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COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Updated information and resources from IDEA

Stephanie Vlach

Stephanie Vlach, MS, is a certified fitness professional with 17 years of experience. She has held numerous roles and positions within the industry. Currently, she is a group exercise instructor and freelance writer in the Chicago area. She can be reached at [email protected]

Article Archive

Plank Variations

February 19, 2019

Forearm plank, side plank, plank with hip dips—all are group exercise favorites. The plank is one of the most familiar and effective choices for core work, and it’s an easy addition. However, how many times can you program that same old plank? Fortunately, with a little creativity, a basic plank can be amazingly versatile. Just add simple movements and a little resistance to make an already challenging move even more interesting and effective.

The following variations are best for participants who can hold a plank with
good form for at least a minute.

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Be the Best Mentor an Intern Could Want

September 22, 2016

Internships are a fact of life in the fitness industry. All major degree programs related to fitness or exercise science require that students complete an internship prior to earning a degree. Colleges and universities want their students to have real-life work experience when they graduate. Internships help students discover their likes and dislikes; the work also helps them to form professional relationships and to differentiate themselves from the hundreds of other recent graduates vying for the same jobs.

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Facility Design for Risk Management

May 26, 2016

Fitness facilities take on risk every day. Risk management is an essential and ongoing job function; managers and owners have a moral and legal obligation to keep members and guests free from hazards. Responsibilities such as hiring certified, capable staff; monitoring weight rooms; cleaning equipment; and overseeing preventive maintenance are absolute necessities in the ongoing effort to keep risk to a minimum. However, if you want to exceed standards—and go above and beyond tidying equipment and hiring floor staff—then take a look at proper and functional facility design.

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Cross-Training for the Career Win

February 24, 2016

A seasoned high school soccer player who has excellent shooting, passing, dribbling and heading skills walks into your office looking for a personal trainer to help her boost her game. To reach the next level—say, collegiate-quality—making her ball skills even better may not be what’s most important. To further excel, she will need to hold her own at control, speed, agility and strength. If she improves these abilities and combines them with her already exceptional ball skills, she’ll have the tools to become a strong, well-rounded college recruit.

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How to Handle Burnout

November 16, 2015

“The studio is too hot.” “The music is too loud.” “My trainer was 3 minutes late.” “Why does she teach all the best time slots?” “I didn’t like the substitute.” “We need more kettlebells.” And so on and so on.

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How to Deal With an Obsessed Member

September 23, 2015

“Linda,” a longtime member at your fitness facility, is a group exercise fanatic and has become a regular in your classes. Your friendship starts with a little chitchat. She loves your teaching style and engages you in small talk after class. As time goes on, your relationship grows. She shares stories about her family, brings in baked goods and is always nice enough to give you a small holiday gift.

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How to Make the Most of Internships

August 24, 2015

Internships are a fact of life in the fitness industry. All major degree programs related to fitness or exercise science require that students complete an internship prior to earning a degree. Colleges and universities want their students to have real-life work experience when they graduate. Internships help students discover their likes and dislikes; the work also helps them to form professional relationships and to differentiate themselves from the hundreds of other recent graduates vying for the same jobs.

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To Motivate or Terminate?

July 15, 2015

Your employees directly affect the success of your business. They work with your clients, sell your products and engage in frontline, day-to-day operations. Some employees are a pleasure to manage, and others—well, not so much. Working with an exemplary employee who is productive, independent, motivated and delightful is every manager’s dream. On the flip side, some employees are just bad hires and the decision to let them go is straightforward. Unfortunately, staff management isn’t that black and white.

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How to Teach HIIT to Everyone

May 26, 2015

High-intensity interval training has been riding a wave of popularity, and it seems everyone wants to give it a try. However, intense interval training is nothing new. Group fitness instructors have been teaching HIIT for a long time. Fartlek training, for example, was big in the 1970s. The 1980s brought us high-impact classes, and the 1990s introduced indoor cycling (think repeat hill training). HIIT is a fantastic workout and an effective way to train energy systems; build muscle; lose weight; enhance strength, power and agility; and prevent adaptation.

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How to Cope With Change

February 23, 2015

Change is inevitable. Organizations restructure, fitness facility ownership turns over and managers come and go. Although change can be positive, for many people the mere thought of it breeds anxiety and fear. During times of job stress, productivity declines; in addition, the rumor mill ramps up, morale may deteriorate and valued employees may look for other opportunities. As a manager, you are responsible for guiding employees through these potentially difficult times.

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How to Make HIIT a Hit for Everyone

February 20, 2015

High-intensity interval training has been riding a wave of popularity, and it seems everyone wants to give it a try. However, intense interval training is nothing new. Group fitness instructors have been teaching HIIT for a long time. Fartlek training, for example, was big in the 1970s. The 1980s brought us high-impact classes, and the 1990s introduced indoor cycling (think repeat hill training). HIIT is a fantastic workout and an effective way to train energy systems; build muscle; lose weight; enhance strength, power and agility; and prevent adaptation.

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How to Take the Stress Out of Performance Reviews

November 12, 2014

It’s annual review time again, and you feel the tension in the group fitness studio. Regardless of experience level, instructors tend to become anxious around “judgment day.” It’s a nerve-racking experience to have a supervisor watching your every move and jotting down notes.

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Toxic Talk in the Workplace

May 20, 2014

Imagine that your beloved group exercise director has just given her notice. She is a well-respected, long-term employee, and now you have to hire someone new. Group exercise staff members are shocked by the news, and they start talking—to each other, to members, to friends and to anyone else who will listen.

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How to Evaluate Mind-Body Staff, Part Two

March 19, 2014

Our first installment of this series advised managers on the basics of conducting performance evaluations for mind-body staff. Focusing on managers with little or no mind-body experience, we talked about the importance of preparation, shared tips on building a knowledge base and provided ways to formulate a comprehensive observation checklist. In Part Two, we explore more evaluation tips and offer deeper insight into how to use review information to strengthen staff resources and programming.

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What’s Your Pilates Brand?

February 24, 2014

Brands are very powerful. Pilates, like Starbucks, is a strong brand that can bring certain thoughts and images to mind in your potential customers. They may think of core strength, strong posture or the reformer; they might even think Pilates is too hard.

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How to Create Metrics for Mind-Body Staff, Part One: Performance Management

January 21, 2014

Performance management offers a great opportunity to tell your fitness staff how much you appreciate their work—and to show them areas where they can become even better.

The anchor of performance management is a credible performance review. Your people need to be able to trust that your review of them accurately summarizes their skills, talents and opportunities for improvement.

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A Personal SWOT Analysis

September 26, 2013

As a Pilates instructor, you’re continually striving to enhance your clients’ well-being. But now and again, you must take some time to do a little soul-searching and assess what is best for you. What are your needs, wants, goals and aspirations? Maybe you’re ready to further your education or you’re eager to work with a new market.

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