Inspiring Attendees to Inclusive and Impactful Careers
The 2022 IDEA World Convention brought us the latest exercise science, community-building and DEI strategies, and inspiration from passionate fit pros.
The IDEA® World Convention has earned its spot as a renowned and highly-attended event in the fitness industry, and for good reason: It brings together a deeply inspiring community of fitness professionals, offers life-changing experiences and provides invaluable education that drives our industry to greater—LIMITLESS—heights.
Here’s a review of what the 2022 IDEA World Convention had to offer in personal training, exercise science, diversity, equity and inclusion, community building, and, as always, inspiration.
Training With Exercise Science and Research
For exercise science nerds, 2022 IDEA World Convention was a treasure trove of research gold. Our presenters packed their education sessions with evidence-based training strategies, exploration of anatomy and helpful guidance on functional fitness.
The Brain-Body Connection
“We’re tired of fascia; it’s time to talk about the brain!” Ryan Glatt, MS, exclaimed in his session on using cognitive tasks to boost brain fitness. And Glatt wasn’t alone in shining light on the prominent interplay between cognitive health and physical training. In “Sensory Stacking: A New Way to Improve Balance,” Emily Splichal, DPM, demonstrated how fit pros can tap into the brain’s multisensory perception to enhance balance training, noting that our joints are only as stable as the rate our brains can perceive shifts in them. Grove Higgins, DC, and Pat Marques led an illuminating session on “neurocentric” strategies for joint replacement clients, explaining how biomechanics respond to the nervous system and inform a trainer’s use of sensory input—like vibration, temperature or skin stimulation—for joint stabilization. In “Healing Has No Limits: How to Support Healing the Body and the Mind,” Kenya Crawford, MA, EdM, LMHC, shared poignant guidance on how to approach training with sensitivity to trauma that manifests in both a client’s cognition and body.
Deep Dives on Anatomy and Function
In order to train the body, you need to know the body. This principle was illustrated expertly in many sessions exploring anatomy and function—and how to train them effectively. In “Training the Female Core,” Keli Roberts reviewed the inner and outer units of the core muscles, explaining how these structures provide mobility and stability for the pelvis, spine and rib cage. Similarly, Chuck Wolf, MS, covered tri-plane loading for shoulder stability; Sue Hitzmann, MS, focused on foot therapy and the importance of ground force reaction to strengthen and maintain muscles in the foot; Len Kravitz, PhD, Tricia Murphy Madden and Mindy Mylrea combined forces to present the latest research on optimal training for the glutes, demoing exercises and progressions for maximal muscle activation.
Supporting Deconditioned Clients
The COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges to the industry and halted fitness programs for many. One outcome has been the prevalence of deconditioned clients who are returning to exercise with reduced activity levels and lower capacities—an important consideration many presenters reminded attendees to note when training. In “Innovative Interval Training,” Dane Robinson and Leigh Wierichs, MS, MFA, emphasized assessing a client’s deconditioned state to gauge capacity, set an appropriate aerobic pacing and provide “intentional intensity” during interval training. Others echoed this guidance, like presenter Kara Lazauskas, MS, who highlighted that programming load and rest periods during functional and performance training is relative to each client, with special attention to those who are deconditioned.
Revisiting Familiar Formats and Movements
Sometimes innovation doesn’t require a new format, but a new way of looking at an existing format. How can we improve upon what we’re already familiar with? Several presenters had answers. In “Optimal Overhead Pressing: What All Trainers and Clients Need to Know,” Jonathan Mike, PhD, delved into shoulder anatomy and proper form for different types of presses. In another session, Mike taught how to master the mechanics and techniques of the deadlift. Tony Nuñez, PhD, also shared lifting strategies in “Resistance Training for Optimal Power, Strength, Hypertrophy and Endurance,” where he guided attendees on how to set intensity, volume, sequencing and progressions for best results.
Making Fitness Inclusive for Everybody and Every Body
To truly Inspire the World to Fitness®, we must ensure our approach is accessible and adaptable to all people. Some sessions this year focused on creating inclusive, diverse and equitable fitness spaces—and confronting the obstacles to getting there.
DEI: A People-Centered Approach
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have gained more attention over the past few years. While these fuel important and needed transformation, for some they have become buzzwords that lack clear direction and implementation. That’s where our DEI experts came in: to shift the narrative to people-centered values at the core of all DEI efforts and to provide strategies for real improvement. In “The Importance of Person-Centered Language to Encourage an Inclusive and Diverse Fitness Community,” Michelle Leachman, MS, and Kia Williams, MBA, encouraged fit pros to be aware of different types of implicit biases they may have when interacting with clients, understand the health disparities people may face due to socioeconomic factors and use inclusive language to create a safe space for everyone. In “5 Strategies That Lead to an Inclusive Fitness Space,” Katrina Pilkington, MS, and Dynasti Harris, MEd, MBA, explained the key methods to turn learning into action: understanding yourself, knowing the “why” of fitness, prioritizing equity in your practice, creating a space of true belonging and providing inclusivity through honoring individuality.
Adaptive Fitness Changes Lives
As the 2022 IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award honoree, Amy Purdy reminded us that fitness and sports are for people of all ability levels and body types. Creating an inclusive, people-centered industry means meeting each client where they are. A crucial question: How can we get creative with programming to accommodate different types of disabilities, conditions or limitations and deliver effective training? The answer was sessions like “Adaptive Fitness: Coaching Clients With Disabilities in a Group Setting,” where Robby Febo and Devon Palermo demonstrated how to adapt popular exercises for people who lack lower-body use or control. Grove Higgins, DC, and Pat Marques discussed training for stroke survivors, diving into the changes in motor control and cognition that inform effective training. And in “Gentle, But Powerful, Program Design,” Sherri McMillan, MSc, taught us the power of using controlled movements to build muscle strength and stability in clients who do not have a full range of motion.
