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2015 IDEA World Fitness Convention™ A 5-Day Lesson in How to Bottle Lightning

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 

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