Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fitness Conference - Day by Day

This past weekend was invested attending the Perform Better Functional Training Summit. I entered into it excited, but a little unsure of what to expect. I had two goals:

1. Find new and interesting ways to improve my training
2. Review the feasibility of a career transition back into the fitness industry

This post will focus on my general experience attending the seminar, specifically related to activity, sleep, nutrition, etc. Posts that follow will address my two goals above.

At a very high level, the seminar ran from Friday through Sunday this weekend. Each day had both lectures and hands on seminars, with four options to choose from at each meeting time. I was still quite sick upon arrival and it limited the extent of my participation. Even without being sick, I’d estimate I was in the bottom quartile of fitness levels.

After arriving via cab, my first session Friday was the Art of Strength hands on kettlebell seminar. We went through several kettlebell circuits, focused on swings, cleans, and presses. Given my feeling that I was 75% recovered from the cold, I opted to go light with a 16k. It absolutely tanked me. I was in no condition for exercise and probably less than 50% recovered.

The rest of the day I spent sucking on cough drops and sitting in lectures. Lunch was at Starbucks due to exorbitant food court prices. I did very little other than sit and listen. My energy for networking or interacting with the presenters was completely absent. There was an evening social, but I felt no one would appreciate my sickly presence there.

Instead of spending $250+ a night to sleep at the Hyatt by McCormick place, I had reserved a hotel in Chinatown, a mile due west from the convention center. At about 6:30 I walked over there and checked in. Any amenity a hotel could cut corners on, this one did, but my rate was less than $95 a night with Chicago taxes. This took me very far outside of my comfort zone, but saving $300 on hotels rules.

Dinner was Chinese food from a random restaurant, followed by a trip to Walgreens for breakfast supplies and drinking water. I really should have planned where to eat better. I am sure there are excellent Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, but I failed to find them. The urban food desert is alive and well.

Saturday I woke up early, ate Kashi granola bars for breakfast, and walked over to the convention center. Feeling much better than Friday, probably a real 75%, I hit up Starbucks for an iced tea and scone. Following that I ducked into one of the hands on rooms to stretch and do mobility work.

My first session was a group conditioning workout with Alwyn Cosgrove. It completely rocked me and ruled out the possibility of any other intense sessions for the day. I had hoped to participate in a session run by Carlos Santana, but had to settle for watching.

My food for the rest of the day was unremarkable. I splurged on a $15 individual pizza for lunch, and then had another random Chinese food dinner. After the walk back to the hotel I hit up Walgreens for more granola bars and another gallon of water. The only way to really compensate for my sickness was to drink 20 ounces of water an hour, all day long. That coupled with my hoarse voice kept me quiet and really discouraged any networking.

Sunday I again woke up early, ate Kashi bars for breakfast, and walked to the convention center. While I felt much better, my voice was still terrible. I hit the Starbucks for an iced tea, did some stretching, and attended my seminars. While there were a few hands-on sessions, none were physically taxing. The conference ended around 1pm.

Following the conference I resolved to enjoy the city. With nothing but my backpack to worry about and perfect weather, I decided to just walk north. It turns out McCormick Place is south of some of Chicago’s best lake front. I walked past Soldier Field, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field museum, and all sorts of other cool stuff.

I could see Navy Pier in the distance and kept walking towards it, but it never seemed to get any closer. When I got close to Millennium Park, I decide to check that out and head into the city for lunch at Karen’s Cooked, a vegan restaurant. After lunch I had another walk to Union Station and the train ride home. I really should approach Chicago as a tourist at some point. The city has far more to offer than I take advantage of.

In total, I’d estimate Sunday included 6-7 miles of walking with a 20lb backpack. Given that I was feeling sick and sore, I am very happy with that.

This Week
This week is going to be a relatively low key recovery week. I need to get over being sick and my body is tired from the stress incurred over the past 5 weeks. My food is going to be relaxed, with more meals out than in the prior month. I weighed in at 163 on Monday morning and expect that will hold or drop over the course of the week.

I need to set a training plan for the grip contest, but that will come at another time.