Wherever they are, the best personal trainers, group exercise instructors, fitness entrepreneurs and nutrition/wellness professionals excel at what they do, but in the macrocosm of motion that is the IDEA World Convention, they redefine the limits of their potential. At the 2017 event, held in Las Vegas, July 19–23, more than 10,000 like-minded pros placed a bet on continued happiness and success, upping the ante as they attended more than 330 workshops and workouts taught by the industry’s greatest minds. Back this year due to resounding success: the IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit and the IDEA World Club & Studio Summit, two phenomenal keys to professionalism in a crowded playing field.
The shared passion and commitment to making the world a better place ignited a movement 35 years ago, when co-founders Kathie and Peter Davis birthed IDEA. That movement is stronger than ever and gaining steam, thanks to thousands of dedicated fitness professionals like you. Read on to relive the highlights of the fitness industry’s biggest celebration.
Shining a Light on Leadership
During the Opening Ceremonies, the 2017 IDEA Jack LaLanne Award recipient Todd Durkin, MA, encouraged everyone in the crowd to “be a lighthouse” (see sidebar for more). And the incandescent beams were easy to track, as presenters shared glowing management insights like the ones below.
Put yourself in clients’ shoes. Fitness marketing pro Alicia Streger shared a number of ways to retain clients in the rapid-fire session “The Key to Client Retention: The First 90 Days.” She urged attendees to keep things simple and reach out to members often. Her tips included text-messaging a short orientation video, creating a Facebook group for clients, automating emails and sending a welcome package.
Be creative and engaging on social media. Successful businessman Sol Orwell shared a number of winning strategies in his session “Game-Changing Ideas From a Serial Entrepreneur.” He detailed how a seemingly benign cookie-recipe comment on social media turned into a viral sensation that led not only to free marketing but also to lots of free chocolate-chip cookies. His point: Expose yourself a little, be personable, connect with people and let them sell your services for you.
Define success and then make mistakes. 2015 IDEA Program Director of the Year Kimberly Spreen-Glick espoused tried-and-true wisdom in “Breaking Your Barriers to Success.” Her first key point seemed to resonate with the room: “If you’re facing a barrier to getting what you want, it may be because you haven’t clearly defined what success means to you.” She also shared a personal anecdote about her first meeting with a supervisor, who plainly told her, “I want you to make mistakes.” Dumbfounded, she asked why. The reply: “Because if you’re making mistakes, you’re making decisions, and I want you to make a lot of them.”
Personal Training: Innovation, Mastery and Function
Whether it’s one-on-one, small-group or team training that consumers are seeking, two things are certain: They want the best information on how to achieve optimum health and wellness, and IDEA members offer the pinnacle of positive results. This year’s roundup of training methodologies included everything from fascia to foundations to function and beyond, and no population was overlooked. Here are some highlights from the personal training track:
Coaching is hot. While the need for a solid foundation in exercise science is still essential, the message many experts shared was this: Be a coach, and that doesn’t mean simply wear a whistle around your neck. What good coaching entails, according to industry expert Robert “Bobby” Cappuccio, is “giving people the resources they need to be their most resourceful so that they can create what they want in life.”
The fascial web is integral to fitness. Fascia, the jelly-like net that holds our bodies together, remains in the spotlight. Sessions on self-myofascial release prepared attendees to help clients stave off injuries and recover efficiently. Podiatrist Emily Splichal, MS, noted, “To be an efficient runner you need to be able to tap into your myofascial web, which means we need to train the body as a deep interconnected web.”
Interconnection popped up in many sessions, in different ways. “When your kids starting learning music, what were they playing? They were playing notes,” said Michol Dalcourt, founder of the Institute of Motion. “And how did that sound to your ear? Not so great. It was when they began organizing notes into melodies that it began to sound good!” He explained: “Discrete inputs vs. melodies are particularly important for nervous system coordination in movement. The orchestra that executes the motion is an integrated body.”
Variability is the answer to many clients’ questions. Longtime IDEA presenter Robert Sherman stressed the need for awareness and variability. “Awareness gives us the accessibility to change.” And variability? “Does life always move in straight lines?” he asked. No! “In life there is nothing but variability. . . We need to practice the way we want to play.”
It pays to find a niche and lean into it. The most successful trainers discover areas where they excel, and that’s where they land.
Special populations include active aging, pre- and postnatal, prehabilitation, athletes, children, and many more.
