Home Posts tagged "Perform Better"

Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 30

I haven't written up a new installment in this series since last June, so it seemed like a good time to do so. With the professional baseball season underway, I've got plenty of stuff rattling around my brain.

1. The MFR Stick is an absolute game changer.

In the past, we used "The Stick" for self-myofascial-release of the forearms, triceps, and biceps.

It works pretty well, but we've broken a number of them over the years when certain meatheads got a bit overzealous with their soft tissue approaches, and it exploded. Additionally, guys always seem to want to take dry swings with it, and the beads would invariably come flying off and wind up all over the facility.

Luckily, Perform Better came through in the clutch this offseason with the release of the MFR Stick.

Athletes have raved about how much better it is, from the greater feedback provided by the steel, to the reduced "give." And, it's far more durable. This is a must-have for any gym, in my opinion. Pick one up here.

2. Not surprisingly, music selection matters - but with a few key considerations.

It's hard to overlook the beneficial effects of music on exercise performance, whether considering your own anecdotal experience, watching Michael Phelps throw on his headphones before a big race, or actually reading the research. If you actually dig a little deeper, a few important "asterisks" emerge:

a. The benefits tend to be more significant in shorter, more anaerobic tasks, as opposed to lengthier aerobic endeavors (study).

b. Music is more impactful if it is self-selected (study).

c. Males tend to be more impacted by musical selection than females are (study).

d. Motivational music can lead to greater risk taking (study).

The take-home messages are that:

a) if you're a male powerlifter looking to make some really aggressive lifting decisions, you should select your music accordingly.

b) if you're a female cardio enthusiast going out for a leisurely jog, why are you reading this blog? music probably doesn't matter all that much.

c) everyone will continue to disagree over the musical selection at every gym for the rest of time.

3. The most successful coaches and rehabilitation specialists I know understand how to find the commonalities across various disciplines.

The Postural Restoration Institute and Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization approaches both utilize flexion-bias movements to restore normal function.

Both Muscle Activation Techniques and the Selective Functional Movement Assessment emphasize the importance of differentiating between passive and active range-of-motion, and understanding how to enhance motor control in the “gap” between the two.

Various pitching coaches may disagree on the utility of weighted balls or extreme long toss, but everyone agrees on the importance of quality catch-play.

My point here is that the best professionals have good filters to not only weed out the garbage, but to identify the best components of every discipline they encounter. And, they have the foresight to make sure that they don’t get married to a single school of thought, as doing so prevents you from identifying these important unifying themes.

Have a great week!

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/25/16

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Here's a little recommended reading from the strength and conditioning world to get the week started off on the right foot:

EC on the Movement Fix Podcast - Dr. Ryan DeBell had me on his podcast a few weeks ago, and we talked about everything from business to evaluations and programming for overhead athletes.

Recap of the 2016 Perform Better Functional Training Summit - Harold Gibbons wrote up this great review of the Perform Better presentations he attended recently in Providence. I've been presenting on the PB tour for ten years now, and I can honestly say that these events are the best value in continuing education in the fitness industry today. I'd highly recommend checking them out, if you haven't already.

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A Comparison of Different Commercial Models of Physical Assessment: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 - This outstanding series from physical therapist Doug Kechijian discusses the utility of three different clinical approaches - PRI, FMS/SFMA, and FRC - and how they all deserve a place in your comprehensive approach.

Top Tweet of the Week:

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Top Instagram Post of the Week:

 

In your life, you have friends, mentors, and people who change your life so immeasurably that neither of those two words can possibly do them justice. Alwyn Cosgrove falls into that third category for me. In my email account, I have a folder called "AC Stuff." It's a collection of literally hundreds of emails Alwyn sent me from 2005-2008 on topics relating to professional development and starting a fitness business. Without these invaluable lessons, there probably wouldn't be a @cresseysportsperformance today (let alone facilities in both MA AND FL). This generosity with his time and expertise was remarkable enough, but what makes these interactions even more incredible is that Alwyn was doling out this advice while he was beating Stage IV cancer for the second time. Between bouts of chemotherapy, he was passing along reading recommendations. As he prepared for his stem cell transplant, he was describing the ins and outs of semi-private training to me. If that's not the very definition of "selfless," I don't know what is. Always good to see you, buddy. You should get Instagram so that you can actually read this. :)

A photo posted by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

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Upcoming Strength and Conditioning Seminars…in Your Area?

