Outstanding fitness pros make a difference—person by person.
Sometimes the difference between being unhealthy and becoming active is a helping hand—often the hand of a qualified fitness professional. Fitness pros around the world are using their education, their skills and, above all, their personal touch to encourage nonexercisers to embrace a healthy lifestyle. The 2015 IDEA World Fitness Awards finalists are veteran pros who have dedicated their careers to making a difference in their communities by serving residents and fellow colleagues. Please join us in celebrating these extraordinary program directors, personal trainers and fitness instructors.
Program Director of the Year Finalist: Fabio Comana, MA, MS
La Mesa, California
Fabio Comana, MA, MS, is a faculty instructor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He is also a longtime faculty instructor in exercise and nutritional sciences for San Diego State University and a faculty instructor and program adviser for the University of California, San Diego Extension.
Comana is a contributing author, editor and subject-matter expert for NASM’s educational materials and is involved in the update of its revolutionary Optimum Performance Training™ Model for the personal trainer certification. Previously, as director of continuing education, he oversaw NASM’s $8.6 million (2012–2013 fiscal year) continuing education platform, including design, development, delivery and course evaluation.
As an exercise physiologist and certification manager for the American Council on Exercise from 2004 to 2011, Comana played an integral role in shaping ACE into a personal training and coaching organization. He was the original creator of the ACE Integrated Fitness Training™ Model, which now serves as the ACE certified personal trainer platform for approximately 10,000 candidates annually.
Comana’s involvement in shaping the systematic training models of the two largest certification models in the fitness industry is significant, considering how these models influence the practices of thousands of trainers.
Within academia, Comana mentors SDSU’s undergraduate kinesiology students and UCSD’s future fitness professionals. He is involved with the SDSU Sage Community Project and also with California State University system’s www.100Citizens.org, acting as the liaison for exercise and nutritional science students seeking to undertake the challenge of improving health and fitness for San Diego citizens.
Program Director of the Year Finalist: Dan McDonogh
Dan McDonogh recently joined Under Amour® as senior manager of performance training (a new division). One of his main responsibilities is to create digital training content for over 100 million users via Under Armour digital platforms. He is also a consultant and trainer/ambassador with TRX®.
As senior manager of programming and development for TRX from 2009 to 2014, McDonogh designed and globally delivered innovative health, fitness and sport-specific programs using the TRX Suspension Trainer™ and TRX Rip™ Trainer. He also designed and delivered programs for the TRX Training Center in San Francisco, mentoring the center’s instructors and a team of 375 international master trainers.
One of his successful programs was TRX Team Camps. “These camps are a fully integrated and supported small-group fee-based training solution for health clubs,” he explains. “They include three key factors: product, programming and education,” he says. “This approach ensures that programming can support the product, and [that] programming can be driven by the education.”
At the TRX Training Center, McDonogh was responsible for the ongoing programming, delivery and development of classes such as TRX Body Blast, TRX Circuit Training and TRX Flow. His attention to detail in program design and instructor education made a financial impact: From 2010 to 2014, revenue increased almost 700%.
To make a difference, he founded Rooster Racing™ International, a not-for-profit global fundraising organization comprising more than 200 cyclists, fitness pros and sport enthusiasts. It has raised over $170,000 for causes such as LIVESTRONG.org.
Program Director of the Year Finalist: Kimberly Spreen-Glick
Aliso Viejo, California
Kimberly Spreen-Glick is the senior national director of group fitness, yoga and cycling for Life Time Fitness®, which operates over 115 centers across the United States and Canada. She is also coproducer of EMPOWER! fitness events and a continuing education provider.
At Life Time, she creates innovative group fitness and yoga programming. For example, in response to members requesting more yoga in 2010, she launched LifePowerYoga®. It started with a pilot program in one Minnesota club and is now offered in 115 locations. She and her team also create a variety of signature group fitness formats exclusive to Life Time.
Spreen-Glick manages a core leadership team of 24 while supporting more than 100 managers and 3,000+ instructors. “To invest in our instructors’ growth and provide a great member experience, I implemented 5 Star Development Training,” she says. “This training is specific to group teaching and is based on a program I co-created with Rob Glick. It teaches how to deliver a 5-star experience versus just a class, no matter what the format.”
