Who could have foreseen in 1984 that a modest gathering of 600 fitness instructors at a fitness conference in downtown San Diego would turn into an event bringing the entire fitness industry together?

Certainly not co-founders Kathie and Peter Davis, who shared a glimpse of IDEA’s humble beginnings (in a spare bedroom in their home) during a warm and personal presentation that kicked off the convention’s Opening Ceremonies as well as IDEA’s 30th Anniversary gala (July 5–8)—again in downtown San Diego. However, this time almost 10,000 attendees, exhibitors, faculty, staff, assistants, expo hall guests and VIPs from more than 50 countries and from all fitness specialty areas gathered to make it the fitness event of the year.

The anniversary cachet of the convention was already special, but there was more to this than the simple marking of time and cutting of a birthday cake. It was a milestone for the entire industry. The fitness profession is indeed young, but it has made quantum leaps from the days of spandex and high impact. Pros are exploring, discovering and inventing new ways to move people (both physically and psychologically). Instructors and trainers are catalyzing transformation and beginning to understand the power they create in others through fitness and wellness.

The sheer size, depth and breadth of the education were astonishing. Over 300 sessions blending the most recent science-based material with fully practical implementation guidelines had people madly scribbling notes to capture every ounce of information. The expert faculty of 180 presenters delivered everything from a massive (and massively fun) boot camp on the aircraft carrier USS Midway to a dance-off (“IDEA Supreme Dance Battle”) between the leading choreography brands. There was some major glitz and glamour, too. Jane Fonda, no stranger to the convention with two previous appearances, electrified the Opening Ceremonies with her nod to the past, but more so with her excitement and insights about fitness in the future, mostly as it ties to engaging the brain and to customizing programming for older adults, who are proving to be a force majeure as fitness consumers.

IDEA “Whirled” seems a more fitting name for the vitality and electric vibe of this year’s fitness event. Only the most fresh and pure ingredients were added to the hopper. They were then blended at turbo speed over 4 days of unparalleled fun and education. The end result? A nutritious and delicious smoothie served up to thousands of hungry professional minds who took home what they had learned—and felt—during this special time so they could in turn guide their own clients to BE: The Transformation.

Food & Nutrition Lead IDEA’s New Era of Programming

Especially notable in IDEA’s programming and in the IDEA World Fitness & Wellness Expo was an increased emphasis on food and nutrition. There were 32 food and nutrition exhibitors in the expo this year, as well as 30% more nutrition sessions than IDEA has ever put on the program. This commitment to educate fitness professionals about such topics directly addresses perhaps the biggest challenge clients have: food and diet issues.

IDEA has long covered nutrition in convention programming and in its various publications, but it has significantly stepped up its coverage in the past few years and will continue to broaden its reach and leadership in these areas. As Kathie and Peter Davis said during their opening remarks at the convention, “We believe food—like exercise—is medicine with tremendous healing power.”

Notable in this realm for 2012:

  • A very spirited and open-minded panel discussion (Nicki Anderson, Teri Gentes, Steve Hertzler, PhD, RD, and John Berardi, PhD) shook up traditional thinking about nutrition scope of practice for fitness professionals and created a strong platform for action steps. “It’s clear we have much work to do in this arena as an industry,” said Sandy Todd Webster, IDEA Fitness Journal’s editor in chief and moderator of the panel. “Many of the trainers in the audience were frustrated and confused because, while they desperately want to help clients with food and diet challenges, they’re not sure where to draw the line or what they are legally able to do without risking their liability. They are looking for leadership and education so they can navigate these seas with more confidence. Fitness professionals simply want to give clients every tool available to be successful.”

Some of the main action items to emerge from the discussion included creating “crosstalk” among fitness and nutrition professionals to encourage better communication and to foster shared client care; setting realistic standards for fitness pros to operate by; creating sound and standardized nutrition education for fitness professionals; and developing safety standards so professionals will “do no harm.”