The Value of Community
“Community is one of the most important aspects of self-healing; it creates support,” shared Debbie Rosas in her session on using movement to heal the body. But healing isn’t just for the body—it’s for restoring connection, rebuilding communities and closing social divides. In “Move, Laugh, Connect,” Kristen Flabiano and Carla B. Sottovia, PhD, shared a balanced, welcoming program that addresses physical, emotional and social wellness to bring people together. In “Cultivating and Creating Community,” Jessica Maurer emphasized the importance of attracting clients who align with your values, creating meaningful connections and transforming your client base into a community. And of course, the 2022 IDEA World Convention itself was a powerful example of community coming together with purpose and passion, welcoming fit pros from all walks of life.
Expanding Perspectives and Voices in Fitness
One critical lesson to take away from the sessions on DEI is the need to make space for diverse perspectives, voices and experiences in fitness. In the “Equity and Inclusion Breakout Talk,” attendees formed small groups to have free-form conversations with presenters Rachael Babiracki, Tasha Edwards, MS, Eugene Lloyd and Katrina Pilkington, MS. Among the conversation topics were creating safe spaces for a diverse client base, personal experiences with exclusion and prejudice, and how to handle unsafe situations in fitness spaces. “We all have different ways of seeing things,” remarked Lloyd. “You’re going to bring your background to every class and every client.” His words were a powerful reminder to both bring awareness to one’s biases and remain open to unfamiliar perspectives. Edwards closed with supportive, inspiring words for impact and change: “Disruption happens when you’re not just doing this for you,” she said. “If you feel heavy, that heaviness is a push for you to do something. Let that be your drive.”
See also: Creating Inclusivity in Fitness Spaces
Inspiration Medals: Inspiring the 2022 IDEA World Convention to Greatness
It is our mission to Inspire the World to Fitness, but in the process, we too are inspired by IDEA World attendees, whose dedication and empathy drive the profound impact fitness has on people’s lives.
Attendees Who Stand Out
Fit pros who bring motivating energy to their sessions have the chance to receive Inspiration Medals from presenters to honor their contributions. This year, 300 medals were awarded! Attendees shared their personal stories, asked compelling questions, eagerly joined workouts and helped fellow fit pros. One attendee who exemplifies this spirit is Deanna O’Brien, a personal trainer and fitness instructor from San Diego, California. Driven by her desire to help prevent and lessen chronic pain for her clients, Deanna received multiple Inspiration Medals for her enthusiastic engagement. “I come to IDEA World for the camaraderie, passion for fitness and to be inspired by others,” she said. “If you’re not learning anything, you’re not living!”
Another honoree who stands out is Jonathan Rivera, a fitness coordinator at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, who’s also earned Inspiration Medals at two past IDEA World Conventions! Jonathan is the first Black and Latino climbing routesetter for the university’s Outdoor Adventure and Welcome Center’s Technical Training Center; serves as the co-chair for their Campus Recreation Race Series committee; and sits on two university health committees—impressive! During a DEI session this year, Jonathan shared his experience embracing his Puerto Rican heritage and finding community through climbing—a journey he continued at IDEA World. “Hearing the stories of participants from many walks of life around the country and the world while reconnecting with friends within our industry truly feels like a family reunion,” he shared. “What inspires me to attend World and participate in the sessions is a long-standing passion to learn from the best in our industry and inspire as many people as I can to live healthy, active lifestyles and express themselves through limitless movement.”
Many attendees like Jonathan who shared this gusto could be spotted throughout the convention, proudly sporting their Inspiration Medals.
Inspiration Medal Ceremony and Prizes
To honor our exemplary fit pros, the IDEA Inspiration Medal Awards ceremony provided a space for recipients to gather and win prizes—their infectious energy providing a moving atmosphere full of passion and purpose! Goodies raffled off included:
- a 40th Anniversary Gift Package from IDEA, containing a LIMITLESS water bottle, 40th anniversary shirt, visor, cap, trucker hat, pin and tote bag;
- a free 2023 IDEA World registration for next July 12-16 in Los Angeles;
- an Expo Gift Package with items from GU Energy Labs, Naboso and Ice Shaker;
- a PRO-ROLLER® Soft 18” foam roller, a Stretch Out Strap®, and PRO-PODS™ release and Stabilization tools from OPTP®;
- 2 tickets and 2 VIP upgrades to the BOLD Conference in September from Mindbody;
- 1 free Les Mills Initial Module Training for a program of choice;
- an MFR Stick from Perform Better;
- a gift package from NOW Foods; and
- a Theragun® Wave Roller Smart Vibrating foam roller from Therabody.
Each prize was awarded to a different Inspiration Medal recipient. The inspiring attendees who each received a prize included Jonathan Rivera, Leslie Robinson Tolton, Ari Lipponen, Christy Coleman and April Kovalscik—who all seemed thrilled to share space with other inspiring colleagues at IDEA World. “That was a life-changing experience!” said Robinson Tolton.
The Future of Fitness Is Here
Though the 2022 IDEA World Convention is now behind us, the experiences and education provided a peek at what’s ahead for our industry. This year’s sessions gave us hope for an inclusive fitness community and equipped fit pros with the tools, education and strategies they need to bring life-changing fitness to the world. The possibilities are limitless; now it’s time to make them a reality.