Careers tend to start slowly. Somewhere along the way, the groove sets in and patterns are established. This leads to veteran status, which often comes with a measure of respect and reputation. However, the fitness industry is dynamic, and professionals must keep abreast of the latest research and training techniques if they want to retain their professional integrity. Even without continuing education requirements, it’s important to stay fresh and informed. Routine can trump creativity and drive, and this is why an educational event like 2007 IDEA Fitness Fusion—Chicago (April 19–22) is a key career booster.
It was while teaching a group exercise class that fitness educator Abbie Appel, who lives in Boca Raton, Florida, realized her participants were having problems moving in any plane other than sagittal. “A lot of injuries happen in the transverse plane,” she says. “Many people can’t move proficiently, nor do they practice enough in all planes of movement.” Appel developed a program to help confront the issue. “It is a training option that helps increase participant competency and proficiency in three planes of motion. It also assists group exercise instructors with program design.”
Her session “Unlocked and Unloaded—Multiplanar Movement” (#155) is designed to give fitness professionals a chance to become proficient at programming creative movement. Appel says that by the end of the workshop, participants will understand how to instruct movement safely in all planes of motion. “Instructors who are looking for ways to offer more variety will love this class,” she says. “There is less thinking and prep time involved in teaching [a proper] lunge in three planes [than there is in coming up with purposely difficult moves that involve equipment]. This technique has substance, as opposed to being creative for creativity’s sake.”
Health and fitness professionals do not need to be reminded about the obesity epidemic and its effect on the population. However, sessions that present new and effective ways to train the overweight or obese client are timely and practical. Rochelle Rice, MA, New York City resident and author of Real Fitness for Real Women: A Unique Workout Program for the Plus-Size Woman (Warner 2001), is presenting an InTensive session titled “Skills for Training the Overweight Client” (#310). InTensives are 4-hour, in-depth sessions that combine lecture information and research with movement and experiential application. According to Rice, the “experiential application” is one of the most important aspects of working with this population. “We need to start looking at the plus-size body with more compassion and empathy,” she says. “After all, this body type is becoming the norm these days. Our job is to help people reconnect with their bodies and teach them safe ways to move through life and be independent again. People need to be encouraged to move and simply be given the opportunity to strive for a better quality of life. This is a wonderful opportunity for fitness professionals to truly make a difference in someone’s life.”
IDEA member Kathy Robinson owns Body and Soul Personal Training in Davenport, Iowa. After attending Rice’s session at last year’s event, she became inspired to focus on the plus-size person. “Large facilities are often intimidating for larger people,” she says. “I am the only fitness facility in my area that is offering something specifically for this population. I have had many physicians and several counselors refer clients to me. They are happy to have something specific to recommend to their obese patients, rather than just saying, ‘You need to exercise.’ As personal trainers we can encourage movement and help our larger clients enjoy moving again. By following a specific program, they [become better able to] handle everyday life situations, and they begin to rediscover joy in activity. This often leads to the desire and motivation to begin eating in a healthy manner.”
While helping others is a primary focus within the industry, self-care is also becoming a hot topic among fitness professionals. After all, group fitness instructors and personal fitness trainers are usually very physically active, and some live with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Linda Freeman, owner of Guru Fitness in Green Bay, Wisconsin, offers a session called “Release, Align, Renew” (#242) that offers ways to address body aches while preparing for movement.
“This session is worth taking just for how it will make the attendee feel!” Freeman says. “I teach how to assess the body’s alignment in the beginning, and then I use the foam roller and MYO-Release Ball™ with Pilates exercises. The movement sequence first releases a typically tight muscle, such as a hip flexor, and then goes into a Pilates exercise that is often hindered by a tight hip flexor. By the end of the workshop, the body will feel very balanced and centered, as well as strong, and the attendee will be able to reassess the body and notice a difference.”
Freeman says one thing she loves about this movement combination is that it makes an impact but doesn’t feel like “work.” “It is also a self-preservation tool for fitness professionals who are physical all day and get muscle tightness.”