  • Naturopathic physician Jade Teta’s standing-room-only session, “How to Get Rid of Belly Fat Through Nutrition and Exercise,” drew attendees in like a tabloid headline at the supermarket checkout. His message boiled down to a simple quote: “To handle the belly fat problem, we need to understand hormones, which ultimately determine fat used, hunger, satiety, cravings, mood, health and motivation. There is not a single diet that decreases belly fat,” he said. Insulin (in fat, muscle, brain, liver) is not necessarily the bad guy, he explained. It’s more about where we are insulin resistant. People have different insulin needs and sensitivities. “Starch and sugar, plus stress, equals fat storage in the belly.”
  • The BE: Fueled cooking demonstration stage in the expo was a bold new step for IDEA. Health and food educator Teri Gentes taught a lecture-demo-taste-test session called “Power Fueling—Brown Bag Lunches and Snacking Essentials,” in which she made and served menu items such as raw nut hummus (as dip and in Nori rolls); Mediterranean tapenade; black-bean salsa; sprouted-grain wraps with avocado butter, veggies, pesto and hummus; apple sun butter and chia sandwiches with cinnamon coats; apple chia bites; and stuffed dates with almond butter, walnuts, dark chocolate, cayenne and cinnamon. She also served huge helpings of practical tips meant to simplify food prep and ingredient selection.
  • The next day, Brett Klika from Fitness Quest 10 and Evelyne Lambrecht of FitZee Foods were back on the same stage to share the magic behind straightforward 5-Ingredient Meals. They introduced attendees to easy-prep/time-saving techniques and healthy, not-so-common ingredients. “Our biggest problem seems to be deciding what to eat,” said Klika. “Use common sense. Be reasonable. Eat as much ‘real’ food as you can.”

Fitness Leadership: Management Makeover

After a hiatus, the management preconference track returned to IDEA World—generating much interest. As the needs of members and staff evolve, fitness managers and directors are growing, learning, and developing better methods of communication, interaction and motivation. This upgraded leadership includes a crucial ingredient: self-awareness. It’s no coincidence that good teams have good leaders. Good leaders take the time to invest in themselves and share the rich rewards with others.

Here are some highlights from the leadership preconference, which set the professional pace for the rest of the fitness event:

  • In her session “Be Extraordinary,” Helen Vanderburg, 2005 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and 1996 IDEA Program Director of the Year lavished attention on the concept of what makes a person extraordinary. “Extraordinary leadership is contagious and will infect your health club and staff with extraordinary results,” she said.
  • Shannon Fable, 2006 ACE Group Fitness Instructor of the Year and founder and chief executive officer of Sunshine Fitness Resources in Boulder, Colorado, led several information-packed sessions on the intricate details of elevated management. In “Building Your Team of MVPs,” Fable reviewed the top 10 traits of group exercise instructors and gave tips on how to recruit, reward and support staff by creating standard operating procedures that everyone can use as guidelines.
  • Vito La Fata, owner of Fitness Evolution in Laguna Hills, California, shook up the personal training management system with a new take on working with people. “We need to empower our clients to take control of their own issues and progress,” he said. “The more people we can touch, the better.” He shared the hard numbers behind shifting from a one-on-one business model to a 30-minute express and semiprivate/group training model. “Make fitness a gathering,” he said. “Start thinking of yourself as the valuable, respected health professional you are.”

Personal Training: Challenging Convention

IDEA World Fitness has always involved innovation and progression. But this year’s fitness event seemed to take these concepts to another level.

Self-massage techniques: the new stretching. In the preconference session “Twist Conditioning: Training the Fascial Lines,” co-presenter Cassidy Phillips showed attendees how self-massage techniques could create immediate improvements in strength and functional capacity. He focused quite a bit on the lower leg, stating that this area of the body is far more important for athleticism than even the all-popular core. “Most of the population talks about the core,” he mused. “But if you don’t have an Achilles tendon, you do not move forward.”

What is the true core? In a similar vein, Michol Dalcourt, inventor of the ViPR™ and director of the Institute of Motion, encouraged attendees to forget common thoughts on core training. He began by discussing the commonly practiced elbow plank exercise. “How long should we hold that position?” he asked. “30 seconds? 60? 90? According to Stuart McGill [director of the Spine Mechanics Laboratory at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario], the answer is 10 seconds. Hold for 10 and then rest.”

