You might describe it as overwhelming, but even that superlative is an underwhelming descriptor for what transpired at the 2011 IDEA World Fitness Convention in Los Angeles, August 11–14. Between Apolo Ohno’s keynote message of zero regrets and the convention theme of “Take the Challenge,” there was no way to leave even a whisper of yourself on the table. The atmosphere at this event had a way of sucking the energy right out of you and then infusing it right back in—plus 10%. Everyone gave it up and got it back, and the effect was palpable.
You could walk down a hallway and ask Ohno or brain fitness expert Daniel Amen, MD, to sign their new books for you. You could dance with Louis Van Amstel of Dancing With the Stars. You could train with Tony Horton, Chalene Johnson or Brett Hoebel. You could choose from a program that had more than 300 sessions covering the most relevant education available in the fitness industry and have your choices taught to you by the best and brightest global faculty ever assembled. You could absorb over 400 booths’ worth of product knowledge from nearly 200 exhibitors in the IDEA World Fitness & Wellness Expo Hall and get your bags stuffed with cool fitness swag while networking with more than 5,000 people in the industry.
You could—well, you could go on and on about everything you did, learned and saw over those 3½ days and you would still be recounting the story next week. The most important thing is to know that what you came away with is yours forever. Whether you learned a new skill, met a new friend or got turned on by a new fitness specialty, you are changed forever because you “took the challenge” of being at IDEA World in the first place.
“IDEA World is such a great event. Every year I think there is no way to top last year’s event—but then you do it,” said presenter Zoey Trap, MSc. “Every year is new, fresh and exciting. This year’s attendees seemed even more open-minded and eager to try new things, gain new skills and ask probing questions. It is a joy to see our industry grow and grow—and credit must be given to IDEA for taking the challenge to Inspire the World to Fitness®.”
The global landscape is shifting at an incredible pace, and the fitness industry is changing to keep up with it. Technology, economics and old-fashioned innovation are combining to create a new era for fitness professionals. For example:
- Social media is quickly becoming the unifying force for marketing and internal communication. Fitness facility owners and managers, directors, personal trainers and group fitness instructors are all using this tool to expand their communities, strengthen their teams and create opportunities. “Group fitness programs were the original social media,” says Christi Taylor, district director of group fitness for Pure Fitness Health Clubs in Phoenix. “We’re simply stepping into a new version of it.”
- The economy continues to be hard to read, and fitness professionals are learning how to be profitable in a tough environment. Part of their recipe for success includes understanding how to leverage equipment, programs and services to create authentic experiences. Another ingredient is creating a system and sticking to it. “Systems breed success and consistency,” said Troy Fontana, 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year finalist from Sparks, Nevada, in his session “Your Business Culture—The Key to Your Success.” “You must have a playbook and a presentation package to unify your efforts.”
- Sometimes, for your business to thrive, you must not only think outside the box but play outside it, too. Steve Shenbaum, president and founder of Game On Nation, took a back-to-basics approach to success with improvisational games that taught people how to truly listen and “take care of the other person.” “Don’t tell your client to smile; figure out what makes him smile and do that for him,” said Shenbaum. >>
This year’s event was all about taking steps: to improve your skill set, to increase your financial stability and to move you from one place to another. And according to an elite corps of educators, it’s how you take those steps that determines your success.
The Booming World of Social Media (Again!). “Social media is where it’s at,” advised an upbeat Chalene Johnson in her preconference session “Social Media—Fit Biz Boot Camp.” “You won’t have the same business success without it.”
Throughout the daylong session, Johnson educated eager attendees on the dos and don’ts of navigating the online world. For instance, she suggested excluding links when posting tweets on the microblogging site Twitter™. “Because you’re limited to 140 characters, you have to shorten the links,” she said. Shorter links do not indicate where they lead. “People are often very suspicious of links,” she warned. Johnson added that while Facebook and Twitter are valuable resources, video-sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo are best bets for effective marketing. “People can decide immediately if they like you,” she says. “And if they do, they will trust you and keep coming back for more.”
Client-Specific Solutions. IDEA World attendees choose to attend specific sessions because they want answers. Not all questions have clean, decisive answers, however. It becomes clear in the learning process why the profession is called personal training, because the desirable outcome or solution to an issue can vary depending on the client. To wit: In the session “CrossFit: Defined and Determined,” led by Doug Katona, a thoughtful attendee inquired about optimal recovery time for the average client. “That is individual-specific,” replied Katona. “It depends on things like fuel intake and sleep.” A highly conditioned client consuming an optimal diet may require far less recovery than a client who does not eat well, he added. The best way to determine optimal recovery is to take a look at individual performance, said Katona; if performance falters, amp up recovery techniques.
These Shoes Were Made for Hurting? Attendees at IDEA World likely observed each other sporting a variety of footwear. Some shoes were more like traditional sneakers, while others looked positively alien. Whatever the choices, footwear was a prominent topic during the event. In his session “Footwear and Function: What All Fitness Professionals Should Know,” Michol Dalcourt explained that with its multitude of bones, joints and ligaments, the foot is meant for both mobility and stability.
Delegates were then asked to prod, squeeze and twist their shoes to see if they were pliable or rigid, thin-soled or high-heeled. Dalcourt said that some common footwear may do more harm than good, and that shoes with plenty of cushion and limited mobility may cause the greatest amount of bone-jarring impact throughout the body. But don’t be hasty to toss out your kicks. Dalcourt echoed fellow presenters in saying it all comes down to the individual. People with specific limitations need extra cushion, while others thrive on a more minimalist approach.
