Notes from the Providence Summit- Part 1

Jun 22, 2022

     It has been several years since I've been to a Summit as life sometimes seems to get in the way but I saw the Providence lineup come out and figured it was time to get back there and immerse myself in the PB Summit experience again.

   As anyone who has attended one of these conferences can tell you these events are not only great educational opportunities they are also top notch networking opportunities. If you don't meet and get to know at least several new people at one of these events you are not only missing the boat but likely are in the wrong profession.

 I apologize in advance but there is so much information to convey that I don't think it can be done justice in just one post. And that is with a herculean effort to edit myself as much as possible!


Thursday June 22nd: I went to the Pre-Conference symposiums as per usual the line-up was stellar and not to be missed.

   I went to the Pre-Con 1 which was Gray Cook and Lee Burton's “Perspectives on Improving Our Physical Culture” which was a review of their history both growing up in a small town in Virginia, how they got started in the training business, the beginnings of the FMS and it's trials and tribulations, how they've refined the entire Functional Movement System with the addition of test protocols like the SFMA, the Y-Balance tests and lately the Functional Capacity Screen. Together this system of screens and tests provide a very comprehensive approach and look into what someone's physical literacy and capacity are currently. The idea then became how do they use that information gathered from the screens/tests to improve people's physical literacy and competency. By either accident or design they had some early adopters like Jon Torine of the Indianapolis Colts and Geralyn Coopersmith at Equinox health clubs that broadened their profile and exposure and the rest, as they say, is history.

   The 3rd Pre-Con was the inimitable Thomas Plummer doing his business fitness thing, with the topic this time being: “You Have Every Right to Live Your Dream”. The crux of the presentation was giving people the necessary information and steps to create and build their own training facility. Everything from real estate to leases to lay-out to financing to training memberships was covered. At the end he had some particularly valuable information on marketing and sales and the do's and don't s of those two most valuable aspects of business ownership. For without leads and new members/clients you have no business no matter how good you think your training skills may be.


Friday, June 23rd:

Nothing like starting off the Summit with one of the best in the business, Mike Boyle. Coach Boyle's topic was: “Training the Client with Pain” and the room was filled to capacity with over 500 people in attendance. Boyle mixed his usual blend of humor and pure common sense in delving into a topic that would seem to be so simple yet still eludes many people, both trainers/coaches and clients. It starts with the simple premise of asking the client, “Does it Hurt” and not taking anything resembling equivocation as an answer. It either hurts or it doesn't…it's not an open ended essay type question. He talked about the power of professionals, both coaches and medical pro's, to influence the entire pain question by their language and what they say to the client. Many health pro's and coaches/trainers are guilty of creating the Nocebo effect i.e. suggestions bringing about the negative effects that you're trying to avoid. So a good coach has to first ask the question, Does It Hurt, and then look, listen and observe body language if the client's movement tells a different story. In other words, the coach must pay attention.

In Boyle's opinion, the 3 most common areas of injury are the back, the hips and shoulders. The back pain industry is now a $80 billion annual business and shoulders and hips aren't lagging far behind.

Coach Boyle talked about where are the lines of scope of practice i.e. putting your hands on clients, etc. This is an area that can be debated, and has, and ultimately the coach must use both common sense and err on the side of caution. Then he talked about not being the coach that prescribes programming that he/she likes as opposed to what is best for the client as well as appropriate and safe. One of the maxims of training is that the coach should never hurt the client and if there is a regular occurrence of injury on your watch then you have a serious programming flaw and/or coaching issue. Could be either poor exercise choices, poor coaching of exercises or a combination of the two which makes for a bad situation to say the least.

Coach Boyle then dove into his thoughts on the value of teaching/coaching breathing, his core training tenets, some no-no's in the exercise world as the risk-reward isn't favorable for certain exercises and there are better alternatives that will get similar results without the inherent risk.

   This is a topic that we all should be familiar with because it's virtually impossible to have facility without some people being in some sort of pain. The question is how do you deal with them, move them forward without exacerbating the current issue? Boyle provided some key concepts on how to go about that process.

   My 2nd choice that day was Mark Verstegan's, founder of Exos, presentation on Training the Rotational Athlete. Verstegan had to back out at the last minute due to his father's health so he had Stefan Underwood stand in for him and he did a very good job. I ended up going to his Hands-On presentation as well to see how/what they implemented in their approach. Some key points included:

  • Everyone/every movement has a rotational component to it. Even gait which would seem to be entirely sagital plane has a rotational component to it. Stefan started off the presentation with a picture of an elite sprint race to illustrate his point.
  • Exos uses a 3 tier pyramid approach to establishing good movement starting with position, pattern and finally power. Alignment and posture (position) are the foundation to creating good movement.
  • In order to transfer power through the body to the extremities the core has to be able to stabilize and hold posture/position.
  • Good internal/external rotation of the hip are key to this transfer of power. Posting/blocking on the front side isn't possible without good internal rotation, for example. There are 37 muscles attached to the pelvis and 16 of them are geared towards internal/external rotation. That should inform your approach to training.
  • You must be able to absorb force before you can safely produce force. And thus your training program should reflect that concept. Build the brakes before increasing horsepower.
  • Train core in vertical, horizontal and diagonal planes as it must be able to create and absorb force in all 3 planes.
  • All of these concepts were then used in the hands-on session which followed after lunch. There was a very thorough warmup which was followed by more dynamic movements that started in the sagital plane and moved to the frontal and finally transverse plane. The emphasis was always on good movement not just movement for movement's sake which is too often the case.


Finally, I saw Don Saladino's presentation, “Who is Running Your Business?”. Some of the key take-away's here were:

  • Dream big but start small: you can always expand/grow when ready but if you get in over your head early in the game that may be hard to overcome.
  • What is your marketing message? You need clarity and something succinct. Can you do your “pitch” on an elevator ride? And remember that you can't be all things to all people. That is hard for many to grasp.
  • Too many hats? Learn to delegate. No one does everything well nor is there enough time in the day.
  • Social Media: this was one of the key points throughout the weekend, actually. If you're not using social media to market your business then you are missing the boat plus lots of potential clients. Saladino suggested 3-5 posts daily and he personally does more than that. Don't talk like a doctor but engage people in laymen's terms.
  • Get input from your clients/fans: then use that feedback to improve your business. And remember you should have built a team by now that will help you in implementing these suggestions and practices.


Part 2 will cover some of the highlights of the rest of the weekend. I apologize to those presenters not covered in my review but one simply can't be in all places at once. At least I can't! And as anyone who has been to one of these great events well knows there are very good speakers presenting simultaneously in any given 90 minute slot.