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Altering the Course- Permanently.

The IDEA World Fitness Convention has always been an event that moves fitness professionals to the depths of their hearts and inspires their passion to help others. This year’s gathering (July 25–29 in Las Vegas) fed and revved the estimated 5,000 attendees’ engines with educational rocket fuel and kept that tradition vibrant.

When Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee walked onto the stage at the convention’s opening ceremonies to accept the 2006 IDEA Inspiration Award from his friend and colleague Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, the early-morning audience of fitness professionals from nearly 60 countries rose to its feet and cascaded appreciation on him. The thunderous clapping and whooping were not so much for what the governor has been doing to halt the spiral of inactivity and unhealthy living in his state and around the U.S. as they were for his own fitness pilgrimage. As he accepted the award, Mike Huckabee was no longer a well-known political figure; he was every client a fitness professional has ever tried to help. It was a shared moment of triumph for the honoree and for each personal trainer, group exercise instructor, mind-body pro and program director present. Here was living proof that IDEA’s continuing initiative to Inspire the World to Fitness® can change—or even save—a life.

The governor congratulated IDEA members for the work they do to change the healthcare paradigm by emphasizing prevention through healthy living over spending money to treat disease. “Fitness professionals—IDEA members—you are literally saving people’s lives. Don’t ever forget that. My doctor recently said that I’m coming out of the locker room ready to play the second half better than ever before.”

Author and life coach Cheryl Richardson summed it up eloquently in her keynote address following the awards ceremony: “When we inspire people to become healthy and fit, we alter the course of their lives forever. Behind every human being is a gift. Your job is to slowly unwrap that gift and find out what is going on inside.”

Education Sensation

Speaking of gifts, the educational slate at this year’s event provided a blockbuster of choices for delegates. More than 275 sessions (plus 10 specialty preconference options) and 130 presenters from 10 countries set the stage for a lot of note taking and mind-expanding concepts.

Ashraf Ali Al-Hefni, a lawyer turned high-school physical education teacher at the American School of Kuwait, found many reasons to want to return for next year’s IDEA World Fitness Convention (his eighth consecutive event). “It was great on all levels. The assistants were very helpful, the parties were great, and the most important thing—the educational value—was the best in 7 years,” he assessed. “[As a trainer] my personal interest is always related to improving function and enhancing performance. I found loads of great classes either to learn a new thing right away that I can use, or other classes that would open my eyes to look for some knowledge in the right direction.”

Danielle Kelly, group fitness director for Lady Wellness in Rockford, Illinois, was of like mind: “I am thrilled to be a member of IDEA, and I find the conventions very helpful in renewing my focus and keeping me up-to-date on what is new and exciting in the fitness industry. Thank goodness for IDEA . . . for giving fitness professionals the opportunity to not only learn and grow from the classes and lectures, but also learn and grow from each other.”

Personal Training:
Robust and Ripe

Personal training continues to be the growth juggernaut of this industry. As the profession matures, new areas of specialization keep developing. This is great news for personal trainers, who can follow their passions by diving deep into niche segments and becoming true experts. Here are some of the industry hot buttons that emerged from excellent attendee questions and observations shared during the personal training curriculum this year:

