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2022 IDEA World Fitness Awards

Inspiration without limits.

IDEA World Fitness Awards categories

Those honored with the 2022 IDEA World Fitness Awards are authentically living this year’s “Limitless” theme by overcoming barriers, creating new pathways and taking their careers to new heights. Their stories provide inspiration, too—the knowledge that you can take your career to the limit—and beyond.

IDEA Fitness Leader of the Year

Fitness awards winner Pete Holman

2022 Fitness Leader of the Year, Pete Holman, MSPT.

The IDEA Fitness Leader of the Year Award honors an individual whose outstanding contributions to the fitness industry serve staff, fitness professionals, students, clients and their community in inspiring ways and whose leadership and business skills better the overall success of our industry.

Pete Holman, MSPT

2022 Fitness Leader of the Year

Aspen, Colorado

“My mission is simple,” says Pete Holman. “I want to positively impact world health, wellness and vitality.”

Simple? Holman has approached the complexities of this goal with hard work, creativity and an unwavering commitment to industry leadership. Every step of the way—as a physical therapist, personal trainer, inventor, two-time U.S. national Taekwondo champion, presenter, volunteer, author and mentor—he has “walked the walk,” reaching out to help others and, along the way, he has created the positive impact that’s the core of his personal mission.

“My favorite quote of all time is from a famous clergyman, Henry Ward Beecher: ‘Hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else expects of you,’” he says. “This has been my life motto and it has worked for me in school, in my athletic career, in my business life and in my personal life. I am committed to excellence in all facets of life.”

Today, as president of Aspen Integrative Kinetics, Holman focuses on sports performance, corrective exercise and physical rehabilitation. But no worries if you can’t get to Aspen; you can enjoy the fruits of his labor through the use of his innovative fitness products, including the GOLFFOREVER™ Swing Trainer, the Nautilus® Glute Drive and the Escape Barrow, just to name a few.

Or you can learn from his many acclaimed articles, fitness presentations and online education. Or you can read his fiction novel Cruz (2019). Or you can look to his leadership for what he calls “entrepreneurial mojo” for those who want to develop alternative revenue streams.

“He has been an absolute wealth of knowledge on all parts of business development: design, manufacturing, education, sales and marketing,” says Jesse Ohliger, creator the The BREATH BELT.  “As I look back over the past 4 years, having Pete’s mentorship was the best decision I could have possibly made.”

Holman takes pride in the success of those he helps. “My greatest joy in my professional career is sharing my knowledge, experience and passion with like-minded trainers from around the world,” he says. “I have been blessed with the ability to connect with others, build rapport and maintain relationships.”

Holman has a lot to be proud of, but you get the sense that his mission still isn’t complete. “I will continue to do everything in my power to help fitness enthusiasts achieve optimal health and wellness, to give trainers the tools to be best in class, and to represent the IDEA brand with integrity, morality and inclusion.”

See also: 2022 IDEA World Convention: A LIMITLESS Oasis

David Geslak

Fitness awards finalist David Geslak

2022 Fitness Leader of the Year finalist David Geslak.

Finalist, Fitness Leader of the Year

Chicago

In 2004, David Geslak opened his first fitness facility. Although he was thriving as strength and conditioning coach for NFL athletes, he soon found a new group of clients who proved to be even stronger and more tenacious: those with autism.

“I started working with my first client with autism, Joseph,” Geslak explains, adding that after just four sessions, he was able to make a “major impact” on Joseph’s life. “This inspired me to change my career path.”

In 2009, he founded the Exercise Connection Corp-oration to empower “the autism and special-needs community to successfully use exercise to build an active lifestyle, resulting in newfound confidence, focus and fitness.”

Sharing what he has learned is what makes Geslak a true leader. “I have concluded there needs to be new ethics and standards for this underserved, often misunderstood and vulnerable population. To bring these ethics and standards beyond my gym and my community, I wrote The Autism Fitness Handbook and numerous articles.” That includes this one on training the autism community! In 2016, Exercise Connection officially partnered with ACSM to create the ACSM/EC Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate; more than 1,000 professionals around the world have taken this important course.

