Last year, I was asked to speak at the Okanagan Strength and Conditioning Conference in 2014. The Oka..what?!?! I had never heard of the place, didn’t know how to pronounce it and had not heard of the conference. So….I did a little research.
Being that I am throwing a year of pseudo-retirement into my life right now, the main criteria for me speaking somewhere in 2014 was places I have never been before. Come to find out, the Okanagan (oak-a-nog-in) is an area in British Columbia known for its approximately 112 wineries. Well…it’s actually known for its agriculture of tree fruit, beautiful weather, gigantic lake, outdoor activities and wineries…but I sort of stopped reading at wineries.
Then I began to research the conference. Found it would be in its 3rd year of existence. Past speakers included Sean Skahan, Robert Dos Remedios, Patrick Ward, among many others in the industry that I have a high respect for. So, I was in. Told Greg Dumanoir and Chris Collins (conference organizers) that I was in and we went from there.
Take home message: it was one of the most beautiful places I have been in North America, the wine was some of the best I have had in the world, and the conference was one of the best I have been to. Where do I begin?
I have been doing everything in my power to get out of Phoenix this summer. I haven’t spent a summer in Phoenix since 2007 so I knew I wouldn’t be prepared for the heat. BC did not disappoint. The weather was perfect. Terrain was lush and the lake was gorgeous. They say it can get “Phoenix hot” up there, but I didn’t experience that. I had perfect weather (including rain…which was awesome…I know…only a girl living in Phoenix can say that). The wineries were Heaven on Earth for me. I have not had BC wine and it is amazing. We went to 21 wineries and I purchased 49 bottles of wine. Yes, I said 49. Forty-nine. I got very excited. Don’t ask how I got them home to Phoenix. That will be a story over a glass…or bottle…of wine.
Oh yeah…the conference. One word…Fantastic! I learned so much.
Believe it or not, it was the first time I have seen Dan John speak in person. I have read his book and seen his DVD’s but have never seen him speak live. He did not disappoint. Funny and engaging are just the beginning in describing his talk. Informative and practical are not doing it justice. I picked up some great exercises and thought processes as well as the pearl…how does it (whatever IT is) enhance your life? I am all about that right now. In my life, 2014 is the year of me, and Dan only confirmed that this is not only acceptable but also inevitable.
Mark McLaughlin was up next. Physiologic master. The ability to measure and discuss an athletes readiness and then modify the programming based on such data is such an art. It is an art we all talk about and strive for, but an art Mark implements. Daily. And its awesome.
Next day was Michol Dalcourt, bright and early. Those of you who know me know that I am not a fan of 8 am, but I wanted to see Michol and he did not disappoint. Physiologic and biologic guru. Extremely impressive knowledge and practical information. Can’t ask for anything more. I hate when I see something that is so ridiculously simple that I get pissed at myself for not thinking of it. I have been doing a version of the “quadruped rock” for years. Michol demonstrated the same exercise, just placing one knee about 6 inches in front of the other, performing the same movement, and then switching legs. #mindblown! Try it. Get down on the ground right now and try it. You will see what I mean.
Finally, Chris Frankel took the stage, which was a great way to end the day. One of the smartest and most applicable presenters around. He also discussed athlete readiness. So many take aways…but one stands out. Are we baking or cooking with our clients? Baking mixes all the ingredients together, puts it in the oven and sees what comes out. Cooking is masterful. Cooking requires constant adding, stirring, and attention. Are you baking or cooking with your athletes?
I spent the evening with several of the presenters, specifically talking a lot with Susan Kleiner. Wow! Smart lady is an understatement! So passionate about nutrition and the use of carbohydrates for fueling. Look out for her new company…sounds like it is going to revolutionize some things in the performance nutrition world.
I can only hope my talk on Optimizing Flexibility: Where Does it Fit Within Your Programming? was as helpful to the audience as the ones I mentioned above. (For those of you who missed it…grab a copy of David Joyce’s and Dan Lewindon’s book High-Performance Training for Sports….its all in there!)
Greg, Chris and the participants of the conference were amazing, top to bottom. Every detail was thought of, taken care of, and attended to. The participants were smart, engaging, and interested in becoming better at what they do. Conversation was stimulating and people were interesting. By far, one of the best conferences I have spoken at. I can only hope to be asked back. After all, I have 91 more wineries to visit 😉