Get all the “big conference” benefits in a condensed, intimate and powerful weekend.
When you ask IDEA member Kim Brown, who lives in Anaheim, California, why she flies to Chicago year after year for the IDEA Fitness Fusion Conference, she offers a long list of reasons. “Chicago is my favorite place,” Brown says. But that’s just the start. “I think the event has a [great] ratio of participant to presenter, and I don’t get lost in the crowd. The presenters don’t end up being tiny specks off in the distance.”
Brown, who has been attending IDEA Fitness Fusion since 2003, goes to “recharge her batteries.” She says, “I get new ideas to use in my classes, and I check out the new and different stuff I’m not able to do at my club. It gives me the opportunity to be a student and, in some cases, to stand in the back and find my inner dork!”
The conference, which will be held April 23–26 in Rosemont, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, is a continuation of a Midwest fitness tradition that started many years ago. People go to earn continuing education credits (CECs), to meet and network with other fitness professionals, and to learn new tips and tricks. Some, like Brown and Deena Rangel, a personal trainer from Chicago, go—above all—to get inspired. “After returning from this event, I always feel a sense of renewal,” Rangel says. “I get energized by the speakers and realize that I am making a difference.”
When she was putting this year’s event together, Aprile Peishel, MA, IDEA’s director of event programming, carefully blended tried-and-true concepts with fresh, innovative topics. “This program truly does reflect what the typical fitness professional is doing on a day-to-day basis,” Peishel says. “We cover all the educational angles that will support success and lead to client and participant satisfaction.”
The numbers related to this year’s event tell all: there are 67 premier sessions that have never before been offered at any event, and 122 sessions total. The menu of classes offers up to 18 CECs, and there are three preconference workshops, three 4-hour InTensives (new this year) and 41 presenters. Add it all up and you have an educational experience that will pay dividends all year.
“This event is so inspiring,” says Tammy Appel, a personal trainer from Stevens Point, Wisconsin. “I usually come to the event dragging and leave walking on water. I can’t wait to get back to work and share all the new ideas and exercises I’ve accumulated. Even though you get so much information in just a few days, I never leave feeling overwhelmed. I guess I’m a sponge and crave anything new I can learn to inspire those I work with.”
Veteran attendees will find plenty of new things to admire about this year’s event. There are two new categories on the programming grid: small-group and partner training; and the Powerful Teaching Series, which can be taken as part of a Certificate Program or just for your own improvement (see the sidebar “Powerful Teaching Series”). There are more nutrition sessions, more strength training options, expanded offerings on specific populations and plenty of sessions that focus on core training. Favorites from the 2008 IDEA World Fitness Convention™ also make a special appearance: “Core Off the Floor” and “Strength-Training Program Design,” both presented by Shannon Fable.
It’s this type of intense, impactful programming that encourages Appel to be a repeat attendee. She learned so much at last year’s event that returning for more in 2009 was a given. “I came back [last year] with so many new ideas for different exercise combinations and moves, and for working with different pieces of equipment. I enjoyed the emphasis on functional movements and sport actions. I was able to implement the majority of the exercises I learned with my clients during our one-on-one time. The foam rollers and tennis balls used for myofascial release have been a big hit. I also started offering postural assessments as a new program here at our YMCA. The nutrition information I learned helped clear up a lot of misunderstanding. After attending Fitness Fusion, I felt like I had the facts to better explain the nutrition questions my clients have.”
For many people, the 2009 IDEA Fitness Fusion Conference is something to look forward to after a cold winter. Others say April is the perfect month for this event because many fitness facilities experience a lull between the New Year’s rush and the “get ready for summer” season. Appel looks forward to the hands-on learning. “The event keeps me up-to-date with what’s new, whether it is nutrition information, products, exercises or just different ways of thinking,” she says. “I look forward to meeting up with others in the industry [whom] I don’t get a chance to see except at Fitness Fusion. It’s great to experience a new product firsthand as opposed to reading about it or just watching it on the television.”
Brown makes the pilgrimage for the people. “The attendees, IDEA staff and volunteers rock! The Midwest friendliness thing is so happening. There seems to be a lot less competition and ‘diva-ness’ going on at Fusion compared to larger shows, which makes it a lot less intimidating. Everyone is friendly, quick with a smile or a ‘hey, how ya doin’?’ It’s super easy to strike up a conversation with a fellow attendee. I love it!”
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