Thursday, 4.12.12, 14:45 PM
Las Vegas Airport, Pre-Flight Purgatory
This week I attended the NSCA-TSAC conference in Las Vegas. TSAC is the division of the National Strength and Conditioning Association developed to address Tactical Strength and Conditioning, specifically the fitness needs of the military, law enforcement professionals and fire fighters. It was an incredible experience and I would like to attend this conference annually.
The lectures on schedule were presented by leaders in each field and the content was relevant and insightful. I was impressed with the presenters' willingness to note where they felt their research was limited, and how they felt the testing, training and priorities might be adjusted going forward to better serve their demographics.
There were a few recurring themes that made the content of this conference markedly different from a general fitness or strictly athletic conference. Several times it was presented that the success measure for athletic performance vs tactical performance distills down to win or lose vs alive or dead. The injury reporting rate for service professionals is far lower (they tough it out and don't tend to request treatment) than that of the athletic or general public populations. The tactical training priority is to complete physical conditioning safely and effectively rather than over-focus on mastery of formal lift technique.
I have a deep appreciation for many traditions of physical training. The commitment required to reach any physical milestone is noteworthy. Practice that involves self-mastery is some of the most courageous work we can do.
I also note that when a physical training needs analysis is focused on preserving life in extreme physical circumstances - in battle, in a fire, in a violent altercation or in any other circumstance of physical danger - the emphasis on survival comes first. Preserving life is the immediate goal of the exercise program.
Being part of a culture that is recovering from some ailments of a prevalent sedentary life-style, sometimes the immediate life-preserving aspects of fitness slip off the radar. The idea that eating well now and exercising now for health later doesn't carry the same urgency as eat well and exercise now to stay alive now. This conference woke me up to my own sense of time-lapse lethargy and inspired me to pay more attention to the immediate factors in my own life, even as a civilian with comparatively low risk.
This conference was great for my own growth because historically I have had some insecurity about moving in military-oriented or perceived conservative communities based on some fears of not-belonging. The presenters were clearly motivated by genuine care and compassion for the demographics they serve and there was an impressive level of attention and respect amongst the participants. I met a couple new friends over an epic coffee incident the first morning, which made the whole experience so much more fun than I could have anticipated. I look forward to seeing how this conference will evolve in years to come.