Small-group and team training are in favor. 2011 IDEA Program Director of the Year Fraser Quelch extolled the advantages of small-group training. Quelch and fellow small-group panel members Sherri McMillan, MSc, Matt Wright, MS, and Jason Stella—along with facilitator Amy Boone Thompson—shared powerful reasons to offer this option, including affordability, turnkey potential and the ways the model lends itself to small niche sessions. The challenge? Developing fitness pros who have both the technical expertise of a personal trainer and the motivational vivaciousness of a successful group instructor.
Group Therapy: Where Magic Happens
IDEA World is one enormous fitness class, where thousands strive to reach personal goals together. Harnessing the power and synergy of group exercise, yet staying focused on what each person needs, was an important theme in the more than 150 group fitness sessions. Here are some highlights from this year’s energetic program:
Be the head cheerleader. “Group fitness is where the magic happens,” said Lynne Skilton-Hayes, an ACE-certified group instructor and master trainer. Because Skilton-Hayes was drawn into the fitness world through the camaraderie and support of a group class, she likes to create the same experience for her participants. “I live for the ‘lightbulb’ moment in people, when they realize what they can accomplish.”
Dive into blue-sky thinking. “Give people an experience they can’t get anywhere else—and they won’t go anywhere else,” said IDEA expert Sherri McMillian, MSc. That means using partner exercises, traditional equipment and the tools Mother Nature provides to help clients reach their potential.
Create a community. “People want to be a part of a group,” noted athlete and trainer Bennie Wylie. “Do that for your [participants]. Encourage them to say hello to each other. Ensure that everyone feels safe to participate.” You could see this safety—and joy—in the faces of his class participants, who high-fived one another after a hard movement.
Stay fresh with fusion. 2004 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Lawrence Biscontini, MA, helped clients plunge into water fitness with innovative ideas on blending cardio and strength techniques and transforming common moves. Biscontini projected his deep knowledge of fitness with rapport and humor, never losing sight of the ultimate goal for clients: “We can improve the quality of their lives.”
Be inclusive. Of course, you can’t help people if they stop showing up to class. It’s easy to help those in the front row who, let’s face it, could probably sub for you. But engaging the newbies who aren’t as confident was a recurrent message. “It’s about them,” said Grace DeSimone, 2016 IDEA Program Director of the Year. “It’s their workout. It’s not about you.”
Lead safe classes. Marty Miller, DHSc, NASM elite trainer, emphasized that pushing clients too far can be more than demoralizing; it can lead to injury. “No one should ever get hurt on my watch,” he said, adding that he always helps clients modify moves, while side-stepping unnecessary embarrassment.
Focus on function and form. “[Exercise is] ‘fun with a purpose,’” said 2014 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Krista Popowych. She advised helping clients to understand how what they’re doing assists in the activities of daily living. (Note: Watch Popowych’s session, available as one of 35 streaming videos and online courses captured live at 2017 IDEA World. Visit www.ideafit.com/world-2017-streaming-package for more.)
Coach, don’t teach. Focusing on leadership and coaching—rather than “training”—is key, regardless of group size. “It doesn’t matter what you know if you can’t lead,” said DeSimone.
Be open to apps! As technology continues to play a role in all of fitness, through apps or amazing new cycling monitors and rowing machines, the group experience remains, at its core, linked to you and your desire to make fitness magic happen.
Mind-Body Fitness: A Multiplane Approach
With yoga and meditation dating back thousands of years and Pilates now a century old, mind-body fitness shouldn’t need to prove its longevity to anyone. Honed and refined over time, the “softer arts” of fitness—barre, included—have plenty to offer. Here are some take-aways:
Don’t overemphasize the sagittal plane. “Trunk flexion, extension, lateral flexion, rotation—if you are not doing these with your clients, you need to start,” urged Lauren Eirk, MS, creator of Yoga Integrated Science™. “Do shoulder motion and trunk mobility have a relationship? Absolutely!” TriggerPoint™’s Kyle Stull, DHSc, agreed: Addressing corrective exercise for the shoulders, he stressed, “The thoracic spine has to rotate!”
Work with the body’s asymmetries. “Asymmetry can lead to inefficiency, which can become dysfunction and eventually disability,” said TRX® master trainer Hayley Hollander. While mind-body disciplines do a good job of identifying asymmetries and bringing the body back into balance, the key is to remember that symmetry is individual. As Pilates expert Erika Quest put it, “All of us and all our clients are snowflakes.”
Take cuing to the next level. In group classes, it can be hard to go beyond directing the movement: “Right leg up; left left up.” But Nora St. John, MS, a teacher trainer for Balanced Body®, said, “See if you can add just one little layer that takes it deeper: How does it feel to do that? Is one arm moving more than the other? Do you notice the feeling of your feet on the floor?” Tying the internal experience to the exercise will make a difference.