Spreen-Glick passionately believes that her professional responsibility is to inspire and lift people up. “That starts with setting high standards for what is to be accomplished; hiring talented, passionate people; and then giving my best while also expecting their best,” she says.
She has led the group fitness division in doing charity events, supporting causes like Augie’s Quest, Toys for Tots, Second Harvest and the Life Time Fitness Foundation.
Personal Trainer of the Year Finalist: Jeanette Jenkins
Jeanette Jenkins, one of Hollywood’s most sought-after personal trainers, is founder and president of The Hollywood Trainer LLC. She created the Hollywood Trainer DVD collection, including the new Bikini Bootcamp 2, Sexy Abs and Sexy Abs Cardio Sculpt —in the last two, collaborating with singer Kelly Rowland, winner of multiple Grammy Awards. Jenkins also launched “The Hollywood Trainer Club,” an online weight loss and healthy-living club.
She conducts 25–30 training sessions a week. “I’m always truthful and allow my clients the safety and confidentiality to speak their truth so they can face the person in the mirror and truly work on holistic self-improvement,” she explains.
Jenkins specializes in helping people in the public eye. For example, she trained international superstar P!nk after she had her baby, to prepare the singer for her world tour and numerous performances. Jenkins also trained 2014 NBA champion Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat in the offseason.
She has been a Nike® Elite Athlete for 14 years and has worked with the company on various levels, helping to design new products and pushing social initiatives that inspire young girls and women to find the athlete inside them. She spends several hours a week creating new content for articles, videos, keynote addresses and other projects.
She is on the board of directors for Pretty Girls Sweat and has contributed to this nonprofit organization by designing and implementing a workout for over 250 teenaged girls.
Personal Trainer of the Year Finalist: Amanda Mittleman, MS
Huntington Beach, California
Amanda Mittleman, MS, is the creator of Mo-Mentum Fitness Consultants, a cutting-edge wellness facility specializing in group fitness, personal and small-group fitness coaching, nutrition coaching and massage therapy. She is also an adjunct instructor at California State University, Long Beach, developing a curriculum to help graduating students advance their understanding of the business side of fitness.
Mittleman links scientifically supported exercise programs with empathetic, personable coaching to create dynamic and highly effective training programs. “My goal is to help people, especially women, become their own superheroes through the small actions they take every day, instead of attempting to leap off a tall building all at once,” she says.
To support apprehensive nonexercisers as they step gradually into fitness, Mittleman has created introductory fitness programs, corporate fitness challenges and other specialty programs. “These programs have become game changers for many who were originally intimidated [by the thought of setting] foot in a gym,” she says. “We’ve witnessed shy people transform into confident individuals. Our introduction programs have proven to be great tools for empowering people to develop lifetime exercise habits and more balanced, impactful lives.”
Mittleman serves her community by volunteering time for the Girl Scouts, the Special Olympics, and military charities including the Wounded Warrior Project®. This spring, she hosted a boot camp for the 52 Special Olympics CEOs in North America. “They are leaders of premier sports organizations in their states, so they need to lead by example and to train to become the best version of themselves, just like their athletes.”
Personal Trainer of the Year Finalist: Mike Z. Robinson
San Luis Obispo, California
Mike Z. Robinson is the owner of MZR Fitness, training clients 38–40 hours a week and managing six staff members. An ACE-certified personal trainer, he is also founder of Mike Z. Robinson Enterprises, which specializes in mentorship and personal trainer development programs, gym design, speaking and consulting. He recently completed an e-book, Fitness Up, Everything Up.
Robinson’s guarantee to his clients is that their workouts are customized to them and they will never do the same workout twice. “I’m constantly changing the workouts so that their bodies never adapt to any particular routine,” he says. “I also change up the scenery so that they never get bored with their surroundings.”
“To build camaraderie between myself and my clients, I invite them to quarterly socials, and we take unique field trips such as skydiving, zip-lining, or hiking Half Dome in Yosemite,” he explains. “We capture these moments with pictures that are put on the wall and our social media sites. They remind clients of our wonderful times together.”
Robinson has created many successful partnerships with national companies. For example, with Whole Foods he created the “SLO Fitness Festival,” which featured workouts, healthy-eating seminars and consultations.
Robinson has given back to the community through an annual fitness fundraiser, “The Largest Fitness Class on the Central Coast.” All proceeds went to the Family Care Network, an agency that serves foster and at-risk children.
