Y'all ready for this? Attitude was everything at the 2004 IDEA World Fitness Convention.
“Gimme the good news!” he led. With spirit, the crowd followed suit.
“When you change your attitude, you change feelings,” he yelled. The volume of the room’s collective answer grew.
“When you change your actions, you change your life,” he cajoled. “Amen!” erupted some, before they echoed Harrell’s words.
“Attitude is everything!” he finished, and the capacity audience representing 59 countries boomed back as one, electrified.
What brand of revival was this?
It was the best kind—the kind custom-tailored for 3,200 fitness professionals. Harrell’s kickoff got delegates so wound up that their endorphins flew them through 4 July days in San Diego packed with 322 progressive education sessions, endless professional networking opportunities, a goosebump-raising awards dinner and numerous giddy shopping sprees at the Fitness Expo. Such variety and excitement are why people trek thousands of miles each year to be at this 20-year-old celebration of fitness knowledge and professionalism. For the uninitiated, the pace and spectacle of the convention can be positively flabbergasting. Above all, most members declare that World is the most fun they can possibly cram into the space of a few days all year. “Thanks for a life-changing 4 days!” said first-time attendee Peggy Ray of Portland, Oregon. “My spirit is refreshed, my focus is clear, and my mission is defined: Inspire the World to Fitness™!”
That mission, officially launched at the 2003 World event, came into sharper relief this year. IDEA members from all over the globe shared experiences and swapped ideas about the powerful grass-roots movements they’ve begun close to home to get inactive people up and moving. The excitement was supported by practical education that provoked thought and creativity, and by a faculty of 145 of the fitness industry’s brightest leaders, who prevailed on delegates to dream bigger and stay focused on the mission.
The wide array of program offerings featured personal training, group exercise, yoga, Pilates, tai chi and other mind-body disciplines, as well as management, nutrition, psychology and motivation. The brand-new “Club Without Walls” track released participants from the classroom onto a local velodrome for a bona fide cycling/racing experience and into the Pacific Ocean for surfing lessons.
“I came away with so much!” said first-timer Dayle Webber, MS, a San Diego trainer who recently relocated from New York City. “I feel like an artist who now has so many more colors, brushes and materials to work with. What I learned gave me confidence. When clients ask me questions, I hear echoes of the convention: research studies, ideas, new stuff, affirmation of some good old stuff. It feels so good to be connected! Everybody who attends is there because they want to be there—because they are passionate about what they do and are inspired to know more and continue to grow. I feel so incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity.”
Program directors, owners and managers—as well as those aspiring to these leadership ranks—took advantage of “Fast Track: Managing Fitness,” a daylong preconvention session that covered a spectrum of challenges faced by personal trainer and group exercise program directors. Offerings in this intensive course included mentoring staff, recruitment and retention strategies, managing conflict and confrontation, programming and scheduling, profit strategies, and evaluation and compensation issues. In addition, a full education track within the convention was devoted to building management skills for directing people, programming and resources more effectively.
In an industry that’s been known to advance trainers and instructors from the floor to the front office in trial-by-fire style, it was easy to understand why these classes grew in popularity this year. Using smart strategies to retain and promote floor staff into solid managers is the best way to grow your department, your facility and the collective brain of the industry.
Presenter Amy Ashmore, PhD, was adroitly leading a group of attendees through what, for many, might have been a technical minefield of physics, force, mass and torque, when she stopped and made a confession. “I love this stuff. I love science—don’t you?” Many of the 250-plus trainers in her “Biomechanics of Assisted Stretching” session looked up for a moment, grateful for the break from their furious notetaking. There was a light ripple of laughter as many smiled and nodded in agreement. Love science or not, these attendees realized that without continual enrichment of their science base, they couldn’t be safe or effective trainers. Love it or not, personality takes you only so far in this business.
More than ever, personal trainers have found that they must hit the books harder to keep up with the diverse populations walking through their doors and to stay competitive with talented colleagues. World offered an abundance of research and technical sessions to feed this knowledge foundation and help trainers identify what their clients—all of whom can virtually be classified as special populations nowadays—will benefit from the most.
“This year in particular I have come home exploding with new ideas I can’t wait to try with my older-adult students/ clients,” said Sally Bartlett, a trainer from Laguna Hills, California. As a relatively new group exercise instructor crossing over from personal training, I really benefited from all the Fast Track sessions.”
In addition to the technical courses and specialty Fast Tracks—progressive fundamentals tracks for new fitness professionals and veterans wanting a brush-up in certain areas—the convention menu offered sessions on nutrition and weight management, special populations, psychology, aquatic training and business strategies.
Other themes that emerged in the personal training courses:
- Review your physics and anatomy. Interest in biomechanics is heating up. A serious review will serve you well in assessment and program design.
- Don’t overcomplicate things. Less is more. The simpler you keep an exercise or program, the more apt clients are to do their homework—and do it correctly—when you aren’t training them.