Geslak is especially proud of client Brody McCampbell, who was only 8 when they first met, minimally verbal and, says Geslak, “like many of my clients, clear that he did not want to exercise. It took time for us to build our relationship, and while many may have given up after being bit, hit, scratched, etc., I would not. I knew the impact exercise could have on him.” Today, Brody is 18, and his mom is grateful for his progress, explaining that “exercise crosses back and forth from school to home, allowing Brody to feel superior in one setting, when most times he feels out of the loop or disconnected.”

“A truly inclusive gym is one that accepts and embraces those with autism,” says Geslak. “This mission goes beyond my or anyone’s career endeavor. It’s part of the human endeavor: to make and leave the world a better place.”

Fitness awards finalist Hayley Hollander

2022 Fitness Leader of the Year finalist Hayley Hollander.

Hayley Hollander

Finalist, Fitness Leader of the Year

Chicago

There are so many ways to describe Hayley Hollander. She’s the co-founder and president of Pivotal, a global development company providing accredited education for fitness professionals. She’s an experienced fit pro with more than 22 years of experience. She’s the co-director of education for the Gray Institute® and a master coach for Precor® and Power Plate®. She’s a dedicated volunteer, committed to diversity and inclusivity in the industry.

She’s a powerhouse.

But to really understand Hollander, you need to know what guides her—what she calls her “GPS coordinates. [They] guide our decisions, our relationships, our passion, and ultimately lead us to our vision,” she explains. “They shape our mission.”

Take a peek at Hollander’s principles for insight into her leadership:

“#1. We do work we love with people we love,” she says. “If we can’t do that, then we do work that matters with people who care.

“#2. We achieve nothing alone in this life. We do our most meaningful and fulfilling work alongside others driven by a common purpose and just cause.

“#3. There are two types of people in business: those who love money and use people and those who love people and use money. If you are the former, please don’t contact us.

“#4. We don’t do politics or strategy. We don’t have to agree with our clients, but we do need to trust and understand them.

“#5. People are inspired by their own dreams, not ours. It is not for us to transform anyone, but we do have a passion for creating environments for people to transform themselves.”

These guidelines resonate with her colleagues and clients. “Hayley has a rare gift to not only craft effective workouts and training programs for fitness professionals, but to also deliver them in a way that empowers those around her to perform at their best,” says Erica Tillinghast, director of wellness science and programming at Peloton. “I consistently hear comments from attendees and facility staff leaders at Hayley’s events such as ‘best coach I’ve ever met.’”

Hollander adds: “I live and breathe to help others achieve their dreams.”

IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year

fitness awards winner Rick Richey

2022 Personal Trainer of the Year, Rick Richey, DHS, MS, LMT.

The IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award honors a certified personal trainer who trains clients one-on-one at least 15 hours each week, and whose exceptional leadership, business management and instructional skills motivate and inspire clients to greater personal growth and a higher level of fitness.

Rick Richey, DHS, MS, LMT

2022 Personal Trainer of the Year

New York City

Since he began his career as a certified personal trainer in 2002, Rick Richey has shown incredible personal and professional growth. He has become a licensed massage therapist; group instructor; college and university adjunct professor; NASM faculty instructor; author; subject-matter expert; international presenter; and contributor for educational videos, books and web-based content. Each accomplishment has helped further his mission to inspire people to increase daily physical activity.

While that may seem like a textbook description of a personal trainer’s goals, it’s the subtext that has helped Richey truly excel. His values—safety, accessibility, optimizing health, mutual respect, fun, kindness, creativity, integrity, empathy and evidence—reflect a comprehensive vision of fitness.

He owns four facilities in New York City, travels around the world teaching, hosts the NASM-CPT podcast, and holds a doctorate in health science. Yet, when people ask Richey what he does for a living, his response is solid and steadfast. “I’m a personal trainer,” he says. It’s his anchor. He has worked with hundreds of clients through the years, from every walk of life—including professional athletes and actors—and continues to train clients in more than 20 sessions every week.

“The best way to build a relationship with your clients is to be truly interested in them,” he says. “Empathetic interest in their story, likes and dislikes, roadblocks, and inspiration help to solidify the client/trainer partnership.” The goal, he explains, is to develop trust.

Empathy took on special meaning for Richey when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2018. “I was shocked, hurt, scared and filled with guilt,” he remembers. Then he turned those negative feelings into a positive outcome. “I’ve learned a lot since then by digging into the research on this pathology. I then partnered with the MedFit Network and developed a 20-hour lecture course called the Type 2 Diabetes Fitness Specialist. It’s my way of connecting the community of fitness professionals to my community of individuals with T2D.”