I just wanted to use today's blog post to let you know about some upcoming strength and conditioning speaking engagements I'll be doing.  If you're like me, you always want to get these planned well in advance.
  • February 19, 2012: Fitness on the Field Baseball Clinic – Santa Cruz, CA. Email joey@paradigmsport.com for details.
  • March 30-31, 2012: International Youth Conditioning Association Summit – Louisville, KY. Click here for more information.
  • April 14, 2012: NSCA Maine State Clinic – Saco, ME.  Details TBA.
  • May 18-19, 2012: JP Fitness Summit – Kansas City, MO.  Click here for more information.
  • June 29 – July 1, 2012: Perform Better Functional Training Summit – Chicago, IL. Click here for more information.
I hope to meet some of you there!
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How to Deadlift: Which Variation is Right for You? – Part 3 (Trap Bar Deadlift)

Today marks the third and final installment of this series on which deadlift variation is right for you.  Part 1 focused on the Conventional Deadlift, while Part 2 covered the Sumo Deadlift.  Today, we'll talk about another fantastic option: the Trap (or Hex) Bar Deadlift.

At Cressey Performance, we use the trap bar for all our initial deadlift technique instruction with new clients, as it tends to be a very safe option for just about everyone.

Because the handles are to the sides (instead of in front) of the lifter, it doesn't take as much hip and ankle mobility to get down to the bar.  Most trap bars also come with two handle settings - one of which is a little bit higher so that those with limited mobility can still get down to deadlift with a neutral spine.  So, it saves you the time and annoyance of having to put the plates on top of some sort of riser to elevate the bar.

Additionally, because the lifter is positioned "inside" the bar, the load is horizontally closer to with his center of gravity (COG), whereas the resistance is usually more anterior to that COG on a conventional or sumo deadlift. Note the white line in this photo that depicts the position of the load relative to the hip - and imagine how it would be a few inches further to the left in a conventional or sumo deadlift.

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As a result, there is less shear stress on the spine and presumably more compressive stress.  Our spines generally handle compression much better than shear, so this simple repositioning of the resistance closer to the axis of rotation (hips) can dramatically improve "comfort" during deadlifts in those with a history of back pain (or those who are looking to avoid it).  You'll often see lifters who try to go right back to conventional deadlifting after lower back pain and wind up with recurring symptoms.  They'd be much better of transitioning with some trap bar deadlifts to "test the waters."

The only problems I see with trap bar deadlifts are pretty subtle ones - and both have to do with the fact that the bar really never comes in contact with the legs on the way up or down.  As a result, there is a tendency is novice lifters to try to squat the weight up and down - and this is not what should be taking place; it's a deadlift - which means "hips forward, hips back."  This first common problem can be quickly corrected by simply teaching the movement correctly with a good hip hinge.

The second concern would be those in significant posterior pelvic tilt who have lost the lordotic curve of the lumbar spine.  When one gets to lockout on a conventional or sumo deadlift, we cue them to activate the glutes and "hump the bar" to complete the movement.  In those with posterior pelvic tilt, that same movement to finish hip extension without the presence of a bar to stop them will often lead to them going into full posterior pelvic tilt and lumbar flexion under load in the upright position.  In other words, the hips come through too far.  This is another problem that can be easily fixed with cueing on when the hip extension should end, and what the upright position should look and feel like.

A lot of those reading this piece may not have access to a trap bar for performing this strength exercise, but to be honest, I can say without wavering that for most people, it's well worth purchasing. You can pick one  up HERE through Perform Better for just $144.95 plus shipping.  And, this bar is actually surprising versatile addition to a strength and conditioning program relative to what people think; you can do deadlifts with it, but also farmer's walks, overhead presses, and (if it's your thing) shrugs.

To see how all the deadlift variations fit into a comprehensive strength and conditioning program, check out The High Performance Handbook.

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17 Reasons I’m Excited for 2011

With the new year upon us, I got to thinking about how excited I am for all that 2011 has in store for me – and thought that it’d make for a good post to kick off the year.  Here’s why I’m excited: 1. Being Married – My wife, Anna, and I got married on October 3, and it was just the tip of the iceberg in a whirlwind year (new job for her, wedding planning, new house, new puppy).  Both of us are pretty excited for a low-key 2011 where we can just hang out and enjoy one another’s company!  And, we left our honeymoon for this year (I couldn’t escape for that long during the baseball off-season), so we’re excited about that.

