The lights were soft in a hotel banquet room prepared for a convention crowd. People filed in, lightly chattering among themselves, fully present in the Sunday evening space. A subtle oscillation filled the room, broken by the long, low shimmer of a gong, stage center. “You are about to meet a person, the person you came here to be,” intoned Inner IDEA programming director Marcia Hayes. “Quiet your mind. Calm your body. Engage your spirit. Go within and be you. Welcome home to Inner IDEA.” In one fell swoop the ordinary banquet room transformed into whatever the mind could conceive.

Five hundred wellness professionals from around the world made the journey “home” to the inaugural 2006 Inner IDEA Conference July 23-25 at the Moroccan-inspired Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort, hidden about 30 minutes east of Las Vegas. From the intention-setting tai chi exercise led by Lawrence Biscontini on the first day to the gratitude lunch and final sessions 2 days later, the experience was a true pilgrimage for many. “There was such a level of commitment, awareness and eagerness to learn that one couldn’t help but be inspired,” says Zoey Trapp, MSc, senior program developer for Peak Pilates. “It was as though people came from all over the globe . . . [and] created a community.”

During the welcome address, Inner IDEA co-founder Peter Davis urged attendees to be present, connect with one another and approach the event with a beginner’s mind. The days that followed were filled with learning, growth and a return to center. The undercurrent: a positive approach to wellness practices and a thirst to drink in as much knowledge as possible. Jeff Stewart, chief executive director of The Nia Technique Inc., echoed the feelings of many who were there with this simple statement: “This crowd is committed.”

Vanguard Values

Inner IDEA featured some of the most diverse, eclectic and integrative programs for the mind-body, fitness and wellness industry. The mix of disciplines and depth of information gave attendees a chance to explore, challenge and unfold. “One of my greatest values is being on the edge,” says Pete Kirchmer, a life fitness coach and Stott Pilates instructor, who lives in Tecate, Mexico. “I thrive on being the first to try a new form of exercise or even being the first to hear a new song or wear a new style. However, sometimes being at the edge can be a lonely place. The greatest thing about Inner IDEA was the intimate environment to connect with my peers who think just like I do. I got the sense that everyone there shared that value of being at the edge of change, although everyone expressed themselves differently.”

The sessions were varied, creative and insightful, making it difficult to narrow down choices. Here are just some of the highlights from this year’s experience:

Attendees chose from more than 30 intensive Pilates mat and equipment sessions, including classes on cuing and corrections, advanced technique, breath integration, mindfulness training, postrehabilitation, techniques for mature audiences and even business ideas. In her session “Living the Pilates Life,” Kathy Corey, owner of West Coast Pilates in Del Mar, California, talked about how Pilates is “intelligent fitness for lifelong health.” “Pilates is a lifestyle that is founded on principles that affect the choices we make and the way we live,” she said. “How we move in the 165 hours per week that we are not exercising is more important than the 3 hours a week at the gym. From the way we move to the care of the body and soul, the Pilates approach to life is a holistic way to live.”

Ongoing Gyrotonic® demonstrations piqued the interest of many attendees, especially those who had not yet seen the unique spiraling and circular motions of this type of exercise. Many of the sessions focused on the benefits for all populations, from the inactive to athletes. Rosalind Gray Davis, an attendee from Carmel, California, found these sessions interesting and valuable. “Matt Aversa’s class on ÔÇśApplication to Athletics’ was well attended and very interesting; I appreciated seeing the new pulley tower equipment,” said Davis. “Cori Doetzer’s Gyrokinesis® class was one of the best I have ever attended. It is a very difficult subject to communicate on a first offering, and she did a splendid job. “Another good instructor in this area was Karen Mullen from Seattle. If and when I go on with the Gyrotonic ÔÇśFoundation’ training (just completed the pretraining), I liked these two women so much I wouldn’t hesitate taking their Foundation course.”

 

Sessions that integrated body, mind and spirit added a colorful, creative touch to the already diverse program. Attendees chose from programs such as Nia, qigong, tai chi, moonlight meditation, relaxation techniques, tribal dance, sound enhancement therapy, color therapy, Thai massage, creating a healing class environment and journal writing, among others. This selection appealed to Marti Angel, MA, a personal lifestyle coach from San Diego. “As it is when you have an inner practice, you are open to the universe with all your senses,” she says. “You become a channel for the peacefulness of the universe, you are but a flower in bloom as you breathe, and your body becomes relaxed and transmuted into the moment. You are om! I managed to find this, and it is the true meaning of Inner IDEA.”

