An EPIC Adventure: 2018 IDEA® World Report

by Joy Keller, Judy Minich, Lisa Quigley, MFA, Kate Watson and Sandy Todd Webster on Jul 30, 2018

While life may not always be a highlight reel, thousands of the best personal trainers, group exercise instructors, fitness entrepreneurs and nutrition/wellness professionals added significant footage to their lives at this year’s IDEA World Convention, an epic adventure in education. At the 2018 event, held in San Diego, June 27–July 1, more than 14,000 like-minded pros converged to learn from more than 350 workshops and workouts taught by the industry’s keenest minds. Read on to experience the ongoing and inspirational story of health, brought to you by fitness celebration like no other.


Personal Training: The Sets and Reps of Loaded Education

Catering to kinesthetic learners, Casey Stutzman, owner of Performance Locker, Alpena, Michigan, asked the personal trainers in his workshop “Solving the Mobility/Stability/Strength Puzzle” to purposely put their bodies out of alignment. “Go ahead,” he told attendees, “roll your ankle, buckle your knees, laterally shift your pelvis, jut out your ribs and push your head way forward.” The attendees giggled, but Stutzman said, “Yes, we all laugh because it feels so ridiculous to our physiology, and yet if you look around this conference, almost everyone does at least one of the compensations I’ve asked you to do. That’s just life! Think about how your clients are coping!” Stutzman’s valuable reality check was one of many for the thousands of certified personal trainers who elected to go to the edge with their education at IDEA World. Moments like this, where connections were made from theory to practice, added new colors to the fitness palette. Here are additional highlights from the personal training track:


What’s old is new again. Innovation is wonderful, but there’s also something about notable oldies like powerlifting and intentional circuits that double as boot camps. Speed, power, agility and other elements of athleticism made a resurgence at this year’s event, with a message: Always check your “big rocks.” Case in point: Before leading the class through a tough TRX workout in “Speed and Power for the Masses,” Fraser Quelch, 2011 IDEA Program Director of the Year, led everyone through an extended plank. Yes, a simple plank. After reviewing this foundational exercise in excruciating detail, Quelch said: “If you or your client can’t master this one move, maybe you should hang back and work on the finer things before going big.”

Coaching for results and the right mindset is key. The industry has evolved to a point where personal trainers can no longer pretend not to be coaches at heart. Trainers motivate, inspire and lead. However, they can’t keep doing everything the same way they always have and expect results. 2013 IDEA Inspiration Award recipient Peter Twist, MSc, president and CEO of Twist Performance + Wellness, used his influence as a leader to remind fit pros that “the world shrinks when you’re obese and out of shape.” In “The Science and Art of Program Design,” he told trainers, “The most powerful tool you have is your intuition. Have a solid education, of course, but design programs from your heart and gut.”


Group Exercise: Accessible to Everyone

Inclusivity is essential. Programming for clients of all ages, sizes, genders and physical abilities is a must. The fitness industry is shifting away from cliques and hierarchy and toward movement modalities that are approachable, accessible and modifiable for each individual. “The language of ‘level one, level two, level three’—anything that refers to people in ‘levels’—has to go away,” said Kimberly Spreen-Glick, 2015 IDEA Program Director of the Year, who presented several sessions over the weekend.

Functional fitness is in. One way to make fitness inclusive is to focus on what is functional. Brett Klika, 2013 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, emphasized the importance of proper form, stating that “5 seconds of doing it right is better than 2 minutes of doing it wrong.”

Mind-Body Shape-Shifters

2018 IDEA World offered a rich array of mind-body programs to open and strengthen the body, facilitate movement flow, and guide participants’ attention inward. A few observations:

High intensity has arrived! Yes, mind-body can be gentle, but the lure of intensity coupled with a drive for innovation is producing a flurry of fusion formats that are pushing the envelope. One walk around World and you’d see TRX® for Yoga, Bootybarre® BURN (with cardio intervals), Yoga Shred™ (Tabata-style) and a session on making barre classes a “HIIT.”

Fascia goes with the flow. Resisting the tug of speed and intensity, ZEN•GA is subtle training for the sensory system and is based on four principles of mindful movement: breath, support, yield and flow. “Flow in movement is a sign of healthy fascia,” said Carol Earle in one of her ZEN•GA sessions. “Fascia is playful. It likes to bounce; it has spring.”

IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit

Nutrition specialists, health coaches and personal trainers demonstrated their commitment to opening their minds and filling the information gaps by attending this “event within the event” on June 29–30. The IDEA World Nutrition and Behavior Change Summit packed 2 days with science paired with countless touchpoints on how to use the ideas now. Here are just two examples:

From health care to self-care. Michelle Segar, PhD, MPH, introduced new science for creating sustainable behavior change that was popularized in her best-selling book No Sweat. She presented data, stories and methodologies that pros could use to better cultivate sustainable health-related behaviors among clients. “We need to help clients give themselves permission to schedule self-care and not succumb to the louder demands in the priority roll,” she said. “If we are not embedding autonomy that gives clients the power to choose the immediate right “whys” for making change, it’s not going to happen.”

One-and-done cooking: Prep once, eat 10 times. Chef Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN, explained that starting at ground zero with meal planning and cooking every day is a bad idea for most people! To decrease workweek stress, we and our clients can check a lot of boxes off our to-do list by spending a couple of weekend hours on pre-planning and organizing through batch cooking.


SHIFT HAPPENS! Saying YES to the Next Step

During the Keynote Address, Robert Holden, PhD, exploded onto the stage with the mirthful energy of a child let loose in summer. He leapt and danced to “Start Me Up!” by the Rolling Stones until his heart rate—and his audience—were pumped.