2. The Continued Growth of EricCressey.com - I really enjoy writing, and each year, this website grows – which means I get to share my passion and interact with some very cool people.  Here were 2011’s year-end statistics for EricCressey.com: 450,791 unique visitors 1,106,748 visits 2,901,970 pages 2,730,922 hits Thanks to everyone who visited the site this year! 3. The book I’m reading now: The 4-Hour Body. Tim Ferriss has become a good friend, and I was fortunate enough to be one of those who received an advanced copy of The 4-Hour Body prior to publication.  With the crazy goings-on at CP as well as the holidays, I’m just now getting a chance to read through it and give it the time it deserves – and I must say that it’s fantastic.  Tim does an awesome job of providing “info-tainment;” his entertaining writing style will keep you reading, and the background research he put in to this book will guarantee that you walk away with some ideas that will immediately benefit you.

4. The book I’m reading next: The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. As with Tim’s book, I got a copy of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs in advance, but haven’t even had a chance to open it up.  As with any Cosgrove/Schuler collaboration, though, I’m sure it’ll be high quality and a huge hit.  I’m looking forward to checking it out.

5. Cutting Back on Travel – 2010 was a crazy busy year for me personally – from buying a house, to moving, to planning a wedding, to getting married, to getting a puppy.  These “firsts” wouldn’t have been tough to pull off normally, but it seemed like every time my wife and I encountered one of them, I was getting ready to hop on a plane to go do a seminar somewhere.  As such, I’ve started turning down a lot more seminar opportunities not because I don’t enjoy doing them, but simply because the travel wore me out in 2010.  I will, however, still be traveling some – but this year, it’ll be with my wife…and we’ll be traveling for fun! 6. Another Year on the Perform Better Tour – While I may be cutting back on seminar travel, I wouldn’t miss the Perform Better Summits for the world.  I’m still waiting on final confirmation of which cities I’ll get in 2011, but I can say definitively that these are some of the best continuing education opportunities in the fitness business and that I thoroughly enjoy all of them – from the information to the great people I always wind up meeting.  Hopefully, I’ll get to meet some of you in person thanks to Perform Better this year.

7. Continuing on my Postural Restoration Institute Journey – I’ve spoken a bit in the past about the Postural Restoration Institute and how it dramatically impacted the way we evaluate and program for many of our athletes and clients.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it has been some of the best continuing education money I’ve ever spent.  I’ve only gone through two of their seven courses, though, and am excited to learn more.  I’ve covered Myokinematic Restoration and Postural Respiration, and already on the agenda for 2011 is Impingement and Instability. If you’re a physical therapist, athletic trainer, or fitness professional and haven’t seen any of their stuff already, I’d highly encourage you to check it out. 8. The New Cressey Performance – I’ll have pictures of the newly-renovated Cressey Performance soon, but suffice it to say that adding 1,000 square-feet can go a very long way.  I’ve finally got my own office at the facility, which I know will make things a lot easier moving forward, but even beyond that, just getting a bit more space can really change the “flow” of the facility to make it more coaching friendly.  We see all sorts of articles and presentations on how to coach, but nobody ever considers how the set-up of your facility can make your coaching duties remarkably easier or more difficult. On top of that, Cressey Performance is busier than ever, with double digit percentage growth again in 2010.  Thanks to everyone for your continued support! 9. Relishing my Fantasy Football Championship – In the most impressive managerial run in Cressey Performance Fantasy Football history, I crushed the competition this year.  This trophy will reside on my desk for the entire year.  Those of you who visit CP can have your picture taken with it, if you’d like.

10. Doing more charity work – I’ve helped out here and there with various charities since I moved to Boston in 2006, but in 2011, I’m excited to do much more – and I’m in a position to do more now, too.  Nowadays, I can use my exposure and expertise a lot more to help – and thanks to my work with Kevin Youkilis, I can work directly with his great charity, Youk’s Hits for Kids. Along those lines, those of you in New England might be interested to check out his February 3 event at the State Room in Boston.  The CP staff will be there along with a bunch of pro athletes, Tony Gentilcore, actors, Tony Gentilcore, musicians, Tony Gentilcore, comedians, and Tony Gentilcore.  For more information, check out YouksKids.org. 11. The New Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar – Joe Heiler has done a great job the past few years in bringing in great minds to contribute to his Sports Rehab to Sports Performance teleseminar series – and this year is no exception.  I’m really excited about this line-up: 1.  Sue Falsone – PT, Athletes' Performance 2.  Ron Hruska - PT, Postural Restoration Institute 3.  Dr. Mike Leahy - Sports Chiropractor and inventor of ART 4.  Thomas Myers - Anatomy Trains author 5.  Brian Grasso – IYCA Founder 6.  Greg Roskopf - Muscle Activation Technique 7.  Brian Mulligan – PT, Mulligan Technique/Joint Mobilizations with Movement 8.  Dr. Warren Hammer - Chiropractor, Graston Technique Instructor, Fascial Manipulation 9.  Dan John - Strength Coach, author, Never Let Go 10.  Gray Cook - PT, FMS

