It wasn’t the initial thunderclap outside the Los Angeles Convention
Center that grabbed everyone’s attention. In a noisy city like L.A., the
boom could easily have been a bus wheel thumping into a pothole. But
when lightning followed in staccato step with torrential rain and more
rumbling—and then even more dramatic bolts—people looked up. Real
“weather” of such force doesn’t often grace Southern California in any
season, much less in mid-July. This was something special.

Like lightning to a rod, close to 12,000 attendees were drawn to the
2015 IDEA World Fitness Convention’s 380 educational sessions and to its
largest and most diverse Fitness and Nutrition Expo to date. People gave
energy; they took energy; and they saved up the best of it to inspire
clients at home and to transform businesses with new ideas.

In life, work and love, we’ve all experienced the sensation of “seeing”
the pieces of the big picture coalesce into something larger and more
meaningful than ourselves. The fuzzy edges get sharp, and we glimpse
what the whole looks like and what our role is within it. In an industry
that is flirting with maturity, this jelling of the parts is occurring
and IDEA is the glue pulling it together. The convention itself is
emblematic of the vast opportunity awaiting enterprising fitness and
wellness pros. Read on to see how the global view of fitness is coming
together, and let it spark your imagination.

Management Redefined: A Golden Era for Leaders

It used to be that fitness and wellness professionals who stepped into
leadership roles found themselves in over their heads, scrambling for
basic information to keep the ship afloat. However, the industry has
evolved and career tracks have become more sophisticated; a new breed of
leader has emerged, bringing a deeper understanding of empathy,
communication, business psychology and human resource strategies. Here
are just a few keys to sustained growth, offered in the business track:

  • If fitness professionals expect to excel, they need to “get real”
    about who they are, what they do and how they do it. This was one of
    many messages John Berardi, PhD, outlined during “The Complete Fitness
    Professional.” Another key take-home: The widening gap between fit
    pros and consumers must be addressed. “The industry excludes too many
    people who need our help,” Berardi said. “We need to understand what
    it’s like to be in their shoes.”
  • In “Resilience Training for Fitness Professionals,” Tatiana Kolovou,
    MBA, encouraged managers to improve their coping skills, offering a
    new take on the concept of “sharpening the axe.” A tactic she shared
    was to “manage your internal language and energy” in order to be a
    more positive influence on staff.
  • Relationships are crucial for long-term success, emphasized Helen
    Vanderburg in her session “Tackle the Top Five Challenges Facing
    Managers Today.” Specifically, she encouraged attendees to “engage
    employees and inspire them to grow.”

Personal Training: Science, Small Groups and Smiles

Personal training continues to take professionalism to new heights. As a
result, allied health professions are opening their arms wider to
include educated personal trainers as valued members of the wellness
team. This year’s session selection reflected a deep pool of knowledge
that has the potential to reset industry standards for inspiration and
results. Here are some program highlights:

  • Small-group training is still going strong as personal trainers widen
    their reach and clients enjoy the benefits of camaraderie and
    budget-friendly options. Kristina Duran, a San Diego–based strength
    and conditioning coach, was most inspired by John Garey, MS, in his
    session “Small-Group Circuit Party 2015.” “I was lucky enough to be on
    a team with some incredibly friendly, motivating and energetic
    people,” she said. “The workout was designed for any level, focusing
    on full-body muscular endurance. The exercises were very creatively
    designed. It was so much fun!”
  • Personal trainers are improving their assessment skills and
    successfully integrating corrective exercise protocols into program
    design. “One size fits all” no longer flies. “Engagement comes from
    personalization,” said Hayley Hollander in her session
    “Transformational Exercises That Engage Clients.”
  • While body weight training has enjoyed a renaissance, equipment is
    still popular because it enables personal trainers to motivate clients
    in novel and unique ways. Everything from suspension devices to battle
    ropes and sand bells were represented at this year’s show. However, a
    medicine ball is just a medicine ball without proper information about
    how to use it—and there was no shortage of good information. In his
    session “SGT Ken’s Hyperwear® Games: There Can Be Only One™,” for
    example, Sergeant Ken Weichert meticulously reviewed progressions and
    regressions for each piece of circuit equipment before letting
    attendees loose to have fun.
  • As research reveals more about fascia and how it affects movement and
    the mind, leaders in the field are discovering better ways to weave
    key concepts into program design. Presenter PJ O’Clair shared recent
    research in her session “TRX®: Dynamic Fascial Flow.” “Actively loaded
    stretching more comprehensively stimulates fascial tissues than
    classical weight training or classical stretching,” she said. > >