Client Timothy Whiteside, MD, appreciates Richey’s ability to empathize with his clients and create customized programs. A retired physician in his late 60s, Timothy feels “lucky to have a trainer who knows me and adjusts our training session to what is going on that day . . .
Rick inspires me to continue doing my best by doing what I can instead of trying to do what I can’t.”

“I have been blessed to train people who have opened my eyes in ways I never expected,” adds Richey. “Learning through their experiences has made me a better person.”

Personal Trainer of the Year finalist Anna Woods

2022 Personal Trainer of the Year finalist Anna Woods.

Anna Woods

Finalist, Personal Trainer of the Year

Hutchinson/Wichita, Kansas

“I am strong, worthy, enough. [That’s] what Anna has instilled in me,” says high school softball player Taylor Ward, speaking of personal trainer Anna Woods. “Anna has taught me that I am more than just a female athlete.”

It’s a powerful testimonial—one that, in many ways, encompasses all the ideals that Woods holds dear. She sees strength and possibilities in all her clients and believes them all worthy of a healthier life.

“I take an unwavering stand for equity and inclusion in every aspect of my business,” Woods says. “As a mom of children with special needs, I am immersed in this issue every day, and it makes me much more empathetic and aware of the day-to-day struggles of people who appear different.”

Even her training environment is special. “I created my business out of a barn in central Kansas,” she explains. “That was the only way I could continue to train clients and be available for the special needs of my children. I always invite people to work out with me like I would if I were hosting them as friends. This immediately helps people feel at ease and included.”

Compelled by her passion for supporting people with special needs, Woods recently designed an ACE course, Adaptive Fitness Exercise Programming, that helps fitness professionals understand how to train clients with special needs, communicate with them and their caretakers, and foster adherence to programming.

Although she says she’s proud and grateful to have built a six-figure business, she takes equal pride in her volunteer and community involvement, working with collegiate softball athletes, and even providing an internship program.

Back at the barn, Woods practices what she preaches. “During any workout time, a class could consist of people in wheelchairs, people with developmental delays and ‘typical’ people,” she says. “It could include women in their 80s and 10-year-old kids working out together—people suffering from depression [and] people of different ethnicities or political and religious beliefs. Because a welcoming culture is the norm for my gym space, nobody blinks an eye,” she says. “In my gym, everyone is safe, celebrated and welcome.”

See also: A New Meeting of Mind, Body and Soul

Darian Parker, PhD

Personal Trainer of the Year finalist Darian Parker

2022 Personal Trainer of the Year finalist Darian Parker, PhD.

Finalist, Personal Trainer of the Year

Blaine, Washington

Darian Parker’s experience with his first client created the foundation for his philosophy and future as a personal trainer. “I realized that personal training is so much more than exercise,” he says. “It is about creating meaningful, worthwhile and positive relationships with another person.”

Creating those meaningful interactions has defined Parker’s career. “Twenty-one years later I continue to hold those values close to me,” he says. “While having a solid knowledge base and understanding of how to apply scientific principles related to exercise is critically important, I have found that what is even more important is how you make people feel about themselves in that process.”

This blending of disciplines is reflected in his community and volunteer work, writings and presentations, and of course, in his ongoing relationships with his clients. “When I became aware of how many years he had been training the same clients, I was amazed,” says client Sitara Garma. “But secretly, I thought, that won’t work with me. I’ve never stayed with the same trainer for that long.” Parker, however, was undaunted. “I made sure to provide an approach that would allow Sitara to be successful,” he explains, an approach that included the concept of shaping, validating language and deep listening skills. “Almost 4 years in, Sitara is exercising regularly for the first time in her life,” Parker says. For Sitara, all the effort appears, well . . . effortless. “I honestly don’t know how he does it,” she says. “It’s like magic.”

Parker puts equal effort into diversity and inclusion. “As a Black man in the fitness industry, I believe it is also a part of my work to be an example to others in my community, regionally and nationally. I’ve often been the only person of color in the positions that I have been in, and it pains me to always be fighting uphill, but I believe I must do it. Every time I present, write a publication or do any media, I am representing a hope for other people of color, and I take that very seriously.”

