The SWIS Symposium is everything that’s right with the fitness industry. This event is a collection of the brightest minds in the fields of training, nutrition, rehab, and injury prevention from around the world, with the sole purpose of making everyone around them better.

There are no sales pitches or gimmicks. It’s not a competition to prove who’s the smartest or whose methods are the best. SWIS was simply a gathering of quality people who want to share what they know with others to make this industry better.

Because of this, it was no surprise that there was a huge elitefts presence at SWIS, whether it was actual members of the company or people who have been involved with the company in some way in the past. This event was an embodiment of the core values of elitefts: Live, Learn, Pass On.

swis elitefts

It all starts at the top with the creator of SWIS, Ken Kinakin, whose tireless efforts made this all possible. Ken managed to be everywhere at once during the weekend. His work was acknowledged by all of his presenters, and it wasn’t just a passing nod. You could tell it came from the heart and they were genuinely appreciative of everything he’s done. Despite the millions of things he had to worry about, he stopped to talk to everyone who approached him, including me.

It’s a small gesture of kindness, but it went a long way. I’m a new trainer with a lot to learn but I felt welcome. It was a gesture shared by all of the people I met at SWIS.

MORE: Dave Tate's SWIS 2016 Review

This was my second trip to SWIS after I first heard about it last year from Joe DeFranco. Joe has helped me in plenty of ways, but telling me about SWIS might rank at the top. After getting my introduction to the event last year, I swore I would make the most of every minute of this trip.

I could write a book on everything I learned from the 30-plus pages of notes I took from the weekend. Instead, I’m going to give you the Cliffs Notes version and share my biggest takeaways from SWIS.


While the presentations were top notch again, the real SWIS experience takes place outside of the presentation rooms. I train a few hockey players, so I really wanted to talk to Matt Nichol and Lorne Goldenberg. Both guys gave me their full, undivided attention and treated me like an equal. I was inspired by Nichol’s story in last year’s presentation where he discussed how he helped NHL goalie Ray Emery return after suffering avascular necrosis in his hip. Nichol took me behind the curtain and gave me behind-the-scenes stories of the process. When I told Goldenberg about one of my high school athletes, he gave me a full breakdown of ways I could fine-tune his program. He even showed me a few exercises I should incorporate.

Before I even checked into my room, I got to sit and talk with Carson Patterson, a trainer from Calgary, who talked to me for two hours and answered every question I had, no matter how trivial it was.

Speaking of the hallway, I watched Dave Tate practice what he preaches. After giving a presentation that went over the allotted 90 minutes, he gave each person that came up to him at least 15 minutes of his undivided attention. Nobody was brushed off. When I went up to him and explained my situation, he grabbed a seat and pretty much gave me a free consultation. He gave me strategies I could put to use right away and steps I needed to take to grow as a trainer. After we finished, none other than the grain-train, IFBB pro bodybuilder John Meadows swung by. I really enjoyed his presentation on his Mountain Dog training from the year before.

I watched Dr. Eric Serrano, Dr. David Leaf, Dr. Dale Buchberger, Paul Gagne, Justin Kavanaugh, Joe Arko and Kevin Darby come together and share ideas on the rehab panel. They went over strategies to fix the ankle, knee, hip, and back, and each speaker built on the other. There was no showmanship. I actually met Kavanaugh at SWIS last year and he’s been a mentor to me without asking for anything in return.

I learned the importance of SWIS from Dr. Stuart McGill. Dr. McGill rarely presents but he gave all of the audience members an exclusive presentation. He gave us exclusive video of athletes he’s worked on and stressed this wasn’t a presentation of his that you could find elsewhere. For a person of his stature, he was very approachable and made the information easy to digest.


What I really admired about all the presentations was how easy they were to understand. The speakers are the best the industry has to offer, yet they weren’t there to talk over your head. It’s a real testament to how good they are as coaches that they were able to take complex topics and break them down into their simplest form so someone like me could fully understand them. I can use loaded stretches for hypertrophy, performance, or injury prevention because of Christian Thibaudeau’s presentation, and have SSE’s, or “simple, stupid exercises”, I could use to help clients dealing with back pain thanks to Dr. Serrano.

After speaking to Dr. McGill and telling him my backstory, he told me he loves my passion. Well, that passion has only grown after everything I’ve experienced at SWIS. If you didn’t know my background and just went off of my stories from SWIS, you’d think I was one of the top trainers in the field. I boarded my plane home smarter, more confident, and inspired to keep on moving forward. That’s what the SWIS experience is all about.

About SWIS

Charlie is a NASM CPT and CES and CPPS certified trainer in Staten Island, NY. He was named the Strong Bastard 911 contest winner from Joe DeFranco and Jim Smith in 2015. Before training, he worked as a sports writer for the Newark Star-Ledger. He writes about his experiences in the fitness industry at