Food and Nutrition: Common Sense Prevails

Experts from all walks of health and fitness—from Canadian obesity
expert Yoni Freedhoff, MD, to Exos™ coach Mark Verstegen, MS, and many
specialists spanning the continuum—shared the perspective that getting
real about nutrition and related behavior change will open new doors for
fitness pros, coaches and clients alike. Much can be achieved through
common sense grounded in bona fide research, while fads, diets,
hyperbole and bandwagoning are to be avoided.

A panel session moderated by IDEA editor in chief Sandy Todd Webster
showcased the “keep calm and be sensible” approaches of Freedhoff,
natural chef Teri Mosey, PhD, and Chris Mohr, PhD, RD. It covered the 10
most common trends unfolding in food and nutrition today and gave
attendees a chance to ask about issues that trouble them and their
clients in this often confusing and contradictory field.

Quotes to consider from these experts and others:

  • Freedhoff on what seems to be our collective snacking obsession: “I
    think the most important question when considering snacking is what a
    person is snacking on. What matters is not, ‘Is it good or bad?’ but,
    ‘What are you having?’ and, ultimately, ‘Does snacking allow you as an
    individual to do better with dietary choices?’ If it does, then it’s
    good; and if it doesn’t, it’s not.”
  • Mosey on “food tribes” (Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free): “When
    you’re in a food tribe it grounds you, it makes you feel connected and
    centered, and makes you feel like you’re a part of something larger
    than yourself. It’s not good nor bad; it just allows people to have a
    community and we seek that through food because food is one of the
    most important things in our life.”
  • Mohr on protein and whether Americans overconsume it: “Data show that
    for satiety and fullness it’s not a question of whether we’re eating
    too much protein, but when we’re eating that protein. We’re eating too
    much of it at night. But when you look at overall intake throughout
    the day, we’re eating very little of it in the morning. We’re eating
    too much protein at the wrong times of the day for the benefits that
    we could really get.”
  • In “How to Fix a Broken Diet,” Berardi, from Precision Nutrition™,
    dwelled purposefully on how the best portion control tool we all have
    is our hands. “Teach clients to relate portion control to their hands
    [palm is protein measure; fist is veggie portion size; cupped hand
    equals carbs; thumb equals fats]. Clients are not going to get t his
    right the first time. But you’re going to see them again, right? Just
    keep fine-tuning with them until it works.”
  • Verstegen on the importance of nutrition in athletic training:
    “Fueling is a conscious decision. We need people to eat and eat often,
    but it has to be real food. Quality fats are the most important thing
    in the diet; when we speak of protein with our athletes, we say the
    fewer legs, the better. Whomever optimizes nutrition recovery in the
    window between the last workout or competition and the next is going
    to be the overall winner.”

Group Fitness: Blending Great Ingredients

As exercise enthusiasts get more diverse in their interests, habits and
skills, fitness professionals are rising to meet—and exceed—the demand
for personalized programs.

As a nation, we love having variety and choice in many areas of life—and
our workouts are no exception. This year’s group fitness theme, if one
exists, was fusion, including the mixing of elements from group fitness
and personal training. Think along the lines of a smoothie in a blender:
Gather a bunch of great ingredients, mix them, and voilà, something
tasty and fantastic comes out. > >