Click here for more information. 12. New Projects – In 2010, I introduced two products: Optimal Shoulder Performance and Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better. For me, a product every six months is a pretty good “pace,” as I don’t want to become one of those guys who puts out mediocre stuff every single week.  As of right now, the only confirmed project for 2011 is a collaborative one with Mike Reinold and Mike Robertson.  I am thinking, however, that this is the year that I finally create a baseball-specific product in light of the fact that it’s 80-85% of our clientele and what I do all-day, every day!  Only time will tell! 13. Continued Show & Go Feedback – Speaking of Show and Go, it was released in late September, and since it’s a four-month strength and conditioning program, we’re coming up on the point in time where I start getting loads of emails from those who have wrapped up the program and have results to report.  I get a lot of feedback along the way, but it’s awesome to hear where things end up when the entire program is complete.  So, to those of you doing the program, please pass along your results!

14. More Writing at T-Nation – I only published two articles at T-Nation in 2010, and I don’t plan to repeat that poor output!  I’ve already been contacted by them about doing a monthly piece, and while I’m not sure that my schedule will allow me to get one to them every month, I definitely expect to be blowing that 2010 total out of the water.  I’ve already submitted one and have two more in the works.  I owe a lot to the folks at T-Nation and Biotest for the opportunities and exposure they’ve afforded me and hope to continue to return the favor with good content for years to come. 15. Watching Tank grow up – Our puppy, Tank, is about five months old right now, and he’s awesome.  He is pretty much housebroken, and definitely man’s best friend.  As you can tell, he loves hording his toys.

16. The 2011 MLB Season - In addition to the fact that my team (the Red Sox) is looking good, we have quite a few clients who are on the cusp of big league debuts, so I am excited to get out to see them play in the show and enjoy the fruits of their off-season labor.

17. The 2011 MLB Draft - Let's just say that I very well might just stay home and hit refresh on my computer over and over again during the two days in June that make up the MLB draft.  We have a lot of talent athletes - both high school and college - training at Cressey Performance who will be getting calls.

There are quite a few other things that get me excited for 2011, but this is a good start – and probably all that you care to read!  Speaking of YOU, what are YOU looking forward to in 2011?  Got a big goal for the year?  Share it in the comments section. Happy New Year! Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a detailed deadlift technique tutorial!
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Weight Training For Baseball: Best Videos of 2010

I made an effort to get more videos up on the site this year, as I know a lot of folks are visual learners and/or just enjoy being able to listen to a blog, as opposed to reading it.  Here are some highlights from the past year: The Absolute Speed to Absolute Strength Continuum - Regardless of your sport, there are valuable take-home messages.  I just used throwing velocity in baseball pitchers as an example, as it's my frame of reference.

Should Pitchers Overhead Press? - This was an excerpt from Mike Reinold and my Optimal Shoulder Performance seminar (which became a popular DVD set for the year).

Shoulder Impingement vs. Rotator Cuff Tears - Speaking of Mike, here's a bit from the man himself from that seminar DVD set.

Thoracic and Glenohumeral Joint Mobility Drills - The folks at Men's Health tracked me down in the lobby at Perform Better in Providence and asked if I could take them through a few shoulder mobility drills we commonly use - and this was the result.

Cressey West - This kicks off the funny videos from the past year. A few pro baseball players that I program for in a distance-based format created this spoof video as a way of saying thank you.

Tank Nap - My puppy taking a nap in a provocative position.  What's more cute?

Matt Blake Draft Tracker - CP's resident court jester and pitching instructor airs his frustrations on draft day.

1RM Cable Horizontal Abduction - More from the man, the myth, the legend.

You can find a lot more videos on my YouTube page HERE and the Cressey Performance YouTube page HERE.