Be mindful of the person in front of you. Today’s mind-body classes are catering to a variety of populations, including “mind-body athletes” and mature clients, and forward-thinking professionals are fusing disciplines in new and creative ways. Stability balls, smaller balls and foam rollers are still the most popular equipment items.
Standout attendees—315, to be exact—received special recognition with IDEA Inspiration Medals, handed out by presenters for outstanding effort, wisdom, skill and inspiration. All recipients were eligible for a chance to win prizes, including a complimentary 2018 IDEA World Convention registration (Ramone Cooper; value $399 member, $469 nonmember); a Schwinn® A.C. Performance Plus indoor cycle (Devanah Vivien Thomas; retail value $1,899); and 4 days and 3 nights for two at Rancho La Puerta Spa (Connie Bandy Hodge; retail value $7,000 or more). Congratulations to all!
In a hall buzzing with thousands of fitness professionals from every corner of the world, the Opening Ceremonies marked the official start to the 2017 IDEA World Convention in Las Vegas.
Celebrating IDEA’s 35th anniversary, co-founders Kathie and Peter Davis launched the festivities—and later returned to the stage to wrap them up, treating the audience to a picture-perfect farewell dance as they relinquished the reins of an organization they had grown from nothing and led for a third of a century.
For full coverage of the 2017 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year (Jessica Matthews, MS), IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year (Michael Piercy) and IDEA Program Director of the Year (Debbie Bellenger, MA), please refer to the full feature in the September issue.
2017 IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award Recipient: Nick Ekbatani, MBA
In July 2012, Nick Ekbatani was enjoying a standout career as a UCLA offensive lineman when a van plowed into him on his motorcycle, demolishing his left leg. Ekbatani had always been an athlete—in fact, the gym had been his sanctuary, his escape from a dysfunctional family and bullying schoolmates. After the crash, he again sought solace in exercise, but he came to see it not as a refuge but as a calling—and his career as a fitness professional was born. Today, 5 years and 15 surgeries after his football days ended, Ekbatani is inspiring others as a cycling and group fitness instructor in Los Angeles.
Accepting his award from fitness industry veteran Kathy Smith, this young man—who looks you in the eye with a clear, quiet gaze as he talks to you—said, “By improving ourselves physically, we also improve our tenacity. I believe we are all inspirations. I urge you all to share your story, because at any time someone may need to hear it.”
2017 IDEA Jack LaLanne Award Recipient: Todd Durkin, MA
The international fitness community knows him best as the hard-driving, frontier-crashing boot-camp leader with the big heart. For sure, that’s a true picture of Todd Durkin, recipient of this year’s IDEA Jack LaLanne Award, but Durkin’s accomplishments go wide and deep. When not on-site at Fitness Quest 10, the training center he owns and directs in San Diego, he is traveling the globe coaching entrepreneurs to succeed, making myriad media appearances and inspiring thousands of people to live active lives.
“He walks the walk, and he talks the talk,” declared Elaine LaLanne, Jack’s widow, who presented the award, which recognizes a person whose work in the public eye has made a significant and lasting contribution in the areas of fitness, nutrition and wellness. “[Todd Durkin] is legendary—he has it all,” she said, adding that he’s a lot like Jack.
Wearing a black jumpsuit in honor of the great man, Durkin spoke of his fear when Fitness Quest 10 opened with no clients and no business plan; of “exhilarating highs and heartbreaking lows”; and, through tears, of his love and gratitude for his 83-year-old mom, his dad—whose early death taught Durkin “the value of time”—and his wife, Melanie.
His message to all those present: Be lighthouses! Fill yourselves with light, so you can light the way for others. “The world needs more positivity,” he said. “Be humble and be hungry. And remember, always be the hardest worker in the room.”
Keynote: Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect
Mentor to top CEOs and best-selling author of The Compound Effect (Vanguard 2012), Darren Hardy was a firecracker as he drove home his essential principles for success. Describing himself as “vigorously self-reliant because of ÔÇÿa crappy childhood,’” he decried self-pity and thundered, “Your adversity is your advantage! Your past has developed muscles, not wounds.”
With no patience for shortcuts or gimmicks—“there’s no secret, no magic bullet”—he insisted on the necessity of hard work. “The process of earning success is mundane. It’s not exciting; it’s very unsexy; oftentimes it’s laborious, if not gut-kicking.”
“It all comes down to choices,” he said, “and it’s the little choices that will bite you and kill your potential.” For years, the results of harmful daily choices may remain invisible, but all that time the compound effect is operating—and eventually the negative effects will bite. In life, everyone suffers, Hardy assured the crowd, but “you get to pick your suffering: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The first weighs ounces; the second weighs tons.” Bottom line? Harness the positive power of the compound effect by choosing wisely, moment by moment, day after day, year-in and year-out.
