fbpx Skip to content

2008 IDEA Award Recipients: Passion, Perseverance & Pride

This year's award winners embody the essence of fitness industry leadership.

Winners of the 2008 IDEA Health & Fitness Inspiration Awards have pushed past boundaries, inspired others and achieved greatness.

PJ O’Clair

2008 IDEA Program Director of the Year

Like many who enter the fitness
industry, PJ O’Clair has firsthand experience of the tremendous benefits of a well-planned exercise program. “I had a bad spinal injury, and at 23 years old had surgery to remove a ruptured disk,” she recalls. “No matter what I did for physical activity, I was always in pain.” Downtrodden, but not ready to give up, O’Clair learned of a woman who had been successful in helping others relieve back pain. “She was a Pilates teacher—I had no idea what that was.”

Significantly impressed with the success she experienced with Pilates, O’Clair decided to become an instructor—and eventually an instructor trainer. “I contacted STOTT PILATES® in 1997 and asked if they had any desire to train me to teach outside of their headquarters in Canada.” Shortly thereafter, she became one of the first external STOTT PILATES trainers, and later that year she opened Northeast Pilates Certification Center (NEPCC) in New England.

“My work at NEPCC inspires me daily,” says O’Clair. “From the clients we teach to the instructors who come for training—the entire team is committed to excellence, and we believe that the more we give, the more we receive.” Though her love of what she does drives her toward success, she admits that there always seems to be more to pursue. “I’m a workhorse,” she smiles. “I will spend hours on projects to get them to where I see perfection, which doesn’t leave much time for my personal life. I cannot say I’ve completely overcome it, but I recognize it now and have made an effort to walk away and know it will still be there when I return.” In the end, O’Clair finds great satisfaction in knowing that her work helps others achieve greatness. “I make a living doing what I love. That is success to me!”

Award Criteria

  • is a healthy role model
  • demonstrates keen professional commitment through community and industry involvement
  • inspires staff through outstanding leadership
  • develops successful, creative and diverse programming that
  • influences both active and underactive people to commit to a healthy lifestyle

Brian Boyle
2008 IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award

If you’ve not yet heard of Brian Boyle, be prepared to learn more about him in the coming years. This 2008 IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award recipient is poised to become one of the most motivating individuals alive today.

Four years ago—just a single month after graduating from high school—Boyle was sideswiped by a dump truck while on his way home from swim practice. “The force of the crash knocked my heart across my chest. It damaged all of my organs; I lost 60% of my blood; and I broke several ribs, a clavicle and my pelvis.” Boyle spent 2 months in the hospital and underwent 14 surgeries, 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments. Although he “died” eight times, his spirit remained strong, and with the support of family, friends and the staff at Prince Georges Hospital in Cheverly, Maryland, he managed to recover.

But Boyle wasn’t satisfied with simply recovering from his accident. He was determined to return to his pre-accident fitness level, and through lots of physical therapy and exercise, he was able to regain the weight he’d lost and became stronger than ever. Then, in October 2007, Boyle accomplished a feat that would have seemed impossible to him while lying in his hospital bed: he completed the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. “I remember some of the doctors telling me that I wouldn’t be able to walk again,” he says. “So as I closed in on the end of the race, I slowed my pace and walked across the finish line so I could prove them wrong.”

Now that he has experienced his own set of miracles, Boyle hopes to share his inspiring story of courage and perseverance with others as a motivational speaker and personal trainer.

Nicki Anderson

2008 IDEA
Personal Trainer of the Year

Nicki Anderson believes in making sense of life’s lessons and learning from them. Many of the choices she has made in her profession as a personal trainer and owner of Reality Fitness in Naperville, Illinois, have resulted from negative experiences.

Anderson’s first fitness-oriented job at a health club helped her realize that she would make it her mission to focus on customer service. “Even though I was the highest-grossing salesperson, they fired me because I spent too much time with the clients,” she recalls. “That set the stage for pursuing my interest in health and fitness and vowing to make it all about the customer.”

Another lesson Anderson learned early was that she had a choice about whom she worked with. “When I first started my business I attracted very needy, whiny clients, and my staff at the time was sub-par. I woke up one day and said, ‘This isn’t working for me, my clients or my staff.’ I ended up gently firing those clients and staff who were draining [the business].” Since that time, Anderson has worked hard to choose the people she works with—both clients and staff. “If you spend time with people who drain you, your potential will be compromised.”

As Anderson’s facility became successful, she decided that her next logical step was to give back to the industry. “Years ago I went to listen to one of my favorite authors speak. During a break I [approached her] to get her autograph, and suffice it to say, she was rude and completely humiliated me. I swore that if I ever had an opportunity to lecture, speak or entertain, I would be as genuine offstage as onstage.” Such intentions have paid off greatly, and Anderson is now one of the most sought-after presenters in her field. “When people come to see you, they are taking a risk and spending precious time and hard-earned money to learn something. It is my responsibility to deliver above and beyond, and be genuine about it.”

Award Criteria

  • is a practicing industry professional spending at least 15 hours per week actually training clients one-to-one
  • demonstrates exceptional leadership, business management, motivation and instruction skills
  • has inspired clients to greater personal growth and a higher level of fitness

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year

When Shirley Archer was working in law, she developed chronic fatigue syndrome. “That changed everything in my life,” she says. “I had to re-
evaluate what I was not doing ‘right’ in my life.” It was then she realized that her profession did not align properly with her
beliefs and values, and she decided to make a change. “Working in health promotion, fitness and wellness brought together my passion for sharing the message of the importance of living well each day.”

A natural communicator, Archer finds that giving this passion an outlet through teaching is a natural extension of her personality. As a fitness instructor, she has committed herself to sharing all facets of exercise. “I educate my students in the techniques of exercise but [I also explain] why it makes a valuable difference in their lives.”

Recently, Archer moved from Palo Alto, California, to West Palm Beach, Florida, and Zurich, Switzerland. The change proved challenging as well as surprisingly refreshing. “I realized that I had grown somewhat complacent, in that I enjoyed a positive reputation in my own community and did not have to make any marketing efforts in order to receive public speaking invitations or other workshop engagements.” The move forced her to step out of that comfort zone and make new connections with like-minded individuals. “It also helped me to focus on where my
career is today and where I want to take it in the future.”

As for the fitness industry, Archer insists that a higher compensation standard must be met in order to keep the momentum going. “One of the challenging aspects about this profession is that it is not compensated at the level it should be,” she says. “To be an excellent instructor; to be an agent of change in the lives of your students; to stay informed with the latest information in the field—all require an investment in training, education and time.”

Award Criteria

  • demonstrates strong leadership skills through community and industry involvement
  • uses his or her superior abilities and influence as an instructor to motivate active and underactive people to commit to healthy lifestyles

2008 Biscontini Scholarship Aweard Winner:

Joyce Fisher

Appleton, Wisconsin

Award Criteria: Applicants must strive to Inspire the World to Fitness® as a group fitness instructor or a personal trainer; spend
at least 15 hours per week in a professional career providing motivational and effective interaction with members and/or students; be
financially “in need” and unable to attend the convention without the benefit of this grant; and not be a professional presenter in their home country or abroad.

Apply for 2009 Awards

Want to apply for next year’s IDEA Health & Fitness Inspiration Awards or nominate a colleague?

Visit www.ideafit.com.
The deadline is December 1, 2008.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor, and IDEA's director of event programming.

Related Articles