This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Fall Fitness Forum in Portland, hosted by Northwest Personal Training Education at the Multnomah Athletic Club (“The MAC”). The whole experience was pretty freaking awesome and I came away with a lot of great information. Lend me your ear – or eyes I guess – and you’ll get a glance of my Sunday.
I woke up at about 2:00 in the morning to a loud slam of a door at the motel we were staying in. I jumped up in bed ninja-style, ready to attack whatever or whomever made the sound. After a zero-point-eight second analysis of the situation I determined whatever made the sound was probably not going to hurt me and my ninja skills would not be needed, so I quickly retracted my Kung Fu fighting stance to a lying position and returned to my slumber.
I woke up again at about 4:30 a.m. and read most of Galatians to kill some time. I had a protein shake and a shower and then by the time 6:00 rolled around, I headed to the MAC.
Let me tell you about the MAC and give you a feel for the setting. It’s supposively one of, if not THE oldest fitness club in the United States. It’s also prestigious. Apparently there is a waiting list to join the club, and if you get the chance to join there is a modest fee of $10,200 to sign up, which goes up to $11,000 this January. Don’t worry though, if you’re a senior the joining fee is only $5,500. Eliteness is in the air and can be felt as soon as you walk in. The entry to the club looks more like a 5 Star hotel than a gym, and apparently there is a dress code in place which only allows for business attire while not on the gym floor. Somehow I snuck in the main entrance in my grey hoodie without a fine, caning, or any other repercussion. Win.
I found my way down to the fitness studio where many of the day’s workshops would be taking place. The studio looks like any other fitness studio, only it overlooks JELD-WEN Field – home of the Portland Timbers and Portland State Vikings. So, on any given day, you might be able to get your cardio on AND catch some MLS action. I toured some more of the gym, and other than the fact that it overlooks a football stadium, it felt like any other nice gym I’ve been in. It’s clean, the equipment is all fairly new, there are big screen HDTVs – everything you would expect. There is a rule of “no cell phones” on the main gym floor, so I did not snap a picture there. I did not see a “No selfies by the squash Wall of Champions” rule posted however – so I obliged.
Soon enough, the workshops of the Fitness Forum were under way.
Farm Boy Strength: The Future of Fitness?
I spent most of the day with Michol (pronounced “me-shol”) Dalcourt who is a human movement science/functional fitness/farm boy strength guru. Michol is a self-professed fitness nerd and he really knows his stuff. He’s one of those guys that knows every muscle fiber and every bone in the human body on a first name basis. When I shook Michol’s hand I could hear my Semimembranosus say, “Hey Michol, how’s it going?”
I was like, “Oh, you guys know each other?”
Then Semimembranosus said, “Shut up Glen, you don’t even know my name!”
He was right; he was right.
FYI: the Semimembranosus is a thin muscle which is part of the hamstring complex, which I’m sure I learned about when becoming a trainer (I think).
Really though, Michol’s presentations were top-notch. He gave us the background of his real-life reasoning for functional fitness applications and told a story about training hockey players in Canada. He said some hockey players would train in modalities that we are used to seeing in athletic training protocols during the off-season (barbell training and the likes). He also talked about how some hockey players would work on the farm during the off-season. By the time the hockey season rolled around, somehow the farm boys were stronger and more conditioned than those training in the gym. Why?
Dr. Farmstrength (A.K.A. Dalcourt) went on to explain this and how it tied a concept he calls loaded movement training – essentially taking a load (weight) and moving it in variable positions at variable angles not only close to the body, but also away from the body. Think of a farmer slinging a bail of hay up onto a trailer. If we are to mimic such movements in the gym (living room, park, or preferred fitness area) we can work our muscles in different ways – ways which may be a little closer to real-life movements such as throwing a bail of hay, picking up a baby, swinging an axe, etc.
The day went on and I got to experience some more sessions with Michol: one on integrating loaded movement training within a fitness plan and another which dug into foot and ankle mechanics with running and exercise. At one point during the foot and ankle presentation I needed to use the restroom.
The Locker Room Experience, MAC Style
Normally I wouldn’t describe my restroom experience, but this wasn’t just any restroom break, this was a restroom break at the MAC. I made my way down the hallway and entered the men’s locker room. I’ll give you three seconds to guess as to what I saw first when I walked in the locker room. One, two, three. Wrong. It was a dude in business attire (of course) drinking a pint of beer and reading the newspaper at the men’s locker room bar. Because what would a locker room be without a bar? After taking that in for a moment, I proceeded to search for a toilet, yes, search for a toilet. This was the first time I had ever been in a locker room where I felt like I needed a map and/or needed to ask directions. The locker room is huge. Eventually after making my way past the bar, past the lockers, past the phones where one could make an appointment for a massage or shoe shine, I found a urinal. I checked the time when I finished up and figured I might try to score a rickshaw ride back to the fitness studio. Not really. There weren’t any rickshaws, but everything else about the MAC I have written so far is true (to the best of my knowledge). I wanted to take a picture of the locker room, but you know, cameras/cell phones and lockers don’t mix. Nonetheless – quite the experience.
