When it comes to training clients and teaching classes, how far will you go to stay on the cutting edge? Where does your learning labyrinth lead? Last month, attendees at the 2008 IDEA Fitness Fusion Conference in Rosemont, Illinois, invested in 3 days of intense, energetic education, reinventing themselves professionally and rekindling their passion for helping others.

This year’s program featured more than 100 topics geared to discerning group fitness professionals, personal trainers, program managers and facility directors. The theme—explore, evolve, experience—was supported by a stellar faculty of presenters eager to share their knowledge and practical experience. This Midwestern fitness event, with its mélange of movement and message, has always been known for its accessibility, and this year was no different. Presenters met toe to toe with attendees to offer ideas, compare field notes and exchange social networking websites.

Fred Hoffman, MEd, launched the weekend with an inspirational welcome that delineated simple but profound steps that fitness professionals can take to feel fully enriched in their careers. Speaking to a capacity audience, Hoffman delivered this advice: be present day to day, and don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone. “Life is a series of changes,” he said. “Laugh, smile and enjoy the journey. Help as many people as you can along the way.”

Whether you were a group fitness instructor from Dubuque, Iowa, a personal trainer from New York City or a program manager from Atlanta, Georgia, the IDEA Fitness Fusion program had your needs covered. The following take-home notes merely graze the summit of the mountain of knowledge offered at this year’s fitness event:

  • Trends in personal training continue to be centered on improving human function while addressing the multiple levels of motivation involved in training a client. Attendees learned “whole-person” approaches to programming—from understanding brain function to gait analysis (right down to the finer points of how a stray arm swing can signal an injury waiting to happen). Coaching principles continue to bleed into the personal training arena, encouraging many people to seek out additional training to further support their growing client bases. Key buzz words: trainer accountability; small-group training; corporate programming.
  • Once considered a dark-horse member retention tool, group fitness is stepping into the limelight as a specialty profit center, which believers in the industry have always thought it could be. The evolution is helping many instructors and directors take their proper places as central players in the quest to Inspire the World to Fitness®. Dance-themed classes show strong appeal, and the functional training wagon continues to roll through programs across the country. Key buzz words: circuit training; mindful sequencing; core training.
  • From the business and management end, attendees at this year’s show talked about budgeting in a difficult economy and how best to lead a diverse and scattered staff. Presenters drove home the importance of strategic marketing through new avenues, including grass-roots campaigns and the Internet. Key buzz words: career longevity; budgeting magic; entrepreneurship.

For more coverage of the 2008 IDEA Fitness Fusion Conference, visit Joy Keller’s blog and video blog.

Joy Keller

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master.

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