Fitness Instructor of the Year Finalist: Amy Dixon
Amy Dixon has worked for Equinox Fitness Clubs for over 11 years and was recently named national group fitness creative manager, which entails developing and creating group fitness programming.
She is also the West Coast cycling master trainer for Equinox, helping teach newer instructors how to deliver an unparalleled member experience. Dixon teaches several fitness classes per week and is a master trainer and an international program developer for Schwinn®, BOSU®, GRAVITY System® and ShockWave®.
Her classes draw an average of 40–60 men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 80. She specializes in inspiring students to move with confidence and strength, both inside and outside the studio. “I want my students to feel capable of finding the best version of themselves in every class,” she says. Her program was named Group Fitness Program of the Year for Santa Monica in 2012, beating out more than 50 other programs.
As senior manager of group fitness for Equinox for over 8 years, Dixon created and launched three successful national programs: Super Hero Training Camp, Full Circle and Breathless: The Ride. She has also taught workshops for instructors and master classes for members across the United States, and she regularly instructs workouts through FitnessGlo®, a global site for online classes.
In addition to serving as one of the lead instructors and participants in Cycle for Survival, which raises funds for rare-cancer research by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dixon has been a spokesperson for and participant in Avon’s Walk to End Breast Cancer.
Fitness Instructor of the Year Finalist: Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS, CSCS
Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS, CSCS, is a small-group training and group fitness instructor in Ames, Iowa, for City of Ames Parks & Recreation and for Workiva Inc. She also teaches classes at Fitness World in Ankeny and serves as an adjunct instructor at Grand View University in Des Moines. She has published two books and is a master course instructor for TRX, Savvier Fitness, Xercise Lab® and JumpSport®.
She has 31 years of exercise leadership experience. She currently teaches yoga, HIIT, TRX, trampoline, water, RIPPED™, strength, mat Pilates, foam roller, barre and cycling classes, and leads several unique small-group training sessions.
She always asks participants for their best possible effort and gives them timely feedback and thoughtful performance cues. “I want to instill a sense of personal responsibility for their outcomes, and I provide skills and strategies to overcome obstacles,” she explains. “I treat participants like athletes and hold them to high standards. I strive to achieve a team experience to form bonds and trust, and my participant adherence has demonstrated this.”
Lewis-McCormick is a Rykä® ambassador and hosts a healthy-living television show in Ames, sharing a variety of exercise options for community members. She also volunteers in Des Moines for WHO-TV’s Workout of the Week.
She believes in giving back to the community through volunteering. She does this herself by teaching chair-based fitness classes to fragile older adults at a retirement community and leading fitness seminars and educational training for the Des Moines Public Schools.
Fitness Instructor of the Year Finalist: Kenneth Weichert
Kenneth Weichert is co-owner and tactical director of START Fitness®, a military-inspired exercise program for civilians and military personnel who are striving for a high level of fitness.
Weichert is an award-winning speaker, a master fitness trainer, a six-time U.S. Army Soldier of the Year and a veteran of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm. He has successfully trained over 500,000 service members and civilians through Operation Fit to Fight.
He travels internationally, leading boot camp instructor certification courses for military and civilian audiences. “I don’t just provide programming,” he says. “Utilizing theatrical staging techniques, I help experienced presenters add technique to their speaking skills and provide new speakers fundamental methods to discover the leader within.”
Weichert is a master resilience trainer, which means he can effectively provide physical and emotional fitness programs that enable people to turn stress into strength and obstacles into opportunities.
He created Warrior Fit Camp, a tactical fitness, nutrition and life-coaching program for the Suicide Prevention Task Force, which falls under the Military and Family Programs section of Joint Forces Headquarters, Tennessee National Guard. The program has been successful in retaining dozens of people who would have been discharged for height/weight/body-fat analysis and/or fitness test failures.
As a volunteer, he continues developing comprehensive fitness and resilience programs for the Suicide Prevention Task Force. “With over 20 suicides in the U.S. military each day, I am confident that I can make a difference through my efforts and help people focus on authentic happiness instead of stress.” n
2015 IDEA PROGRAM DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
This award recognizes an individual 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.
2015 IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER OF THE YEAR
This award recognizes an individual 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.
2015 IDEA FITNESS INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR
This award recognizes an individual who is a certified group fitness instructor and 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.