Propelling the World to Wellness

Jul 01, 2005

Celebrate the accomplishments of the 2005 IDEA Health & FitnessAwards finalists

  • Fitness professionals around the globe have a tremendous impact on the health, fitness and wellness of their communities. IDEA is proud of all our members, who work diligently—day after day—to excite people about healthy living and to empower their clients to make changes on their own.

The IDEA Health & Fitness Awards honor colleagues who have done a superb job at inspiring their clients, their communities and the fitness industry. Join us on July 6 and 7 as we honor the accomplishments of all finalists at IDEA World Fitness Convention® in Las Vegas. The awards will be presented in affiliation with the morning keynote addresses. Sarah Reinertsen will receive the 2005 IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award. The presentations will also recognize the 2005 IDEA Program Director of the Year, the 2005 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and the 2005 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year.

Congratulations to all the devoted fitness pros who were nominated or who applied for the awards, and to the following finalists. Here we share highlights from the finalists’ applications.


This award recognizes an IDEA member who is a healthy role model, who demonstrates keen professional commitment through community and industry involvement, and whose outstanding leadership inspires staff and influences both active and underactive people to commit to a healthy lifestyle through successful, creative and diverse programming.

Finalist: Donna Cyrus
New York City

As the national group fitness director for Crunch Fitness, Donna Cyrus spearheads the development of innovative programming that makes Crunch a leader in the fitness industry.

Theatrical, Yet Safe, Programming

Since joining Crunch in 1998, Cyrus has created entertaining and highly effective classes, including Crunch exclusives “Cycle Karaoke,” “Cardio Striptease,” “Liquid Strength,” “Urban Rebounding” and “Crunch Broadway Series,” plus the latest canine lover’s dream, “Ruff Yoga.” Her inspiration and success are due in part to her experience as a Broadway performer and actress.

Helping the Bottom Line

In bringing safe, effective programming to a previously entertaining yet unsafe class schedule, Cyrus has increased Crunch member participation from 30% to 70% in 7 years. She has also created a budget-saving process by introducing online sign-in, class-number recording and payroll application. This system allows directors to easily pull class attendance numbers, instructor-per-attendance costs and payroll applications each quarter so the directors can quantify where to cut budget.

Creating Jobs for Instructors

Over the last 7 years, Cyrus has expanded the group fitness program from eight locations with two directors and 75 instructors to 24 locations nationwide with 10 directors and more than 650 instructors. “This year I’m championing the first Crunch Mentor Program to develop and encourage less seasoned instructors through educational seminars and [opportunities to work] with experienced instructors,” she says.

Programming Beyond the Gym

Taking education outside of Crunch, Cyrus has implemented four CEC-approved programs in the 10 North American villages of Club Med. “These programs assure that all Club Med instructors become AFAA- and CPR-certified and are judged on form and safety in instruction,” she says.

Making a Difference for Women

Cyrus is the creator of exciting new programming for SELF magazine’s “Workout in the Park.” During her tenure, the workout has raised more than $220,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the Komen Race for the Cure® to help eradicate breast cancer in women.

Finalists: Alex McMillan and Sherri McMillan, MSc
Vancouver, Washington

As owners of Northwest Personal Training and Fitness Education, the McMillans oversee the day-to-day operations of their business; manage a staff of 11; lead personal and group training sessions; and present workshops. They actually met at an IDEA convention. “We owe our life, our little girl and our business to IDEA!” says Sherri McMillan, MSc.

Boosting Revenue

The McMillans opened their 5,000-square-foot, cutting-edge personal training studio in 2003 and, in 1 year, exceeded revenue projections by $200,000. They are on track for 2005 revenues in excess of $800,000. “[Our revenue] is more outstanding if you consider [that] our studio is located in a small city that has struggled with unemployment and a poor economy,” they say.

Mentoring Their Staff

The McMillans take a hands-on approach with staff: “We have a comprehensive apprenticeship program that allows new trainers to shadow veteran trainers and includes face-to-face time with both of us for role-playing complimentary sessions, sales training and customer service training.”

Starting Group Training

They created an extensive small-group training program, which offers clients the ability to personal train at a fraction of the cost of private training. “Because individuals split the costs, we can keep the rates low—$60 for 2 weeks, in comparison to $62 per hour for a private training session,” they say.

Organizing Fun Activities

Every month, the McMillans introduce clients to a new adventure, such as hiking, kayaking or snowshoeing. “Clients thank us and tell us they would never have tried that activity had it not been for us organizing the trip,” they say.

