This annual health, fitness and nutrition extravaganza inspired and educated over 12,000 in its largest, most diverse program and expo hall to date.
Never give up. Follow your dreams. Ask for help, and give help when it’s asked of you. Connect with others and share. Show up for your clients every day.
You could spend a lifetime in the fitness industry trying to decipher the secrets to success, but these five simple axioms, threaded through everything inspirational and aspirational at the 2014 IDEA World Fitness Convention (August 13–17), are the purposeful stitches that hold it together. It’s a given that you have to study a lot of exercise science, nutrition, communication, management and program design, but without these basic tenets of emotional IQ, all of the best intentions and hard work are nothing but a tangled mess.
Attendees to this, the Super Bowl of fitness, often can’t believe their luck in finding so much under one program umbrella—with the inspiration and experience bonus— and they describe IDEA World as a game changer for their careers, even their lives.
“IDEA World delivered everything it promised and more,” said first-time attendee Matthew Herrold, personal trainer and owner of Fitnesis in Boston. He eagerly shared a few details of his experience in Anaheim: “On Wednesday, I met Teri Mosey, the best presenting nutritionist I have come across yet. Thursday, I found myself crying, laughing and cheering at the Opening Ceremonies; and 2014 IDEA Program Director of the Year Carla Sottovia awarded me an Inspiration Medal. Friday, Tara Stiles helped me to hold a handstand forever when my arms were ready to crumble! I met Todd Durkin, Cassey Ho and Dr. Steven Hertzler.
“But the experience brought me more than fun or face-to-face access to the best leaders of the fitness movement. It showed me the type of new beginnings that are invaluable. My eyes are open, and my heart grew five sizes! Now I am ready, and I know I can make a deep impact on the health of our world!”
Diamond Ogbeide, a trainer at Gallanty Fitness in Malaysia, was also a first-timer. He had heard about IDEA World’s reputation as the “biggest and best” many times over the years, but the distance (over 8,800 miles) and travel cost from Malaysia were always prohibitive. “My hunger for education and knowledge were the driving forces for me to attend the convention this year. It truly delivered!” he said. “Every part of the event— from the registration, to the Expo hall, to the sessions, to meeting other attendees and the “Play to Win” game using the IDEA Fitness Events app—it was all great.”
Tenaya Davison, a personal trainer with Iron-Up, a fitness and online training business in Temecula, California, shared this IDEA World rookie perspective: “I don’t know how I’ve been in the industry since 2008 and haven’t been to an [IDEA] event! Next year I will bring more fitness professionals along with me, and I will never miss it again. It feels amazing to be in the presence of such passionate people. This entire industry is headed in a new direction, and I am absolutely ecstatic to be a part of it! There is so much opportunity for growth out there!”
There are countless ways fitness professionals can create impact in this ever-evolving industry. Read on for details about top trends and highlights that emerged in this year’s fitness event and why so many come from so far (65 countries represented this year!) to learn from it and to live it.
That Business Leadership Spark
Whether you’re a business owner, program director or fitness manager, successful leadership is the linchpin that keeps operations flowing and staff and members happy. It’s easy to get complacent and let the cogs gum up; that’s why it’s important to attend sessions that explore current best practices in business and management.
- Savvy interpersonal communication is crucial in a world where generations clash, and it’s likely you’ll manage a wide variety of personalities. In her session “Three Steps to Fearless Feedback for Fitness Managers,” Tatiana Kolovou, MBA, said that 67% of employees report not receiving enough positive feedback, which she referred to as “a nicely wrapped gift that will make a positive difference in employees’ lives.”
- Trina Gray, in her session “Celebrate Your Way to Business Success,” urged fitness leaders to find the “heart” in their business and to celebrate their clients and members. “Don’t get so caught up on what a person looks like, myofascial release, or sets and reps,” she said. “Get to know people and make them feel accepted.”
- It’s fair to say that technology is no longer a trend; it’s driving the way we do business. More than ever it’s paramount to address how technology affects your communication, outreach, systems and client interaction. Mobile payment, wearables and biometric devices are just “some of the areas in which fitness leaders need to be literate.
“Our clients are embracing fitness technology, so we must as well,” advised Patrick Jak, MS, in “Best Practices for Integrating Devices and Apps With Your Clients.” “Young people are digital natives. They think nothing of having devices in their hands 24/7. These are your future clients, so get on top of it. You can’t have a logical conversation with clients who are using apps and devices unless you have tried them and understand them. Be a test pilot.”
Personal Training: Multidimensional Coaching
Every year, there seems to be a central theme that connects many of the personal training sessions. This year two themes, stood out. The first involved understanding the unique demands of each client and then customizing training to prepare individuals to safely navigate the real world.
Christina Christie, PT, owner and president of Pelvic Solutions LLC, first addressed the issue of training clients to manage real life—not just gym life—in her session on improving functional fitness in women.
“Women tend to drive in with their knees,” she said, speaking of movement patterns like squatting and lunging. “Is that bad? It depends. But we need to train them to get out of it.”