- Stay focused on the client’s goals. You may learn or invent a great new balance exercise, but is it something your client really needs? Try not to impose your need to impress on your clients.
- Consider allying yourself with a coach, nutritionist and massage therapist so you can offer clients one-stop shopping under your umbrella of services.
- Whatever special population you’re working with, begin with thoughtful assessment. Progress comes more easily when you start in the right place.
- Train from the inside out. Consider the whole person and train the mind as you train the body.
How can anyone possibly get bored teaching group fitness in 2004? World attendees chose from a plethora of progressive, technique-rich sessions and got an energetic taste of the future of fitness. Whatever the specialty—aquatics, yoga, hip-hop, indoor cycling, Pilates, group strength, step, high-low—IDEA World Fitness had it all. Some sessions even combined these specialties into successful fusion and combination formats. Today’s group fitness instructor is savvier than ever and able to balance many aspects of life. The program reflected this and created bursts of excitement in the hallways and ballrooms. Here are some of the highlights and trends from this year’s convention:
- Step is still hot and shows no sign of letting up. This bastion of group fitness continues to produce dedicated participants in every corner of the world. The choreography is getting more advanced and the concepts more unique, but the basic classes still draw in beginners.
- Mind-body fundamentals are becoming more ingrained in the industry’s vocabulary—and not just in mind-body classes. The importance of breath and focus is being discussed during warm-ups and cooldowns, while some cuing and choreography are taking on a “mindful” tone.
- Classes that combine and fuse formats are growing in popularity.
- Circuit training is proving to be a fun way to infuse new energy into a stale program while utilizing equipment and encouraging more men to join.
- Indoor cycling is still in demand, with programming taking on more of an “outdoor” training feel.
- Water classes continue to garner a larger section of the group exercise pie. Many land-based formats are finding their way to the pool and bringing die-hards with them.
- More class time is being allotted for flexibility and balance exercises, as well as for self-massage techniques using small balls and foam rollers.
- Interest in core strength and functional training continues to grow as instructors learn new ways to use stability balls, medicine balls and balance trainers.
- Dance classes—such as hip-hop, African, Latin and street-based (just to name a few)—are enjoying a resurgence.
Mind-body programming was alive and well at this year’s World convention, with yoga and Pilates leading the field, but other modalities—like tai chi and Feldenkrais are gaining ground.
Attendees packed the halls, thirsty for knowledge and a chance to practice with the cream of the crop. Here’s just a taste of what was on offer:
- power yoga and partner yoga (“an innovative way to introduce yoga to personal training clients”)
- yoga for supple shoulders, and yoga for serenity and strength
- a rich series of STOTT PILATES( workshops, with topics ranging from golf conditioning to back care
- therapeutic Pilates for osteoporosis (the #1 cause of hospital stays in women over 45)
- the debut presentation of Lawrence Biscontini’s Liquid Mind-Body Circuit, the 4 Sea-Zens, featuring moves from yoga, Pilates, tai chi and Feldenkrais!
- Scott Cole’s 3-hour “Tai Chi for Fitness” workshop, a high-energy session that left participants inspired and exhilarated
- “Transcend Dance” from Petra Kolber—an elegant, expressive dance session with roots in yoga and tai chi.
If you weren’t in a session during the IDEA World Fitness Convention, there was only one other place you wanted to be: the IDEA Fitness Expo Hall. After all, where else could you renew your IDEA membership, buy the latest music, shoes and apparel (at deep discounts) and get answers from top-notch fitness manufacturers and organizations? The Fitness Expo Hall has always attracted the industry’s best products and services, and this year was no exception. Shoppers lined up early, cash and coupons in hand, ready to pick and choose from more than 180 exhibitors. This ultimate one-stop shopping experience left many attendees wanting to come back for more. “I wasn’t prepared for all the different companies that were there,” said LaSalle Brown, a personal fitness trainer from Astoria, New York. “I had no idea there would be so much to choose from. Next year I’ll bring an extra bag and more money!”
Six gifted group fitness instructors cued and moved their best during the Future of Fitness Talent Search, held July 10 on the IDEA Fitness Expo Hall performance stage. Sponsored by IDEA, Reebok and Crunch Fitness International, this was one of seven regional events being held in 2004 and 2005. The ultimate winner will be decided at next year’s IDEA World Fitness Conven-tion in Las Vegas, July 6–9.
Each contestant had 5 minutes to present a format and break down choreography for a volunteer audience. Jeffrey Samson, an instructor from Los Angeles, won the day’s recognition with his artful high-low demonstration. Samson won a free registration to next year’s World Fitness Convention in Las Vegas, a free IDEA membership and prize packages from Crunch and Reebok. For more information on how you can be involved in the upcoming regional searches, visit www.ideafit.com/fit_ talent_search.asp. n