Wrapping Up the Workshops
So, fast-forwarding a little bit, I finished up my 3rd training of the day with Michol, all of which were great, and then went on to take a training workshop put on by a couple of trainers from Northwest Personal Training. This workshop was on stretching, foam rolling, and mobility. The workshop was informative, but after spending about 20 minutes with a foam roller (massaging device) I got nice and relaxed/sleepy for a 3.5 hour drive home in the dark. Oh well.
When in Portland, Eat Doughnuts
Everything at the MAC was wrapped up around 5:15 p.m. Being that I was in downtown Portland, and this past week I posted a pretty popular article about doughnuts, I figured that it would be a crime if I did not stop by Voodoo Doughnuts and pick up a Memphis Mafia fritter which is a banana fritter with a peanut butter frosting/glaze topped with chocolate chips.
Side note: You might be reading this thinking, “Glen, as a fitness pro, how do you reconcile all this talk about doughnuts?” I want you to understand that I do not eat doughnuts and junk food all the time. I apply my A- philosophy. This same day I had a protein shake for breakfast, a salad for lunch, some trail mix and an apple for a snack, and some salad and fruit for dinner along my drive back (which I’ll describe in a minute). I could have just as easily had Starbucks for breakfast, a sandwich with white bread for lunch (which was served for lunch but I opted for a salad), and I could have stopped for some fast food on the way home. Eating clean all day plus half of a doughnut for dessert still gives me a B grade diet for the day.
I left the MAC to head for Voodoo Doughnuts, but I figured I would drive around and find a gas station first before I headed to the little shop of doughnut bliss. I don’t know how, but somehow I managed to find every street in downtown Portland that DID NOT have a gas station on it. Finally I stumbled across a Chevron station, filled up, and headed in the direction of Voodoo to hunt down a parking space. When I was less than a block away from the doughnut shop, I tried to find any open space. I actually found one pretty close by, so not much of a walk in the Portland rain. I made it all the way from my car to the Voodoo Doughnuts entrance without being asked for spare change once – which if you’ve ever been to Portland, you know this is a rare feat.
I made my way into the doughnut shop and immediately began to remember all of the sexual innuendos throughout the decor such as “Good things come in pink boxes” and “The magic is in the hole.” The line to order was actually only 3 people deep, so I was able to order fairly quickly (The first time I went to Voodoo Doughnuts last year the line was about 40 people deep – no joke). Ordering a doughnut here is not like ordering at any old doughnut shop either. Voodoo has a doughnut list like a wine list of a fine restaurant – Voodoo Doll doughnuts, the Memphis Mafia, the Maple Bacon, just to name a few. I got a Memphis Mafia and a couple of Voodoo Dolls to share with the family back home. Leaving the doughnut shop, I was only asked for spare change once on the way back to my car – it was a pretty quiet night in Portland.
Back in the car with my pink doughnut box riding shotgun, I hit the freeway, at which point the sky began to POUR rain. I was frustrated after a while because there were long stretches of highway without reflectors on the road striping. So the glare of the headlights on the wet pavement added to an overload of rain coming down on the windshield equated to freeway lanes which were barely visible. I had to drive at about 45 mph for awhile until the rain cleared up a little and I could see again.
I stopped in The Dalles, OR and picked up a salad and bowl of fruit from a grocery store for a quick dinner in the car. Back to the drive, and the rain was much lighter, plus the remainder of the highway actually had reflectors on the striping. I’m a big fan of being able to see the lane of the road I am driving on. By 10:15ish I was home and ready to munch on half of a Memphis Mafia doughnut.
I made it to bed just after 11:00 p.m. and before I knew it my alarm was going off at 3:30 a.m. Rise and shine! I got ready to bring my knowledge of loaded movement training to the members of Tri City Court Club here in the Tri Cities. Even with the minimal sleep, I was energized and excited to teach people some of the new things I learned.
Overall it was a great experience. Thanks to Michol Dalcourt, Northwest Personal Training, and the Multnomah Athletic Club for hosting an awesome event; and thanks to Tri City Court Club for allowing me to go experience it.