Disney’s California Adventure and the Magic Kingdom may have been just down the street, but the real fun was unfolding in the Anaheim Convention Center for an energized mix of global fitness professionals.

With more than 3,000 personal fitness trainers (PFTs) and their health and fitness colleagues from 50 different countries learning, shopping, connecting and sharing ideas in mid July, the IDEA World Fitness and Personal Trainer Convention® proved to be a hotter attraction than the old E-ticket rides at the famed park. Disney got one thing really right: It truly is a small world. No matter what country IDEA members came from, the common language of knowledge pursuit and professional advancement drew them together.

Variety: The Spice of Training

Ballroom C in the Anaheim Convention Center looked like a spoiled personal fitness trainer’s (PFT) toy box had exploded. Who would have thought the aftermath of a balance workshop could be such a mess?

In fact it wasn’t just this room that contained such controlled chaos; it was every space that held a training-related workshop at this year’s convention. Presenters shared innovative moves and multi-use equipment concepts with delegates and unleashed a swarm of “Monday-morning-ready” notions for PFTs to bring home for their clients. The reception of this creativity was palpable, generating a buzz in the halls.

If such hands-on experience wasn’t the ticket for trainers, there were literally hundreds of other lectures and lecture-demonstrations in the newly combined convention format from which PFTs could choose. Beginning with preconference offerings on sport conditioning and Pilates, this year’s program gave trainers a broader spectrum of classes than ever.

Training-specific topics spanned program design, training techniques, sports performance, postrehabilitation, business, lifestyle coaching and
psychology. Add to that yoga, Pilates, mind-body, cycling, water programming, weight management, exercise science, and core, circuit, interval and strength training, and, behold—a feast of knowledge for the hungry trainer! Some of the more curious and adventurous PFTs even ventured into group exercise and water fitness classes hoping to spark new ideas and freshen up old client routines.

The take home message of this year’s PFT programming? Personal training is moving rapidly to keep up with its clientele, which continues to expand with kids, athletes, postrehab and special populations all joining the traditional adult ranks. Variety and ingenuity balanced by safety and sound program design are keys to capturing and retaining this burgeoning client base. You might have to pick up a few toys after your seniors finish their balance training sessions or scoop up the hurdles and cones after the kids have finished their sport performance workouts, but it’s a good sign that you’re successfully reaching a diverse demographic and melding fitness with fun.

Here are some quotable gems collected from the rich selection of programming this year:

“If you learn one thing today, remember maximize, minimize and equalize.”

— Jay Blahnik, “Progressive Stretching for PFTs”

“Kids need a lot of variety. Begin with controlled tempos and focus on deceleration and safe loading.”

— Peter Twist, MSc, “SAQ for Youth: Athleticism for All Sports”

“Be really careful of what you say in front of your client. There’s nothing productive about them hearing you speak negatively about yourself. It’s destructive. Self-talk is so totally vital to the process…don’t undermine it. Model positive behavior.”

— Michael Scholtz, MA, “The Evolution Method: How to
Effectively Reach the Overweight Client”

“When people are angry, upset or revved, we tend to want to match it. When this happens, write down, ‘I need a moment to think about it,’ rather than reacting defensively or turning the situation into a negative.”

— Helen Vanderburg, “The Fun Factor”

“You can’t remove the psychology from the physical part of the training process. They’re absolutely inextricable.”

— Michelle Cederberg, MKin, “The Client Profiler”

“Conceptually, kids can be the most fun training experience, but they’re also the most challenging. You have to account for growth spurts, attention span, activity level and pay attention to carefully laying a foundation for the future.”

Chad Benson, MSc, “SAQ for Youth: Athleticism for All Sports”

“Never buy anything new for your business. Go on eBay; you can find almost anything for half off retail.”

— Chalene Johnson, “How to Bring a Product to Market”

“Have a system. It allows you and your client to see where you’re going and where you’ve been (great marketing); it allows you to know what is working and what isn’t (shows professionalism and builds trust); and it provides a method for progression and regression (safe and ethical).”

— Rodney Corn, MA, “Taking the Guesswork
out of Program Design”

Leadership Best Practices

Robert Cappuccio, a presenter whose passionate speaking style rivals the most persuasive evangelists, cajoled and inspired his way into the notebooks and minds of a riveted group of attendees. “Your business is a masterpiece analogous to Michelangelo’s David,” he boomed. “Clarity of vision and passion will get you there,” he whispered.

Cappuccio’s story of the master sculptor’s search for the perfect stone and the years of meticulous planning Michelangelo did before he ever chiseled a single pebble to shape his masterpiece illustrate the high-caliber of interesting and applicable analogies that resonated in this year’s leadership track. PFT directors, managers and owners all reaped the benefits of such energetic and practical lessons.

Traditionally wrapped into a single-day format known as Focus on Management, this year’s offerings were spread throughout the fitness conference to give more attendees a chance to benefit from valuable business and management philosophies and best practices.

IDEA Health & Fitness Expo

The IDEA Health & Fitness Expo has always magnetized the industry’s best products and services, and Anaheim was no exception.

Shoppers arrived early, armed with coupons and credit cards, ready to take advantage of the deep discounts. The expo hall offers a win-win situation for both shoppers and vendors. “Personal trainers and group fitness instructors are natural mavens, (and) if they like a product, they are certain to spread the word,” says four-time vendor Josie Kletter, president of KINeSYS Performance Bodycare. “We are happy to offer our products at a discount.”

There were some great discounts, indeed! Hundreds of products were priced for bargain-hunting PFTs to choose from including stationary and portable equipment, nutritional products, clothing, Pilates and yoga staples, and many other cutting edge tools. In addition free drawings, high-energy demonstrations and workouts, book signings and enthusiastic exhibitors drew delegates to the Expo between sessions.