For personal trainers, the bottom line was that while there are appropriate steps to take toward professional success, it is important to make them your own. As Johnson said, “Find out what the successful people are doing and do it. But be sure to put your spin on it so you remain authentic.”
Good words to describe today’s trends in group fitness are persuasion and power: persuasion for sexy, dance-inspired moves, and power for conditioning, core and strength classes. As 2011 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Leigh Crews put it, what most excites her is the variety of quality class options the industry is offering—and this year’s IDEA World group exercise line-up certainly reflected that.
Two programs that were a big presence in their prelaunch (they’ll be fully launched later this year) were LaBlast™ with Louis Van Amstel of Dancing With the Stars, and Batuka®, created by Grammy®-Award-winning music producer and composer Kike Santander (think Gloria Estefan and Jennifer Lopez). These were just two of several courses that led participants through the cha-cha, disco, jive, Lindy hop, merengue, paso doble, quickstep, salsa, bhangra, hip-hop and samba, in an accessible, partner-free manner. As Crews observed, “We are going back to our roots with the rise in dance-based choreography, but with a sophistication that takes prechoreography up a level from the 1980s.”
To appreciate the full sense of “persuasion,” contemplate some of these offerings: “BIG DANCE™,” “Shake Your Asana!” “Zumba® Fitness® Party,” “Latin Beats—Powered by Drums Alive®,” “Crunch® Presents X-Pert Pole Fitness,” “Dance With GLEE!” “JumpSport®: Body Bounce!” Les Mills’ “SH’BAM™ Workout,” “Dance Evolution” and “Bringing Sexy Back (to Tai Chi)!”
Other trends Crews sees emerging in group fitness address the “power” aspect of the programming at IDEA World. “I think we will see the continuance of functional fitness activities in the group fitness setting. Core, balance and agility are all being addressed in innovative ways and with the use of equipment such as the TRX® Suspension Trainer™, the BOSU® Balance Trainer™, medicine balls, etc.,” she said. “The popularity of circuit-based classes will continue, giving participants a clear choice between music-driven classes and exercise-driven classes. This style of teaching removes a barrier to entry for instructors who do not have a background in music.”
High-intensity, core- and strength-based “power” classes were hugely popular this year, from Tony Horton’s “Warrior Workout” to “4 Top Guns, 4 Zones—Athletic Training That Brings It!” with Douglas Brooks, MS, Todd Durkin, MA, Fraser Quelch and Peter Twist, MSc. Just a sampling of the course titles shows the depth, breadth and variety of options: “TRX® Superhero Workout,” “Urban Challenge Boot Camp,” “Power Kranking®,” “Kettlebell Rehab—Hardstyle Methods in Corrective Exercise,” “BOSU® Pilates 3-D,” “Combine Training Challenge System,” “HIIT Training,” “Club Spotlight: Equinox® Presents ViPR™ Wars,” “SPRI®: 360 Training—Hit It Hard!” “CrossFit: Defined and Determined,” “The Top 10 Corrective Exercises,” “Power Yoga for Fitness Professionals,” “Train Like an Ultimate MMA Fighter,” “Tabata Training” . . . the list is practically endless. If you couldn’t find something new to learn or to excite you, you just weren’t there.
“I’ve gone to at least 25 IDEA conventions, and they are all so amazing,” said Ann Heizer, a wellness professional who specializes in working with Baby Boomers and older adults. “I even get to meet all the people who write the articles for IDEA Fitness Journal. How cool is that?”
We’ve moved beyond the idea that “everything is mind-body” to the realization that mindfulness itself is the seed for all movement. From this kernel, numerous options have flooded the “marketspace.” Mind-body-spirit exercise permeates everything fitness professionals do, whether or not they acknowledge it. Traditional mind-body offerings also continue to evolve, as the following examples illustrate:
- In his sessions “Creating Mindful Walking/Running Programs,” Lawrence Biscontini, MA, 2004 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, shared several research-based methods fitness professionals could use to help clients connect with their “whole bodies” while walking and running.
- Yoga presenters shared layered tips on how to refine cues and sequences and help participants get past the boundaries of the body to reach a still point. During “Beautiful Mind—Beautiful Body: Vinyasa Rasayana Yoga,” Jonny Kest, master trainer from the Detroit-based Center for Yoga, challenged attendees’ beliefs: “Your mind is the biggest barrier to finding your body,” said Kest.
Pilates teachers continue to educate themselves on how to expand their understanding of the powerhouse and apply it in the field. More experienced Pilates professionals are using their knowledge to work with the medical community and various special populations. Cathleen Murakami, director of SynergySystems® Fitness Studio in Encinitas, California, reminded attendees to constantly ask questions: “Where does this move initiate? Where is it stabilized?”
As rich in content and experiences as this year’s IDEA World Fitness Convention proved, count on next year being even more special. IDEA will be celebrating its 30th anniversary all year, and the festivities will culminate at this event next year. Save the dates: July 5–8, 2012, San Diego Convention Center, Marriott Marquis Hotel.
As 2004 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Todd Durkin, MS, said, “I had a blast this year, and it was great to connect with so many great trainers. It really is exciting to wonder what IDEA has in mind for its 30th anniversary at the 2012 IDEA World Fitness Convention!”