2022 Personal Trainer of the Year finalist Greg Johnson.

2022 Personal Trainer of the Year finalist Greg Johnson, MS.

Greg Johnson, MS

Finalist, Personal Trainer of the Year

Sacramento

“Now more than ever, there is more misinformation and clutter that overshadows what is truly ‘healthy,’” says Greg Johnson. “It is our ethical duty to help inform people what true health means and what they personally need to achieve that.”

Johnson has been working to cut through that clutter, providing 60–70 session hours of one-on-one or semiprivate training every week, while also helping to develop employees, serving as a golf fitness expert, and devoting many hours to community service.

It’s a hefty schedule, but his mission is one that he takes very seriously, and his strong sense of ethics is equally matched by empathy.  “I also want to show [my clients] that I am no exception,” he explains. “There are times when my nutrition is off or I miss workouts. They see that I sometimes struggle with the same things they do. My clients are like my family; They know I will be there for them if they need an open ear.”

Johnson’s philosophy was perfect for client Terri St. Cyr. “Greg’s knowledge base is extraordinary,” she says. “Top this with his engaging, fun personality, and he delivers quite the experience.” For Terri, that experience became life-changing.

“Having witnessed the profound impact Greg has on his clients’ lives (mine included) moved me to want to become a part of the personal training community.” Terri earned her personal training certificate in 2016.

Johnson showed equal dedication to all his clients—and our industry—during the COVID-19 gym shutdowns in 2020, fighting to find a way to honor mandates, keep clients safe and keep them moving.

“By providing up-to-date information, data and research on how to create a safe training environment, I was granted permission to be allowed one-on-one training 3 months prior to [the county] adding it into the state guidelines. I would like to believe my examples helped create that shift in thinking,” he says.

“Training has yet to be seen as an essential service; I truly believe for most people it should be. I will continue to educate state and local officials so they understand the importance of health and fitness through training.”

IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year

2022 Fitness Instructor of the Year, Kia Williams, MA, MS.

2022 Fitness Instructor of the Year, Kia Williams, MA, MS.

The IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Award honors a certified group fitness instructor who teaches a minimum of five classes per week and whose superior instructional and leadership skills are demonstrated through community and industry involvement, as well as the ability to inspire and motivate others to commit to a healthy lifestyle.

Kia Williams, MA, MS

2022 Fitness Instructor of the Year

Chicago

When asked about her proudest accomplishment, Kia Williams doesn’t falter in her response: It’s her role as health and wellness chairwoman for the NAACP Fort Worth/Tarrant County chapter. “Having the opportunity to deliver fitness programming, research benefits and make fitness a community priority are efforts that will live on longer than I.”

It’s an incredible honor, but only one part of her legacy. Williams has many proud accomplishments: raising awareness of inclusion and diversity—including by serving on the first-ever IDEA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee—volunteering in her community, and, of course, leading fitness classes.

“I am on a mission to consistently deliver best practices in every group fitness experience I present,” she says. “I hope to inspire students to be the best versions of themselves and to enjoy fitness and the effects of it. I get to provide safe, functional and fun instruction that makes exercise possible for all bodies.  I deliver a group fitness experience that you cannot get anywhere else or from anyone else.”

She keeps it fresh and new, too! “Since 2007 I have been working on ways to use innovation and progressive thinking to propel my involvement and impact in the fitness industry. Technology is a game changer,” she explains. “I use social technologies, apps, podcasts, the morning news and local magazines to bring more people together. It is a global approach to building bridges, not walls, and keeping fitness on the forefront.”

Williams is a self-described “lifelong student of academics,” and she always takes the opportunity to take classes from other fit pros. “I’ve traveled to various countries (Spain, Italy, Greece, Barbados, Mexico and more) to take and teach classes for rich, cross-cultural engagement and experience through movement and wellness practices.”

And then? She pays it forward. “I have inspired and encouraged many students to become instructors and personal trainers.” That’s certainly true for Audresha Pemberton, who pursued her own fitness career under Williams’ mentorship. “She has given me way more than I could ever give back and, for that, I am eternally grateful,” says Audresha. “I am grateful that our industry has someone of her caliber.”

“It is an absolute joy when the student becomes the teacher and then the leader,” adds Williams. “Formal education and instruction is great, but adding an authentic/genuine relationship and matched chemistry of a mentor to the formula equates to higher performance and career motivation.