In a session on shift training featuring the ViPR™, the tool’s inventor—Michol Dalcourt—talked about the proper way to perform a squat. He then asked the group if they thought their clients mimicked the perfect squat in the real world.
“I’m fairly certain they don’t line themselves up perfectly in a squat position and then carefully sit on the toilet,” he explained, as the room erupted in laughter.
Echoing Christie’s comments, Dalcourt noted that it’s time to teach clients how to shift and move in a variety of ways so they don’t get hurt as they go through their lives.
Hayley Hollander, fitness director at Chicago’s Midtown Athletic Clubs, put it bluntly during a session on small-group training. “Have you ever thought about how we move in everyday life?” she asked. “We’ve told people to do things a certain way for so long. Life works in 3-D, so why don't we train that way?”
Everett Aaberg, founder and CEO of Ortho-Kinetics® Institute, challenged attendees to think a bit differently about how they facilitate structural assessments for clients.
“A mistake we make is believing that we all started at some point with a perfect skeleton,” he says, referring to the structural blueprint against which trainers often compare their clients’ unique bodies.
He noted that each client has a different structure and must be assessed with that in mind or the trainer runs the risk of misunderstanding dysfunction relative to the individual.
2013 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Brett Klika, founder and CEO of SPIDERfit, also wants to update client assessment techniques—especially for younger populations: “The most common assessments we use to determine youth fitness are push-ups, pull-ups and running. How’s that working for you?” he asked attendees, who nodded their heads in dismayed agreement. “Forget push-ups and pull-ups. How about we see how well they can skip or crawl?”
The second unified theme of the personal training program emphasized a shift from training to coaching.
“How often do you give information to clients and you know they didn’t hear you?” asked Nick Winkleman, MSc, director of performance education and performance systems at Exos. “Or maybe they heard you, but they didn’t understand you. The defining aspect of a coach is to be able to teach.”
Instead of training clients by giving directions, he emphasized, it’s crucial to obtain client buy-in via coaching so people fully understand and relate to what is being asked of them. “You are their guide, their Sherpa,” he said. “If you give a client a nine-piece puzzle and tell [the person] how to put it together, it becomes uninteresting.”
Instead, he suggested, provide tools and education so the client can put the puzzle together on his or her own.
Educator Scott Rawcliffe, owner of Revera Health in Queensland, Australia, shared Winkleman’s sentiments during a session on the evolution of core training. “We don’t count sets and reps,” he said. “Personal trainers don’t just give out exercises. Think like a coach. You have the capability to change lives.”
He added that it’s essential that the fitness professional bring passion and energy to each session. “We don’t really know what is going on in our clients’ lives outside of the gym. You may be the one shining bit in your clients’ lives. Show up every day. A session with you may be the one thing clients look forward to all week. It may be the only time of the week they are made to feel like a champion.”
This shift to “coach think” is especially timely with the advent of health coaching specialties and certifications. The earliest time block on Saturday drew a standing-room-only audience to participate in a panel discussion moderated by ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, who was joined by ACE Healthcare Solutions Director Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, FAAP; ACE Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences Michael Mantell, PhD; and ACE Subject Matter Expert and Research Consultant Len Kravitz, PhD. Health coaches understand that individuals have the answers to their own questions and the resolutions to their own challenges. Again, it’s a matter of artfully helping clients connect the dots and own their thoughts, actions and process. Learning to ask the right questions, among several other key skills, is paramount.
Also of great importance in a health coach’s arsenal is drawing from the expertise of a strong network of multidisciplinary professionals across the healthcare continuum. This means creating a team-based approach that includes psychologists, dietitians, other exercise specialists and the client’s primary care physician.
Nutrition: It’s All About Relationships
Food and nutrition are the brave new worlds for fitness professionals. Considering that most people will consume 85,000 meals in a lifetime, simple math suggests we all have a lot of opportunity to mess up—or, more hopefully, to clean up.
“As a trainer you should absolutely be talking about nutrition with your clients,” said Chris Mohr, PhD, RD, in “The Holy Grail of Fat Loss—Gain Muscle and Lose Fat Simultaneously.” “Know your scope, but to not talk about nutrition with clients is a disservice.”
Teri Mosey, PhD, commenced one of her talks by asking attendees to open up their minds to the possibilities of what nutrition is and what it can be. “What does food stand for? What are food’s properties? What is your best nourishment? What is your best plan at this time in your life?” she queried. “Eating whole foods is where we have to start. Whole foods provide synergy. The body is a network of interlinked systems. It’s all about relationships. When one thing is touched, everything is touched. What is consumed and what is used [are] not a linear process. It’s about what the body needs at that moment and how it knows what to do with it.”
Just as we’ve taken giant leaps past sets-and-reps thinking on the exercise side of the equation, we are poised to blow past conventional thinking about calorie counting, diets and food as “fuel.” To paraphrase Mosey, we are not machines. We are thinking, feeling, energetic beings. And we deserve more thoughtful nourishment than we’ve been giving ourselves.