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Eric Cressey’s Best Articles: 2010

With 2010 winding down, I thought I'd use this last week of the year to direct you to some of the most popular content of the past 12 months here at EricCressey.com, as this "series" was quite popular last year.  Today, we start with the most popular articles of the year; these are the pieces that received the most traffic, according to my hosting statistics. 5 Reasons You Aren't Getting Stronger - This post came during the launch week of Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.  With some of the unique programming strategies outlined in Show and Go, it seemed like a good opportunity to outline some of the common mistakes folks make that I really sought to avoid when writing the program. How to Find Your Fitness Niche - The popularity of this post surprised me.  I suppose it means that I have more fitness professionals (and aspiring fitness professionals) reading my blog than I'd previously thought.  This piece discusses how I "fell" into my baseball training niche. Make My Kid Run Faster - Apparently, I'm not the only one who has to deal with the occasional crazy father who tells me how to train his kid! Clearing Up the Rotator Cuff Controversy - This post discusses my approach to structuring rotator cuff exercises throughout the training week. The Fascial Knock on Distance Running for Pitchers - This was a fun article to write because it combined a review (of Thomas Myers' presentation at Perform Better) with a summary of my own experiences training pitchers.  It's always great to take the perspective of another and see how it meshes with your own philosophy - whether it confirms or refutes what you're doing. High Performance Training without the Equipment (Installment 1) - I'm glad that I checked back on my statistics to find that this was so popular, as I haven't gotten around to writing any subsequent installments.  I'll pick it up soon. I'll be back soon with the top product reviews of 2010. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
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Random Monday Thoughts: 9/13/10

1. In today's big news, I simply want to tell you to be on the lookout for a HUGE week here at EricCressey.com. First, we're going to be having some awesome content in conjunction with the launch of my new product, Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.

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Expect some awesome video content and more details about the product over the next week - but if you want to see it, you need to make sure that you are signed up for my newsletter.  If you haven't already done so, you can subscribe using the following opt-in form (which will also get you access to a sweet deadlifting tutorial):
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Along these same lines, the new and improved EricCressey.com will be debuting alongside the launch of Show and Go on the 20th.  It will blow our current set-up out of the water. 2. I'm going to be relatively brief today, as I'm headed down to Reebok's corporate headquarters in Canton, MA this morning to film some videos on the needs and benefits of strength and conditioning.  I've been down there a few times with some of our pro guys who have endorsement deals when they've shopped in the athlete/employee store, and the entire "campus" is pretty darn impressive:

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3. The good folks at Men's Health tracked me down for an on-the-fly video tutorial in the lobby at Perform Better in Providence back in June, and the video is now available online. It goes through a few example of thoracic and glenohumeral joint mobility drills we use with our athletes. A special thanks goes out to CP intern Dave Rak for his help in demonstrating this while I was coaching it. You can find more drills like these (and the rationale for them) on our Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set.

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4. While this article isn't as shocking to those of us in the fitness industry who are appalled at the ridiculously low standards our industry has set for allowing someone to become a personal trainer, I'm sure it was to the general public who read it.  And, it's very well written.  Check it out: For a Price, Area Firm Certifies the Novice as a Fitness Expert.  Sad, but true. 5. My fiancee and I have a minor league pitcher staying with us for a week while he's in town to get evaluated and do some training on a post-rehab stint.  He'll head back to his hometown through the end of the year, and then come back to train with us for the nine weeks leading up to spring training. On Thursday night, we were watching the NFL season opening in my living room - and I was writing programs on my laptop.  He commented something along the lines of "Damn, you really do work all day, don't you?"  As I thought about it, I guess I really do.  I'm usually up at 6AM to make breakfast and see my fiancee before she heads off to work, and then I go right to writing/consulting work up through about 10:15AM, when I head over to the facility, get in my lift, and then coach from 12PM to 6PM or so.  Then, it's back home - often to do more programming, answer emails, and - right now - finish up this new project. He asked me what my ultimate career goal was, and I told him that it essentially amounted to doing my writing in the morning, and then coaching my pro/college guys during the day, and then 1-2 hours of high school guys right after school.  He looks at me and goes, "That's still a nine-hour day, man!" As you can probably tell, I'm not particularly good about shutting things down.  The reason is really simple: I love what I do.  I still need to get better at turning it off more often, though! 6. On a related note, our pro baseball off-season is in full swing now.  I did one evaluation on Wednesday and three on Thursday - on top of the guys who have already started up (or are working off some of our programs elsewhere in the country before they come up).  It should be a great crew of guys getting after it, and we're all really excited about what the next six months has in store for us.  Thus far, the most entertaining moment has been Royals' prospect Tim Collins' triumphant return to Cressey Performance - where he walked around the gym and high-fived all 20 or so clients (even the ones he didn't know) who were in the facility at the time. 7. Our boy is back - and the offer to train for free at CP still stands for him!