  • The media continue to hype quick fixes, but clients are savvier and understand better that permanent changes are the way to health and fitness. They realize that this approach takes a greater investment in themselves and more of their time and money. They will increasingly ask hard questions about what personal trainers bring to the table. Be prepared!
  • Medical and allied health providers still do not see personal fitness training as a legitimate service. Continue to forge networking links with these providers and help them understand the breadth and depth of your education, your respect for scope of practice, and ways you can help their patients regain or maintain wellness.
  • Nutrition classes were packed. Whether it’s a case of client demand for this type of information or the simple fact that the fitness industry is aging and professionals are getting more interested in nutrition for personal reasons remains to be seen. Scope of practice in this arena is clear-cut, yet many trainers regularly cross the boundary into murky waters—much to the chagrin of those who toe the line and strive for professionalism. For a clearer picture on this, see the feature “Going From Foodie to RD” on page 64.
  • Structural assessment skills training is in great demand. Clients are coming in hurt and broken. If you don’t recognize where the problem originates and what else it affects in the kinetic chain, how can you possibly fix it? Experts were very clear on the point that trainers need to consume a constant diet of anatomy and kinesiology information.
  • Corporate fitness opportunities for trainers are growing in lockstep with the increasing emphasis on disease prevention and wellness among corporate employees.
  • Coaching is really getting hot. Why? Factoring in the power of a client’s mind can be vital for successful outcomes. Just ask IDEA assistant and longtime member Charli Douglass from Las Vegas, who has been teaching and training in the industry since 1980. In addition to blending the essentials—cardiovascular exercise, healthy eating, strength training and stretching—she is now incorporating what she calls the “mind factor” into all trainings and classes and is finally seeing the results she has yearned to see for years. “I am in the process of creating my own seminar for my students on how to use their minds first, before they even set foot in the club,” she shared. “I am using empowering questions to motivate them—as well as affirmations, journaling and meditation to retrain their negative thoughts and behaviors concerning their self-image—into people who can and do accomplish everything they want to. It is amazing how we have been programmed to think so negatively about ourselves; it takes a great effort for my students to make even small changes in their lives. I would love to see more focus on our wonderful minds.”

Following are a few more discussion areas that emerged in sessions:

  • Keep building your educational base, and encourage colleagues to do the same through recognized and accredited agencies.
  • Maintain your professionalism. Walk your talk.
  • Maintain your peak mental, physical and spiritual conditioning. Without it, you cannot hope to give to others.
  • Make every session the best one ever. Your clients deserve no less.
  • Network within your community to determine what programs are needed to Inspire the World to Fitness. This is not only good for our overall mission as fitness professionals; it’s good for your business.
  • Listen. Listen. Listen. As 2006 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Justin Price pointed out: “We have two ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion. Listen twice and speak once.”

The Business of Fitness

As an industry, there is some major talent out there doing some amazing work. Seasoned program directors and managers in facilities are regularly taking the programming bull by the horns and wrestling it to keep their offerings fresh and exciting for members while keeping bottom lines healthy. But the main buzz heard in and around business and management sessions this year was one of concern. Primarily, veterans are looking high and low for the next wave of leadership and are not encouraged by what they see. Some don’t see new leaders emerging, period. Read on to find out more about this and other insights gained from this year’s program director/management education.

  • Leadership and management skills are a rare commodity in the industry. If you are a veteran program director, what are you doing to help your younger staff grow up? If you are an aspiring manager or program director, what are you doing to get proper training?
  • The industry desperately needs hospitality training. Are we treating members as well as we could be?
  • Is fee-based training a good way to up the ante for your marquee instructors? Is it good for your department revenues? Are good instructors able to generate serious dollars?
  • Hiring multi-aged trainers and pairing them with multi-aged clients and staff will help bridge generation and communication gaps.
  • There seems to be an erosion of overall quality in facilities as a function of short-term owner/manager goals. Some see a squeeze coming, with fewer corporations owning more clubs. The concern among program directors and managers is: How are employees valued in this model?
  • There were some interesting ponderings regarding a trend away from the traditional role of a group exercise director toward a personal training director who oversees a hybridized department.

Other pearls of wisdom gleaned from presenters, attendees and sessions:

  • Try to keep looking at your job with a beginner’s mind. Once you think you know it all, you’ll become stale.
  • Leave your ego at the door. Ask for feedback. The more you receive it, the more you will grow.
  • Be proactive and not reactive. Seek first to understand and then be understood.
  • If you want to be great, surround yourself with great people. Be passionate. Love what you do. Set high standards. Work hard and play hard.