Like the total solar eclipse seen recently across parts of North America, some events are so rare and inspiring that they make a profound impression. No special glasses were needed to see the eclipse that occurred at the 2017 IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit. One just needed to stay for a session or two over the course of this 2-day (July 21–22) intensive “conference within a conference” to see that our industry’s traditional client model is incrementally changing.
What’s exciting about the shift is that more professionals now grasp that it’s not just diet or exercise or behavior modification that makes for lasting change and well-being—it’s all of the above. This Summit demonstrated the glow of possibility beyond the shadow.
Fitness professionals, specifically health coaches, have powerful potential to shine new, compassionate light on clients’ sometimes dark struggles by adopting approaches learned from behavioral and nutrition science and collaborating with like-minded professionals in the nutrition and lifestyle medicine disciplines. A team and client-centric approach brimming with well-oiled referrals and communication among physicians, trainers/coaches and nutrition professionals triples the recruitable muscle power to help clients wrestle and subdue challenges.
According to the Summit’s expert faculty of behavioral scientists, lifestyle physicians, health coaches, dietitians and chefs, we all could use some help sorting through the nutrition “noise” that often paralyzes progress. Adopting plant-based diets and getting ourselves back into the kitchen to cook more often were primary points, and two expert chef demos demonstrated the versatility and deliciousness of plant-based eating. Here are some additional highlights from this event’s thought leaders:
- Emcee Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, immediate past president of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, laid the groundwork for the 2-day event by unpacking the good, the bad and the ridiculous in “Today’s Food Conversation.” Recognizing how confusing nutrition choices can be, she outlined practical strategies for guiding clients in the context of what’s going on in their lives and addressed how we can provide science-based guidance that honors clients’ values and lifestyles.
- Ashley Koff, RD, founder of Better Nutrition, urged all to say goodbye to “horrible diets and reductionist food discussions” that praise or vilify “good” or “bad” carbs or fats. The dialogue simply needs to be about real food. “It’s about better, not perfect, choices,” she said, often repeating that mantra with an emphasis on clamping the gushing spigot of INFObesity (information overload) that regularly douses us with ambiguous messages and damning judgments of foods and nutrients.
- “The Connected Team”—a panel discussion with emcee Miller, Mark Berman, MD, FACLM, Koff, and Christopher McGrath, MS, ACE health coach and founder of Movement First LLC—explored the power of cross-pollination across disciplines on the healthcare continuum. Through referrals and constant communication, teams that include lifestyle medicine physicians, health coaches/trainers and qualified nutrition pros appear to offer an effective approach for sharing expertise while keeping the message—and the method of change—consistent for each individual.
- In her talk “Caving to the Craving,” Pew Scholar and University of Maryland professor Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, FACSM, laid out a three-stage recovery plan for people with addictive behaviors, saying that while genes may be our predisposition, they are not necessarily our fate. Peeke presented leading-edge discoveries in epigenetics and neuroscience that show how clearly food, movement and mindfulness interact with our bodies—all the way down to the DNA level. Every health choice has a positive (or negative) effect, but given the chance to heal as we make better choices, our bodies are resilient and up to the task. She energized attendees with the message that fitness pros/coaches play a vital part in helping clients transition from obsessions about “false fixes” to reliance on healthier behaviors that can miraculously heal us from within.
- An avalanche of top-tier, peer-reviewed evidence showed dramatic improvements through plant-based diet interventions in patients’ vascular blockages, blood work, weight loss and overall health markers. Michael Greger, MD, FACLM, author of New York Times best-seller How Not to Die (Flatiron Books 2015), laid out an astonishing array of myth-busting studies in his rapid-fire session “Weighing the Evidence Behind Nutrition Research.” (Greger is also the founder of www.NutritionFacts.org, a free resource on which he presents clear analysis of nutrition research, as a public service. Subscribe for astute daily updates and videos that can help you answer clients’ nutrition questions with scientific facts.)
- Chef Chad Sarno, vice president of culinary wellness for Rouxbe online culinary school and co-founder of Wicked Healthy®, a plant-based eating online community, delivered an energetic 90-minute live cooking demo, “Unleashing Plant Power in the Home Kitchen,” in which he multitasked through several delicious and healthy recipes. “The greatest missing piece in the wellness conversation is culinary education,” he said. He walked attendees through some basic cooking techniques and simple, approachable plant-centered dishes that layered flavors and spices without an abundance of salt or fat.