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7 Steps for Attacking Continuing Education in the Fitness Industry

In response to a recent blog, one reader posted a question about how I "structure" my approach to continuing education.  As I thought about it, it's actually a more organized "ritual" than I had previously thought.  Here are the key components:

1.  I always have two books going at a time. One involves training/nutrition/manual therapy/rehabilitation.  The other involves business/personal development.  Noticeably absent from this list is fiction; I really don't have any interest in it, and couldn't tell you the first thing about Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.  I'll usually have a book on CD in the car as well, but nowadays, my commute is non-existent (since we moved closer to the facility), so I have been doing more reading and less listening than previously.

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2. Our staff in-service is every Wednesday at 10:30AM. This has turned into a great continuing education opportunity for all of us. While one person is "responsible" for presenting the topic each week, it always inevitably becomes a "think tank" among our staff and interns about how something applies to specific clients, unique issues, functional anatomy, or our programming or business model.

For instance, last week, I talked about how to assess shoulder external rotation and address any identified deficits on this front.  We got to talking about which clients were using the appropriate mobilizations, how to perform them, and what would happen if they are performed incorrectly.  Likewise, we talked about how certain people need to be careful about mobilizing their shoulders into external rotation because of extreme congenital laxity and/or extreme humeral retroversion. 

Beyond just the benefits of helping our staff grow as a whole, for me, it has several distinct benefits.  First, when I come back from a weekend seminar where I've learned something good, it's a great opportunity to "reteach" and apply it immediately.  I'm a firm believer that the best way to master something is to have to teach it to someone else.  Second, having pretty frequent "mini-presentations" keeps my presenting skills fresh for seminars when I may have 4-6 weeks between speaking engagements.

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3. I get to at least 4-5 weekend seminars per year. I'm lucky in that two of these are generally Perform Better Three-Day Summits where I get to see a wide variety of presentations - with all my travel expenses paid because I present myself.

I think that every fitness professional needs to get to at least two such events per year.  The good news is that with webinars and DVD sets, you can save a ton on travel expenses and watch these on your own schedule.  A lot of people, for instance, have said that they learned more from our two-day Building the Efficient Athlete Seminar DVD Set than they did in years of college - with no tuition payment required, either!

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That said, a ton of the education at such events comes from interacting with other fitness professionals, so you do miss out on the accidental "social" education.

4. I have one day a week where all I read are journal articles. Sometimes it is entertaining, and sometimes it's like reading stereo instructions.  It depends on journal - and regular ol' luck with respect to what's going on in the research world.  I'll keep it pretty random and just type in a search term like "sports medicine" or "strength training."  We also have The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies delivered to the office so that our staff can look that over.

5.  I read a few blogs/newsletters each day in both training/nutrition/manual therapy/rehabilitation and business/personal development. I've listed several on my recommended resources page.  There are loads more out there; these are just the tip of the iceberg and the ones that I tend to read more frequently.

6. I'll usually have a DVD set or webinar going as often as possible. We've got a great library in the office at Cressey Sports Performance, and I'm fortunate to have a lot of stuff sent to me for free to review here on the blog. I tend to prefer DVDs more than webinars, as I can watch them in fast-forward and make people talk faster to save time!

7. I talk to and email with a handful of other coaches about programming and business ideas and new things we're doing. I wouldn't call it a mastermind group, or anything even close to one in terms of organization, but it is good to know that whenever I want to bounce an idea off someone, I have several people I can contact.  On the training side of things, a few guys that come to mind are Mike Robertson, Neil Rampe, Mike Reinold, Bill Hartman, and Tony Gentilcore.  On the business side of things, I'm lucky to have Alwyn Cosgrove and Pat Rigsby as good dudes who are only an email or phone call away.  I think that the take-home message is that if you surround yourself with the right people, answers that would normally elude you are really right at hand.

This post wound up running a lot longer than I'd anticipated, but hopefully you all benefited from it nonetheless.  Have any continuing education strategies of your own that I have overlooked?  If so, please post them in the comments section below.

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Three Years of Cressey Performance: The Right Reasons and the Right Way

Though a somewhat "normal" day at the gym, yesterday marked Cressey Performance's three-year anniversary. While my business partner's blog post yesterday did an excellent job of doling out "thank yous" to a lot of the important people who have been so involved in our success - from clients to parents, coaches, interns, and significant others - I wanted to add my own two cents on the matter today.  More than anything, I really wanted to highlight a sentence that illustrates what makes me the most proud about where CP has been, where it is, and where it's going.

