Every year, IDEA recognizes the outstanding accomplishments and dedication of top professionals in three categories: IDEA Program Director of the Year, IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year. Award recipients are fitness pros who positively influence their clients, their fellow fitness pros, the community and even the world at large! This year’s honorees will be celebrated at the IDEA World Fitness Convention™, August 7–11, in Los Angeles.

Carol Espel, MS
2013 IDEA Program Director of the Year

What is Carol Espel most proud of in her career? “The incredible leadership team that I have mentored and developed over the last 10 years at Equinox®,” she says.

In her role as global director of group fitness and Pilates for Equinox Fitness Clubs, Espel oversees 60 clubs throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. “My team is full of passionate, caring people,” she says. “Through them we have brought forward so many programs and initiatives that impact our members’ lives for the better,” she says, speaking of cutting-edge group fitness classes like Whipped, Power Nap, Barre Burn and Animal Flow.

How does Espel successfully juggle these instructors and programs—and stay focused at the same time? “I put a handwritten note on my computer that reads, ‘Have the patience to be present in every moment.’ It’s hard not getting caught up in ‘what’s next,’ but if I have learned anything through the years, it’s the conscious participation in the ‘moments’ that bring value to all we do, both personally and professionally.”

Espel encourages all program directors to seek training that will help them manage their time and develop organizational skills. “In our industry we are not often trained in skills like these,” she explains. “I took it upon myself several years back to hire a management coach whom I worked with monthly—and now work with quarterly—to enhance my communication and other skill sets.”

Brett Klika
2013 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year

What is Brett Klika’s secret to motivating inactive exercisers? “Truly listening, and ‘meeting people where they are at,’” he says.

“As personal trainers, we have to remember what exercise represents to someone who is inactive. It’s scary. It hurts. It takes time. It may take money. We are the symbols of this seemingly unpleasant activity. A lot can be done with a smile, some compassion, and understanding. We are not trying to get people to be personal trainers or magazine models. We are trying to get them to take back control of their lives through movement. This can be done in many ways. People should always feel better after an interaction with a personal trainer. Never worse.”

As director of athletic performance for Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, Klika manages a staff of eight athlete performance specialists and maintains a personal training schedule of 20-30 client sessions per week. He also specializes in helping children. “I am passionate about working with kids because the positive impact we can have on them early in their life is tremendous,” he explains. “Young children are developing habits that will last a lifetime. These habits can contribute to their success or their defeat in health, wellness and life. Their psyches are programmed for positivity, and we can build on that through education, motivation and perspiration! My experience with youth has been incredibly rewarding.”

Shannon Fable
2013 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year

Prior to the birth of her daughter, Shannon Fable thought she knew how to reach inactive exercisers. However, her pre-delivery hospital stay gave her new insights into them.

“Let’s just say I wasn’t in the best shape of my life after that!” she laughs. “I started to ‘get’ what other people went through when deciding to work out again and enter a group fitness studio. Finding the courage to even get out of the car in the parking lot at the yoga studio was monumental for me postbaby.”

As founder and CEO of Sunshine Fitness Resources, as well as owner of Balletone® and GroupExPro, Fable is an international presenter, program developer and master trainer for several companies. As effective a teacher as she was before, she has rededicated herself to helping the inactive. “I changed my teaching strategies to be more inclusive, avoiding modifications and instead providing options without judgment. I started to dig deep into creating programs and cuing systems that addressed the psychology of the students [as much as] their physiology.”

This experience has launched Fable on a mission to help instructors see that there is more to teaching than simply being passionate about fitness. “My favorite role has been mentoring and educating at conferences, at the club level and individually. Now I get to mentor and educate franchisees, owners and trainers/instructors in my position as the director of exercise programming for Anytime Fitness® Corporate.”

For more information about these outstanding professionals, see “2013 IDEA Award Recipients” in the July–August 2013 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal or on www.ideafit.com.