The lights were soft in a hotel banquet room prepared for a convention crowd. People filed in, lightly chattering among themselves, fully present in the Sunday evening space. A subtle oscillation filled the room, broken by the long, low shimmer of a gong, stage center. “You are about to meet a person, the person you came here to be,” intoned Inner IDEA programming director Marcia Hayes. “Quiet your mind. Calm your body. Engage your spirit. Go within and be you. Welcome home to Inner IDEA.” In one fell swoop the ordinary banquet room transformed into whatever the mind could conceive.
Five hundred wellness professionals from around the world made the journey “home” to the inaugural 2006 Inner IDEA Conference July 23–25 at the Moroccan-inspired Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort, hidden about 30 minutes east of Las Vegas. From the intention-setting tai chi exercise led by Lawrence Biscontini on the first day to the gratitude lunch and final sessions 21/2 days later, the experience was a true pilgrimage for many. “There was such a level of commitment, awareness and eagerness to learn that one couldn’t help but be inspired,” says Zoey Trap, MSc, senior program developer for Peak Pilates. “It was as though people came from all over the globe . . . [and] created a community.”
During the welcome address, Inner IDEA co-founder Peter Davis urged attendees to be present, connect with one another and approach the event with a beginner’s mind. The days that followed were filled with learning, growth and a return to center. The undercurrent: a positive approach to wellness practices and a thirst to drink in as much knowledge as possible. Jeff Stewart, chief executive director of The Nia Technique Inc., echoed the feelings of many who were there with this simple statement: “This crowd is committed.”
Inner IDEA featured some of the most diverse, eclectic and integrative programs for the mind-body, fitness and wellness industry. The mix of disciplines and depth of information gave attendees a chance to explore, challenge and unfold. “One of my greatest values is being on the edge,” says Pete Kirchmer, a life fitness coach and Stott Pilates® instructor, who lives in Tecate, Mexico. “I thrive on being the first to try a new form of exercise or even being the first to hear a new song or wear a new style. However, sometimes being at the edge can be a lonely place. The greatest thing about Inner IDEA was the intimate environment to connect with my peers who think just like I do. I got the sense that everyone there shared that value of being at the edge of change, although everyone expressed themselves differently.”
The sessions were varied, creative and insightful, making it difficult to narrow down choices. Here are just some of the highlights from this year’s experience:
- Attendees chose from more than 30 intensive Pilates mat and equipment sessions, including classes on cuing and corrections, advanced technique, breath integration, mindfulness training, postrehabilitation, techniques for mature audiences and even business ideas. In her session “Living the Pilates Life,” Kathy Corey, owner of West Coast Pilates in Del Mar, California, talked about how Pilates is “intelligent fitness for lifelong health.” “Pilates is a lifestyle that is founded on principles that affect the choices we make and the way we live,” she said. “How we move in the 165 hours per week that we are not exercising is more important than the 3 hours a week at the gym. From the way we move to the care of the body and soul, the Pilates approach to life is a holistic way to live.”
- Ongoing Gyrotonic® demonstrations piqued the interest of many attendees, especially those who had not yet seen the unique spiraling and circular motions of this type of exercise. Many of the sessions focused on the benefits for all populations, from the inactive to athletes.
- Sessions that integrated body, mind and spirit added a colorful, creative touch to the already diverse program. Attendees chose from programs such as Nia, qigong, tai chi, moonlight meditation, relaxation techniques, tribal dance, sound enhancement therapy, color therapy, Thai massage, creating a healing class environment and journal writing, among others. This selection appealed to Marti Angel, MA, a personal lifestyle coach from San Diego. “As it is when you have an inner practice, you are open to the universe with all your senses,” she says. “You become a channel for the peacefulness of the universe, you are but a flower in bloom as you breathe, and your body becomes relaxed and transmuted into the moment. You are om! I managed to find this, and it is the true meaning of Inner IDEA.”
- There were many in-depth opportunities for attendees to deepen their yoga practice. Options included “The Yogic Warrior,” “Chakra Yoga,” “The Art and Heart of Anusara Yoga,” “Ashtanga Yoga,” “Raja Yoga,” “Restorative Yoga” and “Yoga Nidra.” Finding balance was a challenge, and this was one of the topics in Sherri Baptiste Freeman’s session “Inspiration and Practice.” “As teachers, we quickly come to recognize that our time is not always our own. Imbalance can build over time, causing stress in the body and mind. This kind of stress will rob you of the inspirational juice that motivated you and got you teaching in the first place. Maintain physical well-being, mental organization, energy and joy in the process. These are all key players in productivity as a teacher.”
- Presenters gave attendees a strong scientific base to stand on with new and recent research on various facets of the mind-body connection. In his session “Mind-Body Research Review: 2006,” Ralph La Forge, MSc, managing director of the Lipid Clinic and Disease Management Preceptorship Program at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, covered psychosomatic medicine, the effect of tai chi on health outcomes, yoga and gait, and how hatha yoga effects fitness parameters. This class was packed, as was Jim Gavin’s session “Emotional Anatomy: How Bodies Reveal Personality.” George Tabares, fitness specialist for Integrated Fitness & Wellness in San Diego, found Gavin’s topic eye-opening in a creative, new way. “It was very informative and entertaining,” he said. “Body typing is quite an old concept in personal training, but it has also been very limited. [Gavin’s] presentation associated personality, emotions and possible traumas that influence our personalities.”
- Attendees had ample opportunities to explore the business of wellness, including marketing and management training. In her session “How to Follow Your Bliss and Not Go Broke,” Dory Willer, author and certified personal and business success coach, urged people to be true to themselves and their callings. “Your calling comes naturally in environments that support your values,” she said.
