Are Seminars Worth the Investment?

By: Danny Bellmore

Owning a gym and being in the game as long as I have, I get a lot of questions in regards to the value of attending any given seminar – What seminar do you recommend? Do you go to seminar X? Was it any good? I always say the same exact thing to everyone that asks about ANY seminar: If you attend a seminar and you learn just one thing it was worth every penny. There is always some element that can be learned, reinforced, or taught completely different provided you are willing to listen. Some key points on seminar attendance that I follow:

  1. Know the reputation of the key speaker and associated speakers – This element is the foundation of a good seminar and there are many seminars that will have multiple presenters. More presenters, more perspectives, different backgrounds – all of which provide you more bang for your buck. There are setups that are personalized to promote one key speaker so he or she will be the focus. There must be consideration that with a sole presenter, there less possibility for one on one interaction. The lack of one on one time puts the onus on you to pay attention start to finish, and especially through any question and answer time. I have learned just as much, merely by listening to other questions being asked and answered.
  2. What will be the itinerary? – The key point to be made here is that you don’t want to waste money, or time learning stuff you have no real interest in applying. Make sure there will be a direct benefit to you. I have been to a few seminars where I would hear in the distance, “I thought it would be different, or this is not what I signed up for.” That’s a lack of preparation on the attendee. Most everyone who is hosting one of these seminars can be reached by email. If you pay for something not knowing what you are getting yourself into that’s on you.
  3. Will this be hands on? – A hands on seminar is always going to be better for you, but this is not necessarily a deal breaker. The next step down is observation of hands on, directly. I will say that hands on is much better if you are a hands-on type of person. I have attended a myriad of seminars and my preference is to take an active role in the seminar. You own the information a little better. I have also witnessed many friendships being made through one on one interaction at varying times during any seminar. This can be a very effective networking opportunity.
  4. Location? – This can add to the cost if the seminar is far away and there are additional travel and/or lodging considerations. At that point you need to ask yourself if the cost/ benefit is worth the trip to you and your goals. I have spent as little as $100.00 for a seminar all the way up to $2500.00 for a well-known sheet metal shaper’s seminar. Now that metal seminar may seem expensive, but I can assure you I got my money’s worth….and then some. There was value and the seminar was well worth my time, energy, and resources.
  5. Keep an open mind – You must remember these people are trying to help you. They are there to teach you, guide you…after all you are a paying customer there to listen. DO NOT be that guy/gal that wants to argue every damn point. One thing I’ve heard many people say, sometime before the seminar even starts is, “I’m sure they won’t teach me anything I don’t already know.” My response to these people is, “Maybe you should be holding the seminar? Let’s turn our chairs to you and take it away!” I don’t care what damn level of a lifter you are – there is always something to learn. Don’t associate with the negative people. There is so much to learn if you just want to listen. These seminars are about connecting and gathering information. Lunch and dinner time is a great way to capitalize on everyone gathering and sharing information. There is more learning and sometimes reinforcing concepts that have just been covered. Like I said, the single best piece of advice I can give is you just need to listen more and talk less.

My personal advice is that if you get to attend a seminar- just do it. You don’t have to use every element from every seminar. A Bruce Lee quote reads. “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” Everything is in a flux, constantly changing, and you will never know everything. I will suck up as much knowledge as I can to push me further and enable me to pass on as much as I can….to anyone who wants to listen.

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Danny Bellmore

Danny has been involved in powerlifting since 1994. The first swing at a career was short lived due to a major back injury in 1999 that resulted in a 3-level spinal (lumbar) fusion. At that point, he took a 10-year break. Avoiding the gym all together because his body, and back, just never felt right. In 2010, Danny went to handle a good friend at a local meet. That experience re-ignited the fire within and he was back under the bar, never looking back. Danny established an elite total at my first meet back in 2010 and then accomplished a win at the 2012 APF Masters Nationals. Through his win at the APF Masters, he was training using the Conjugate Method, but he wanted a change. He needed a change. Danny reached out to a friend who stated that Brian and the Samson Barbell crew had it going on. In the process of connecting with Brian, he has endured a few setbacks. During our initial discussions, he had torn my rotator cuff and labrum, along with a separated AC joint. The surgery did not "take" and just nine months later, he was back under the knife for a "do-over." During the healing process, he had lost feeling and strength in my right arm. Being pig headed, he waited and waited. My choice to remain stubborn backfired, and I was back in the OR for another spinal (cervical) fusion. Now healed, and a few years under Brian, Danny’s total has moved to 1871 @ 165. He doesn’t like to predict or talk about goals, but he wants more, and feels like he has more. Plans now are to compete at the Senior Nationals in Jacksonville, Florida this June.
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