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The Six Kinds of Seminar Attendees

Written on January 28, 2010 at 5:38 am, by Eric Cressey

On Sunday, we hosted Neil Rampe of the Arizona Diamondbacks for a Myokinematic Dysfunction seminar at Cressey Performance.  It was a great experience, and Neil did a very thorough job of highlighting the different schools of thought with respect to addressing movement impairments.  In particular, Neil spent a lot of time on two schools of thought: Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (discussed in this post) and the Postural Restoration Institute.

There was some advanced stuff being discussed, and we had a wide variety of professions and ability levels represented in the audience.  There were athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists, and chiropractors in attendance.  And, they ranged in age from 20 all the way up to 55 (or so).  After the seminar, I got to talking with Neil about how it’s interesting to think what each person takes away from a seminar based on their age, occupation, and experience level.  It led to me coming up with the six kinds of seminar attendees:

1. The Experienced, Open-minded Attendee – This individual may have similar experience in similar fields as the presenter.  If he gets just 2-3 good tips over the course of the seminar, he’s thrilled.  The more experienced you get, the more you appreciate the little things you can add (or subtract) to refine your approach.

Example: Last year, I spent about 95% of Greg Rose’s presentation at Perform Better in Long Beach nodding in agreement, as he and I both deal with a ton of rotational sport athletes (him with golf, and me with baseball).  He did, however, introduce one new thoracic spine mobility test that I absolutely love and use to this day.  I might have only picked up one thing, but it was a hugely valuable for me.

2.The Experienced, Close-minded Attendee – This individual may be very experienced in a similar realm as the presenter, but isn’t openminded enough to realize that a professional on his level still might have things to offer to improve his approach.  These are usually the people who claim to be “old school” – which essentially applies that they only have experience doing the same thing for 25 years.  This is one kind of “there’s nothing new here” person.

3. The Experienced Attendee from a Different Field – This individual might be excellent at what he does in a semi-related field, but completely new to the material presented at a seminar.  The challenge here is to learn what can be applied in that other realm. Think of a pitching or track coach attending a strength and conditioning seminar – or a S&C coach attending a pitching or physical therapy conference.


4. The Intimidated, Lazy Beginner Attendee – There are times when a beginner attends a seminar and has little to no clue what’s going on during the event and is completely intimidated by what he doesn’t know.  And, as a result, the attendee claims that he will never need the information anyway.  These folks should either change their attitudes or pick a different industry, as they are the second kind of “there’s nothing new here” person.

5. The Motivated Beginner Attendee – This attendee is identical to the intimidated beginner, but rather than getting insecure about his lack of knowledge on the subject, he uses it as motivation to study further and find a way to get to where he wants to be.  This may be an understanding of how to apply bits and pieces of what the presenter taught, or a desire to become an expert in the same topic the presenter covered.  You see this quite a bit in the fitness industry, as exercise enthusiasts who aren’t in the industry will actually attend seminars just to learn about better training practices – just like I might tend a talk by an economist, for instance.

6. The Middle of the Road Attendee – This individual is somewhere between a beginner and an expert in the material being covered.  My experience has been that the “middle of the road” folks only attend seminars (at least the ones at which I’ve presented) if they genuinely care about getting better, not just for CEUs (the intimidated/lazy beginners do that).  I find that this is probably the biggest group of the six.

Groups 5 and 6 are the ones who have loved our Building the Efficient Athlete seminar the most, as it either complemented their college anatomy and kinesiology curriculum nicely, or helped to take the place of it altogether (for those who didn’t attend school).


Think about this for yourself and start to consider where you fall in the context of these six categories.  And, more importantly, how does your “placement” in this scheme dictate the next 2-3 seminars you’re going to attend?  Do you want to completely get outside your realm of expertise and see something entirely new, or do you want to hone in on your specialty and see if you can come up with a few new tricks to take you to the next level?  There isn’t a correct answer on this, other than that you need to keep getting out to see others in action to get better!

On a related note, I’ve got a busy spring of seminars booked, so if you haven’t already, check out my schedule page for details.

11 Responses to “The Six Kinds of Seminar Attendees”

  1. Kevin Says:

    I’ll be attending the MBSC Winter Seminar this weekend, playing the role of Number 6, Middle of the Road Attendee. Excited for the Med Ball Meat and Potatoes!

  2. Kathy Ekdahl Says:

    Eric- Neil was a great presenter. Even though “some” of it was over my head(as a personal trainer working primarily with the general public)- it brought a real big point home for me. #1 in any assessment is checking breathing patterns. This should be our first screen before anything else. So- loved it- it made me think!
    Lastly- there’s one more type of seminar attendee – the guy or gal who comes and thinks they know more than the presenter and tries to take over the workshop with questions that just stroke their ego,or, worse,they tell the presenter what to do.

  3. Rick Kaselj of Exercises for Injuries Says:


    As a presenter for 10 years to over 5000 fitness professionals, I have seen all six you talk about.

    I work hard to enter things with the “beginners mind”.

    See you in March in Vancouver. I will be a #5.

    Rick Kaselj


  4. Bob Gorinski Says:

    Nice Eric – I’m wondering about the guy who keeps asking questions, er, “questions” in subtley disrespectful lecture format to show everyone else in the class how much he knows. What category does that guy fit into?

  5. Jeff Says:

    What was the thoracic spine mobility that Greg Rose presented?

    Thanks for all of the great info on your site.


  6. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Good stuff EC and I would agree with your types you have outlined.

    Too bad I missed Neil’s talk as it would’ve been great to see. Great guy that knows his stuff for sure.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  7. charles Lamana Says:

    I learned years ago that the problem with classification is that these categories can’t account for change. They make it seem as though individuals in each category are fixed in time. I prefer a more dynamic explanation of individuals who partake in various aspects of social environments.
    These categories miss the more rich and complex reality of how individual learning takes place. I believe learning is a creative process and as such doesn’t have a logic of discovery.However we do have a logic of justification, that is we can give a good account of learning after the “owl of minerva speads its wings”. This means that understanding occurs only afterwards when we are able to put things in contexts that bear fruit. This notion is consistent with ” to understand is to understand differently”.
    Keep in mind that an awkward, seemingly social reserve person in the context of experts can be very different in a context of his or her peers or in the context of the fitness industry,with their clients. Categorizing them as 1 though 6 can’t account for what a good understanding of human behavior can, namely there are unconscious forces which aren’t so readily understood and remain complex, to be unwoven though self reflection and a psycho dynamic theory of mind.

  8. Kyle Says:

    BOB G. I believe that would be an A-hole 🙂

  9. Howard Gray Says:

    I loved this post.
    Do you mind if I repost it on my blog? (with full credit of course)
    Howard Gray

  10. Eric Cressey Says:

    No problem, Howard; feel free. -EC

  11. Joe Caligiuri Says:

    Charles L.,

    You just completely ruined my reading experience. However, I can confidently say I am unwillingly more arrogant fir having read your drawn out and mentally draining comment. Thanks, Eric – I love categories…they separate the sheep from the wolves in a fight or flight world.

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