Valuing the Community

Each year, the McMillans organize different fitness events for charity. “We recently raised $1,000 for a youth shelter by holding a ‘Train the Trainer’ auction. Clients bid to seek revenge on their trainers and put them through their paces!” they say.

Finalist: Cody Sipe, MS
West Lafayette, Indiana

As executive director of the A.H. Ismail Center for Health, Exercise & Nutrition at Purdue University, Cody Sipe, MS, manages and directs all operational phases for a 750-member fitness facility and supervises three full-time and 15–20 part-time staff.

Generating New Revenue Streams

Sipe believes in developing a significant nondues revenue base. “This is especially important in my facility because we offer the lowest membership rate in our area, owing to our heavily emphasized service mission,” he says. “Now almost 15% of our total revenue comes from nondues sources, such as personal training and the management of off-site facilities.”

An A+ Assessment

The center offers an extremely successful health and fitness assessment program. “All new members undergo an in-depth health and fitness profile that includes health status and history, fitness experience, posture, body alignment, joint range of motion and flexibility, cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, resting heart rate, height, weight, body composition, cardiovascular endurance and goal setting,” he says.

Motivating Staff

Sipe is intrinsically a highly motivated individual, but he uses different methods to motivate his staff. “These include providing verbal affirmation, sending encouraging e-mails, publicly recognizing achievements, and providing value-added benefits such as travel support, flextime and resource materials,” he says.

Serving Older Adults

As cofounder and current president of the Coalition for Living Well After 50, Sipe has brought together more than 50 diverse organizations interested in increasing physical activity and exercise participation among local residents. “These partners include commercial and not-for-profit fitness facilities, retirement villages, government entities, public-health agencies and academic units,” he says.

Walking for Wellness

In partnership with Indiana on the Move, an affiliate of America on the Move, and the Indiana Extension Homemaker’s Association (IEHA), Sipe developed—and received $30,000 in funding for—a program to increase walking among the IEHA’s 17,000 members.


This award recognizes an IDEA member who is a practicing industry professional spending at least 15 hours per week actually training clients one-to-one; has demonstrated exceptional leadership, business management, motivational and instructional skills; and has inspired his or her clients to greater personal growth and a higher level of fitness.

Finalist: Jon Denoris, MSc
London, England

Jon Denoris, MSc, runs the international personal training business Catalyst Health & Fitness, which employs 12 full-time trainers. He manages several Catalyst studios, including (in association with HCA Healthcare) one in Princess Grace Hospital, and provides in-home training services.

Energizing His Staff

“The right to be called a personal trainer comes with an equallly important responsibility,” Denoris says. “To this end I have developed meticulously high professional and ethical standards for my personal training team.”

Stepping Off the Pedestal

Denoris feels that personal trainers should be real. “Whilst it is important to be positive role models, we should accept that we are also human and will occasionally stray from the path of wellness,” he says. “Thus clients will develop a much closer proximity to us as trainers, which I feel encourages a much healthier ‘psyche’ toward health and fitness.”

Employing a Nutritionist

Denoris hired a nutritionist to join his team full-time. “We currently have approximately 300 clients in the United Kingdom and Brussels, and the additional results that clients have had since we introduced this service as part of our weight management program have been staggering,” he says.

Offering Fitness in the Great Outdoors

Denoris and his team have taken clients on a weekend hike in the Lake District. “This allowed us to add value to our clients’ lives, encouraged team spirit, allowed for more focused goal-setting and achievement scenarios, and fostered relationship building,” he says.

Helping the Government

Denoris serves as the health and fitness advisor for the Cabinet Office. This role includes lecturing for the Centre for Management & Policy Studies, writing articles, contributing to the Cabinet Office website and providing health, fitness and nutrition advice. “This represents a fantastic opportunity for me to contribute to the awareness and credibility of the personal training industry at the highest level,” he says.

Finalist: Troy Huggett, MS
Battle Creek, Michigan

Troy Huggett, MS, works with clients in their homes and at his private training studio, Troy Huggett’s Fitness Pros. An adjunct instructor for Kellogg Community College and for the Western Michigan Universities physician assistant program, he also reviews continuing education programs for Desert Southwest Fitness.

Truly Educating Clients

Huggett says many trainers are afraid to teach clients too much for fear of losing them. “I believe this approach actually backfires and causes loss of clients,” he explains. “It has always been my goal to educate clients so well that they don’t need me. This approach is [a big reason why I am able] to build long-lasting relationships.”

