2008 IDEA Health & Fitness Inspiration Awards™ Finalists

Jul 01, 2008

Celebrate the accomplishments of exceptional industry leaders.

IDEA is proud of the contributions of all our members, who work hard every day to share the joys of active and healthy living with their clients. The IDEA Health & Fitness Inspiration Awards honor fitness colleagues who make exceptional efforts to support clients, communities and the fitness industry. Join us as we recognize the achievements of the 2008 finalists at the IDEA World Fitness Convention awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Wednesday, July 9, at 8:15 am. The presentations will recognize the 2008 IDEA Program Director of the Year, IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year.

Congratulations to the many fitness pros who applied for the awards and to the following award finalists. Below we touch on a few of the finalists’ accomplishments.


This award recognizes an IDEA member who is a healthy role model, who demonstrates keen professional commitment through community and industry involvement and whose outstanding leadership or creativity inspires staff and influences both active and underactive people to commit to a healthy lifestyle through successful, creative and diverse programming.

Finalist: Debbie Bellenger, MA
Lexington, South Carolina

Debbie Bellenger is director of Health Directions at Lexington Medical Centre (LMC). She currently manages the overall operation of Health Directions’ 13,000-square-foot facility and two satellite locations. She is also a part-time professor at the University of South Carolina, where she teaches the EXSC 454 Fitness Management course.

Bellenger and her staff offer numerous fitness programs to motivate active and underactive clients. Classes include Sit and Be Fit™, Zumba® and Zumba Gold, “Foam Rolling,” “Pilates Fundamentals,” “Kettlebell Fundamentals” and “Sensitive Cycle.” “Intro classes make up 10% of our schedule,” she says.

Bellenger also oversees successful retention and wellness programs that help different populations. In fact, membership retention increased from 30% to 51% in 2007. As a retention example, all new members now receive two 1-hour orientations instead of just one. “We also offered the Great Weight Challenge for LMC employees and Health Directions members,” says Bellenger. “This 10-week program focused on eating well and exercising regularly. The total pounds lost last year was 2,217.”

In Bellenger’s 7-year tenure as director, the membership base has grown from 425 members to 3,000, and personal training revenues have increased from $1,000 to $26,000 per month.

“My goal is to touch as many lives as possible,” Bellenger says. She submits monthly wellness columns to the local Lexington Chronicle, featuring members of her team as the authors. Health Directions Wellness Team offers many disease management programs to LMC employees and members alike. The programs include “Fresh Start” (smoking cessation), “Live Light” (weight management), “Healthy Back” and “Cancer and Exercise.”

Finalist: PJ O’Clair
Manchester, Massachusetts

PJ O’Clair owns a business that combines Northeast Pilates Certification Centers (NEPCC) and the ClubXcel fitness facility. NEPCC is the professional side of her business, and ClubXcel is the consumer side. While running her own fitness club and teacher-training business, she still finds 25-plus hours per week to work with personal clients.

O’Clair has developed numerous programs to appeal to active and inactive niche markets. Her programs include “Pilates for Breast Cancer Survivors,” “The Secret to a Strong Back,” “Staying Strong,” “Pre/Postnatal Yoga and Pilates,” “XKids” and “TeenXcel.” In addition, ClubXcel offers many other programs, such as “Core Xpress,” “Yoga for Detox,” “Pilates Infused Yoga” and “Pilates for Performance.”

How does she help her staff? “An enthusiasm for knowledge and programming excellence is the gift I give my team,” she says. “I lead by creating an environment that respects my staff, welcomes their ideas, promotes continuing education, encourages professional advancement and rewards positive results.”

NEPCC, O’Clair’s teacher-training business, was one of the first STOTT PILATES®–licensed training centers in North America. NEPCC has been recognized as the “Most Productive Training Center Worldwide” in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

How does she contribute to her community? This year, by donating lectures and workouts at the Beverly Hospital, O’Clair is inspiring teenage moms to get fit. For 10 years she has organized a team to participate in the Pan Mass Challenge, a 2-day, 200-mile cycling event to fund cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Center.