Group Fitness:
The Art, the Profession

If Rip Van Winkle fell asleep in a gym circa 1986, let’s say, and woke up today in any contemporary fitness facility, he’d have to check his pulse twice. How would you explain the changes in group fitness? Equipment was once relegated to a few stray free weights. Everything was high-impact, and movements weren’t always safe. Today participants punch bags, roll their bodies on long cylindrical pieces of foam and balance on blue domes. What a strange, glorious world!

Group fitness in 2006 is bountiful with creativity. Instructors have taken their many years of experience, absorbed and personalized it, and offered it back to the world in high definition Technicolor. They have proven time again that there are more than 100 ways to not tap a Step. Group fitness instructors are consummate artists in the way they move, motivate and memorize.

On the flip side of this coin, in equal balance, is the instructor as respected professional. Educational standards have improved, and so has the caliber of the person standing in front of the room. The many certifications and opportunities to expand and learn new ways to help people get healthy have in some cases turned the group fitness professional into a “sweat scholar.” The participant sees an exercise as a chance to burn calories (and, let’s hope, to have some fun!); the group fitness instructor sees a chance to play with different planes of motion and to challenge various fitness levels simultaneously.

Abbie Appel, Reebok University master trainer and IDEA World Fitness presenter, who lives in Boca Raton, Florida, has noticed an increase in the level of professionalism across the board. “Many group exercise instructors today consider fitness to be a career,” she says. “This leads them to become more educated. The focus recently has been on correcting biomechanical deficiencies. We have to be realistic about how much we can fix in a group setting. However, if we stress to participants the importance of good form, they are less likely to become injured and more likely to stay in class and reach their individual goals.”

Also noted at this year’s convention:

  • Function finds a dwelling place in many new offerings, from dance-based classes all the way to medicine ball drills. If the action isn’t qualified, it’s often omitted.
  • Calling all coaches! Basic lifestyle coaching concepts such as active listening, managing progress and accountability are cropping up between cues. Instructors are learning that emotional intelligence not only helps them be better teachers—it also enriches the experience for participants.
  • Step remains the springboard to success for many. No other method has launched more creative ideas: “Steptococcous,” “Xtreme Step,” “Step Top,” “Step Neighbor,” “Salsa on the Step,” “Step Architecture,” “Ultimate Step Diva”—the hits keep on coming!
  • Indoor cycling has been around long enough to prove its staying power. Along with that are questions about safety that pit “pure” road cyclists against their stationary counterparts. Instructors are still making an effort to connect with participants through specific coaching techniques, but indoor cycling is still evolving and fresh techniques are incubating.
  • Fuse it or lose it. There are so many brilliant concepts to choose from that instructors are blending them into myriad fusion classes. What do you get when you combine dance with yoga and strength training, with a touch of foam roller? You get the picture.
  • Group program directors are luring members away from dry land (and dry programming) with aquatic choices that challenge and inspire. Choices on this year’s schedule included “Noodle Partners,” “Aqua Max Circuit,” “It’s a Wet Hair Day” and “Tai Yoga Flow.”

Buzz and Predictions

A gathering the size of World Fitness is bound to produce some substantial industry buzz. Here are some trends and 5-year predictions from group fitness professionals worldwide:

  • Group fitness instructors will enjoy increasing respect from fitness facility management as revenue generators. Consequently, they will demand higher wages.
  • There will be a larger gap between veteran instructors and newcomers just as the demand for group fitness starts to peak.
  • There will be more class options for men and newly active individuals.
  • Instructors will create more classes for older adults of varying fitness levels.
  • The Curves for Women® concept will spur other group fitness “concept” franchises and studios.
  • Personal training tenets (as well as personal fitness trainers themselves) will continue to cross over into the group fitness studio.
  • Kids’ specialty classes will proliferate.

“If structured correctly, the value of group exercise programming will continue to grow because the future of the club industry is grounded in the value of a club’s brand, which reflects a club’s value system,” says Bob Esquerre, fitness consultant and programming specialist from Boca Raton, Florida. “The club’s value system is the reason why people join a club, retain their memberships and refer their nonmember friends, family and associates. Group exercise programming, in fact, has a much higher potential to touch, engage and affect more members than personal training.”

