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2021 IDEA World Virtual: United We THRIVED!

Day 3 of 2021 IDEA World Virtual caps a weekend of unity, inclusion and support for fit pros all over the world.

United we Thrive

When you’re in marketing meetings noodling themes and catchy tag lines, it can be a tricky thing to know what will resonate with your audience. Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board; but sometimes, out of pure authenticity and solidarity with your people, you hit a nerve. You bushwhack the pathway and then build the message and the mantra so well that it sticks—and then carries everyone along with it.

IDEA kicked off 2021 IDEA® World Virtual by defining our theme, “United We Thrive.” More than a theme, it’s an internal mantra for IDEA and an intention we set over a year ago: To deliver against IDEA’s mandate at a time when our industry needed it the most. “We specifically designed IDEA World Virtual to bring our community together and to create ripples of positivity, resilience, encouragement and love,” said IDEA VP and general manager Amy Thompson at the Sunday close of a moving and transformational event.  “We hope our IDEA family will carry that energy and inspiration back to their businesses and communities to keep progressing forward and inspiring the world to fitness.

“As I attended sessions and listened to our industry thought leaders, experts and IDEA Award recipients, I could hear this theme echoed in their presentations with messages of unity, inclusion and support,” Thompson said. “They genuinely offered to lift up one another with guidance and action steps for taking one step at a time to keep moving forward in unity. I personally will leave this event knowing that we are united in purpose and that we have the brilliance and resilience to thrive in the months and years to come.”

Here again, through the lens of IDEA’s award-winning editors, is a recap of IDEA Word Virtual Day 3. (Read the Day 1 and Day 2 IDEA World Virtual blogs for the full story). As ever, today’s sessions covered a range of topics, from exercise science to entrepreneurial pointers to the pure joy of movement and sweat. Here are some noteworthy highlights:

  • Jesse Thomas, MS, set the stage for the day with his presentation, The Commander of Energy: Be the Leader and the People Will Follow, helping attendees plug into how to manage the energy and environment to provide “the session [clients] didn’t know they could have.” In-person or virtual, “we create magic,” says Thomas, who defines the foundation of creating energy with the ABCs: Always Be Coaching.
  • PJ O’Clair demonstrated effective coaching with her Stott Pilates®: Total Body Sculpting session. Her diligence about cuing proper form—and always including modifications—was mixed with advice to keep things fun for the instructor. “Put a little personality in your workout,” she advised.
  • Sadie Nardini showed us a new way to teach yoga. Her emphasis on the deep core line allowed participants to transition asanas in new ways, cuing each move in an elegant seven-step template for teaching any yoga style more effectively.
  • Lindsey Miller and Carol Murphy know a thing or two about cuing! In their session, Choreography, Cuing and Music, they kept the buzz elevated by helping instructors find the right mix to balance the playlist with choreography. But they emphasized that all the great music in the world doesn’t matter unless you cue correctly and connect with your attendees. Murphy quoted IDEA legend Len Kravitz, PhD, who taught her that “there is a direct line between a sense of belonging and fitness adherence.” Connection makes that line strong and keeps clients coming back for more.
  • Nick Clayton, MS, MBA, was also making connections—this time between power training and the everyday athlete. Power training aids clients in improving activities of daily living.  “It’s the single best thing we can do for them,” said Clayton, emphasizing that strength and power training is important for everyone at any age—not just elite athletes.