Serving Athletes

Huggett has successfully trained athletes at all levels, including Olympic and professional competitors. “While the wins and championships were great,” he says, “the biggest reward came from helping to shape these athletes and develop them, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.”

Making a Difference for Teens

He trained one 14-year-old student who had low self-esteem and wanted to lift weights. “After 4 weeks of training, his mother was so impressed with his renewed spirit and increased self-esteem that she purchased another 4-week program and is planning to begin her own session when her son finishes,” he says.

Increasing His Clientele

After opening his own studio, Huggett increased his client load 600% in 1 year. He now leads an average of 90 half-hour training sessions per week, in addition to teaching three group strength classes, which are full. He has also brought in one trainer to work with him.

Getting the Community Fit

Huggett reaches out to the community and does volunteer work with senior citizens and special populations. For example, he develops diabetes exercise programs for Burnham Brook Senior Center and diabetes exercise class instructor training for the Huron Potawatomi Tribe.

Finalist: Carla Botelho Sottovia, PhD
Dallas, Texas

Carla Botelho Sottovia, PhD, works with clients as assistant fitness director, senior personal trainer and adjunct faculty member at the world-renowned Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas.

Making Fitness a Habit

Sottovia wants every person to incorporate exercise into his or her routine. “My goal is to instill the importance of fitness and wellness in clients’ lives, much like brushing one’s teeth, eating and sleeping,” she says. “It is also to educate clients that an individual does not need to be an athlete in order to achieve inner strength or a personal best.”

Being a Role Model

Sottovia has overcome some major health issues. For example, a heart condition (ventricular tachycardia) means that she wears an implanted pacemaker. “Despite all the hardships, my condition has inspired many clients to overcome their own limitations in their pursuit of a healthier lifestyle,” she says.

Contributing to the Bottom Line

When Sottovia was promoted to assistant fitness director, the center had a team of 12 trainers. “Then our average monthly gross revenue for personal training was approximately $90,000 dollars,” she says. “Today our department has a team of 24 full-time personal trainers bringing in an average monthly gross revenue of over $200,000. For 2005 we will bring in more than 2.5 million dollars.”

Helping the Military

Sottovia considers teaching military personnel extremely important. “I am proud to be able to help and lead many young men and women—who are sacrificing their lives for our nation’s safety—to the path of fitness and wellness,” she says. “[I’ve taught] within many of our military bases overseas, including bases in Germany, Italy, Korea, Japan and Guam (both Army and Air Force).”

Reaching Out to Kids

She is the lead researcher representing the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in a joint research project with the University of São Paulo in Brazil. The goal is to improve children’s physical activity. “We hope to eventually take this project nationally in Brazil,” she says.


This award recognizes an IDEA member who demonstrates strong leadership skills through community and industry involvement and whose superior instructional abilities and influence as an instructor motivate active and underactive people to commit to healthy lifestyles.

Finalist: Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Palo Alto, California

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is a health educator, an award-winning author, an international presenter, a media spokesperson and a fitness and wellness expert. She is based at Stanford University School of Medicine.

All-Inclusive Fitness Message

Archer is dedicated to making fitness achievable for every body. Once a Wall Street attorney with chronic fatigue syndrome, she has traveled from illness to vibrant health. “I want to empower people to live long, happy, healthy, more productive lives,” she says.

Reaching the Inactive

The “Healthy Heart, Strong Muscles, Strong Bones” class that Archer introduced at Stanford less than a year ago has grown more than 300%. “We’ve been successful in finally reaching people who were formerly inactive,” she says.

Teaching Mind-Body Exercise

Archer worked to introduce Pilates at the Palo Alto Family YMCA and has been committed to the program for over 5 years. She still teaches Pilates mat and ball classes. “I also thrive on creating effective fusion workouts that blend Eastern and Western movement approaches,” she says.

Fitness Education Worldwide

An international media spokesperson, Archer motivates people toward healthy lifestyles through radio, TV and the Internet. She also inspires the world to fitness through her products, which have reached more than 76,000 people. She’s published six consumer products, including The Walking Deck and The Everything® Low Cholesterol Book.

Building Bridges to the Medical Community

Archer creates alliances with healthcare practitioners, and she lectures and leads demonstration classes to promote fitness to medical professionals. She also serves in another way: “As a participant in studies on fitness and on the mind-body connection, I contribute to research on the science of exercise at Stanford University,” she says.