Mind-Body Fitness:
Healing Our Stressors

The mind-body program at 2006 IDEA World Fitness provided consistently high-quality education.

Here are some highlights and trends:

  • Fitness professionals are growing steadily more sophisticated in this field.
  • Classical Pilates and yoga are alive and well, but many presenters are developing creative and ingenious ways to modify and expand on traditional moves.
  • Equipment is everywhere: tubing, stability balls, foam rollers, mini balls, Gliding disks, wedges, weighted bars—they are as much at home in mind-body classes as anywhere else in group fitness.
  • Pilates classes are now quite diverse—some more athletic, others more dance-oriented—but basic Pilates principles such as concentration, alignment and fluidity remain at the heart of the practice.
  • The softer sides of yoga—restorative yoga and “yin yoga”—are offering participants gentle ways to heal from the stresses of a hectic world.
  • Two programs bucking the equipment trend are Nia and Balletone®, which do not require props. Nia continues to offer rich opportunities for expressive movement, while Balletone—as its name suggests—tones the body with precision and poise.

IDEA Fitness & Wellness Expo:
A Vast Array of Fitness Shopping

Got cash? Got coupons? Got stamina? If you had these, then you were ready to hit the ground running when the Fitness & Wellness Expo doors opened to reveal the treasure trove of shopping opportunities offered in nearly 400 booths inside. A dizzying array of the latest fitness fashions, shoes, organizations, services, top-of-the line equipment (strength, flexibility, Pilates), music, gadgets and nutritional products (among hundreds of other items) were on display and for sale—often at deep discounts—by the knowlegeable and helpful exhibitors and their teams.

Sherri McMillan,
MSc, and Alex McMillan: IDEA Program Directors
of the Year

Alex and Sherri McMillan co-own and operate Northwest Personal Training, a successful 5,000-square-foot training studio in Vancouver, Washington. They have a second facility in Portland, Oregon. The McMillans pride themselves on maintaining high-quality staff and providing the tools necessary to enhance skill sets and improve education. This leads to dedicated employees, satisfied customers and great financial returns.

We want it to be well received by our clientele. They look for results-oriented, fun and user-friendly programming. We want it to be innovative and cutting-edge, but still true to our company values. We also want to ensure that our programming fosters the development of friendships and the community atmosphere that sets us apart from other facilities.

We are inspired by our client and staff successes. We love to read the notes, e-mails and letters from clients thanking us for the role we’ve played in helping them change their lives. Reading these “success stories” makes all the hard work worth it. We also love to see trainers excelling as professionals; it makes us so excited to know that we’ve helped them be the best they can be.

One thing that does work really well for us is that we understand each other’s strengths and allow each other to maximize our contributions in those areas. For example, Sherri is the systems gal and keeps everything organized and running smoothly and efficiently. Alex is the master networker and goes out throughout the community meeting people, developing relationships and bringing in business. So by examining all the different areas that we each excel in, we make for a great team.

Just because you are a fabulous trainer or instructor doesn’t mean you’ll make an effective program director. Get some training on how to be an effective leader and business professional. Some people are born natural leaders, but most have to develop these skills. Read lots of great leadership books; listen to audiotapes; take courses on leadership, organization, sales communication and marketing, etc. Be committed to developing these skills every day.

Justin Price, MA:
IDEA Personal
Trainer of the Year

Justin Price—co-owner of The BioMechanics, a biomechanics, personal training and wellness coaching facility in San Diego—is not one to shy away from a challenge. He “crossed the pond” from England to San Diego in search of warmer climes and a personal training business he could call his own. In doing so, he created a state-of-the-art private studio that has increased its business by more than 400% since 2003.

When I went to university on a tennis scholarship, I spent a lot of my spare time in the weight training room doing exercises to improve my tennis mechanics in order to avoid shoulder and back pain. Eventually, I became the strength and conditioning coach for the tennis team and my personal training career began in earnest.