We've done this for the right reasons, and we've done it the right way.

newcp21 I read a business development blog post by Chris McCombs the other day where he wrote something that really hit home for me.  When he was talking about how he decides to accept or reject a new project/opportunity, here is one of his guidelines: "Only Take on Projects That Are In Line With My Current Values and Fulfill Me Beyond Just The Money - A project must fulfill me in some way BESIDE just money...too many people spend their life JUST chasing a buck; to me, that's no way to live.  For me, the money must be there, but it should fulfill me personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line with my current brand and brand equity." Back in 2007, I had a tough decision to make.  My online consulting business had really taken off, and the Maximum Strength book deal was in the works.  My other products - Magnificent Mobility, The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual, and Building the Efficient Athlete - were selling well and getting great reviews, and I'd just had a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  This website was growing exponentially in popularity, and I had just wrapped up my first year on the Perform Better tour - so lots of doors were opening for me on the seminar front to present all over the world - and I could have stayed home and just written all day, every day. I was getting really crunched for time, as I was already training clients 8-13 hours per day, seven days per week, as my in-person clientele had rapidly grown. My phone rang off the hook for about three weeks after Lincoln-Sudbury won a baseball state championship after I'd trained several of their guys, and one of my athletes was named state player of the year.  And, after being featured on the front page of the Boston Globe with a nipple so hard I could cut diamonds, I was in demand as a t-shirt model (okay, not really - but it made for an awesome blog post, The School of Hard Nipples).

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I was exhausted and stressed - but absolutely, positively, "living the dream" that I'd always wanted. To make matters a bit more interesting, I had just started dating a great girl (now my fiancee) who I really had a good feeling was "the one" after about three months.  The work days, however, were insanely long and I was worried that I'd screw up a good thing by not spending enough time with her. Every business development coach out there would have seen a "simple" answer to all my problems: stop training people in person.  Just write, consult, make DVDs, and give seminars.  It would have cut my hours by 80% and still allowed me to earn a pretty good living - and enjoy plenty of free time.  There was a huge problem with that, though; as Chris wrote, it wouldn't "fulfill me personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line with my current brand and brand equity."  I like doing evaluations, writing programs, coaching, sweating, training with my guys, cranking up the music, helping people get to where they want to be, collaborating with and learning from other professionals, and watching my athletes compete - whether it's at some high school field or at Fenway Park.  Giving that up wasn't an option; I guess I'd have just been a crappy business coaching client, as I would have been stubborn as an ass on giving that up.

stubborn

Fortunately for me, Pete Dupuis, my roommate from my freshman year of college, had just finished his MBA and was in the midst of a job search.  And, during that MBA, he'd started to train with me and packed on a ton of strength and muscle mass - making him realize and truly appreciate the value in what I was doing (especially since he was and is a goalie in a very competitive soccer league).  Pete had also met and become friends with a ton of my clients - and taken a genuine interest in my baseball focus, as a lifelong Red Sox fan.  Almost daily, Pete would encourage me to do my own thing and let him handle all the business stuff for me. Simultaneously, Tony Gentilcore was ready for a change of scenery on the work front.  Having been Tony's roommate and training partner for almost two years at that point, I knew he was a genuinely great guy, that he'd read everything on my bookshelf, and that he could coach his butt off and "walk the walk."  He, too, had met a lot of my clients - so there was continuity from the get-go. So, on July 13, 2007, Cressey Performance was born.  Here is what we started with.

first-picture

Boatloads of renovations and equipment additions later, it wound up looking like this.

cressey-performance-1

Of course, we outgrew and demolished this space after about nine months and moved three miles east to a facility twice the size.  And, we've continued to grow right up to this day; June was our busiest month ever, and July should be busier.  We've got regular weekly clients who come from four states (MA, NH, CT, RI), and in the baseball off-season, I have college and pro guys who come from the likes of OH, AZ, CA, SC, NC, GA, FL, and VA.  And, we had 33 applicants for this summer's internships.

To be very candid, though, I don't consider myself a very good "businessman."  No offense to Pete or Tony, either, but I don't think they even come close to the textbook definition of the word, either.  We just try to be good dudes. "We've done this for the right reasons, and we've done it the right way."

We don't allocate a certain percentage of our monthly revenues to advertising.  In fact, we haven't spent a single penny on advertising - unless you count charitable donations to causes that are of significance to us.