  • The line between personal training and group fitness is getting
    narrower. Many classes at IDEA World were perfect for large or small
    groups, with presenters functioning more as a coach than a “follow me”
    teacher who needed to cue.
  • For years, naysayers have said that step is moribund, yet at World it
    was in full bloom, from Kari Anderson’s “Smooth Groove Step” (which
    had choreography lovers drooling) to “R.I.S.E. On Up—Reinvented
    Interval Step Experience” and “Step Revival” (where attendees were
    cheering and clapping) to “Small Group Step Training” (which included
    tubes and timed intervals). Not only is step being taught as a
    straightforward cardio class; it’s also being incorporated into
    partner, strength, core and boot camp programs.
  • Dance is en pointe, with something for anyone wanting to shake their
    groove thang.
  • Cycling keeps rollin’ along, with HIIT, power, speed, stages and
    technology (both wearable and equipment-based) as staples for those
    who love indoor cycle workouts.
  • Equipment is more varied and ubiquitous than ever, from leather
    weighted balls that look like mini beanbag chairs, to flexible bars
    and slacklines, to sand ropes and vibrating foam rollers. Everywhere
    you looked, participants were lifting, pulling, dragging, throwing,
    kicking, punching, bouncing, pushing and sharing portable equipment
    suitable for large and small groups.

As to trends, John Sinclair, fitness director of Midtown Athletic Club
in Weston, Florida, sees a future in interactive environments for
personal training, group personal training and group exercise.
“Interaction between coach and client creates a more lasting connection
that will transform the experience and make the client want more.
Fitness pros need to be humble enough to ask clients what they find fun,
as we can then tap into an endless number of activities that match their

Mind-Body’s Mainstream Agenda

It wasn’t too long ago that any mind-body oriented offering was
considered outside the realm of “standard” fitness. Today the tide has
turned, and yoga, Pilates and countless other formats have found happy
homes in the hearts and minds of consumers. Mind-body is less “woo-woo”
and more “woo-hoo!” And for many good reasons, among them:

  • Mind-body exercise perfectly complements active aging, as addressed in
    “Nia Wise—Movement for Aging + Vitality,” taught by Debbie Rosas and
    Janet Hollander. “The body thrives on dynamic ease,” said Rosas as she
    reviewed the main principles. “The ability to move with maximum
    efficiency and minimal effort creates a feeling of effortless power,
    elegance, grace and neuromuscular creativity.”
  • There are growing opportunities to monetize age-old practices. Not
    only is “mindful movement meditation” good for stress reduction, but
    it’s also growing in popularity at destination spas, resorts, yoga
    studios and facilities that emphasize wellness, according to Shirley
    Archer, JD, MA, who taught “Touching Earth—Mindful Walking
    Meditation.” Archer discussed how underrated walking is, and how
    adding a simple meditative aspect can ameliorate a client’s experience
    a hundredfold. n

© 2015 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction
without permission is strictly prohibited. A 5-Day Lesson 
in How to 

Bottle Lightning By Joy Keller, Alexandra Williams and Sandy Todd
Webster Photographs by Len Spoden 

Opening Ceremonies

Setting the tone for an inspirational weekendin L.A., the IDEA World Fitness Convention Opening Ceremonies, true to tradition, hit the mark with laughs, tears and goose bumps.

You can find a full report on all award finalists in the July- August issue, but here are some highlights from accep- tance remarks made by this year’s honorees:

  • 2015 IDEA Program Director of the Year Kimberly Spreen-Glickthanked Bahram Akradi (founder, president, chair- man and CEO) and Jeff Zwiefel (COO), at Life Time FitnessTM, “a company whose mission I’ve been in love with for over a decade” and then implored the audience to “keep doing what you do—what your heart calls you to do—because the world needs to have you keep your light shining.”
  • 2015 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Trainer of the Year Mike Z. Robinson, who promised himself back in 2008 that he would win this award by the time he was 35, hit his goal with a year to spare. “This award reflects strength, excellence and dedication to the craft,” he said. “This award is for all of you, but I’ll be keeping it at my house.”
  • 2015 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Amy Dixon thanked her mentors at Equinox® for teaching her “how to work my butt off and have fun doing it” and then left the audience with a story about a busy morning when she was trying to gather lunches and get her children off to school. “My daughter Ava looked at me and told me how lucky I am to get to exercise for my job and that I get to help others.”
  • 2015 IDEA Inspiration Award: Anthony Robles, the 2011 NCAA Division I National Champion in wrestling who was born with one leg, shared his uphill climb to glory. “It was definitely ÔÇÿGrind now. Shine later,’” he said. “They say that the test of fire wields the strongest steel. The adversity helped to motivate me. Impossible is found only in the dictio- nary of fools.”
  • 2015 IDEA Jack LaLanne Award: Jenna Wolfe: After some playful repartee with award presenter Elaine LaLanne regarding whether the 89-year-old was going to do push-ups this year, Wolfe, the TODAY show’s lifestyle and fitness cor- respondent, melted the audience’s heart withan acceptance speech charged with humor, sin- cerity and honesty.