- Similarly, Chef Steven Petusevsky—author of the The Whole Foods Market Cookbook (Clarkson Potter 2002) and a pioneer in Whole Foods’ prepared foods division, where some of his recipes from 20 years ago are still used today—inspired attendees with healthy meals recreated from his extensive world travels. He encouraged all to look for dishes they like and then modify them based on available ingredients and cooking experience. Once proficient in a few go-to techniques and core recipes, he said, the home cook can branch out by customizing these according to personal preference and the ingredients available locally and seasonally. Experimenting is the fun part, he encouraged.
All but one of these talks (Sarno) were filmed and can be found for sale ├á la carte or as a complete package worth 11 CPEUs/CECs at www.ideafit.com/nutrition-behavior-summit. If you weren’t able to join us at IDEA World, or if you missed a specific talk, this series will give you a seat at the head of the table!
It felt like your favorite birthday when you walked into the upbeat IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo. Hundreds of booths lined the aisles, including a substantial Nutrition Pavilion and all the services, programs, apparel, supplies, equipment and in-booth workouts you could wish for.
This haven for all things fitness and wellness pulsed with never-ending energy and a lifetime supply of information and resources to catapult your career. Where else could you sample the healthiest food fare, get a massage, buy your next playlist, try on the latest fitness fashion, win various prizes, rub elbows with fitness celebrities, and get insider advice from owners and master trainers of the latest equipment and programs? Not to mention all the deep discounts!
Nowhere else can you browse through more than 100 brands from nearly 350 exhibitors in between workouts in the IDEA World Showcase Arena with fitness stars like Cassey Ho, Tony Horton, Todd Durkin, Joel Freeman and Jericho McMatthews.
Here are some other ways the Expo made a world of difference:
- The new Mega Circuit combined 18 innovative products and top educators into an interactive “circuit of the future” experience. Attendees got the unique and exclusive opportunity to practice integrating specialty equipment into an actual workout. This “practice and play” moment added value to the overall show and was only one of many incredible events in the Expo Showcase, which also featured hard-core boot camps and soul-soothing mindful sessions.
- Attendees got to try a wide range of interactive equipment, including Hedstrom®, TRX®, Body Bar®, Balanced Body®, Merrithew™, Real Ryder, Core Health & Fitness and more. This was a perfect opportunity to get the scoop on the newest bells and whistles.
- Fuel was needed after all the intense workouts, and the Nutrition Pavilion was the place to be for nutritious snacks galore. Attendees were spoiled with generous samples from Vital Proteins®, Bell Institute of Health & Nutrition, Truitt Family Foods, Lacroix® Sparkling Water, Perfect Bar®, Siggis®, Egglands Best®, Arctic Zero®, RX Bar® and many more.
- Technology and virtual training was well-represented, and rightfully so as fit tech continues to expand. FitnessConnect partners gymGO, MINDBODY® Online, and Reebok One were among the vendors who helped to shape this successful show.
- Fitness professionals strive to put their best selves forward, and apparel vendors helped make that happen with the latest in fitness fashion. More than 40 apparel brands, including prAna®, D’Moda, HIGH Fitness, Lorna Jane, Speedo® and Qalo®, clothed attendees.
- The energetic eXertainment Stage featured free workouts that allowed attendees to try out some of the hottest new trends from around the world.
Last year, IDEA World hosted an event-within-an-event dedicated to those intent on creating a top-notch fitness facility. The IDEA World Club & Studio Summit offered attendees a rare chance to learn from innovative business and brand experts. It was so successful that it returned this year with even deeper educational pockets.
- Darren Hardy, former publisher and editor of SUCCESS magazine, encouraged attendees to focus on a “vital few” in their businesses and stop trying to be everything to everyone. He encouraged the crowd to create a “give-up” list. This is a list of time-draining activities that steal precious energy from your essential beat—your “one thing.” For example, Hardy gave up reading the news and following sports so that he could focus on one project that ended up snowballing into a massive venture.
- Fitness entrepreneur Trina Gray, who considers her job a “crusade,” related that the most important thing she has learned about success is that “it’s not above you.” “If you think you’ll never make it to the same stage as your idols, then you won’t,” she said. “Put yourself on the same level and stop thinking that success is somewhere ÔÇÿout there.’ It’s right next to you. Grab it.”
- In his session “Branding: Rising Above a Crowded Marketplace,” John Heringer, chief motivator at Method3 Fitness, shared his initial trepidation when a business consultant encouraged him to use a bold brand promise: “Results Aren’t Optional.” Heringer said that at first he resisted the change, saying, “I don’t know; that’s a pretty strong statement. There are so many variables—how can I promise this?” In time, though, he realized that this was exactly what his authentic intention was with his business, so he put it out to the universe, and his success grew.
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