Education Extravaganza: 2017 IDEA® World

by Joy Keller, Judy Minich, Kate Watson and Sandy Todd Webster on Aug 18, 2017

Wherever they are, the best personal trainers, group exercise instructors, fitness entrepreneurs and nutrition/wellness professionals excel at what they do, but in the macrocosm of motion that is the IDEA World Convention, they redefine the limits of their potential. At the 2017 event, held in Las Vegas, July 19–23, more than 10,000 like-minded pros placed a bet on continued happiness and success, upping the ante as they attended more than 330 workshops and workouts taught by the industry’s greatest minds. Back this year due to resounding success: the IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit and the IDEA World Club & Studio Summit, two phenomenal keys to professionalism in a crowded playing field.

The shared passion and commitment to making the world a better place ignited a movement 35 years ago, when co-founders Kathie and Peter Davis birthed IDEA. That movement is stronger than ever and gaining steam, thanks to thousands of dedicated fitness professionals like you. Read on to relive the highlights of the fitness industry’s biggest celebration.

Personal Training: Innovation, Mastery and Function



Whether it’s one-on-one, small-group or team training that consumers are seeking, two things are certain: They want the best information on how to achieve optimum health and wellness, and IDEA members offer the pinnacle of positive results. This year’s roundup of training methodologies covered everything from fascia to foundations to function and beyond, and no population was overlooked. Here are some highlights from the personal training track:

Coaching is hot. While the need for a solid foundation in exercise science is still essential, the message many experts shared was this: Be a coach, and that doesn’t mean simply wear a whistle around your neck. What good coaching entails, according to industry expert Robert “Bobby” Cappuccio, is “giving people the resources they need to be their most resourceful so that they can create what they want in life.”

The fascial web is integral to fitness. Fascia, the jelly-like net that holds our bodies together, remains in the spotlight. Sessions on self-myofascial release prepared attendees to help clients stave off injuries and recover efficiently. Podiatrist Emily Splichal, MS, noted, “To be an efficient runner you need to be able to tap into your myofascial web, which means we need to train the body as a deep interconnected web.”

Find a niche and lean into it. The most successful trainers discover areas where they excel, and that’s where they land. Special populations include active aging, pre- and postnatal, prehabilitation, athletes, children and many more.

Group Therapy: Where Magic Happens



IDEA World is one enormous fitness class, where thousands strive to reach personal goals together. Harnessing the power and synergy of group exercise, but still staying focused on what each person needs, was an important theme in the more than 150 group fitness sessions.

How can instructors bring this energy at home? Create a community. “People want to be a part of a group,” said athlete trainer Bennie Wylie. “Do that for your [participants]. Encourage them say hello to each other. Ensure that everyone feels safe to participate.” You could see this safety—and joy—in the faces of his class participants, who high-fived one another after a hard movement.

IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo


It felt like your favorite birthday when you walked into the upbeat IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo. Hundreds of booths lined the aisles, including a substantial Nutrition Pavilion and all the services, programs, apparel, supplies, equipment and in-booth workouts you could wish for.

This haven for all things fitness and wellness pulsed with never-ending energy and a lifetime supply of information and resources to catapult your career. Where else could you sample the healthiest fare, get a massage, buy your next playlist, try on the latest fitness fashion, win various prizes, rub elbows with fitness celebrities, and get insider advice from owners and master trainers of the latest equipment and programs? Not to mention all the deep discounts!

Nowhere else can you browse through more than 100 brands from nearly 350 exhibitors in between workouts in the IDEA World Showcase Arena with fitness stars like Cassey Ho, Tony Horton, Todd Durkin, Joel Freeman and Jericho McMatthews.

2017 IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit: Food Matters!


This two-day intensive clearly showed that our industry’s traditional client model is incrementally changing. What’s exciting about the shift is that more professionals grasp that it’s not just diet or exercise or behavior modification that makes a difference for lasting change and well-being—it’s all of the above. Fitness professionals, specifically health coaches, have powerful potential to shine new, compassionate light onto clients’ sometimes dark struggles by adopting approaches learned from behavioral and nutrition science and collaborating with like-minded professionals in the nutrition and lifestyle medicine disciplines.

Adopting plant-based diets and getting ourselves back into the kitchen to cook more often were primary points, and two expert chef demos demonstrated the versatility and deliciousness of plant-based eating. Here are brief highlights from this event’s thought leaders:

  • Ashley Koff, RD, founder of Better Nutrition, urged all to say goodbye to “horrible diets and reductionist food discussions” that praise or vilify “good” or “bad” carbs or fats. The dialogue simply needs to be about real food. “It’s about better, not perfect, choices,” she said, often repeating that mantra with an emphasis on clamping the gushing spigot of INFObesity (information overload) that regularly douses us with ambiguous messages and damning judgments of foods and nutrients.
  • In her talk “Caving to the Craving,” Pew Scholar and University of Maryland professor Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, laid out a three-stage recovery plan for people with addictive behaviors, saying that while genes may be our predisposition, they are not necessarily our fate. Peeke presented leading-edge discoveries in epigenetics and neuroscience that show how clearly food, movement and mindfulness interact with our bodies—all the way down to the DNA level. Every health choice has a positive (or negative) effect, but given the chance to heal as we make better choices, our bodies are resilient and up to the task.

IDEA World Club & Studio Summit: A Shining Sequel


Last year, IDEA World hosted an event-within-an-event dedicated to those intent on creating a top-notch fitness facility. The IDEA World Club & Studio Summit offered attendees a rare chance to learn from innovative business and brand experts. It was so successful that it returned this year with even deeper educational pockets.

Darren Hardy, former publisher and editor of SUCCESS magazine, encouraged attendees to focus on a “vital few” in their businesses and stop trying to be everything to everyone. He also encouraged the crowd to create a “give-up” list. This is a list of time-draining activities that steal precious energy from your essential beat, your “one thing.” For example, Hardy gave up reading the news and following sports so that he could focus on one project that ended up snowballing into a massive venture.

For many more helpful strategies and insights from the convention, look forward to a full-length article on this topic—including profiles of Todd Durkin, MA, and Nick Ekbatani, MBA, this year's recipients of the IDEA Jack LaLanne Award and the IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award, respectively—in the October 2017 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

Photography by Len Spoden.

Want more from Joy Keller?

Want more from Sandy Todd Webster?

IDEA Fit Tips, Volume 15, Issue 9

Find the Perfect Job

More jobs, more applicants and more visits than any other fitness industry job board.

© 2017 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Authors

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master.

Judy Minich

Judy Minich IDEA Author/Presenter

Kate Watson

Kate Watson IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.