Group Exercise: Where Research Meets Rhythm
Today’s group fitness instructor is more educated than ever before and has more diverse interests. It’s rare to find someone who teaches only one format, and demand is growing for Jacks-and-Jills-of-all-trades. Some things that haven’t changed are the needs for pinpointed cuing, strong leadership skills, and knowledge of exercise science. Here’s a sample of what sizzled in group exercise this year:
- Step refuses to die, and this year there were many creative classes to choose from, including vertical stepping, “Step Ping Pong,” timeless step combos and the packed “R.I.S.E.— Reinvented Interval Step Experience,” in which presenter Rob Glick said, “If you want to keep yourself from getting Alzheimer’s, teach step. There’s always so much you have to think about: cuing ahead of the beat, stepping in time, keeping multilevel classes safe, and so much more.”
- Dance-inspired classes continue to expose the soul of group fitness with offerings such as “Soul Train House Party,” “Dance 2-4-1” and “Booiaka™—It’s the Way You Move!”
- Club Spotlight showcased creative depths with classes like “Powerwave Battle Roping,” “U-Jam Fitness®” and “Hang Tight and Move Free,” after which presenter Lisa Wheeler huddled participants and asked, “Can you find more freedom in your body, and are you fully inspired?”
- Group strength, small equipment–based and fusion classes are expanding as instructors develop miniprograms that produce results while motivating participants through moves that mimic playground fun.
- Cycling is staying on the main road with sophisticated programs that use power consoles and interactive technology. Tabata and HIIT programming are also hot in facilities around the world.
- The excitement in the Showcase Room caused rooms to shake on the floor below as attendees got swept up in infectiously fun, high-energy classes such as “The Ultimate Boot Camp Battle: The EX Games” and “BodyShred™.”
Mindful Movement and Manifestation
There are many ways to make the mind-body-spirit connection, and attendees explored numerous methods this year. With wholeness and happiness as a backdrop, the following experiences shed light on where the mind-body industry is currently situated.
- While the physical practice of yoga continues to be a primary focus in many facilities, more instructors are weaving in yogic philosophy and meditation into their practices. In his session “The Yoga Doctor’s Master Class,” Eden Goldman, DC, gave everyone a small red rose and asked participants to “focus on the brilliant now” before transitioning to the sequences.
- Pilates continues to harness the attention of people who understand how a strong powerhouse affects other aspects of living. Sessions like “STOTT PILATES® Ultimate Back Care,” “Designing Spiral-Driven Pilates Workouts” and “Da Vinci Pilates–Inspired Mat Work” all summarized how advanced and multifaceted Pilates has become in studios.
- Nia and mind-body fusion classes focused on the power of self-resourcing for authentic movement and encouraged attendees to reconnect with their primal senses and find pleasure in the freedom of flow.
- Transformation Saturday: You Can Heal Your Life, cocreated by Inner IDEA® and Hay House Publishing, featured four keynote speakers on topics ranging from EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques®) tapping to near-death experiences and how to manifest what you want in life. Anita Moorjani, author of Dying to Be Me (Hay House 2012), shared her personal principles on living a happy life, which included living fearlessly, loving yourself unconditionally and finding your joy.
Youthful Exuberance Meets Experience
A noticeable change this year was the number of younger professionals in the crowd. These Millennial men and women wore looks of earnestness and discovery that teachers anywhere will tell you is the greatest payoff of their work. It was exciting to see the best faculty in the business ignite the industry’s future leaders.
Erica Hatchell, a corporate fitness coordinator for American Energy Partners in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was attending IDEA World for the second time and said she could not imagine not planning to return annually.
“The entire conference was incredible, but a few things really stood out to me,” she said. “I signed up for the Four Top Guns and Four Top Chicks class not really knowing what I was getting myself into. Before I knew it, I was on a team with two other people I’d never met before. We spent the rest of the session counting each other’s reps and cheering one another on through a brutal workout. We started out as complete strangers, and by the time the class was over we had bonded. It is an amazing feeling that fitness can bring so many people from all walks of life together.
“While I was observing a workout Sunday morning, I met a 72-year-old yoga instructor,” Hatchell continued. “She shared her teaching experiences and philosophies with me over the next hour and a half. It was so special because she truly loves what she does—I believe this is the key to health and happiness. It is so inspiring to see the possibilities and know that I, too, could have a long and successful career doing what I love.
“[Some] of the most important things I will take with me [are] the people I met and the connections we made. There is nothing more valuable than forming relationships with others who have the same passion as you,” she concluded.
Our industry needs to feed and sustain this sea change. Veterans need to ensure that treasures amassed over years of experience get taught and shared to foster the brightness of this fresh demographic. As Scott Rawcliffe said at the end of his “New Evolution of Core Training” workshop, when he gathered his group together for a team break, everyone needs to connect—new and experienced fitness pros alike. “You have to be able to connect with others who are at the top of their game so we can all be better. If you don’t have people you can connect with, you are alone in this. We are so much better and stronger as a team.”
So put your hand in with your team and on three, yell CONNECT!