“I have made it my career mission and social responsibility to support people who are affected by marginalization in jobs, education and healthcare and by a lack of representation in the fitness industry.”

Fitness Instructor of the Year finalist Aileen Sheron

2022 Fitness Instructor of the Year finalist Aileen Sheron.

Aileen Sheron

Finalist, Fitness Instructor of the Year

West Covina, California

“I have loved being an instructor for as long as I can remember,” says Aileen Sheron. “And what it came down to, from the very beginning, was my strong belief in transforming people’s lives for the better.”

Her students and peers attest to both her talent and passion. “Aileen Sheron is an elite and true teacher of the highest caliber,” says Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA. “I have witnessed her cajole, motivate and progress class participants from the unknown to high performance; from anxiety to mastery; from skepticism to devotion.”

Although Sheron loves presenting around the world and takes pride in mentoring new fitness professionals, she still teaches classes on a weekly basis. “I make deep connections with my students by staying current and positive, educating and inspiring my ever-extending fitness family.

“A class is not a monolith,” she explains. “That’s why I always provide modifications to every workout. I give out my email to anyone who wants to ask me personal questions. I hand out anonymous surveys to glean information that helps me go beyond what I currently do and further improve the experience. This gives the students a voice to help shape their future workouts without the awkwardness of bringing up their ideas or suggestions in front of the class. I integrate new techniques and choreography with fabulous music, working really hard to deliver a fresh routine every single time. I believe this is one of the main reasons I have had some students come back, week after week, for more than 20 years.”

Sheron even takes the time to work with four-legged clients; she volunteers as a certified myofascial release specialist for injured horses.

Although she pivoted like a pro during the pandemic to the online virtual world and stands ready for any challenge, it is, perhaps, her consistent commitment to excellence that helps her shine.

“She truly cares that she offers quality, evidence-based exercises and fun, stimulating, cutting-edge curriculum that makes a difference,” says Williams-Evans. “She is devoted to people having positive experiences with and in their bodies, regardless of shape, age, size or ability—locally, nationally and internationally. Every day. Class in and class out.”

Christine Conti, MEd

2022 Fitness Instructor of the Year finalist Christine Conti, MEd.

2022 Fitness Instructor of the Year finalist Christine Conti, MEd.

Finalist, Fitness Instructor of the Year

Brick, New Jersey

When Christine Conti needs a little inspiration, she summons up words of wisdom from . . .
Wonder Woman. “You have two choices in life: Do something or do nothing. Always choose something.”

She never needed that more than when, at age 30, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, a condition that “left my maternal grandmother a quadriplegic for most of her adult life,” says Conti. At the time, Conti  was already a seasoned fitness professional, a woman who defined herself by her athletic achievements and had made it her mission to lead people of all ages and fitness levels to reach their full potential and live better-quality lives. Of the diagnosis, Conti says it felt like “a death sentence. I thought my life was over.”

It wasn’t.

After months of battling depression and hopelessness, one day Conti spotted her infant son across the room wearing a superhero cape. “That is when the quote from my favorite superhero, Wonder Woman, popped into my head. And just like that, I realized that I needed to choose to do something!”

She chose to take control over the things she could—exercise, nutrition, hydration, sleep, recovery and mindset—and help show others that they do not need to be defined by their diseases.  “In fact,” she says now, “my disease has proven to be my biggest gift.”

Conti still teaches a variety of fitness classes, volunteers in her community and is host of several podcasts. Her own struggles have allowed her to meet her participants and clients on a whole new level, and it’s no surprise that she has become their Wonder Woman.

“Christine taught me that taking control of my health was all about mindset,” says Heather Koons. “I turned it all over to Christine as she put me on a plan to first help me create a new habit, a new vision, a new story and a new internal dialogue. From group classes to post-class mental check-ins, I was learning that exercise was not something that I should despise but something that I looked forward to.”

See also: Fitness Family Reunion

IDEA Emerging Trailblazer of the Year

2022 Emerging Trailblazer of the Year, Lacee Green.

2022 Emerging Trailblazer of the Year, Lacee Green.

The IDEA Emerging Trailblazer of the Year Award honors an up-and-coming fitness professional who has been in the fitness industry for a relatively short period of time and has demonstrated an exceptional ability to innovate, inspire and lead others to fitness and wellness early in their career. Their contributions to the industry and their communities demonstrate how this individual shows promise to become a future fitness industry trailblazer.

