When Janice Donald opens her calendar, scribbled across the dates April 20–23, 2006, are the words “MUST DO.” Donald, who is lead trainer at SportsMed Center for Fitness in Carol Stream, Illinois, blocked these days off last year in anticipation of the best learning experience for fitness professionals in the Midwest: IDEA Fitness Fusion—Chicago. “I preregistered and took advantage of the early discount,” Donald says. “I do not think there is a bigger bang for your buck than Fitness Fusion.”
Like thousands of other dedicated fitness professionals, Donald knows how important it is to invest in herself, both professionally and personally. While the progressive programming at IDEA Fitness Fusion entices her intellectual sensibilities, she says she also benefits from the camaraderie. “One weekend provides a huge amount of CECs (quality CECs, I might add), but even more, it provides the interaction and information we all need to stay fresh and on top of our profession. I take my job very seriously, but the daily ins and outs can sometimes become exhausting. This is the kind of R&R (research and rejuvenation) we all benefit from.”
The amount of health information circulating in the general media has increased a hundredfold in the past few years. From a consumer point of view, this can be more confusing than informative. Now, more than ever, fitness professionals are perfectly aligned to help people take control of their personal wellness. The journey starts with getting the best information.
Our 2006 fitness event offers more than 120 sessions, which take ordinary topics and refract them through a prism of education. The result: a spectrum of research, creativity, practicality and fun that creates an indelible, inspirational light. For Donald, this is what she remembers most about her experience last year, calling the energy “palpable”: “I came home each night after a full day of classes reeling from all of the new information and ideas I had experienced. The variety of attendees was so refreshing and stimulating; I learned as much just from listening and sharing ideas with them as I did from the classes.”
The sharing of ideas Donald refers to happened in almost every session. Typically someone would ask a question about a client or a business-related conundrum and a chorus of heads would nod in unison. Afterward, people gravitated toward one another for support. That sense of connection makes IDEA Fitness Fusion priceless. Networking is a crucial part of a successful career. In his book Love Is the Killer App (Three Rivers Press 2002), 2005 IDEA World Fitness Convention keynote speaker Tim Sanders says, “Eventually, all the people to whom you’ve connected yourself become, essentially, maintenance-free reserves. Just as we keep extra coal for cold winters or extra money for tough times, these contacts lie in wait, all of them with the potential to repair a looming crisis or add value to a limited opportunity.”
The thing that stands out in Lyn M. Hopkins’s mind about IDEA Fitness Fusion—Chicago is the professionalism. Hopkins, a certified personal fitness trainer from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, is drawn to the fitness event’s high standards and appreciates the presenters’ expertise and accessibility. Hopkins believes that fitness professionals should “immerse [themselves] in as many conferences and seminars [as they] can physically and mentally handle.” IDEA presenters know attendees have a choice, and strive to provide the best sessions possible.
For example, Skip Jennings, owner of Skip Fit Inc. in Laguna Niguel, California, is presenting “Men’s Club—F.A.S.T.: Functional Athletic Strength Training,” a session that directly addresses a hot topic in group exercise: the lack of male participation. “Group fitness participants are 90% women,” he says. “Most men think of Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons or Jazzercise® when you mention group fitness. The other obstacle for men is that the choreography looks difficult to manage. Most men are drawn to nonchoreographed classes. This workshop will give ideas on how to simplify the workout but increase the intensity, in order to attract men to the group exercise rooms.”
IDEA presenters are also known for providing user-friendly knowledge. “It’s my responsibility to supply information that trainers can take with them and implement,” says Nicki Anderson, president of Reality Fitness Inc. in Naperville, Illinois. “I’ve been to many seminars where the speaker didn’t offer practical advice or information or it was too one-dimensional. I feel that if trainers are spending their valuable time with me, it’s my job to give them what they paid for—information they can use to grow their businesses. I feel privileged to have an opportunity to share my successes and failures with others so they can avoid my mistakes or build on my success. If an attendee can walk away with at least one new thing, I have done my job.”
One of Anderson’s sessions, “Leading the Inactive Client to Your Door—10 Simple Steps,” is a perfect example of this type of “down and dirty” presentation. “I give specific steps so that the information seems less overwhelming,” Anderson says. “Everyone learns differently, and I try to keep that in mind when I’m teaching. Each time I present, I view it as an opportunity to inspire a trainer to go out and do his or her job better than that trainer ever thought possible. If [this happens], I feel I have a hand in a pretty amazing industry.”
Fitness professionals spend many hours helping others research ways to improve their health and rejuvenate their inner wellness warriors. The well needs to be filled from time to time, and IDEA Fitness Fusion—Chicago is the optimal opportunity.