True fitness embraces a lifestyle that recognizes the power of movement, the benefits of a healthy diet and the importance of balance. The winners of the 2003 IDEA Health & Fitness Awards encourage this lifestyle by making fitness widely accessible.

To recognize their accomplishments, the IDEA awards ceremony, sponsored by Propel® Fitness Water™, took place on July 17 in Anaheim, California.

IDEA FITNESS INSPIRATION AWARD

Rick Hansen

“To really understand what it means to receive inspiration has been the path of my life. After my accident, I had to refocus my athletics and learn to master wheelchair sports. I continually receive love and support all over the world. No matter what your challenge is, keep moving!”

IDEA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Kathy Smith

“I am so honored to be here tonight in front of my peers. There are so many people who should be up here with me. I want to thank Kathie, Peter and IDEA for recognizing that education would be the key to success in this industry. I feel I am just getting started and hope to receive my 2nd Lifetime Achievement Award in 50 years.”

IDEA PROGRAM DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR

Carol Scott

At Equinox Fitness clubs, fitness isn’t measured in pounds and inches. The “fitness experience” is packaged for an upscale clientele that expects the best. Carol Scott’s job as national group fitness manager is to deliver consistent, cutting-edge group exercise programs that appeal to all fitness levels. How does she do it? She chooses trends over fads; looks for new programs with credibility, longevity and a high fun factor; and hires the industry’s top instructors once they’ve reached their peak.

How can you tell if a program
will be successful?

A lot of my choices are based on my experience in the industry. I began teaching group fitness in 1986 and have seen many things come and go. The first test is whether the program is fun. Believe it or not, I am a reluctant exerciser and won’t do anything unless it’s fun. If it will work for me, that’s a good sign. Second, I check its credibility. (I have a bachelor’s degree in physical education.) Third, is it easy
to follow? Does the class design allow for beginner, intermediate and advanced programming options? Finally, if the program is apparatus-based, I look for multiple
applications. A product like step was an easy sell. It has applications for cardiovascular training, strengthening and balance work. It won’t pigeonhole you into one type of class.

How do you consistently hire and keep the top instructors?

At Equinox we have the luxury of paying competitive salaries for experienced instructors. Our management team understands the importance of group fitness and knows that the excitement and energy it brings to a club will result in long-term retention.

It is up to me and all program directors to set the standards. Mine are extremely high, and education and experience are key. Certification is just the beginning. I do see a challenge in the future when today’s older superstars stop teaching. There will be a need for the same quality of talent, and I don’t see that many fresh faces emerging. To prevent an instructor drought, I’ve created a mentoring program. My top instructors mentor newer instructors. “Each one, teach one.” It has been very successful.

What is Equinox doing to retain new exercisers?

We have developed Foundation Classes, which introduce the new exerciser to all the programs we offer. Our first class, “Yogaphobics,” was so well received we added Foundations in Pilates, BOSU® and most other classes.

Is Equinox doing anything to reach out to children and help fight the obesity epidemic?

We just began a program to mentor instructors to take their skills directly into the schools. This way, kids get fitness education on their own turf. We also do fee-based master classes to raise money for specific schools.

IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER OF THE YEAR

Greg Mack

In the late 1980s, at the IDEA Educational Conference in Washington, D.C., Greg Mack found his niche. During a lecture, he heard that the aging population was growing and had expressed an interest in medically coordinated fitness programs. Since then, his company—Physicians Fitness—has forged new ground for personal fitness trainers. Greg has contracted with hospitals, outpatient clinics, chiropractors and massage therapists, introducing fitness training to the medical community.

Do patients understand the
benefits of working with fitness professionals?

We have the opportunity to inspire the inactive to fitness. The sedentary and the unfit are in the clinics and hospitals. They’re sick; they’re in pain—and unfortunately, pain motivates. We move them through the stages of pain and get them to think beyond what hurts. If we are strengthening their left leg, we also do the right. Eventually, we add in the rest of the body. Our clients become our voice in the medical community. Once they feel the benefits of a fitness program, they continue to exercise and improve their health. They discover they need fewer of the traditional drugs, X-rays and surgical procedures, and they tell their doctors. When we approach the medical providers, they’re already familiar with our service.

Do health care providers understand the benefits of working
with fitness professionals?

Yes and no. You’re not going to find a physician who doesn’t believe that his or her
patients should be healthy, but getting a physician to make fitness a part of the care package is challenging.

Even if your clients aren’t sick, beginning an exercise program is going to make them healthier. The limitations are wrapped up in the financial challenges of third-party reimbursement.

How can a trainer build a bridge into the medical community?

I’ve developed a curriculum to help trainers interface with the medical community. One of the biggest challenges they face is learning the lingo. Medical professionals want you to know what they are talking about; it legitimizes your knowledge to speak in their terms. If you are going to interface with diseased people, you’ll need a more advanced training program.

How do you think the obesity
epidemic will play into this?

The obesity epidemic is bound to break the bank with insurance costs. Most insurance companies don’t pay for health maintenance, because people change their health care providers so often. Healthy 20-year-olds don’t pay off for an insurance company unless they stay with that company and become healthy 70-year-olds. I think we will see insurance premiums go up for clients with high BMIs.

IDEA FITNESS INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR

Keli Roberts

When Keli Roberts left Australia to teach fitness in America, she had no idea of the impact she would have on our industry. Her first workout video sold 1.5 million copies. She has worked with CBS/Fox Video and SPRI, creating workouts for people to do in the comfort of their own homes. Keli teaches classes at Equinox in Pasadena, California; presents at fitness conferences worldwide; and still finds time to Inspire the World to Fitness wherever she goes.

How did you get started in the video industry?

I was teaching at a studio in Southern California that had a high percentage of clients in the entertainment industry. One of my students sent me to a casting call, and I was chosen to be in a video with Cher. I introduced her to step, and she immediately fell in love with it. She asked me to make a video with her, which was a huge success! CBS/Fox got a ton of fan mail about me, so they sent me on a media tour and here I am.

Any suggestions for instructors who want to break into media?

Start presenting. Work on your stage presence and make as many contacts as you can. I have always used SPRI products, and following my presentations, attendees would flock to the SPRI booth in the expo hall and buy everything. When SPRI decided to make instructional videos, they asked me.

What’s next for you?

I’d like to focus more on writing and doing technical consulting on fitness video production. I have so much information to share with people.

How do you reach out to the new exerciser?

My gym has a lot of new and overweight exercisers. It’s important to keep them motivated. I always find out who is new to class and give them the modifications they need to feel successful. After class, I get their feedback, answer their questions and invite them back.

I’ll also join our membership representative to explain the group fitness program to potential clients. It really helps newcomers to hear about the classes, ask questions and become accountable to a schedule.

What do you think about IDEA’s Inspire the World initiative?

Brilliant. Too many people aren’t ready to take responsibility for their health. An hour of activity sounds overwhelming and unachievable. As fitness professionals we need to break it down and offer people easy solutions. My advice is talk to people, find out what kind of activities they enjoy, and help them see how they can fit 20 minutes of activity into their day. Start small and get people in the habit of exercise. Eventually, they will crave more.