Holden said we must free ourselves of “destination addiction.” If we’re searching for happiness, then happiness is a destination somewhere in the future. Joy, on the other hand, is already inside us. “There is a world of difference,” Holden said, “between searching for happiness and following your joy. . . . Like the north star, joy will set you right.” So listen to your heart, he exhorted, and dare to be the real you: In today’s world, “love is your competitive advantage.”

[Editor’s note: For much more on Holden’s ideas, see the Mind-Body-Spirit column in this issue of IDEA Fit Tips.)


IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo

There was innovation, inspiration and education—all in one cavernous hall resounding with music and laughter:

  • The brand-new IDEA World Studio Spotlight featured the hottest in barre, dance, high-intensity interval training and everything in between. These free workouts gave Expo attendees the chance to sample all different styles of group ex fun and fitness.
  • The chance to speak to master trainers and try equipment from RealRyder®, TRX®, TechnoGym®, Merrithew™ and so many more turned a trip down the aisles into a world-class workout.
  • The Nutrition Pavilion, an IDEA World exclusive, helped fuel the Expo experience with a comprehensive collection of nutrition products and education. More than 100 nutrition companies offered live cooking demos; samples of healthy, whole organic foods and convenient snacks; and insight from top experts on their products.
  • And, of course, there was shopping! More than 350 vendors were on hand with great deals on technology, clothes, food and education opportunities.

IDEA World Club & Studio Summit: An Epic Playbook

Here are a few pearls from this year’s business event.

  • In “Own Your Market: Build a Legacy Brand,” Greg Justice, MA, owner of AYC Fitness in Prairie Village, Kansas, reminded attendees that the heart of a successful fitness business is authenticity and compassion. “The power to change someone’s life is much more real than the training you do,” he said. “That power is in a smile, a nod, a gentle push or a simple ‘Let me show you.’”
  • Cher Harris, MS, general manager of The Houstonian Club, Houston, Texas, talked about the qualities that turn a boss into a true leader in “LEAD: Be the Leader Your Business Deserves.” Harris told fitness entrepreneurs to study other industries for ideas on how to best serve customers, suggesting the hospitality industry as a good start. “Differentiate yourself,” she said, “Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.”

ACE Mover Academy Makes the Grade

A new feature at IDEA World, this excellent educational track led by ACE faculty equipped attendees to coach their clients to lasting behavior change. Topics included diabetes prevention, pain-free movement, exercise for cancer patients, the life of a fat cell and much, much more. Here is one of the many crucial reminders from the ACE experts:

“We are not diagnosing anything—we’re not medical professionals,” stressed Anthony Carey, MA. “We have to be very careful how we respond to clients’ questions. When a client says they injured themselves playing tennis and you say, ‘Oh, it’s your rotator cuff,” you have literally put a label on it and made a diagnosis.”




For more on all the programs at 2018 IDEA World, look forward to a full-length feature article in September Fitness Journal.

Want more from Joy Keller?

Want more from Sandy Todd Webster?

IDEA Fit Tips, Volume 16, Issue 8

Find the Perfect Job

More jobs, more applicants and more visits than any other fitness industry job board.

© 2018 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Authors

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master. Joy joined IDEA Health & Fitness Association in 2002, and brought with her a wealth of information about how to fine-tune communication channels, after having spent her formative career years specializing in business-to-business journalism. Before she even graduated with honors from the respected University of Georgia journalism school, Joy was offered a job at one of the most successful trade publishing companies in the southeast, Shore Varrone, Inc. She made her mark in the automotive aftermarket industry as a creative thinker and journalist with an intuitive knack for researching and understanding niche audiences. Joy has worked on several titles, including Auto Trim & Restyling News, Truck Accessory News, Digital Output Magazine, Retail & Construction News, Miata magazine, Ford Racing, and many more. Her passion, however, lies with health and fitness. She was the associate editor of ACE Certified News while working at the American Council on Exercise, and transitioned that publication from a newsletter to a magazine. She has enjoyed 17 years at IDEA, where she has launched several publications, including the award-winning Inner IDEA Body-Mind Spirit Review, IDEA Pilates Today and IDEA Fit Business Success. Joy is a content creator and media 2.0 advocate who takes pride in discovering the unique information needs of qualified audiences, and she is dedicated to serving those needs while following the highest available standards.

Judy Minich

Judy Minich IDEA Author/Presenter

Lisa Quigley, MFA

Lisa Quigley, MFA IDEA Author/Presenter

Lisa Quigley is the Publications Assistant at IDEA Health & Fitness Association. She considers herself first and foremost a writer. Her love of words and stories inspired her to pursue a degree in English and continue on to receive an MFA in Creative Writing. During her academic pursuits, Lisa also discovered yoga. Her personal practice was so powerfully transforming that she decided to become a yoga teacher. In 2012, she was certified at the 200 hour level. She spent the next three years teaching at multiple yoga studios throughout San Diego County. As a yoga teacher, she seeks to encourage people to love and accept themselves as they are—while at the same time welcoming opportunities for growth—so they can feel more at home in their bodies and lead more fulfilling lives. The position at IDEA Health & Fitness Association allows Lisa to combine all of her interests in one place. She is thrilled to be part of a company who's mission aligns so closely with her own vision and values. Lisa is fueled by her relentless curiosity and hunger for adventure. Her interests include writing, reading, running, hiking, yoga, camping, and exploring. She's on a never ending quest to get the most out of every moment and laugh whenever possible.

Kate Watson

Kate Watson IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.