    Citing the madness of her life over the past 3 years as a celebrity career woman and mother of two very young children who“needed to lose the baby weight,” Wolfe said she could relate well to the scheduling challengesof many people. “I am a proud, card-carrying work in progress. Always have been. Always will be. I’m not finished. Not ever. In order to change yourself you have to challenge yourself. If you want your life to change, you have to changeyour life.”

After sur-viving a caraccident atthe age of19, Burchard received what he calls “life’s golden ticket,” a second chance. His own self-discovery leads him to ask audiences around the world three key questions: Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter? “Every day is a sec- ond chance,” Burchard said. “Honor it. Serve it. Sustain it.”

IDEA World Fitness Blogfest With Sweat Pink™ Connects Bloggers, Brands and Fitness Celebrities

Only in its second year, BlogFest had 12% more attendees than its sold-out inaugural event in 2014. This year’s event attracted both fitness professionals and enthusiasts who were hungry for accurate, researched information, blogging tips, networking and tweeting events, accessto the expo hall and convention, workouts with celebrities, and one-on-one time with sponsors such as siggi’s®, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Propel®, Merrithew™, KaiaFIT and ReebokONE.

Blogger Alicia Orozco ( was a returning fitnessenthusiast from Long Beach, California, wholoved the professional atmosphere. “By beingtogether, IDEA World and BlogFest have aunique advantage over any other blogging orfitness conventions. I got the best of both worlds. It’s so inspiring, and you get so much information. Plus, we got one-on-one time with companies we want to work with. Everything totally exceeded my expectations—the mini-workout breaks, the freebies, and just being able to talk to other bloggers and think about blogging for 2 days straight—icing on the cake.”

Debbie Woodruff of La Quinta, California, is both a personal trainer and a blogger at, so the combination was perfect for her. “This gives us a great opportunity to improve blogging skills and get the latest fitness information.

“Presenter Gabrielle Reece really stood out in my mind. She said that people askher why she still worked out so much now that her volleyball career was over. She tellsthem that now she’s training for life.” Having up-close access to fitness celebrities was all part of the BlogFest package. As Woodruff said, “If you’re going to do Zumba®, you need to do it with its creator, Beto Perez. So. Much. Fun!” All in all, a fun fest.

IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo

Despite a freakish, out-of-season thunderstorm in Los Angeles on the last day of the Expo, it turned out to be the busiest and most crowded day of the show. All told, nearly 12,000 people passed through the doors over the course of the Expo’s 3 days. This was a huge turnout in what was IDEA World’s largest and most diverse trade show to date.

The tagline for the Expo hall should have been “Welcometo the Land of Plenty” or, inthe case of exhibitor General Mills, “Land of Plenti╠ü,” which is how the company showcased its brand-new Yoplait™ Greek Plenti╠ü™ yogurt.

With more food vendors than ever (59), the 2015 IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo had a plethora of options for eaters of all kinds. Combine that abundance with apparel, technology, services, programs, education, assessments,brand workouts, equipment, accessories and celebrity book-signings, and it was easy to understand why some attendees stayed in the Expo from opening to closing.

Of the 300 exhibitors, 125 were at IDEA World Fitness for the first time, and they were busy fielding questions, giving out samples, testing new gear and programs, and sharing information. They also gave away prizes, including a BASIS fitness and sleep tracker from Intel®, grass-fed organic beef jerky from Laura’s Lean Beef®, protein pancake mixes from Pumped Up® Pancakes, and a Bounz Fit® mini trampoline and workout DVD.

For one new exhibitor, this was its first-ever expo as a company. According to Bobby Macauley, working in salesfor plant-based supplement company Skoop of Boulder, Colorado, “The Expo gave usa chance to share our products with people who not only truly understand them and will share them with their world, but who can also ask us the tough questions about our products to keep us sharp and ensure that we are formulating the best possible line of products.