Rethinking Old Movement Norms

load, explode glutes

  • When it comes to training glutes for sport-specific moves, Greg Johnson, MS, underscored the critical nature of coaching athletes for direction changes. “If I’m running one way and the ball goes the other way, I need to plant, which means all those muscles need to essentially load and explode, to turn in the other direction. If you’re not training your athletes on some type of change in direction, you’re not training their glutes to their best ability.
  • Evan Osar, DC, dropped this tip early in his session on Corrective Exercise and Injury Prevention for Group Training: “We need to examine and change some of the traditional cues we use with clients. For example: ‘Put your shoulder blades back and down.’ This actually inhibits range of motion and can cause a whole host of problems.” What cues can you think of that directly contribute to why your clients are staying tight, feeling discomfort or struggling to perform at the level they need to? All fit pros have to take a look at this in all formats, to ensure that we’re not doing more harm than good.
  • In Integrated Core Connections, Chuck Wolf, MS, shared his three favorite cues for common pain and injury problems that plague clients, including shoulder, lower-back pain and postural issues. Try these on and see if they make sense, he said: “1. Reach with the scapula. Where the scapula goes, the humerus will follow. 2. Shine the beacon of life (the “beacon” being your belly button): Where the pelvis goes, the low back will follow. 3. Stand tall. Is kyphosis a thoracic or pelvic problem? Well, it’s both!”
  • You haven’t lived until you’ve done an AMRAP workout (As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible) with Shana Verstegen! Here’s how it works: The “reps” version of AMRAP involves selecting only one exercise and a time constraint. For example, completing as many pushups as possible in a 5-minute time period. This is a great tool for training and measuring your clients’ muscular endurance (and mental fortitude!) over time. The “rounds” version of AMRAP can make up an entire express workout. Simply select a short series of exercises and a defined number of reps for each one. Set a time constraint and have your client perform the complete series of exercises as many times as possible. How’s that for a Monday morning–ready idea?
  • Training women pre- and postpartum can be a tricky business. Every woman and every pregnancy is different, so honing your expertise with this special population is essential. Specific to returning to exercise after baby arrives, Molly Galbraith, CSCS, of Girls Gone Strong gave these “Bulletproof Your Body Guidelines” for 19–42 weeks post-pregnancy: (1.) Have clients practice their “connection breath”: 10 breaths 1x–2x/day (2.) Strength train 2x–4x/week based on energy level, goals and schedule. Example exercises to ease back into it with include barbell squats, pushups, trap bar deadlifts, pullups, weighted lunges, barbell hip thrusts and overhead press. Galbraith speaks rapidly and with authority, so attendees who attended this session got about twice the usual amount of quality information possible.
  • Training for functional aging was central for Tim Vagen, MS, who covered power training for older adults. Important components of the process are empathy and patience when working on strength, power and reaction for each client. “Think of what they’ve lost and work on those things,” he said.

Getting Down to Business

diverse friends on social mediaWhat would an IDEA program be without plenty of insider business tips?

  • Jessica Maurer revealed how to successfully use social media in her session, Five Social Media Dos and Don’ts. She stressed the importance of answering the pain points in your clients’ lives, as well as keeping followers engaged. “People are looking for like-minded individuals and to fit in,” she said. “Let your social media be that place.”
  • Alana Sanders, PhD, MBA, also shared her social media wisdom, explaining how to build a personal brand by marketing yourself as an expert in the industry. “What are you posting that’s keeping followers on your page?” she asked.
  • Lindsey Rainwater and Jennifer Halsall focused on equal pay, walking attendees through rehearsing and navigating discussions about pay increases.
  • Spotlight Session speaker Paul Brown provided valuable insight on how to turn newcomers into loyal clients through a multi-step nurturing process that combines both consistency and change.

Mind Meets Body and Welcomes Recovery

sleeping man

Mind-body, rest and recovery continue to bubble to the fore, especially as the entire world’s stress level has crested time and again during 1.4 years of pandemic.

  • So, what about a little self-myofascial release before bedtime as a holistic sleeping pill? “Adding percussive therapy to your nighttime routine, whether it’s 30 seconds, 3 minutes or 10 minutes, can really support better sleep preparation, which puts you in a state of relaxation before your head hits the pillow,” said Paul Cauldwell, in A Systems Approach to Enhancing Mobility and Performance.
  • In Train Clients Happy, Shirley Archer, JD, MA, not only presented the research behind the role of happiness in our lives but included meditation exercises throughout to keep attendees mindful of the message. It was a wonderful way to learn how to “increase the happiness quotient” with every training that you offer.
  • In Advanced Strategies for Recovery From Exercise, Dan Duran reminded us that all exercise is stress to the body. He covered ways to assess physical, lifestyle, emotional and mental stress, followed by an exploration of several recovery methods.
  • Skip Jennings approached recovery through meditation in his calming education session. After highlighting some mindful practices, he led a deeply relaxing meditation with music, guiding attendees through gentle inhalations and exhalations.

Behavior Modification

IDEA has led the industry for the past 5 years on behavior change programming, and today’s offerings continued that tradition.

