I must admit to feeling burned out of late. Strong Medicine was released several months ago and I have just completed the final requirements of a two year fellowship in Integrative Medicine. Both of these have been monumental personal achievements for me following my passion and mission to improve the dismal state of public health, specifically the seemingly unstoppable spread of preventable chronic disease. Despite these recent achievements, I have felt very alone and isolated within the conventional medical system. My Integrative Medicine classmates are like-minded, but many are struggling to find a way to earn a living putting a holistic model of medicine that emphasizes prevention into practice within the mainstream. I have been disheartened to say the least, but this last weekend was a game changer for me.
Dragon Door’s first Health and Strength Conference was an incredible experience as both a speaker and participant. I have never seen so many incredibly talented people under one roof who were all freely sharing their experiences and diverse approaches to the betterment of our collective health and wellness. I am posting this on the Strong Medicine blog, because the conference presenters and participants exemplified the Strong Medicine mission statement found on the home page of this blog in their own unique way.
Rolando Garcia gave an insightful presentation on the business of fitness, but made a key point that left a lasting impression on me. He rightly pointed out that a trainer will potentially see a client 100-200 times per year (as opposed to a handful of 15 minute doctors visits) placing the trainer in a unique position with an opportunity to have a tremendous impact on a person’s health, potentially far more than their health care provider.
Danny and Al Kavadlo gave informative and entertaining talks, reminding us again that your clients don’t need gym memberships or fancy equipment to effectively rebuild bodies ravaged by the inactivity rampant in modern society. Their amazing bodyweight progressions make strength training truly accessible to all.
Max Shank knocked it out of the park sharing his stripped down approach to training. While I gave a theoretical talk about using the concepts of allostatic load in training, Max showed us how he is already doing it with his clients and getting fantastic results and keeping them injury free.
Zach Even-Esh is truly a warrior for public health. He is training our kids, a group many are predicting to be the first generation not to outlive their parents. Zach’s life story, work ethic, and commitment to improving the sorry state of fitness in our adolescents and teenagers was inspirational for me.
Andrea Du Cane put the spotlight brightly on the importance of training our aging population. She gave a fantastic talk that emphasized not only why we should be actively seeking this demographic as clients, but safe and effective ways to implement real strength training and reverse the scourges of sarcopenia and osteoporosis.
Steve Holiner filled in brilliantly for Josh Henkin. His presentation of the DVRT system was outstanding, filling in the gaps many of us have with our movement. The potential applications to rehabilitation and “prehabilitation” are very exciting for me. I was also blown away be his brief offline discussion with me on his biopsychosocial approach to training.
Phil Ross gave a barnstorming presentation on training and combatives that peaked my interest as a fledgling BJJ practitioner. Jon Bruney and Logan Christopher gave fascinating lectures on harnessing the brain and nervous system to improve performance. Mike Gillette showed us how to save our joints while building incredible strength and resilience with his masterful presentation on ring training. Mike Krivka showed his passion and expertise anchoring our introduction to CrossCore HardCore.
And finally my co-author Marty Gallagher gave one of the most poignant and inspiration talks that I have ever seen. I am truly honored to call that man a friend.
The participants were out of this world as well. My discussions throughout the two days with so many of them were just as educational for me as the formal presentations. There were so many trainers and even some other health care professionals sharing their knowledge freely. This was the most collegial environment that I have ever experienced.
I have come away from the Dragon Door Health and Strength Conference with my fire burning again. The epiphany for me was that I need to spend my energy bringing groups like this together to better our collective craft, rather than wringing my hands over my frustrations with our current health care system. If we can keep building our collective and synergize our efforts, we can truly have an impact on public health. My sincere thanks to everyone involved for making this experience one of the best in my professional career, and especially to John Du Cane for having the vision to make it happen.
Chris Hardy, D.O., M.P.H., CSCS, is the author of Strong Medicine: How to Conquer Chronic Disease and Achieve Your Full Genetic Potential. He is a public-health physician, personal trainer, mountain biker, rock climber and guitarist. His passion is communicating science-based lifestyle information and recommendations in an easy-to-understand manner to empower the public in the fight against preventable chronic disease.