I research topics every day. If someone asks me a question that I don’t know the answer to, I write the question down and find out the answer. There is always so much to learn about anatomy, biomechanics, business, fitness, etc., and people are always asking questions, so I never run out of things to research! I also collaborate with other allied health professionals when I have a client with a particular issue outside my scope of practice.

The great thing about specializing in corrective exercise is that just about everybody has an imbalance that either currently causes or has the potential to cause pain. When you help people get back to doing things they love to do without experiencing pain, or help them continue to be fit, healthy and injury-free, you discover that your clients are your biggest advocates. Not only is that great for business, but it brings a sense of purpose and accomplishment as well.

Don’t do it just for the money. The idea of being able to charge someone good money for an hour of your time is very appealing, but trainers provide a very important service—the implications of which should not be dismissed or disregarded. If you are thinking of becoming a trainer, the first thing you should do is talk to a number of professional, respectable trainers to see if the profession matches your expectations.

Maureen Hagan, PT:
IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year

Maureen Hagan, vice president of operations for GoodLife Fitness and VitaVie Clubs, is no stranger to accomplishment. She is the creator of “Newbody,” “Women on Weights” and “No Sweat Workout” exercise programs, aimed at increasing women’s fitness. Hagan was named the 1998 IDEA Program Director of the Year.

I clearly see that group fitness will grow to become more important in the business of a fitness club. I see the variety of programming expanding to include nonphysical or other “fitness-friendly” classes. I also see that there will be a challenge in finding enough group fitness instructors who can teach a moderate variety of class concepts. As an industry we need to welcome more ways for individuals wishing to pursue a teaching career in fitness to get started and stay in the profession.

I am very supportive of branded programming, as I have seen how it has positively influenced the demand for more instructors, the level of instructor competency, program variety on fitness schedules, consistency in delivering the product, and retention of both instructors and members. I encourage all clubs to open their minds to the concept and learn more about these programs. In our case, GoodLife has never looked back, and we have created a “unique selling position” from having branded programming.

I constantly work at achieving [balance] by checking in with myself after I have completed certain events and analyzing how I managed all aspects of my life—job, relationships, personal health, stress level, etc. I write down my professional and personal goals and do well to review them on a regular basis. I work with a nutrition and life coach and have also developed my own “mastermind group” with three other like-minded business professionals. I have a personal trainer to keep me accountable for weight training, and I love it.

Begin with the end in mind. Create a picture or mission statement for yourself and the instructor you wish to become in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years from now. Find a mentor or fitness club that invites “on-the-job training,” and seek feedback. Become a member of your country’s leading fitness association, as well as one other international association, to stay abreast of the latest trends, programs and training information.

Criteria Award

  • is a healthy role model
  • demonstrates keen professional commitment through community and industry involvement
  • inspires staff through outstanding leadership
  • develops successful, creative and diverse programming that influences both active and underactive people to commit to a healthy lifestyle

    Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:
    IDEA Fitness Inspiration Award

    Difficulty in ascending the marble stairs at the Arkansas state capitol and a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes led Governor Mike Huckabee to a revelation. “I realized I was setting a terrible example for the people of our state,” he wrote in his news column on March 19, 2005. “I also realized I possibly was in the final decade of my life if I didn’t do something drastic about my health.” And so he did. Huckabee lost 110 pounds through exercise and healthful eating. He soon caught the running bug, completing the Little Rock Marathon in March 2005 and going on to participate in other marathons. After adopting a healthy lifestyle himself, Huckabee turned his attentions to his state and created the Healthy Arkansas initiative to encourage exercise, healthy eating and smoking cessation among Arkansans. He is also the author of Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork and has become a widely recognized speaker in the areas of health and fitness.

