Who could have foreseen in 1984 that a modest gathering of 600 aerobics instructors at a fitness conference in downtown San Diego would turn into the extravaganza that IDEA World Fitness Convention is today?

Certainly not co-founders Kathie and Peter Davis, who shared a glimpse of IDEA’s humble beginnings (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 nearly 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.

Over 300 sessions blending the most recent science-based material with practical implementation burst with ideas that had people madly scribbling notes to get every ounce of information. 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 insights about fitness in the future, mostly as it ties to engaging the brain and to customizing programming for older adults. Fonda was there to receive the 2012 IDEA Jack LaLanne Award, which recognizes inspiring industry role models who have significantly advanced health and fitness through the media.

Also during the Opening Ceremonies, Kathie & Peter Davis presented the Challenged Athletes Foundation®’s 9-year-old Timur Normatov of Parkent, Uzbekistan, with a check for $20,000 that will go toward purchase of a new prosthetic leg that will enable him to run. Over the past year, the IDEA fitness community raised $10,000, and IDEA matched that amount to make the purchase possible. Erica Davis (the first paralyzed woman to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro) represented the Challenged Athletes Foundation and accompanied Timur on stage.

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 eating. There were 16 additional food and nutrition exhibitors in the expo this year (for a total of 32), 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.

  • 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. A few action items to emerge included 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. Bottom line for handling the belly fat problem: Fitness pros need to understand hormones, which ultimately determine fat used, hunger, satiety, cravings, mood, health and motivation.
  • 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—along with huge helpings of practical tips meant to simplify food prep and ingredient selection.

Fitness Leadership: Management Makeover

After a hiatus, the management preconference track returned to IDEA World, generating much interest. Here are some highlights:

  • In “Building Your Team of MVPs,” Shannon 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 shared the hard numbers behind shifting from a one-on-one business model to a 30-minute express and semi-private/group training model.

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 is far more important for athleticism than even the all-popular core.

Breaking free of the “time for money” trap. In his session “The Science of Success,” Steve 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 with 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.

Group Exercise: A Connecting Force

From freestyle to prechoreographed options, group fitness is a powerhouse and cornerstone of connection in the industry.

Some trends:

  • Dance continues to enjoy a resurgence, with popular television shows such as 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, focus on working harder and smarter in less time.

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.

Some highlights:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”

Getting Sassy in the Showcase Room

From the Opening Ceremonies to the IDEA Supreme Dance Battle, the Showcase Room—with a capacity of 400—became a high-energy 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.

30th Anniversary Highlights

IDEA celebrated its 30th with some special events:

Party Time! IDEA’s 30th Anniversary Party: You ARE the Transformation! provided all the ingredients for a night to remember: great food, live music, a dance floor and all the friends you could wish for! 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, MA, began by honoring the 2012 IDEA Award recipients: Rachel Cosgrove, Personal Trainer of the Year; Carrie Ekins, MA, Program Director of the Year; and Dan McDonogh, Fitness Instructor of the Year.

IDEA also recognized the top 10 companies that have been most supportive 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”). And “Battleground Boot Camp!” had hundreds of attendees happily sweating and grunting their way through nearly 2 hours of drills from Jay Blahnik and his 18 star “sergeants.”

This story reflects the combined reporting and writing of IDEA’s editors: Sandy Todd Webster, Kate Watson, Joy Keller and Ryan Halvorson with notes by Margie Rogers. For a more in-depth look at our coverage of IDEA World Fitness Convention™, please see the convention wrap-up article in the October issue of IDEA Fitness Journal or check out the editors’ blogs.

All photographs on this page are by Len Spoden Photography.

SIDEBAR: 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.

  • When you first walked in, it was virtually impossible to miss the sleek Chobani® Caf├®, where hungry fitness professionals waited in line for samples ranging from yogurt to guacamole.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • SIDEBAR: Meeting the Challenge!

      TRX® S.T.A.R.™ Challenge. In the Expo, a section of the hall was dedicated to the TRX S.T.A.R. Challenge, hosted by IDEA and the new IDEA FitnessConnect client challenge 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 gift packages worth over $2,000 each.

      Session Challenges. Most of the more than 300 sessions at IDEA World created an opportunity for presenters to elevate the attendee experience to the next level through mental, physical or inspirational challenges. Hundreds of IDEA Inspiration Medals were awarded throughout the convention to standout participants. Each winner was then entered into two drawings to potentially win the ultimate prize: a full 2013 IDEA World Fitness Convention registration. Congratulations to winners Colleen Minet and Ari Lipponen.

IDEA Editorial Staff

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