Exercise can be hard. Sedentary people are often worried that the intensity will be too much, while longtime exercisers may need to revamp their motivation from time to time. For both populations, the passion, innovation and skill of veteran fitness pros are crucial.

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! This year’s honorees will be celebrated at the IDEA World Fitness Convention™, August 7-11, in Los Angeles.

This year’s winners are:

2013 IDEA Program Director of the Year: Carol Espel, MS

Motivating exercisers has been Espel’s mission for a long time. “Being of service to others fully drives all that I do,” she explains. “For almost 20 years, I have gotten up at the crack of dawn either to teach or take a class or to train with a trainer. It’s as powerful and deep a passion as it was back in 1985, when I began my career!”

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.

Espel is particularly proud of the free, community health effort, Shape Up NYC, which reaches new exercisers in New York City. “This collaborative effort among New York Service, NYC Parks & Recreation department and Equinox has supported over 15 community centers across all five boroughs with Equinox-led classes. The commitment by my team to deliver meaningful experiences to those who may never have experienced a class is deeply personal for all of us. What’s also great is the integration of teens. Most had no idea movement could be so fun and could make their hearts and bodies stronger.”

2013 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year: Brett Klika

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. I’ve worked with many kids throughout their growth from grade-schooler to adult. Some have gone into the fitness profession, and others have seamlessly integrated fitness and wellness into their lives in other careers. I have had the opportunity to watch children grow into happy, healthy, pain-free adults.”

Klika strives to be a source of inspiration, not only to his own clients, but also to his colleagues. “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.”

2013 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year: Shannon Fable

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. Each has had its own share of rewards and challenges. 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.”