    Criteria Award

    • is a practicing industry professional spending at least 15 hours per week actually training clients one-on-one
    • demonstrates exceptional leadership, business management, motivation and instruction skills
    • has inspired clients to greater personal growth and a higher level of fitness

      2006 Biscontini
      Scholarship Award Winner: Ankie Feenstra, Mykonos, Greece

      Award Criteria: Applicants must strive to Inspire the World to Fitness® as a group fitness instructor or personal trainer; spend at least 15 hours per week in a professional career providing motivational, professional and effective interaction with members and/or students; be financially “in need” and unable to attend the convention without the benefit of this grant; and not be a professional presenter in their home country or abroad.

      Would you like to support this award? If so, please write a check to IDEA Health & Fitness Association and mail it to:

      Biscontini Scholarship

      c/o IDEA Health & Fitness Association

      10455 Pacific Center Ct.

      San Diego, CA 92121-4339

      Apply for 2007 Awards

      Want to apply for next year’s IDEA Health & Fitness Awards? See www.ideafit.com or the July–August issue of IDEA Fitness Journal for an application.

      Application deadline is December 1, 2006.

      Criteria Award

      • demonstrates strong leadership skills through community and industry involvement
      • uses his or her superior abilities and influence as an instructor to motivate active and underactive people to commit to healthy lifestyles

        John McCarthy:
        IDEA Lifetime
        Achievement Award

        As the executive director of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) for the past quarter century, John McCarthy paved the way for the success of the fitness industry. “From the very beginning, I understood the enormous potential of this industry,” he says. “[Regular] exercise benefits people in four ways that are important to everyone. It helps people with their health, their appearance, their experience (they feel better) and their performance.” McCarthy, who retired at the end of June, was steadfastly committed to getting people off the couch and into clubs, as is exemplified by one of his legacies: IHRSA’s goal to increase worldwide club membership to 120 million by 2010. “John McCarthy has been both a leader and a visionary for the health and fitness industry for over 25 years,” says David Giampaolo, chief executive of Pi Capital in London. “The fitness industry and my personal life have truly been touched and enhanced by this giant of a man.”

        Learn All Day; Dance All Night

        Delegates used the two planned social events at the convention to let off a lot of steam after busy days of intellectual enrichment. As happens every year, attendees who have been dancing, training and sweating all day in classes manage to dig down and find a little extra something inside to come out to network, socialize and shake it loose on the dance floor.

        Winter Wonderland: How Cool Is That?

        There was no need for an icebreaker at the Winter Wonderland Welcome Reception on July 26. The best and brightest fitness pros from around the world jumped in with their usual gusto, testing their climbing skills on a “frozen” peak, “ice” skating Vegas-style with professional Shannon Nester and bouncing till they were good and warm in the inflatable Crazy Cottage. If winter make-believe wasn’t cool enough, there was also a delicious buffet and plenty of opportunity to dance up a (snow) storm!

        Bustin’ a Move for a Great Cause

        The Beach Nightclub dance party, sponsored by Zumba® Fitness and Multitrax, was not only a raging good time; it was also a worthwhile fundraiser for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). CAF is a unique organization that recognizes the athletic greatness of people with disabilities and supports their efforts by providing grants for training, competition and equipment needs.

        Zumba dancers heated the party up early by demonstrating their free-form moves, inspiring the crowd and getting the dance floor filled fast. The party went on well into the next morning!

        If this year’s award winners are any indication of the talents and spirit that lie within the fitness industry, then greatness was everywhere to be found on July 26 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. You could feel the heart and soul of fitness as each winner gave thanks and inspired attendees to lead the charge toward a healthier and fitter world.

        Join Us in San Diego to Celebrate IDEA’s 25th Anniversary!

        Can it be true? Has IDEA really been around for 21/2 decades? Time really does fly when you’re having fun and getting a lot done! Mark your calendars now, because you don’t want to miss the 2007 IDEA World Fitness Convention. Next year, the event returns to IDEA’s headquarter city in beautiful San Diego July 6–9. Beginning in January 2007 and throughout the year, look for special IDEA silver-anniversary coverage plus information about next year’s big celebration to roll out along with it. We hope to see you there!