Finalist: Peter Twist, MSc
North Vancouver, British Columbia

Peter Twist is the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Twist Conditioning Inc. and an 11-year-veteran National Hockey League conditioning coach and exercise physiologist for the Vancouver Canucks. His company has three major divisions, which focus on training athletes in his franchised sport conditioning centers; educating advocates in the fitness, sports, teaching, rehabilitation and emergency services industries; and distributing innovative training equipment.

The Twist sport conditioning paradigm concentrates on “developing the secondary components of fitness, including balance, speed, agility, quickness, multijoint strength, neuromuscular reactivity, deceleration, movement patterning, power and anaerobic energetics,” Twist explains. “I have programmed this into level-appropriate functional exercise for young kids, aging Boomers, rehab applications, school curriculums and active adults, as well as high-profile athletes.”

Twist has tried to establish his company as a place where people want to stay to develop their careers. “I believe that skills are highly teachable and that character and personality are not easily modified. I look for staff who have coaching and training abilities, along with some business acumen, but more importantly [they need to be] solid people who bring great passion to work every day. Our environment attracts passionate people who feed off of the culture, find a home and help the entire company grow to a different level.”

Twist works hard to make a difference where he lives. “We sponsor young athletes in financial need who themselves are making a positive impact in their communities,” he says. “Giving back to local charities is also a fundamental part of our philosophy. We support organizations like Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and Greater Vancouver Food Bank.”


This award recognizes an IDEA member who is a practicing industry professional spending at least 15 hours per week actually training clients one-on-one; has demonstrated exceptional leadership, business management, motivational and instructional skills; and has inspired his or her clients to greater personal growth and a higher level of fitness.

Finalist: Nicki Anderson
Naperville, Illinois

Nicki Anderson runs the award-winning Reality Fitness Inc., a private personal training studio. She manages the day-to-day activities of eight personal fitness trainers, an office manager and college interns, in addition to training clients 15–20 hours per week. Her studio is experiencing a 10% annual growth rate.

She wrote a “Trainer’s Creed,” partly to keep herself and her staff in check, but also to educate clients about the role of personal trainers. “This creed clearly communicates the ethical and professional standards I set not only for myself but for other personal trainers as well,” she says.

In addition to helping clients physically, she strives to help them mentally. “I designed a journal in which clients can track not only exercise and nutrition, but thoughts as well,” she says. “The motivational quotes in the journal are part of my strategy. I also do a lot of visualization with my clients.”

One of Anderson’s clients always wanted to run but, because of his weight, believed he couldn’t. “I first had to teach him how to view himself as a runner, through visualization,” she says. “I taught him to think differently by seeing himself as he wanted to be. That focus helped him complete his first competitive run.”

To serve her community, Anderson regularly contributes to and helps local school districts. She also runs a “New Year, New You” contest, offering a prize of 12 weeks of personal training at no charge to help someone who could not otherwise afford it.

Finalist: Andrea Metcalf
Westmont, Illinois

Andrea Metcalf is the owner of and personal trainer for MBC Fitness and Well Centered Weight Loss Center. As a personal trainer, she says that understanding what a client needs isn’t just about physical health and wellness. “Personal trainers need to understand the architecture of the body, movement mechanics and emotional quotient of each client,” she says. “Success isn’t just measured in inches, pounds or heart rate.”

She was greatly inspired by the dedication of her client Dave. “He has lost 140 pounds since January 2006 and has kept it off. He became so inspired he quit his job as a mortgage broker and has become a trainer and [run] his first marathon. His transformation was an incredibly rewarding experience for both of us.”

Metcalf developed her motto, “Be moved,” when she realized that fitness and health are an emotional and physical commitment. Her mission is to inspire, educate and motivate change. “I have helped over 20 clients and/or students become certified fitness professionals. I also reach consumers through my newly created cable TV show, Fit Today.

