Musings on a Fitness Convention



I attended over 15 sessions and learned a ton of excellent programming, nutrition and motivational hacks at last weekend’s SCW Florida Mania Convention.   I’m always humbled and inspired by the speakers at these conventions.  They are top-notch fitness professional who have a deep understanding of exercise physiology, nutrition, business and psychology.  Many people assume fitness professionals get into the business so they can work out all the time.  The truth is we get into this business because we have a passion for helping people.  Compassion is in every successful trainers tool box.

Though many of the sessions were Group Ex and choreography based, I did take a few exercise science, nutrition and mindfulness classes and I wanted to share my top favorite take-aways  with you.  Please enjoy the read my friends.

Keynote Address

Irene Lewis-MCCormick Key Note Speaker

Irene Lewis-MCCormick
Key Note Speaker

The Keynote speaker was Irene Lewis-McCormick, a fitness veteran with an impressive resume:  author, educator, Master Trainer, etc.  Her keynote was on promoting “The Attitude of Gratitude”.  Though she directed the address to fitness professionals, her overall message is applicable to everyone:  Attitude and Gratitude go hand-in-hand.   Here are the highlights of her message:

  • Smile, It increases your face value
  • Interrupt anxiety with gratitude. Even if you are having a really rough day, find one thing to be thankful for, e.g. at least the weather is nice today.
  • Learn people’s names and use them. It’s a skill and can be learned.  She didn’t go into detail, but I always try to repeat the name of the person I’m introduced to, use it at least once, e.g. “What a lovely sweater, Julia”, and try to associate her name with something, e.g., Julia has red hair, just like my neighbor, whose also called Julia.
  • Engage with people. Say “hello”, hold a door open, help someone with their packages etc. Also, don’t fake caring. Be interested when someone talks about their weekend.
  • Journaling has been scientifically proven to create positive feelings, help you sleep better, improve health and lengthen life.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, just write down what you did that day or your thoughts and feelings.  Entries can be long or short.  The reflection forces you to pay attention to good things in your life.

Joint Friendly Strength Training

This session was presented by Nick Tumminello,

Nick Tumminello

Nick Tumminello
Performance University

owner of Performance University, author and fitness expert.  The jest of the message is that people often go to trainers because they want to improve their fitness and look better.  Unfortunately, if they have pain they are often unable to do standard exercises.  Today’s trainers are well versed in postural assessments and often focus on trying to fix their clients pain and create more efficient movement patterns rather than provide clients with effective workouts to meet their fitness goals.  Though the trainers are well-intentioned, this “corrective exercise trap” leads to frustrated clients who aren’t meeting their fitness goals  Mr. Tumminello said, “Studies do not support the claim that posture relates to pain patterns”.  Furthermore, people who are in pain, generally improve regardless of the exercise format they start.  (I mentioned something similar to this in my blog    Mr. Tumminello wrote an article called the “Corrective Exercise Trap” for Personal Training Quarterly.    Article appears on page 6 of this PDF:

This session hit home with me as  I do FMS (Functional Movement Screening, reference link if you are unfamiliary with this assessement

with my clients and it made me wonder if I was getting into  “paralysis by analysis” when I spend so much time trying to correct imbalances that I lose sight of increasing their fitness.  It comes from a caring place, but sometimes “you just need to move”.  Since my clientele consists primarily of woman from 30 to 60, there are often issues with knees, back and shoulders. Mr. Tumminello gave some excellent takeaway exercise alterations for some common gym movements:

  • Lunges: Either reverse lunges (one of my favorite lunge modifcations) or a modifield forward lunge with a small step to the front and a forward lean to activate more posterior muscles and fewer quad (pic 1).

    Modified Lunge

    Pic 1 Modified Forward Lunge

  • Squats: If you have a bad back, single legged squats allow you to increase the load on the legs without increasing load on spine.  For example, if you squat holding two 25 pound DB’s, the load on each leg is 25’s and 50’s for the back.  If you go to one leg, the load on the leg is 50 pounds, and the load on the back stayed at 50 pounds.    Another hack is to do a single leg half squat/half deadlift.   (Pic’s 2 & 3). Avoid forward leans, like you would do to alleviate knee pain.

    Pic 2 Single Leg Deadlift

    Pic 3 Single Leg Squat

  • Presses: For people with shoulder pain, tubing chest presses usually work well and don’t produce pain. (Pic 4)

    Pic 4 Tubing Presses

  • Other: Mr. Tumminello is a huge fan of Sled Pushes (Pic 5). It’s an effective strength and conditioning exercise for anyone who has knee, back or shoulder pain.

    Pic 5 Sled Push

  • He also likes doing HIIT (Hi-intensity interval training) on a bike to build leg strength.  In my experience the best bike HIIT protocol is 80 to 100 RPM at a very high resistance for twenty to thirty seconds, with recovery of 10 to 30 seconds, repeated for up to ten minutes.

Graceful Strength and Dancer Body Sculpting

This was a Barre class presented by Kelli Roberts,

Keli Roberts

who like Ms. McCromick, is an industry icon with multiple Master trainer credentials and a deep knowledge of Group Exercise programming.  I teach Barre, so I took the class to learn some new moves, I could take back to my students.  I was not disappointed and if you take my Barre class, you are in for some fun, new programming.  Ms. Roberts, also clarified a few points about strength training, especially as it applies to females:

  • A strong muscle is a toned muscle.
  • Muscle length is genetic. You can’t sculpt long muscles.
  • Muscle tissue is lean, so when you build muscle, you become leaner.

She also discussed mobility and stability.  Uncontrolled mobility is a liability.  You need to balance stability and mobility.  From the foot to the head, you have joints that need to be stable and joints that need to be mobile.  This is the pattern:

  • Foot: Stable
  • Ankle: Mobile
  • Knee: Stable
  • Hip: Mobile
  • Lumbar: Stable
  • Thoracic: Mobile
  • Scapular: Stable
  • Glenohumeral: Mobile

Make sure your exercise programming promotes mobility in the mobile joints and stability in the stable joints.  For example, if you are doing an overhead press, you want the the Glenohumeral (shoulder joint) to be initiate the move, but you want the scapular to stay hugging the ribs.

Random Quotes

Elain Haan talking about Taichi:

Not meditation in motion, but medication in motion.”

Melanie Yoshida (me):

Subjects to controversial to talk about in casual conversation: politics, religion and anterior vs posterior pelvic tilts in Pilates style exercise protocols.

Nick Tumminello:  

“Fit exercises to individuals not individuals to exercises.”


Next month I’m going back to Orlando for an International Beauty Conference called “Premiere” as I’m currently in school to become a licensed Esthetician and Massage Therapist.  This will  be my first time at a Cosmotology Conference.  I’ll be avoiding the hair and nail seminars (sorry beauty aficionados), but I’m looking forward to learning more about esthetics, wellness, anti-again and massage therapy.

Stay hungry for knowledge my friends.