There were many in-depth opportunities for attendees to deepen their yoga practice. Options included “The Yogic Warrior,” “Chakra Yoga,” “The Art and Heart of Anusara Yoga,” “Ashtanga Yoga,” “Raja Yoga,” “Restorative Yoga” and “Yoga Nidra.” Finding balance was a challenge, and this was one of the topics in Sherri Baptiste Freeman’s session “Inspiration and Practice.” “As teachers, we quickly come to recognize that our time is not always our own. Imbalance can build over time, causing stress in the body and mind. This kind of stress will rob you of the inspirational juice that motivated you and got you teaching in the first place. Maintain physical well-being, mental organization, energy and joy in the process. These are all key players in productivity as a teacher.”

Presenters gave attendees a strong scientific base to stand on with new and recent research on various facets of the mind-body connection. In his session “Mind-Body Research Review: 2006,” Ralph La Forge, MSc, managing director of the Lipid Clinic and Disease Management Preceptorship Program at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, covered psychosomatic medicine, the effect of tai chi on health outcomes, yoga and gait, and how hatha yoga effects fitness parameters. This class was packed, as was Jim Gavin’s session “Emotional Anatomy: How Bodies Reveal Personality.” George Tabares, fitness specialist for Integrated Fitness & Wellness in San Diego, found Gavin’s topic eye-opening in a creative, new way. “It was very informative and entertaining,” he said. “Body typing is quite an old concept in personal training, but it has also been very limited. [Gavin’s] presentation associated personality, emotions and possible traumas that influence our personalities.”

Attendees had ample opportunities to explore the business of wellness, including marketing and management training. In her session “How to Follow Your Bliss and Not Go Broke,” Dory Willer, author and certified personal and business success coach, urged people to be true to themselves and their callings. “Your calling comes naturally in environments that support your values,” she said.
Jeff Stewart referred to the experience economy in his session, “The Business of Body Mind Fitness.” He urged attendees to go a step beyond offering the basics. “Look closely at turning your facility into a complete body-mind experience,” he said. “From the minute customers walk through the door, they must begin to sense the mood of a body-mind environment. This means soothing color schemes, soft lighting, healing music throughout and a staff trained in how to communicate in a body-mind way.”

Wellness and nutrition-themed sessions educated attendees about many subjects, including nutritional immunity, the dangers of herb and supplement roulette, mindful “eating from the heart” and the relationship between unexpressed emotion and weight issues. During “Motion and Emotion,” Rochelle Rice, MA, and Karol Ward, LCSW, took turns explaining how overweight clients typically hold emotion in their bodies and what a wellness professional can do to guide these people to health while remaining within scope of practice.

 

Sharing Transformation With the World

According to Hayes, the ultimate goal of Inner IDEA is positive transformation, both personal and professional. On-site during those 2 1/2 days in July, this intention became reality. A new community emerged from the desert. Yoga and Pilates instructors, lifestyle coaches, qigong and tai chi practitioners and fitness professionals all made a pilgrimage to find that inner light that would guide them and their clients to optimal wellness.

This premier event set a clear tone for the future; one that resonates and envelops. Inner IDEA attendees embraced the visionary as truly possible and opened the door for themselves and others to engage their senses. “I loved the creative buzz and constant vibe that something big is subtly happening in our industry, the impact of which we can only imagine,” says Kirchmer. “Years from now I will look back and be proud to say I attended the first Inner IDEA Conference.*

What did nine dynamic keynote speakers have to say about the future of wellness? Click here to read more.

Joy Keller is a senior editor for Inner IDEA. Editor in chief Sandy Todd Webster contributed notes and quotes to this story.

Join the Community
If you attended the Inner IDEA Conference and want to discuss with other attendees some of the concepts you learned, or if you’d simply like to connect with other like-minded professionals, the Inner IDEA community message forum is your home. Visit www.inneridea.com and click “Community” to get started.