The problem with current core-training practice, Dalcourt said, is that it relies on overactivation of muscles to maintain static positions. This overactivation could be doing more damage than good. Back pain, for example, could be the result of an inability of muscle tissues to “turn off” or relax. “We’re sacrificing mobility to improve stability,” said Dalcourt. Instead of focusing on static positions, he suggested, trainers should incorporate movement and timing techniques into clients’ sessions. “We need to create a system that is both mobile and stable. It’s about the physiological state of maintaining body-wide tension while producing gross movement patterns.” He also went so far as to suggest that movement and timing are the new corrective exercise.

Dalcourt then declared that it’s time to think of the core differently. “It’s about chain reaction kinetics starting from the ground up.” Rather than focus so heavily on how the trunk moves—or doesn’t—trainers should consider that what happens below the belt could have greater impact on movement and function than the core does. “Without properly functioning feet, core strength is irrelevant. If the feet function properly, the core will work properly.” Could the foot be the new core? Dalcourt thinks so.

Breaking free of the “time for money” trap. In the fitness world, most people make money by teaching classes or leading training sessions. Steve Jack, owner of Mind-Body-Energy, believes there is another way to be successful. In his session “The Science of Success,” he presented ideas on how to build a business that is not based on time for money. Jack said that most professionals work on active income, which is achieved by being somewhere physically. The next level is bundled income, which combines active income and revenue from selling a product (like a foam roller). However, he believes that the greatest success comes from passive income, or making money while you sleep. “Once your passive income becomes greater than your expenses, you will really be living,” he said.

This involves selling online programs and products that are very specific. “You want to go narrow and deep. If I’ve got an issue I want to solve, I’m going to the expert.”

To develop passive income, you must take a leap of faith, which he admits can be quite frightening. “You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first!”

Group Exercise: A Connecting Force

Group fitness seems to be finally getting the props it deserves in fitness facilities. While group exercise programming may not be featured on the “plus” side revenue-wise when owners and managers look at budgets, the truth is that penetration is generally high and members crave the group experience. From freestyle to prechoreographed options, group fitness is a powerhouse and cornerstone of connection in the industry.

Here are some trends spotted at the fitness event:

  • Dance continues to enjoy a resurgence, with popular television shows like So You Think You Can Dance sparking interest in all styles of choreography, music and movement.
  • High-intensity training—including Tabata, Metabolic Effect and other “extreme” offerings—is catching on with consumers. This concept focuses on working harder and smarter in less time.
  • Creative boot camps and circuits are alive and well. Instructors are stretching their imagination and using props, small equipment and other toys to keep participants healthy, active and happy.
  • Touted for bringing more men into the group exercise studio, indoor cycling is holding its own and even expanding, owing to new coaching techniques and upgraded equipment, including power meters.
  • Sports conditioning, functional training techniques and corrective exercise keep on showing up in the group exercise room—sometimes straight from the personal training floor. This is thanks in part to the hybrid fitness professional who is both a group instructor and a personal trainer.

Getting Sassy in the Showcase Room

As the setting for big-scale, high-energy fitness events ranging from the Opening Ceremonies to “IDEA Supreme Dance Battle,” the Showcase Room (with a capacity of 400) became a whirlpool of whoops, choreography, laughs and high-fives. During Dance Battle, the nightclub ambiance added a velvet rope factor to the experience for attendees, who wore glow sticks as bracelets and lost themselves in the high-fidelity sounds. Here are highlights from this year’s showcase experience:

  • Chalene Johnson ignited attendees’ already positive attitudes with her signature upbeat grooves in “TurboFire®—Fire Starter!”
  • 2003 IDEA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and fitness industry icon Kathy Smith led an enthusiastic throng through her “Total Body Turnaround” workout.
  • Louis Van Amstel of Dancing With the Stars brought his LaBlast™ brand to life for an eager and talented group of attendees.
  • Todd Durkin meted out his explosive excitement in manageable, burpee-sized pieces during “Perform Better!® Boot Camp 2012.”
  • Tony Horton showed attendees how to harness the power of “postactivation potentiation”—and improve athletic performance—in his “P.A.P. Lower Workout.”
  • Jay Blahnik packed the room with his total-body yoga-inspired stretch routine, “The 10-Minute Stretch Transformation.”

