If you don’t believe that a room full of positive people can pump up your attitude and change your outlook, then you haven’t been to an IDEA fitness event lately. From April 21, to 23, attendees of 2006 IDEA Fitness Fusion in Rosemont, Illinois, were infused with a brand of energy that only top-flight presenters and a superb education program can confer.

Helen Vanderburg, 2005 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, started things off on the right foot with her Inspirational Welcome focus on “good vibrations.” It set the tone for 3 days of learning and creative revelations that approximately 1,300 attendees are now spreading around their own communities. “We have an [obesity] epidemic, and you are the key to getting these people to exercise,” she told the early-morning audience on the fitness conference’s opening day. “There’s not an information deficiency—there’s an inspiration deficiency. We need to change from fitness corporations to inspiration corporations. We’re in the inspiration business—not the perspiration business!”

Many professionals flock to this fitness event because of the large number of CECs they can amass in a short period of time, but they go home with much more. They build camaraderie, share ideas and help each other with solutions to everyday challenges. With 124 courses and 17 continuing education units available this year, IDEA Fitness Fusion offered the widest opportunity for learning something new in health and fitness outside of the IDEA World Fitness Convention®, which is more than double the size of Fusion. Options ranged from fresh, inventive step choreography and edgy personal training issues to yoga, Pilates, management, aquatic fitness and outdoor adventure opportunities.

“This was a fabulous event,” said presenter Krista Popowych, 2003 Canadian Fitness Presenter of the Year. “It was a lovely venue with great participants, helpful staff and volunteers, and a diverse curriculum. I think it captured what the attendees were looking for.”

Fusion was the third-consecutive IDEA fitness conference for New York City personal trainer Jamie S. Dreyer, and he plans to keep the streak running. “The education is great. I get to choose from a variety of classes where I learn in an interactive setting with people who are very passionate about their professions,” he said. “The networking is invaluable. It is an opportunity to meet a full spectrum of fitness professionals, share ideas and help each other. I always return to work with greater enthusiasm for what I do. I study things I love, meet great people and write it all off as a business expense.”

Dreyer—who served as an IDEA assistant as part of a work-study program that trades hours served at the fitness event for a free registration—named Greg Roskopf’s extended preconference session on Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) as his favorite class. “For years now, I have passively and actively stretched tight muscles, cued and manipulated joints into alignment, and completely avoided certain positions and postures to avoid pain, all the while knowing that there was something more elemental that needed to be addressed but not having a clue as to what it was. Roskopf’s lecture provided ‘the missing link,’” shared Dreyer. “According to Roskopf, compensation patterns are in response to poor neurological connections between muscle divisions and the central nervous system, while tight muscles result from inhibition of alpha-gamma co-activation. Since his lecture, I have applied his theories in my own work with clients and have seen immediate results. I plan on becoming MAT certified and further exploring and developing the practical implications of his ideas.”

Lyssa Lovejoy, fitness director at Gold’s Gym of Minnesota, has been attending Fitness Fusion since 2000 and has found the fitness event and education themes new and stimulating each year. She is focused not only on her own learning but on her employees’ growth as well. “I get excited every year to bring staff from my facility. I do a lot of in-house trainings for staff development, but to see their faces when they are in the midst of all these passioned-up fitness gurus, I know they get excited and learn and it helps them grow.”

This was the first IDEA fitness conference for 6-year IDEA member Lynn Bouton, a self-employed personal trainer from Hudson, Ohio; her experience exceeded her expectations. “I loved Fitness Fusion,” she said. “I was so impressed at how well organized it was and how smoothly everything went. Everyone involved was wonderful and could not do enough to help. I came to improve my knowledge and hopefully pass it on to those I work with—and I left with my head filled to the brim.”

Bouton is fully on board, ready to share Vanderburg’s message with colleagues and spread the Inspire the World to Fitness® initiative through her community. “Not everyone is, or wants to be, a top-notch athlete. I think it is crucial just to get as many people moving as we can and to help them find something they enjoy that will better them physically. Just getting someone who is inactive to take a walk is a step in the right direction.”

If you’re considering attending a future IDEA fitness event, please go to www.ideafit.com and click on the event links to discover what you could be learning!

—Sandy Todd Webster