Educating Her Peers

Shirley writes well-researched, cutting-edge articles and books. She has reached many thousands of fitness professionals by contributing more than 125 articles to industry publications, including IDEA Fitness Journal, ACE Certified News, and NETWORK publications in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Finalist: Joy Prouty
Palm Beach, Florida

As president and owner of Fitness Programming Inc., Joy Prouty focuses on instructor education and training and on program development for the 50-plus, deconditioned and rehabilitative markets. She also teaches at PGA National Health and Racquet Center and has a private personal training practice.

A Group Exercise Innovator

In 1981 Prouty opened the first aerobics studio in Palm Beach County. “Reaching 2,000 clients annually in three studios and more than 50 off-site locations had a huge impact on my community,” she says. “This also opened the door for me to bring fitness and education to over 100 community service projects.”

Teaching With Reebok University

Prouty was an original member of the Step ReebokSM Training Team, helped write some of the Step Reebok programs and brought these programs to instructors in more than 36 countries. “Working with these young [instructors] and mentoring them has been an amazing gift in my life.”

Helping Breast Cancer Survivors

When Prouty’s best friend Josie Gardiner had uterine cancer several years ago, it changed Prouty’s life. “[Josie and I] wanted to empower breast cancer survivors on the path of recovering control and strength,” she says. “Thanks to Dr. Carolyn Kaelin, director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and to Reebok, we made ‘The Breast Cancer Survivor’s Guide to Fitness’ DVD. Our book comes out this year.”

Getting Her City Fit

In preparation for the first West Palm Beach Marathon in 2004, Prouty served on a committee that focused on bringing health and wellness information and programs to city employees and residents. She also trained city employees to become city walk leaders.

A Profession for All Ages

Prouty considers her age and experience assets in a country with an increasingly aging population. “There are many opportunities for a long, successful and gratifying career in fitness if one chooses,” she says.

Finalist: Helen Vanderburg
Calgary, Alberta

Founder and president of Heavens Fitness Limited, Helen Vanderburg also trains fitness leaders internationally through Hi Fitness Inc., is executive director of Helco Management and co-owns Fountain Park Health Club.

Forging Connections Between Members

In addition to teaching classes 6 days a week, Vanderburg develops new programs and classes. “The ‘Get to Know’ program focuses on connecting new exercisers with each other as ‘workout buddies’ to help them feel more comfortable and more motivated to stick with their exercise goals,” she says.

Training Mind-Body Instructors

Vanderburg codeveloped the Fusion Fitness Training certification course to prepare instructors to teach mind-body integrated classes. More than 400 instructors have been trained through this course, and the certification organization Can-Fit-Pro adopted it as its official mind-body certification course.

A Role Model for Others

A former world champion synchronized swimmer, Canada’s Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year 3 years running and a member of the International Sports Hall of Fame, Vanderburg inspires others to follow their dreams. She’s spent countless hours speaking to athletes, entrepreneurs, schools and women’s organizations to empower young people to pursue their passion.

Success: More Than Numbers

“While success in business is often measured in sales and revenues, measuring success or impact in our industry is far more intangible and personal,” says Vanderburg. “Some of the most powerful moments have come when members, stricken with cancer, tell me that my classes have inspired them to push on. As ill as they may be, they humble me by taking the time to thank me for a great class, when I am the one who is inspired by their incredible strength and perseverance.”

Impacting the Community

Vanderburg’s accomplishments benefit the Calgary community. For example, she has developed, choreographed and produced the Grace Hospital for Women Fashion Show—an annual fundraising event for breast cancer research.

The Selection Process

How are the awards finalists and recipients selected? Here is a brief overview of the selection process:

  • Applications for the IDEA Health & Fitness Awards are included in IDEA Fitness Journal (see page 83). They are also posted on the IDEA website ( You may apply for an award yourself or nominate another candidate. Each applicant may be considered for only one award per year. Applications must adhere closely to the specific guidelines and be received by the deadline. The deadline for the 2006 awards applications is December 1, 2005.
  • The application forms are designed by peer committees, who define objective criteria for each award. The committees assign a number of points to each criterion so judges can rate the applications numerically.
  • The applications are reviewed by a committee of fitness peers, and the committee members independently review and rate each application. (There is no discussion between judges about each applicant.) Applicants are judged by their written responses to four essay questions and by their education, industry experience and community service work. Essay answers must show that the candidates meet the award criteria. Selection of finalists and recipients is based entirely on the mean averages of the committee members’ ratings.
  • Finalists are notified, and the recipients are announced at the IDEA World Fitness Convention® each summer.



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