Mind-Body Vitals Excellent in 2012

Mind-body fitness is flourishing in 2012, with ancient practices like tai chi and yoga continuing to thrive, Pilates as rich as ever and contemporary movement expressions sprouting from creative pairings and blends.

Still distinct at times, boundaries between traditional and mind-body fitness are becoming more porous, with the dance revival of the past few years showing up often in fusion workouts, and interval training slipping quietly into mind-body studios here and there.

Following are highlights from this year’s program:

Mindful Dance Spreads Its Wings

  • Given that Joseph Pilates worked so much with dancers, it is fitting that dance has come “home” to Pilates in the new ZEN.GA™ brand from Merrithew Health & Fitness™. Fusing Pilates, yoga and dance, ZEN.GA satisfies your longing for elegance while taking your body on a mindful-movement journey to greater fitness.
  • Also a dance blend, reBarre, led on-site by Niece Pecenka and Bea Wood, finds common ground between ballet, Pilates and yoga, while tower workouts—offered by several Pilates companies—typically include a barre component.
  • Under her signature brand, willPower and grace, industry veteran Stacey Lei Krauss is still allowing her creativity to blossom. “Move With Integrity,” a complete fusion experience blending strength, balance, flexibility, cardio and dance, proved to participants that a mindful workout could be intense, expressive and aesthetically pleasing all at the same time.
Pilates: State of the Art

So, fusion—especially dance fusion—is a big part of this year’s Pilates story. What’s not new is the rock-solid training available to career professionals at IDEA World. Whether you’re looking for mat work expertise, arc barrel training or a guide to the latest bells and whistles on the reformer, it was offered here.

Connie Borho, who owns two Pilates studios in Florida, taught a Pilates plyometrics class. “Jump board Pilates is a great way to get power and explosiveness in a safe way,” said Borho, who uses jump work with football and tennis players.

Marshall Eklund, MA, made a passionate case for Pilates as functional training, noting that “wear and tear is caused by mechanical stress,” whereas Pilates trains the body to move correctly by merging flexibility, joint stability and muscular strength.

Attention Is Key

Thrilling though IDEA World is, the mind-body program often challenges attendees to step away from the whir and noise of the world and pay attention to the breath, the body, the present moment:

“In order to learn something that is not habitual, you have to slow things down so you can explore new things,” said Stacy Barrows, PT, in her Feldenkrais® session.

“Make sure you’re paying as much attention to softening and mobilizing the body as you are to strengthening it,” urged Cheryl Soleway, PT. “Listen [to the body]. How cranky are your feet? If they’re cranky, they need more attention than your biceps.”

Michael Kasten, in his meditation session, pointed out, “If you’re distracted and I’m distracted, we’re not connected.” Where does that leave us when we’re trying to communicate?

And yoga presenter Stacy McCarthy spoke of seeing the whole person, not just the parts and technique: “We are not ‘fixing’ the pose or the student; we are helping the student find his or her best expression of the pose.”

30th Anniversary Highlights

IDEA celebrated its 30th with some special events at the convention:

Party Time! On Friday, IDEA’s 30th Anniversary Party: You ARE the Transformation! provided all the ingredients for a night to remember: great food, live music (from Liquid Blue), a dance floor and as many friends as you could wish for! Dessert followed the next afternoon, when the Davis team cut the birthday cake in the expo.

And Saturday evening, presenters, sponsors, committee members, staff and other guests gathered for the Reunion and Awards Celebration. This moving event, emceed by Todd Durkin, began by honoring the 2012 IDEA Award recipients: Rachel Cosgrove, IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year; Carrie Ekins, MA, IDEA Program Director of the Year; and Dan McDonogh, IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year.

IDEA also recognized the top 10 companies that have most supported IDEA throughout its 30-year history. These core sponsors were Gatorade®, Keiser®, Power Music®, Power Systems®, Reebok, SPRI®, Nike®, the American Council on Exercise®, Balanced Body® and Merrithew Health & Fitness™, under the brand STOTT PILATES®.