Lacee Green

2022 Emerging Trailblazer of the Year

Ventura, California

There’s a perfect word to describe Lacee Green: “beYOUtiful!”  She’s made it her mission to help women feel that “there is a place for them to be their own version of healthy and fit,” she explains. “Through my fitness programs, classes and social media platforms, my message is to learn to love yourself enough to want to be the happiest and healthiest version of yourself. That looks different for all of us, and that’s okay. I hope to help raise self-confidence, self-love and generational health for women and girls internationally.”

“She is a true trailblazer as one of the first to show curves and self-love,” says Doris Thews, IDEA’s 2019 Instructor of the Year. “. . . making fitness inclusive for everybody and every body.

“Attending my first IDEA Convention was one of my biggest inspirations,” says Green. “Being around so many fit pros in one place was a dream come true.” Over the years, she met a series of mentors including Terry Boan and, later, Thews, who saw a special spark in Green’s boundless energy.

“Lacee started to blaze her trail once she honored her true self,” says Thews. “She was one of the first to be on social media celebrating her curves and infectious love of fitness. Fast forward to today; she has over 47,000 followers.”

Green shows no sign of slowing down. “Over the past 3 years, I have made it a goal to earn my national certifications as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and women’s fitness specialist. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I sought out to help by becoming certified in NASM’s Emotions in Motion: Exercise as an Anxiety Intervention program. I taught free outdoor group fitness classes to help ease the stress. And I am currently pursuing my NASM Corrective Exercise Specialization and Behavior Change Specialization.”

Green, who inspires so many, takes her inspiration from Maya Angelou. “A quote that I live my life by is ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ For me, fitness is a feeling. For so long in this industry we have given the world, women especially, a view of what ‘fit’ looks like. That image has not been inclusive for women with all body types from all walks of life in every shape, size and color. Representation matters. Not just inclusion and diversity but having a true feeling of belonging.”

Clearly, Green belongs in this industry. “When I think about the future of fitness, I know it’s bright,” says Thews, “because Lacee is the future.”

Maricris Lapaix, MA

Emerging Trailblazer of the Year finalist Maricris Lapaix, MA.

Emerging Trailblazer of the Year finalist Maricris Lapaix, MA.

Finalist, Emerging Trailblazer of the Year

Los Angeles

“My journey with Maricris is one of love, impact and transformation,” says Cynthia Flores, creative director for NASM. “Love is often a word used daily without understanding its true significance; please know that I’m intentionally using it here to describe Maricris and the passion and purpose she channels in everything she does.”

She’s speaking of Maricris Lapaix, who infuses all her work with the positive intentions that made such an impact on Cynthia—and on all the people with whom she works.

“The professional and ethical standards I stand by are rooted in integrity, honesty and loyalty,” says Lapaix. “The mixed-culture family dynamic I grew up in cultivated within me a deep appreciation and generous spirit for others.” She demonstrates that spirit in her 25–30 weekly personal training and group instruction sessions, her work as a brand ambassador, and her extensive social media presence.

“My global mission has been to motivate individuals to discover their catalyst for regular movement and a healthy mindset to be strong in life! My love for travel and adventure, as well as personal and professional experiences, have inspired my work as a trainer, fitness entrepreneur and content creator.”

Her ability to use technology to help her clients is one aspect that makes Lapaix a true trailblazer. “In my early efforts to expand my reach as a trainer, I utilized social media,” she explains. “To optimize the results, I enrolled myself in courses to help educate myself on best practices for the platforms and sought out coaches to guide me.”

One example is her YouTube series, “Move with Maricris.” “These episodes have taken me around the globe and given me an even greater appreciation for work to be done as a fitness professional,” she says. “The work I’ve put in with my personal development and professional education has allowed me to make the strides I have within the industry. I’ve been able to take my experiences of being not only a fitness professional, but also an athlete, model, former pageant competitor and corporate worker—and my formal education—to create a brand that can authentically speak to many.”

Emerging Trailblazer of the Year finalist Alessandro Pisanu.

Emerging Trailblazer of the Year finalist Alessandro Pisanu.