  • In Breaking Body Barriers, Tasha Edwards, MS, powerfully brought attention to the narratives that clients and trainers have about their bodies through what she called “body stories.” “Perception is reality,” she said. Our own body stories—believing that we’re too fat, too tall, too weak, etc.—that stem from our early years can not only affect how we feel about ourselves but also influence our perceptions of others. As fit pros, this “transference” can negatively impact our ability to truly help others. Edwards shared the arresting survey data below to illustrate how this sample group of women feel about themselves. If it doesn’t give you pause, read it again. Clients enter your space because they trust you. You have an opportunity for positive impact. Let’s help change this together.
    • 75.9% were unhappy with their weight.
    • 95.8% have experienced negative emotions toward their bodies (the emotion they cited most often was disappointment).
    • 23.9% have experienced disordered eating/an eating disorder.
    • 76.1% have judged people by their bodies.
    • 90.1% have been judged or underestimated because of their bodies.
    • 50.7% have stayed away from a gym or fitness class based on how they felt about their bodies.
    • 76.1% have judged themselves against a fitness pro/influencer.
    • 59.2% have judged a fitness trainer/instructor by their body.
  • Rachael Babiracki and Nikki Snow dissected diet culture and its harmful effects on clients, emphasizing its position in a larger sociocultural system. They compassionately walked attendees through ways to reject its influence and foster a healthier relationship to food and bodies.
  • The American Council on Exercise confronted the challenges women face in the fitness industry through its panel, which included Sabrena Jo, MS, Venus Davis, Jiji Pollock, MS, and Lauren Shroyer, MS. Each panelist shared her experiences in the industry and tips for navigating fitness as a woman.

Save the Date for IDEA World 2022!

vegas save the date

Mark your calendar now for next July 20–24 in Las Vegas! IDEA welcomes the entire fitness community to join us as we celebrate our auspicious 40th anniversary as the industry leader. After two years of social distancing, we will be ready to party and pull out all the stops.

Watch for updates on all IDEA channels: Fitness Journal, the IDEAfit PRO SHOW podcast, our digital publications, ideafit.com, social media and email. We will look forward to having you join us for a massive and overdue group hug. Until then, keep inspiring!

IDEA World Virtual Fitness and Nutrition Expo

Like IDEA itself, this year’s World Virtual Expo Hall offered the full gamut of services for the successful fit pro—from education to programming tools to great deals on products and services. You could get the low-down on nutrition, check out the latest tech for growing your business and interacting with clients, and explore new career opportunities.  Oh, yes, and shop. And shop.  And shop!

Like our entire industry this past year, the Expo Hall again made the pivot to virtual—but it still captured IDEA’s trademark of excellence and high standards. This was our largest virtual Expo Hall ever with 44 booths to visit, many offering show discounts on products, and all available throughout the entire show for personal interaction with attendees.  On the first day alone, there were more than 10,000 booth visits. And because attendees came from around the world, our booth sponsors got international exposure.

Rising to the challenges of the virtual world, the Expo facilitated communication through text and video chat—and attendees could make an appointment so they could coordinate getting the information they needed with the rest of the IDEA World Virtual experience.

Another special perk? Attendees earned points for visiting each booth. At the end of the event, the person with the most points scored a free registration to any 2022 IDEA in-person event. Points were also given for attending sessions, networking and completing the event survey.

Special Expo Hall events included two live in-booth demos—one from ClubReady and one from Ashley Black.

Special Thanks!

thank you sponsorsIDEA is grateful to our key sponsors for making our event possible.

  • ZonePerfect, our official lifestyle nutrition partner, helps make the nutrition journey easier for both fit pros and their clients with convenient bar and shake products formulated with purposeful macronutrients (carbohydrates/protein/fat).
  • The American Council on Exercise is committed to providing top-rated certifications and continuing education opportunities for you to expand and adapt your skills to stay relevant and meet the evolving needs of your clients. During 2021 IDEA World Vitual, attendees enjoyed exclusive discounts on additional ACE certifications and continuing education courses.
  • Therabody’s mission is to provide effective, natural solutions that help people take charge of their daily wellness via smart, industry-leading devices. Therabody offered a generous 20% on all its products for attendees and donated three Theragun Elites for three lucky winners.

Many thanks also to our Welcome Box sponsors:
Platinum Band
Soy Nutrition Institute
National Watermelon Board


Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.


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