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35 Years and the Time of Your Life!

by Kate Watson on Jul 21, 2017

Wow! You want high energy? Check. Excitement? Check. Faces flushed with the happiness of physical and mental effort? Absolutely. Hearts filled with gratitude? Yes, indeed. And love? Yes, even love itself, you’ve got it.

This is the 2017 IDEA® World Convention, and it’s off to a roaring, pulsing, big-hearted start. This morning’s schedule brimmed to overflowing, starting with early workouts (everything from kickboxing, SAQ training and cycling to yoga, Pilates and barre), continuing with educational workshops and ending with all the thrill and inspiration of the Opening Ceremonies.

  • Dynamo June Kahn told her class, “Pilates is my thing. It’s my thing. 64 years old and I bought a Pilates studio this year—I should be retiring!” And she laughed, adding, “The more you move, the longer you’re going to live, right?” Kahn knows Hardy’s lesson: She knows how to last.
  • And lasting, as Hardy would tell us, takes hard work. No quick fixes. No gimmicks. Just mastering the mundane; putting in the effort; doing the unsexy work of staying disciplined: “Squeeze,” Amanda Strand told her attendees, as they gripped a ball between their thighs. “Just squish that ball. Stay, stay. Now lift the heels up, squeeze, squeeze. Get up under it. Squeeze. Squish that ball, squish it!”
  • No cookie-cutters here: “All of us and all our clients are snowflakes—symmetry is individual for every body. So when you’re working with a client, you are not looking for perfection—you are looking for what symmetry is in that environment.” That gem was from Erika Quest in her Pilates Power Mat workshop.
  • And as I rack up a few years myself, here is a powerful reminder from active aging specialist Cody Sipe: “I was talking to people in a retirement community, and mostly their view of exercise is to walk a little bit. Walking is good, but it’s not going to prevent the declines we see in all these systems.”

What great education in all the sessions I visited this morning! Attendees were psyched. Then it was on to the huge Paradise South hall where thousands and thousands of us gathered to watch the Opening Ceremonies, kicked off by IDEA co-founders Kathie and Peter Davis. The crowd roared. Kathie produced one of the pink leotards women wore at the first IDEA event in the mid-1980s. Together, Peter and Kathie announced a $100,000 Scholarship Fund to help deserving fitness pros attend IDEA events that they otherwise would be unable to afford.

The ceremonies went on to honor IDEA award recipients for their inspiring and dedicated work helping others:

  • First, IDEA Program Director of the Year Debbie Bellenger (“Serving this industry has been a joy and a privilege”); IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Michael Piercy (“What do you say to someone who has given you everything?” —speaking of his mom); and IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Jessica Matthews (“You can’t let a moment of this precious experience [of life] go by. . . . you’ve got to believe in yourself—you’ve just got to”). Each was introduced by a fitness great and beloved member of the IDEA family: Fred Hoffman, Sheri McMillan and Jay Blahnik.
  • Next, Nick Ekbatani, 2017 IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award recipient, whose brilliant career as a UCLA offensive lineman was demolished when a taxi van ran into him on his motorcycle. Now, 5 years and 15 surgeries later, he is inspiring others as a cycling and group fitness instructor—and can say with pride that his body is finally healed. As Nick was growing up, the gym was his sanctuary—his escape from a dysfunctional family and bullying schoolmates. After the accident, he again sought solace in the gym, but at some point he realized it was no longer a refuge but a calling—and thus his career as a fitness professional was born.
  • And finally, the irrepressible IDEA presenter and Fitness Quest 10 owner Todd Durkin, receiving the 2017 IDEA Jack LaLanne Award. Yes, Elaine was there—91 years old and spunky as ever!—and when Todd appeared in a black jumpsuit to honor Jack, she bested him by producing the original red jumpsuit that had been Jack’s signature wardrobe piece. Todd spoke as rousingly as he leads his boot camps, honoring the great godfather of fitness and urging attendees to fill themselves with light—be lighthouses! “Be humble and be hungry,” he added. “And never forget to be the hardest worker in the room.”

So Todd knows Hardy’s lesson, too. And what a lesson it was. When he came to the stage, he was electric. He offered no sugary promises—just “hard frickin’ work”—but I can bet you that everyone left that room ready to give their all. To choose wisely, to make small choices count so they add up to big changes, to dig deep and find the discipline to climb the mountain that is their goal.

And if we needed an example of two people who’ve done that—who’ve honed the discipline to work day after day, year after year, forgoing short-term rewards to enjoy long-term success—we have that example in Kathie and Peter Davis, who returned to the stage to delight attendees and touch their hearts with a special farewell dance. Picture perfect in matching blues, they wrapped up 35 extraordinary years of leadership at IDEA by dancing to the soundtrack of “I’ve had the time of my life!” Those two certainly knew how to last, didn’t they? And we are all deeply grateful that they did.

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About the Author

Kate Watson

Kate Watson IDEA Author/Presenter