talk with the usual quick company advertisement, it was hard to believe that Mayo had compacted so much into a ninety minute talk. Where Cook's talk dragged in places, Rick cleverly alternated between humour, sharing experiences and giving solid business tips. Overall, it was hard to stay away from his second talk later that weekend, though I had to because one of my favourite speakers was on at the same time. When it came to giving business talks, Rick may have picked the perfect Secondary job.

nd with the end of Mayo's talk, that concluded Day 1 of the Seminar. I'll be writing up on Day 2 soon enough. Though in the interest of keeping things fresh I'll be posting a few more science and coaching focused articles in the meantime. And if you're interested in receiving the recording of all the talks I attended in the meantime, just subscribe and add me on Dropbox ( Just be aware that you'll need to subscribe first to get the recordings.

So, until the next post,

Stay Fit.