We don't search high and low for new revenue streams to push on our clients.  In fact, if I get one more MonaVie sales pitch, I'm going to suplex whoever delivered it right off our loading dock.  Rather, we bust our butts to set clients up for success in any way possible - and trust that those efforts will lead to referrals and "allegiance" to Cressey Performance.  We ask what they want from us and modify our plans accordingly.  It's what led to us bringing in manual therapy, a pitching cage, and, of course, pitching coach/court jester Matt Blake's timeless antics.

Along those same lines, we don't measure our success based on revenue numbers; we measure it based on client results.  In three years of seeing LOADS of baseball players non-stop, we've only had three arm surgeries: one shoulder and two elbow.  All three were athletes who came to us with existing injuries, and in each case, we kept them afloat as long as we could and trained them through their entire rehabilitation.  I don't want to toot our own horn, but this is a remarkable statistic in a population where over 57% of pitchers suffer some form of shoulder injury during each competitive season - and that doesn't even include  elbows!  And, our statistics don't even count literally dozens of players who have come to us after a doctor has told them they needed surgery, but we've helped them avoid these procedures.  The college scholarships, draft picks, state titles, individual honors, and personal bests in the gym are all fantastic, but I'm most proud of saying that we've dedicated ourselves to keeping athletes healthy so that they can enjoy the sports they love.

The same goes for our non-competitive athlete clients.  The fat loss and strength gains they experience are awesome and quantifiable, but beyond that (and more qualitatively), I love knowing that they're training pain-free and are going to be able to enjoy exercise and reap the benefits of training for a long time.

We don't penny-pinch during our slowest times of the month (late March through mid-May - the high school baseball season).  We see it as an opportunity to do more staff continuing education, renovate the facilities, and get out to watch a lot of baseball and support our athletes.  And, we adjust our hours to open up on Sundays and stay later on weeknights during the baseball season to make it easier for athletes to get in-season training in whenever they can.  If a pitcher wants to come in and get his arm stretched out before or after an outing, he stops by and we do it for him - but don't charge him a penny for it.  It's about setting people up for success.

We don't try to just "factory line" as many clients through our facility as possible with everyone on the same program.  You might walk into CP and see 20 different clients on 20 different programs - because a 16-year old pitcher with crazy congenital laxity is going to have a markedly different set of needs than a 16-year-old linebacker with shoulder mobility so bad that he needs help putting a jacket on.  One program on one dry erase board for hundreds of athletes isn't training; it's babysitting.

Taking this a step further, we don't boot clients out after a certain amount of time.  Clients take as long as needed to complete the day's program. And, when they're done (or before they even begin), loads of our clients spend time hanging out in the office just shooting the breeze and enjoying the environment.  As an example, Toronto Blue Jays Organizational Pitcher of the Year Tim Collins spends a minimum of five hours a day at CP all off-season.

collins_stride

Tim has sold girl scout cookies for the daughter of one of our clients, and he's been our back-up front desk guy when Pete is out of town.  Yesterday, he was back to visit on his all-star break - and he said hello to every client he saw - and remembered them by name.  If you're a 15-year-old up-and-coming baseball pitcher, how cool is it to get that kind of greeting when you walk into the office?  Well, at CP, kids get that greeting from 10-15 pro guys all the time.  And, if they're lucky, they might even get to throw on a bobsled helmet and join these pro guys in a rave to Miley Cyrus, apparently.

At least once a week, I get an email from an up-and-coming coach asking for advice about starting a facility.  When I get these emails, I now think about how Rachel Cosgrove recently mentioned that more than 80% of fitness coaches leave the industry within the first year. In most cases, this happens because these people never should have entered the fitness industry in the first place - because their intentions (money) were all wrong.  They usually leave under the assumption that they could never make a living training people, but in reality, these folks are going to have a hard time making a living in any occupation that requires genuinely caring about what you do and the people with whom you work, and being willing to hang your hat on the results you produce.

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As such, the first advice, in a general sense, is obvious: do it for the right reasons, and do it the right way.  Sure, making a living is essential, but only open a facility because it would fulfill you "personally, be fun, help a lot of people, and build and be in line" with who you are and what your values are - which together constitute your "brand." Making the move to start up this business was one of the most daunting decisions I have ever had to make, and all the efforts toward actually getting the business started were equally challenging.  However, in the end, it has been more rewarding both personally and professionally than I could have ever possibly imagined.

Thank you very much to all of you - clients/customers, parents, EricCressey.com readers, seminar attendees, and professional colleagues - for all your support over the past three years.  We couldn't have done it without you - and look forward to many more years of doing things for the right reasons and in the right way.

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