“Getting to interact with thousands of fitness professionals at the IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo allowed us to get a bead onthe industry as a whole. From power lifters, to Zumba® dancers, to a Karate master, we really got to learn about every segment of the fitness industry. And we gave away every last sample that we brought, which was awesome!”

Returning vendors also greeted enthusiastic shoppers. Upon entering the hall, people were immediately drawn into the excitement at the Reebok booth, where they enjoyed free workouts (and selfie sticks), with a few lucky participants in Reebok’s social media contest garnering custom-made Pump shoes. Right next door, Pilates aficionados were swarming the MerrithewTM booth, eager to learn about new ZEN-GATM and barre programs and participate in the in-booth workouts.

Some companies drew visitors with unusual offerings—refillable ice wraps forthe shoulder, backand knee fromHYPERICETM; herbaltea tonics fromTEAONIC; the out-door bike-ellipticaltrainer ElliptiGO; aCore Stix® workout forolder adults; personalfitness and nutritionplans based on yourDNA, from SportPotential; a brain-sensing meditation headband from Muse™a large selection of white and yellow fitness apparel from Montreal’s Lole╠ê® and Intel®’s new Recon Jet™ wearable tech glasses for sports enthusiasts. Those glasses might go perfectly with Athos fitness apparel, which measures muscle activity, heart rate and respiration, allin real time, using a removable processor.

For some extra-deluxe real-time respiration, Expo hall visitors headed to the eXertainment stage, or to the IDEA World Main Stage, where they could either learn more about specific brands or work out with performers during mini workouts or demos. Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels, at the main stage, packed in a super-animated crowd that a clicker tallied at 582 people—and with her motivational message and moves, she got them pumped! Also on the main stage, sharing the best of their product knowledge, were Quest Nutrition™, Soyfoods, Athos and celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, MSc, to name just a few.

lot of whooping and whistling, plus sweaty, smiling faces were spotted at the eXertainment stage, both on andoff the stage. Among the many performances were Jumping® Fitness, LaBlast® Dance Fitness, Walk Productions, WERQ Dance Fitness, Kettlebell AMPD, Bombay Jam®, The Bootybarre™, U-Jam Fitness®, BollyX and Bootie Camp Yoga®. Where else could you get more than 35 companies showcasing their latest moves for FREE?!

Lights, Camera, Action in the Showcase Room

On Saturday people lined up hours in advance to enter the IDEA World Showcase Room, where they could participate in workouts with their favorite celebrity instructors. Trainer to the stars Jeanette Jenkins got everyone clapping and laughing early in the morning with her infectious smile and fun choreography. Next up was Jillian Michaels, who had the capacity crowd kicking up their heels and doing scores of burpees—willingly.

Leslie Sansone attracted walkers of all ages, sizes and abilities in a 3-mile “walk concert” that felt more like 1 mile to most participants. The tempo increased when the workout switched from walking to dancing. Pacing the stage, and bringing participants up there with him, was Beto Perez, creator of Zumba®. The energy explosion con- tinued with an intense workout led by Todd Durkin, MA, who invited his wife, Melanie, to join him onstage “for the first time in 18 years.” And everyone in the room learned that filled water bottles make great hand weights!

IDEA Summer Games Powered by SPRI®

n the second annual IDEA Summer Games, attendees experienced the thrill of competing with fitness pros and enthusiasts from all over the world. Four exciting battle sessions on the outdoor “arena” of the Los Angeles Convention Center had participants facing off in tough athletic games and contests for a chance to win gold, silver and bronze medals, plus prizes. Layered into the competition and class format were teaching tips and techniques designed to help fitness pros take their clients to the next level.

Rewarding Inspiration at IDEA World!

This year, session presenters gave out 467 IDEA Inspiration Medals to recognize attendees for their excellent effort, knowl- edge, skill and inspiration. All medal recipients were invited for this group photo and for a chance to win great prizes, includ- ing a complementary 2016 IDEA World Fitness Convention™ registration (Yvonne Schugar; value $399 Member; $469 non- member); a Schwinn® A.C. Performance Plus indoor cycle fea- turing MPower Echelon Console (Danielle Gudino, San Diego; retail value $1,899); and a week for two at Rancho La Puerta Spa (Suzy Sulsona, New York; retail value $7,000 or more). Congratulations to all!

Joy Keller

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.

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