“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This was the mantra during 3 days of intensive education at the sold-out 2009 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute in Alexandria, Virginia, February 19-22. Attendees brought with them positive attitudes and a heightened hunger for knowledge. Sour news about the economy didn’t dampen these personal trainers’ drive to Inspire the World to Fitness®.

This year, the program featured more than 60 educational sessions delivered by 27 of the industry’s best presenters. The limited attendance—capped at 550 people—ensured a more personal experience for attendees, who were saturated with state-of-the-art concepts and strategies. By stepping away from their businesses for a couple of days, these professional trainers took their skills to new levels in areas ranging from boot camp to balance training, from functional movement to biomechanics.

Here are some highlights from the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute:

  • Small-group training is enjoying a surge, not only in popularity, but also in program design depth. The focus went way beyond reciting reps for two or more people. For example, attendees learned how to assess duos, trios and quartets, and how to sequence movement patterns for people with different levels of ability.
  • A distinct back-to-basics feel permeated the weekend. The economy, combined with an already competitive market, is causing many personal trainers to re-evaluate their “toolboxes.” More people are reconsidering tried-and-true body weight exercises and also going back to the drawing board with many of their business practices. Simple is sometimes better, and you have to crawl before you can walk.
  • Presenters challenged attendees to take a critical look at their assumptions. Research is constantly evolving, and it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends so you can offer advanced methods. “It’s a mistake to just do strength training and cardio programs, or to not individualize your programs enough,” said Alwyn Cosgrove, who presented “Metabolic Acceleration—Nontraditional Cardiovascular Training.” “People instinctively know there’s something wrong when you take [all] clients through the same routine. You can improve results, reduce injuries and generate more income by knowing how to design the right program for the right client.”
  • The question of licensure is alive in many people’s minds. In his session “Best Practices: The ‘Right Here, Right Now!’ Strategy for Success,” Darren Jacobson talked about how licensure for personal trainers in South Africa changed the way they did business, adding: “Licensure is just a matter of time here in the States.”

To learn more about the 2009 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute, read senior editor Joy Keller’s blog online.

To purchase DVDs of sessions filmed at this event, including SMART Training: The Business of Small-Group Training, Part 1 & Part 2, presented by Diane Vives, MS; Sidestepping the Mistakes Most Fitness Managers Make, presented by Darren Jacobson; and Industry Spotlight Panel—How to Maximize Your Business in a Tough Economy, presented by Nicki Anderson, Peter Twist, MSc, and Diane Vives, MS, visit the online IDEA Store.

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