- Wellness and nutrition-themed sessions educated attendees about many subjects, including nutritional immunity, the dangers of herb and supplement roulette, mindful “eating from the heart” and the relationship between unexpressed emotion and weight issues. During “Motion and Emotion,” Rochelle Rice, MA, and Karol Ward, LCSW, took turns explaining how overweight clients typically hold emotion in their bodies and what a wellness professional can do to guide these people to health while remaining within scope of practice.
According to Hayes, the ultimate goal of Inner IDEA is positive transformation, both personal and professional. On-site during those 21/2 days in July, this intention became reality. A new community emerged from the desert. Yoga and Pilates instructors, lifestyle coaches, qigong and tai chi practitioners and fitness professionals all made a pilgrimage to find that inner light that would guide them and their clients to optimal wellness.
This premier event set a clear tone for the future; one that resonates and envelops. Inner IDEA attendees embraced the visionary as truly possible and opened the door for themselves and others to engage their senses. “I loved the creative buzz and constant vibe that something big is subtly happening in our industry, the impact of which we can only imagine,” says Kirchmer. “Years from now I will look back and be proud to say I attended the first Inner IDEA Conference.”
If you attended the Inner IDEA Conference and want to discuss with other attendees some of the concepts you learned, or if you’d simply like to connect with other like-minded professionals, the Inner IDEA community message forum is your home. Visit www.inneridea.com and click “Community” to get started.
During two general sessions providing “Visions of the Future” at the Inner IDEA Conference, nine dynamic leaders in a variety of body, mind and spirit specialties shared insights into trends and outlooks that are shaping the wellness movement.
- Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, presented recent research during “Mind and Body Linked at Last: The Science of Wellness.” She highlighted the relationship between wellness and weight management and talked about how research is supporting once-obscure concepts like psychoneuroimmunology.
- In her talk “The Media’s Role in Mind-Body-Spirit Going Mainstream,” Barbara Harris, MA, editorial director for SHAPE, Natural Health and Fit Pregnancy magazines, explored the many ways that spirit fits into the health and wellness paradigm. “The body is the densest part of the soul,” she quoted author Michael Murphy as say- ing in an interview, attributing the concept to Sri Aurobindo.
- Debbie Rosas, co-creator and founder of The Nia Technique, invited the audience to “smell the moment” with her talk “Transformational Practices for Inspiring the Sacred Athlete Within: The Future of Fitness.” She urged attendees to seek balance and awareness as they practiced the “somatic arts.” “Integration is about co-creation; it’s about awareness. There is no separation,” she said. “Fitness is the ability to adapt. When we are no longer able to adapt, we decay and die. As a culture, can we adapt? Can we help others adapt? The sacred athlete finds meaning and purpose in everything.”
- In “Pilates and the Future,” Kathy Corey, the founder and director of West Coast Pilates National Certification Program, acknowledged how far Pilates has come over the years and stated that Pilates instructors are in a unique position to introduce an “intelligent fitness technique” to the masses for lifelong health. Paraphrasing a quote from Joseph Pilates, she said, “Being here at this conference is not just to learn a bunch of new exercises, but to gain a greater enjoyment of life.” Corey described how people, the media particularly, have approached her to talk about Pilates over three decades. “In the ’80s, ’90s and today, people have said, ‘So Kathy, Pilates is hot. What’s next?’ She paused, and slowly spread out her arms to encompass all delegates, saying, “I’m looking at the future of Pilates.”
- Veronica Zador, vice president and chair of the standards committee for Yoga Alliance, took the audience through an entertaining and enlightening view of yoga in “The Future of Yoga: Trends and Therapies.” She cited yoga teaching as one of the fastest-growing careers and questioned aloud how much adaptation [of this ancient practice] is acceptable. The demand for yoga is clearly growing. “Why, after 7,000 years, the sudden interest?” she asked rhetorically. “There is no shortage of support in the media today for yoga. It is indeed old yoga in the new world.”
- Jeff Bensky, PhD, MA,
presented his thoughts in “The Future of Wellness Services: The Experience Economy.” “The future is about you, as explorers and leaders,” he said. “You are in the business of transformation and change; it’s all about creating authentic experiences for the consumer. Go to the future and build a bridge back.”
- Peter Reding, MBA, MCLC, MCC, offered insight into the future of the burgeoning arena of life coaching, including accreditation and certification, trends, behavior change strategies, opportunities and business success tactics. Coaching moves people from the clinical perspective of What’s wrong with you? to an action perspective of What do you want to create next? he explained. “I can tell you one thing categorically,” he said. “Coaching is all about the human spirit. It permeates all areas of life, and it gives us the chance to learn how to listen and respect other humans. It’s about connecting ‘hole’ to ‘wholeness.’”
- In “Wellness, Nutrition and the Future,” Ronda Gates, MS, shared emerging nutrition research and talked about the effects that specific foods, vitamins and other supplements have on our health at all ages. She highlighted nutrigenomics, functional foods, anti-aging concepts and self-responsibility as areas of interest in the years to come. “Food is becoming a touchstone for personal transformation,” she said.
- During her “Mindful Living” talk, Lorna Francis, PhD, CLC, invited the audience to experience a nature scene without focusing in on one particular sense. Her talk homed in on what it means to live in the present moment, and how to use mindful approaches in working with clients. “Mindfulness—AKA awareness, alertness, presence, consciousness—is about being conscious about where you are right now. Living in the present moment gives us the awesome opportunity to experience lasting peace and joy,” she said.