        We Call It IDEA World Fitness for a Reason

        Most of us packed a bag, hopped on a flight and landed in Las Vegas for the convention in half a day or less. All fairly hassle-free on a relative scale. Not so for the 610 international attendees representing 59 countries who made the journey to Las Vegas this year. These folks have a corner on the market when it comes to sharing tales of exhausting multiday treks in planes, trains and automobiles. The dedication and commitment they display in attending this event (some every single year) is incredible, in many cases.

        Perhaps the most poignant story to emerge from the entire 2006 convention is that of IDEA international member Rudy Sleiman. In January, he decided he would be at IDEA World Fitness this year come hell or high water. He saved the money. He procured all the necessary paperwork and visas. He did everything he was supposed to . . . and, boy, was he excited. Then the unthinkable happened. About a week before he left for Las Vegas, hell actually arrived on his doorstep in Beirut, Lebanon.

        With bombs exploding around his city, Sleiman focused and decided that he would find a way to make the journey—a pilgrimage, really. He left his pregnant wife in Beirut in the early hours of Monday, July 24, and finally arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday evening, July 26. His journey was harrowing, to say the least. He was smuggled over the Lebanese border into Syria by car. “I fed people a lot of money,” he said of the bribes he had to pay for safe passage. From Syria, he hid in another car and paid off someone else to get him into Jordan. From Jordan, he flew to Romania; then to Paris; then to Philadelphia; and finally into Vegas.

        At the International Reception on Friday, July 28, he sounded wistful as he spoke—ironically, with Israeli member Harriet Scher—of the conflict back home. Both said they simply wanted a return to peace in their respective countries, normalcy in their neighborhoods. War was raging between their people time zones away, yet they found common ground in the language of fitness to bring them together.

        Although Sleiman was worried sick about his wife, family and friends, his eyes lit up and he left it all behind for a few precious moments as he talked about the convention and all he’d learned. He was thrilled with a couple key purchases he’d made in the Fitness & Wellness Expo: “I think I’ll be the first person in Beirut with a BOSU® and a TRX,” he said, smiling shyly.

        Sleiman returned home safely about a month after the convention, but he said the situation in Beirut was still very unstable. He is using his memories of IDEA World Fitness to stay positive. “I can tell you really that the World convention is still in my mind…it was like a dream,” he said. “Thank you for making this event so amazing. I am thinking of coming again next year.”

        Club Without Walls

        For many attendees, IDEA World Fitness is an opportunity to try something out of the ordinary. Delegates view their time at this event as a vacation from their routines at home, and, in that spirit, dozens opted to jump into the mini adventures offered through IDEA’s Club Without Walls programming. Check out the highlights from this year’s slate of special events.

        Red Rock Canyon Biking

        Some IDEA World Fitness attendees got up extra early and joined a special biking excursion to Red Rock Canyon’s National Conservation Area. The loop was mostly downhill, with an optional 4-mile uphill extension. The workout portion of the trip was secondary to the scenery, according to IDEA member Debra Orringer. “I could look up dozens of words in the thesaurus for beautiful, but you get the idea,” she says. “The mountains, the clear sky (except for one cloud) and even petrified sand dunes! I must have stopped over 50 times to take photos, which made me the last one, but I didn’t care.”

        Sunrise Yoga

        “It’s really inspiring to do yoga seeing those great mountains, clear sky and fresh grass around you—it makes you really feel everything you do,” said IDEA member Mariya Bilskaya, of Stacy McCarthy’s early-morning yoga session at Red Rock Canyon. For this attendee, practicing in such a setting was a rare treat: She had traveled to the convention from Siberia, where she would have needed to wear “at least two sweaters” to do yoga outdoors. Fellow participant Jennifer Azevedo of Santa Rosa, California, agreed that the experience was special: “Sunrise Yoga made this year’s conference even more memorable!”

        Other Club Without Walls sessions included Outdoor Fitness—Create the Experience; Innertube Water Polo; Ultimate Outdoor Group Training; and Road Work. For a brief recap and photos of the adventures experienced by the Survivor—Lake Las Vegas participants, see “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast?”.

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