It’s 8:30 AM and a group of eager fitness pro-
fessionals gathers around Chuck Wolf, MS. Wolf, director of sport science and human performance for the USA Triathlon National Training Center in Clermont, Florida, is discussing how gravity, ground reaction forces, body angles and movement patterns can affect a client’s performance. Three volunteers, all with different foot types, take turns walking as Wolf points out the relationship between feet, hips, back and the upper extremities. “We have to learn how things are integrated so we can develop functional programs for our clients,” Wolf says. Attendees nod their heads and take notes.

Next door, Frederic Hoffman, MEd, fitness director for Reebok Sports Clubs in Russia, is taking a crowd of enthusiastic instructors through a unique and challenging roundup of martial arts formats. “Teach in layers,” Hoffman says to the attentive audience. “Make sure you understand the fundamentals of biomechanics before asking a class to do a complicated combination.”

These “aha moments” were characteristic of the outstanding learning opportunities at IDEA Fitness Fusion—Chicago, held in Rosemont, Illinois, April 22–25. Attendees enjoyed all-inclusive programming that brought together more than 1,200 group fitness instructors, personal trainers and program directors for a unified approach to fitness education.

In Session

With more than 100 highly focused sessions to choose from, attendees had to prioritize their schedules. Choices included nutrition and weight management, special populations, indoor cycling, psychology and behavior, sports performance and pre/postrehabilitation, just to name a few. Those who train clients and teach group exercise chose from a special track geared to the “full-service professional.” Brian Price,
athletic director at Bel Air Athletic Club in Bel Air, Maryland, took advantage of this by trying something new. Price doesn’t teach group fitness but still got a lot of ideas he could use
with clients. “I enjoyed the BOSU® classes even though they weren’t all ‘my bag,’” he said. “The Sport Solutions class was
so good that I got a killer workout, even though I am not
coordinated enough to take a group exercise class.”

Maria Rigo, a personal trainer from LaGrange Park, Illinois, was interested in learning more about management issues. She met other like-minded individuals in “Recruit and Train the Right People for Your Group Fitness and Personal Training Programs,” presented by Maureen Hagan, vice president of operations for GoodLife Fitness Clubs in London, Ontario. “Right now I need all the information I can find,” Rigo said. “The session gave some wonderful tips, but it was even better to meet others who are in a similar situation.”

Here are some additional highlights from IDEA Fitness Fusion—Chicago:

  • In “Integrated Training Progressions,” presented by Annette Lang, MS, attendees learned how to train the body—“the most complex machine”—using all planes of movement. “We are experiencing a head-on collision between the principles of exercise versus movement,” Lang told the
    audience. “We are learning how to balance traditional
    resistance training and the body’s movement patterns.”

  • Beth Wolfgram, MS, RD, challenged fitness professionals to approach eating differently in her session “Beyond Hunger: Learn to Eat Instinctively.” Wolfgram encouraged attendees to reconnect with hunger and satiety and to adopt a healthier attitude about food when working with clients. “Rephrase terms that make value judgments,” she said. “Look at a person’s food intake over a period of time instead of zeroing in on one small aspect.”

  • Mindy Mylrea had attendees putting shoes on their heads and acting like “bunnies in a basket” in “Crazy Fun Fitness Circuits for Kids.” After reviewing research on kids’ fitness and the basics of crowd control, Mylrea gave several tips on how to choose equipment and develop games for circuits that make kids forget they’re exercising. “Teaching in this format allows you to act as coach, cheerleader and party host,” Mylrea said. “If you don’t teach kids now, you’ll want to after this workshop.”

  • Michelle Cederberg, MS, taught personal trainers how lifestyle coaching techniques can enhance their businesses. “As cutting-edge fitness leaders, we need to be able to address issues of life balance, not only through fitness, but also in other lifestyle areas like stress reduction, goal setting and personal growth,” she said.

Toys and Tunes

In between sessions, the expo hall was the place to be. The latest and greatest products and services lined the aisles, which were intermittently jammed with people waiting for a sample of
the newest protein cookie or smoothie. The expo featured everything a fitness professional needs to create and maintain
a positive image: attire, training equipment, business software, reference books, music and more. Obert Morgan came all the way from Gaborone, Botswana, to attend IDEA Fitness Fusion. “I like being able to listen to and buy music for my classes,” Morgan said. “It’s sometimes hard to find good CDs at home, and there’s a big selection here.”

Monday-Morning Ready

By Sunday afternoon, attendees had carefully collated their handouts and notes. They were ready to return to work the
next day with a list of new training ideas and teaching strategies, albeit a little sore from the weekend workouts. Even so, IDEA Fitness Fusion attendees left renewed and recharged,
infused with passion to teach others what they had learned.