She is a fitness contributor for television station NBC 5 in Chicago and has participated in more than 30 events promoting health, in part as a result of her NBC affiliation. Six years ago, she started a family run/walk, which to date has raised over $5,000 for the local community. She also helped form a team of individuals to volunteer their time to give deserving moms a total makeover experience for Mother’s Day.

Finalist: Jonathan Ross
Bowie, Maryland

Jonathan Ross does personal training, consulting, speaking and freelance writing through his company Aion Fitness LLC. He is also a personal trainer and personal training director for Sport Fit—Total Fitness Club.

He is dedicated to bringing better living through fitness to those who need it most. “Both of my parents were obese. This gives me a great sensitivity and a strong desire to help the majority of the population. I want people feeling better in their bodies so they can live longer and better.”

Nicholas is just one of Ross’s clients who inspire him. “This amazing teenager suffered a porencephalic cyst, resulting in hemiparesis—essentially, a stroke—as an infant. As a result, the right side of his body has limited motor development and muscle tone. I’ve focused on gross and fine motor skill development while keeping the sessions fun.”

Ross wants to shape a fresh concept of what a personal trainer is in the minds of the public. “Too many people feel they ‘need to get in better shape first, then hire a trainer,’ due to the mistaken perception that a trainer will put them through grueling workouts,” he explains. “My aim is to make training a more realistic option for almost everyone.”

Ross strives to share the message of fitness with the public in a variety of ways. He is the featured fitness expert for Discovery Health’s National Body Challenge 2008; he acts as an online community leader, posting to blogs and motivating the 400,000 participants of the challenge.


This award recognizes an individual IDEA member who demonstrates strong leadership skills through community and industry involvement and whose superior instructional abilities and influence as an instructor motivate active and underactive people to commit to healthy lifestyles.

Finalist: Shirley Archer, JD, MA
West Palm Beach, Florida, and Zurich, Switzerland

Shirley Archer is a fitness and wellness instructor, an award-winning author, a presenter and a health educator. Her cutting-edge classes skillfully apply the latest research in exercise science, behavioral change and mind-body interactions.

By leading healthy-lifestyle classes—such as “Walking for Workplace Well­ness,” “Your Total Body Stretch Plan,” “Workday Survival Fitness” and “The Road to Wellness”—and leading workshops on workplace movement mechanics and office ergonomics, she influenced thousands of faculty, staff and students at Stanford University.

A mind-body-spirit fitness expert, she designs unique fusion workouts like “Heaven, Earth & Man—A Mind-Body Stretch.” She also teaches innovative water classes that serve beginners, special populations and athletes. She is currently creating integrated wellness programming—drawing on her recent training in wellness coaching—for M.D. Beauty Labs, a leading medical spa in Palm Beach, Florida, founded by Daniela Dadurian, MD.

Archer strives to inspire the world to wellness. “My work spans the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia in multiple languages,” she says. “My mother is Japanese; my father is Caucasian-American. I live in Switzerland and the U.S. and am developing programs for Europeans. I seek to bridge gaps of understanding among people to help us realize our common humanity and shared needs for happiness and health.”

To reach individuals who aren’t necessarily exercising in facilities, she has developed 10 consumer books/products that have helped over 150,000 people worldwide and been translated into French, German, Italian, Russian and Chinese. She also inspires new exercisers by giving free talks, book promos and exercise demos at high-traffic public places.

Finalist: Chalene Johnson
Laguna Hills, California

As creator and CEO of Powder Blue Productions, Chalene Johnson develops and continually choreographs new routines and creates instructor-training videotapes for her prechoreographed formats, such as Turbo Kick® and PiYo™. She instructs these workouts—and others—for fitness facilities in Southern California.

In addition to Turbo Kick and PiYo, Johnson has developed several other branded fitness classes and consumer workouts, including Turbo Jam™, Turbo Flex™, Strength Fusion™, Booty Sculpt™, Ab-Jam™ and various exercise ball programs, to name a few. Johnson’s instructor-training programs have certified nearly 30,000 fitness professionals.

