State-of-the-Art Techniques for Trainers

by Joy Keller on Mar 22, 2010

Tanya Colucci, MS, already has a firm grip on personal training theory, programming and business. But because the Washington, D.C.–based fitness professional and co-founder of Infinity Wellness is bent on advancing her knowledge, she decided to attend the 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute™, February 25–28, in Alexandria, Virginia.

She’s glad she did. “I think everything I learned can be applied,” she said. “These techniques enhance the services I provide to my clients. [I learned] a variety of flexibility techniques, exercises, and the rationale for movements. I was also able to solidify in my mind how important the fascial system is to the body [in regard to] movement. The fascial lines are now going to impact my approach to designing total-body movement.”

Colucci was one of approximately 550 personal trainers who never tire of learning more, reaching farther and asking the questions that ultimately create change in clients. As the industry grows, so too does the need for deeper knowledge and fine-tuned information that puts complacency on alert.

Presenters at the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute made sure the education was anything but stale. A glance at the event line-up revealed advanced training concepts that right now are launching the future of the industry: “metabolic training,” “corrective exercise,” “postural analysis” and “joint mobility,” to name just a few key terms.

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s powerful weekend of advanced learning:

Sports Conditioning Secrets. In his sports conditioning session “Train the Joes Like the Pros,” 2004 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Todd Durkin, MA, said that there is an athlete in all of us. “The key,” he said, “is to be a good coach and be in tune with the client’s specific needs.” He then created a “hurricane” of managed velocity set off by smart circuits and highly motivated attendees.

There is no need to wait for clients to “get up to speed”; personal trainers should meet them where they are with the right level of programming. How to do this most effectively was reviewed in detail by Douglas Brooks, MS, and Peter Twist, MSc, in the sessions “The Perfect Point of Balance” and “Build Champion Athletes in Life.” Attendees learned that agility and speed drills, plyometrics and “unpredictable situations” are just as appropriate for the average client as they are for the advanced athlete, just in a regressed form.

Special Population Opportunities. As more people find their way to wellness, fitness professionals are more likely to work with clients who have special needs. This makes it necessary to expand the knowledge base and be prepared to meet people where their challenge blooms. In his session STOTT PILATES® Programming for Scoliosis Management, Matthew Comer, MS, founder of Matthew Comer Pilates in Orlando, Florida, took attendees through an intricately layered and detailed repertoire using case studies. Comer said he was impressed with the collective skill level of the trainers in his session. “I really appreciated the attendees’ energy, openness and intelligence, and I was also impressed with their form and ability to take corrections.”

The Language of Functional Anatomy. Getting to the root of clients’ movement challenges has been a recurring educational theme in the industry for the past few years. It’s time for the next level in this functional journey, and presenters and attendees showed their skills by mastering techniques that add ease to exercise. In their session “Functional Training in 3D—Matrix Logic,” Gary Gray, PT, and his son Doug Gray, both from the Gray Institute in Adrian, Michigan, introduced a three-dimensional exercise technique created to aid the body in moving “the way it was designed to move.”

While the techniques were important, Gary Gray stressed that “gifting the hips with better motion” is one thing, but “learning how to empower clients” is the most important aspect of your interaction with them.

Why Do You Do What You Do?

The conference raised this point of enquiry: Can you be an agent of change if you aren’t open to being changed yourself? Attendees answered by showing up with a willingness to have their beliefs challenged. More than one presenter over the weekend posed the following question: “Can you tell me why you are making your client perform a certain move?” It’s an increasingly relevant issue in an industry that will continue to advance, but that also needs to keep a foot firmly planted in sound research and practical field application.

The 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute provided a balanced platform for a wide variety of training concepts and techniques that will be the backbone for the next generation of personal trainers. These trainers’ commitment to the fitness industry, and to their clients’ lives, is a testament to the staying power of the personal training profession and its ability to create “small hurricanes” all over the world.

If you missed the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute, you can still benefit from the first-rate education offered at this event. The 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute Online Video Package gives you online streaming access to all the sessions that were filmed live. What’s more, your CECs/CEUs are included. For more information, or to sign up, visit

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About the Author

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.