For years I have encouraged fellow personal trainers and group fitness instructors to join IDEA, telling them the magazine alone is worth the membership fee. Your January issue has more than proved my words true. It was simply outstanding. I especially enjoyed the articles by Stuart McGill, PhD (“The Painful Lumbar Spine”), and Ellen Langer, PhD (“If You Don’t Mind, It Really Does Matter”), but the entire issue gave me a great deal to think about. Thank you so much for the continued excellence.
Janet Weller, RN, CES
Closter, New Jersey
I welcome, appreciate, applaud and admire your decision to put a teacher and mentor whom all of us in the industry look up to on the November–December 2009 cover. PJ O’Clair, who was also the 2008 IDEA Program Director of the Year Award recipient, is one of our real icons. I think it helps us appreciate our own industry more when you put actual IDEA members, instructors and icons on the cover instead of stock photographs, because it makes the magazine that much more practical and applicable to all of us. Furthermore, I found PJ’s article, “Pilates on the Ball,” in the same issue trailblazing, useable and refreshing. Two thumbs up from me!
Lawrence Biscontini, MA
New York, New York
I recently enjoyed reading Fred Hoffman’s article “How to Be a Great Instructor” (April 2008 IDEA Fitness Journal). I’ve been teaching for 20 years and I continue to grow from reading articles like this. Sometimes it reminds me of the little things that count. I recently left my job at a health club where I had been teaching for 6 years. As I’ve started teaching at new health clubs, it’s been a learning experience—being “new” again. Walking into a room full of members who don’t know me or, quite frankly, don’t care how impressive my resumé is, can be humbling to say the least!
I’ve taken steps to make sure that I am fully prepared for my “new” classes. I am a notebook girl, so I always have my notebook full of class formats, but I’ve tried to go the extra mile and prepare a little more. I design class formats but with a couple of “what ifs.” What if the class is somewhat of a beginner level? I can’t hold them in a plank for 3 minutes—that certainly will not make them feel successful. Being able to decipher a class level and adapt is one of the most important responsibilities of an instructor.
I make it a priority to get to class 20–30 minutes early. Making sure I have a good understanding of the music, microphone or any other equipment needed is crucial for a smooth class. But perhaps the most important part about being early is that I can meet and greet my students. When I am in the room for that hour, I consider myself to be the host of a party. It is my job to introduce myself to [students] with a smile that offers warmth and comfort, just like your grandmother’s hot cup of tea and cookies.
Once I start the class, I introduce myself again and instead of giving my life story, I give them a roadmap of what they can expect from the workout. Throughout the workout, I remind them of where we are in the format and how much more they have left to endure. I tend to use the cool-down and relaxation as my thank-you to students for coming, as if I were walking them to the front door of my house as they depart.
Thank you again for the article!
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
I have been a member since 1988, and I have to say I am not sure what I would have done without IDEA’s support and education. I turned 63 this year and still run my own health and fitness business. The last 5 years have been busier than ever for me because I decided to go back to university and take a law degree; I hope to become a practicing lawyer when I finish in April. All this I owe to my being fit and healthy, but none of it would have happened without IDEA to spur me on over the years. Even as a lawyer, I will continue to teach exercise in some form. Sadly, because of studying I have not made it to an IDEA conference in a couple of years. I miss the companionship of other instructors and teachers and the learning experience. The first conference I attended was in Washington, DC, when Gin Miller introduced the step. I was the first in Scotland to have a step.
As a certified personal trainer and member of IDEA for more than 10 years, I read your articles all the time. I just wanted to mention how inspiring it was to read “Giving Back Boosts Business and Bonds” [“Making News,” November–December 2009] about trainers giving back to the community in this economy. I still have the story on top of my desk.
I believe in the power of inspiring and helping people to fitness. I moved from Ecuador 14 years ago to grow in the fitness industry, and I know my career will continue to grow with knowledge and experience. I work at a great gym in San Clemente, California, where I teach indoor cycling classes and Pilates. I also love the beach and fell in love with surfing. The passion I have for my career has taught me to be “out of my box.”
A year ago I was contacted to train a teenage competitive surfer. I trained her with Pilates for about 3 months. Her improved core strength and flexibility helped her so much during competitions that her surf coach at San Clemente High School asked me if I could help out with the surf team. As busy as my schedule was, I made it happen to volunteer my time and help the team. It has been the most rewarding experience to work with a group of 30 kids and teach them to improve their fitness. Many surfers ignore the importance of muscle balance, flexibility and injury prevention. My next goal is to introduce middle-school kids to Pilates.
I wanted to share this experience and encourage personal trainers to volunteer their time with teenagers. As trainers, we can have a great impact in our community.
San Clemente, California
Send your letters and opinions to Ryan Halvorson, IDEA Fitness Journal Fitness Forum, 10455 Pacific Center Ct., San Diego, CA 92121-4339; fax them to him at (858) 535-8234; or e-mail them to rhalvorson @ideafit.com. You may also leave a voice mail letter in the editorial voice mail box at (858) 535-8979, ext. 239. (For general membership questions or information, however, please e-mail member services at firstname.lastname@example.org.) We reserve the right to edit letters for length or clarity.