In 2005 and 2006, with the successful launch of her first fitness infomercial, Turbo Jam, Johnson introduced her unique brand of fun fitness to consumers. Turbo Jam became the number-one-selling infomercial of 2006, helping her reach more than 4 million inactive individuals.

How does Johnson help her community? “Quarterly I volunteer to teach, coach and educate obese people needing to make permanent lifestyle changes,” she says. “I meet once a day with up to 75 participants. We exercise and discuss diet, changing habits and identifying emotional eating for 2 weeks. Then the coaching continues via Internet, phone and classes for up to 12 weeks. My proudest accomplishment is to have helped several individuals lose nearly 100 pounds each over the last several years.”

To reach youth, her Turbo Fit Kids program is designed to give fitness instructors the tools, resources and information they need to serve as school system volunteers in their communities. Personally, Johnson volunteers as a physical education teacher for first and second graders.

Finalist: Carol Murphy
Fairport, New York

Carol Murphy is national programming director and a master trainer for Resist-A-Ball®, as well as a master trainer for Reebok, Body Bar™, Drums Alive and Gliding™. She is an instructor coordinator for 10 fitness centers in the Rochester SilverSneakers® network and led classes for years at her FitLife studio. She now teaches at the state-of-the-art Eastside YMCA to expand her reach.

Helping people improve their health in fun ways is at the heart of everything Murphy does. “I initiated ‘Outdoor Fitness Training,’ ‘Reebok Body Walk,’ ‘Run-Walk’ and ‘Learn to Roller-Blade’ programs to draw the interest of our community,” she says. “I’ve brought salsa and country line dancing to community churches and the high-school graduation bash. I’ve taught fitness classes for mentally disabled adults as well as for deaf and hearing-impaired students. At FitLife I worked to break down the barriers to fitness by offering a fun, stimulating childcare environment for students’ kids.”

Murphy strives to listen and respond to people’s goals and inhibitions, developing intriguing, user-friendly and effective methods to bring joyful, feels-great movement to everyone. “If we help people find enjoyable ways to get moving, they will be more compelled to want to do it. This is a pivotal point, where they become inspired and ultimately empowered toward getting active.”

Each year, she devotes time to helping the community by offering a Thanks­giving class and giving the donations that are raised to a local cause. She has also volunteered her time to teach proper conditioning to local athletic teams, ranging from Little League baseball teams to the National High School Cheerleading Champs.

SIDEBAR: The Selection Process

How are the awards finalists and recipients selected? Here is a brief overview of the selection process:

  • Applications for the IDEA Health & Fitness Awards are posted on the IDEA website (www.ideafit.com). You may apply for an award yourself or nominate another candidate. Appli­cations must adhere closely to the specific guidelines and be received by the deadline. The deadline for the 2009 awards is December 1, 2008.
  • The application forms are designed by peer committees, who define objective criteria for each award. The committees assign a number of points to each criterion so judges can rate the applications numerically.
  • The applications are reviewed by a committee of fitness peers, and the committee members independently review and rate each application. (There is no discussion between judges about each applicant.) Each year a new committee is selected to judge the applications. Applicants are judged by their written responses to questions on how they “walk their walk,” inspire others and make a difference in their communities. Selection of finalists and recipients is based entirely on the mean averages of the committee members’ ratings.
  • Finalists are notified, and the recipients are announced at the IDEA World Fitness Convention each summer.

SIDEBAR: Kudos to Award Judges

Thank you to the following veteran industry professionals, who volunteered their time to judge the IDEA Health & Fitness Inspiration Awards applications:

  • Lenita Anthony
  • Leigh Crews
  • Grace DeSimone
  • Lisa Druxman
  • Shannon Fable
  • Jeff Groh
  • Fred Hoffman
  • Greg Mack
  • Krista Popowych
  • Jennifer Renfroe
  • Rochelle Rice
  • Kerry Silverstone
  • Bill Sonnemaker
  • Tony Tamules
  • Misty Tripoli



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