Big-Class Experiences. On the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego Bay, fitness greats Douglas Brooks, MS, Todd Durkin, MA, Fraser Quelch and Peter Twist, MSc, treated “recruits” to a thrilling hard-core workout (“Four Top Guns—30 Game-Changing Moves to Boost Your Training”). What better way for fitness pros to celebrate just 2 days after the Fourth of July?

“Step Ahead—Choreography for the Next Decade” delivered a die-hard stepper’s dream, complete with fast-paced sequencing, a posse of great presenters and loads of international flavor. And “IDEA Supreme Dance Battle” pitted leading choreography brands against one another to see which would walk away with bragging rights (Zumba® by 1% of a text vote over LaBlast).

Finally, “Battleground Boot Camp!” challenged hundreds to sweat and grunt their way through nearly 2 hours of drills from Jay Blahnik and his 18 star “sergeants.” “The energy from attendees was unparalleled,” said presenter Ryan Halvorson. “Battleground Boot Camp definitely helped close IDEA World on a high note.”

Keynotes & Welcome

Jane Fonda may have wowed the paparazzi—and the world—on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in the spring, but the stir she created was a tiny blip compared with the energy she unleashed in the world that counts in this industry—IDEA World Fitness.

Fonda, fitness icon and film legend, was on hand in San Diego to accept the 2012 IDEA Jack LaLanne Award, which recognizes inspiring industry role models who have significantly advanced health and fitness through the media. Her acceptance speech doubled as one of three keynotes in the goose-bump-raising Opening Ceremonies that celebrated IDEA’s 30th Anniversary.

It certainly didn’t hurt to have Elaine LaLanne—who continued the tradition she started at last year’s ceremonies by dropping and pumping out eight “real” push-ups—to whip up the crowd before introducing honored guest Fonda.

Fonda, the almost 75-year-old Academy Award-winning actress and 1980s exercise video pioneer shared insights that only someone who has lived a lifetime of passion for balanced mind-body-spirit wellness could. (To see her speech, visit www.ideafit.com/fitness-conferences/idea-world-fitness-convention.)

Some of Fonda’s key quotes:

  • “Jack LaLanne was a lovely man and a good friend. To receive this award in his name is such an honor for me.”
  • “There are how many thousand people at this convention? You may be the only growing industry in the country!”
  • “What we do through exercise is not just make people look good or thin; we get people physically active and in touch with their bodies. This is psychological work we’re doing. This is changing people from the inside out.”
  • “It was actually Thomas Jefferson who said, ‘Revolution begins in the muscles.’ Who knew?”
  • “Personal trainers and group exercise instructors have tremendous responsibility. We’re not just dealing with people’s bodies; we’re dealing with their psyches—their whole selves; their whole lives. If we can get people to inhabit themselves from the inside, we are teaching them to become whole human beings . . . So this is a neat business we’re in. This is a profound business.”
  • “When you’re older, you can’t work out the way you did before. I want to urge all of you to not teach the same things to older people as you teach to younger people. It’s important when you have older people in your classes to learn about how to deal with them and know what they can and cannot do. Know what their frailties are.”
  • “I’m so proud to be a part of this huge community. I just love you all so much for doing what you do. It’s so important—especially today. Let’s do all we can to try and deal with obesity. Not just keep teaching the people we’ve been teaching, but find ways to expand the envelope so that we’re reaching people who are scared of working out and scared of going to the gym. To say, ‘You can do it, too.’ Let’s figure out how to get young kids into [fitness]; let’s get overweight people into [fitness] and make them feel great about it.”
  • “The most important thing is to stay active [as you age]. I mean, who thought Elaine LaLanne could be up here doing push-ups at 86? Not everyone can do push-ups. But what you might not realize is how important [exercise] is for your brain. The brain shrinks as you get older. The prefrontal cortex is where all of our decisions are made. It’s where Alzheimer’s begins. If you stay physically active, it’s not that it will prevent Alzheimer’s, but it will postpone it. It will buy you years.”