Alessandro Pisanu

Finalist, Emerging Trailblazer of the Year

Turin, Italy

Talk about a silver lining. “I started my fitness journey in a college dorm room when COVID-19 broke out in Italy,” says Alessandro Pisanu. “I originally started Facebook online live classes to help my students keep moving while all the gyms were closed.”

Now, as a group fitness instructor, a personal trainer, and a fitness presenter and influencer, Pisanu teaches 12 weekly group fitness classes in person and another four from his online platform.

This is especially significant because, as Pisanu explains, “Conducting live online fitness classes rarely existed in Italy prior to the pandemic. I was one of the first ones in Italy who jumped on the opportunity.”

Curzio Bufacchi, a former fitness instructor and international choreographer, was one of those who first found Pisanu on Facebook. After an injury forced him to stop teaching, Curzio searched for a trainer to live up to his understandably high standards. The search was in vain, he says, “until I found Alessandro and his classes, which reignited my love for fitness that I thought was gone for good.” Curzio highlights Pisanu’s “great teaching ability . . . cuing techniques . . . [and] warm, open, generous and friendly personality, with which he puts customers of any age at ease.”

Even more impressive? “I quickly learned English and managed to teach fitness classes in English, as I realized that communicating with my global online community was very important.” He then created several Facebook fitness events that streamed internationally.

Although he has a worldwide following, he is proud of his ability to “represent my country and my hometown to the world. And most importantly, being invited to the IDEA World Convention was such a dream for me!”

Pisanu continues to look for ways to expand his impact. “I would like to offer classes that are suitable for people in all ages, body types and physical conditions and abilities,” he says.

“My mission is to connect people around the world through fitness, regardless of countries, cultures, ethnicities, experiences and backgrounds, and keep them moving no matter what situation they are in.”

See also: Inspiring Attendees to Inclusive and Impactful Careers

Award Judges

Thank you to everyone who judged this year’s IDEA World Fitness Awards.

Fitness Instructor of the Year Judges

Stacy McCarthy

Alex McLean, MS

Dan McDonogh

Victoria Tolbert-Ashley, MS

Fitness Leader of the Year Judges

Charlie Hoolihan

Ingrid Knight-Cohee, MS

Jan Schroeder, PhD

Anthony Wall, MS

Personal Trainer of the Year Judges

Gini Grimsley, MS, CSCS

Tracy Markley

Mike Z. Robinson

Jason Stella

Emerging Trailblazer of the Year Judges

Billy Polson, CSCS

Sherri McMillan, MSc

Chas Rodgers

Matt Wright, MS

IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award

Amy Purdy

At age 19, Amy Purdy contracted Neisseria meningitidis, which resulted in the amputation of both legs below the knee and the loss of her spleen and both kidneys. Amy challenged herself by becoming one of the top-ranked adaptive snowboarders in the world. She has been featured on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, is the author of the best-selling autobiography On My Own Two Feet, and is the co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports, a nonprofit dedicated to helping those with permanent disabilities to get involved in action sports.

Learn more about Purdy at amypurdy.com/about.

IDEA Jack LaLanne Award

Billy Blanks

Billy Blanks was born with an anomaly in his hip joints that left him clumsy and subject to taunts. He found strength—both physically and of character—in karate, and he went on to a successful career as a martial arts champion, bodyguard and movie star.

That in itself is a pretty amazing story. But in Blanks’ case, that’s just the preface. His true legacy was born out of his desire to create something new that could help others learn to love fitness in a whole new way. That new thing, Tae Bo®, attracted a worldwide audience.

In the late ’90s, Blanks began selling his Tae Bo program via infomercials. In its first year alone, he sold more than 1.5 million VHS tapes and generated $80 million in sales.

If all of this sounds a bit familiar, then you’ve discovered why Blanks was the perfect person to receive the 2022 IDEA Jack LaLanne Award. In the 1950s, LaLanne was the pioneer. Back then, it was nothing short of revolutionary to lead exercise via television and—with his wife, Elaine, by his side—LaLanne paved the way for future generations of health and wellness professionals.

Blanks continues that legacy with pride. “My hope is to help as many people as possible,” he says. And, like Jack LaLanne before him, Blanks knows just how to do that.

Award Criteria and Applications

Interested in the 2023 IDEA World Fitness Awards?

You can apply for an award yourself or nominate another candidate. Applications and individual criteria for each award are posted at ideafit.com/awards. The deadline is March 1, 2023.

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