Though not scripted, Fonda’s comments about the mind-body connection could not have been planned any better. The next keynote speaker was Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, who segued into a talk about her research on food addiction and her newly published book on the topic (The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction [Rodale 2012]). Known for her playful presentation style, Peeke couldn’t resist first bringing LaLanne back on stage, where the two of them went head-to-head and knocked out 10 push-ups each, bringing to 18 LaLanne’s total for the morning.

Peeke shared her science-based holistic blueprint for transformation and explained how the brain is fooled by the false highs of food addiction. The groundbreaking science she presented may well be a game changer for weight management.

Peeke was followed by The Biggest Loser season 7 competitor Tara Costa, who shed 155 pounds on the show that season and who told the audience of her inspiring journey from fat to fit. “Tara’s Takeaways” included think in terms of “just for today”; smile; focus on breathing; create an “it’s going to happen” vision board; eat only with a knife and fork (no snacking on finger foods!); don’t let your mood control your food intake; and if you have to think about it twice (what you’re about to eat)—don’t do it.

Other Opening Ceremony highlights:

  • Kathie & Peter Davis presented the Challenged Athletes Foundation®’s (CAF) 9-year-old Timur Normatov of Parkent, Uzbekistan, with a check for $20,000 that will go toward purchase of a new prosthetic leg, making it possible for Timur to run. Over the course of the year, the IDEA fitness community raised $10,000, and IDEA matched that amount. Erica Davis (the first paralyzed woman to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro) represented CAF and accompanied Timur on stage.
  • The Torque Method Acrobats supercharged the energy in the room with their high-adrenaline feats of daring and acrobatic choreography reminiscent of moves seen in The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The Cirque de Soleil–inspired performance dazzled the crowd and got the opening off to a great start.
IDEA World Fitness Convention Fitness Expo

With more than 200 exhibitors spanning 450 booth spaces, the 2012 IDEA World Fitness & Wellness Expo delivered energy and education, exceeding attendees’ expectations for products and services. Offering the latest in apparel and training tools and with more nutrition exhibitors than ever—32 food and nutrition companies over last year’s 16—the hall was bustling with excitement.

Beefed-Up Nutrition
When you first walked into the expo, it was virtually impossible to miss the sleek Chobani® Café, where hungry fitness professionals waited in line for samples ranging from yogurt to guacamole. The presence of Chobani—along with all the other nutrition companies—marked a step forward in bringing quality nutrition to the forefront of the fitness industry.

Body Weight Training Is In
While TRX® might have been the most recognizable name in the hall, a variety of other devices offered unique spins on the growing body weight training trend. A popular spot was the CrossCore® booth, where the Barholics Calisthenics team had onlookers gazing in awe at their ability to navigate the company’s jungle gym–style contraption with a combination of acrobatics and gymnastics.

Dance Revolution
Dance exercise formats continue to make noise. Expo mainstay Zumba offered visitors glimpses into its various programming options, like Zumbatomic® for kids and Zumba toning, which incorporates “maraca-like” Toning Sticks. Other dance-based organizations, such as Dance With Me from Billy Blanks Jr. and QiGNITION, also strutted their stuff.

TRX® S.T.A.R.™ Challenge

A section of the hall was dedicated to the TRX S.T.A.R. Challenge, hosted by IDEA and the new IDEA FitnessConnect Client Challenges Tool, powered by ChallengeLoop. Participants worked up a sweat as they attacked seven exercise challenges incorporating the TRX Suspension Trainer™, Rip Trainer™ and kettlebells. Everyone who finished the course was entered into a drawing for two grand prizes. Winners Shelley Graham and Kevin Cross took home packages worth over $2,000 each that included a 2013 IDEA World Fitness Convention full registration, a TRX® Pro Trainer, a TRX® Rip™ Trainer, the Level One TRX® Education Course, custom-designed Reebok® sneakers, a $50 SUBWAY® gift card, a $150 SPRI® gift certificate and the Gatorade® G Series FIT™ prize pack. After finishing the course, participants were introduced to the new Client Challenges tool and began creating challenges for their clients through IDEA FitnessConnect.

To see the hall in action, check out a video recap located here: www.ideafit.com/video/idea-world-fitness-convention-2012-expo-hall-recap.

IDEA Editorial Staff

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