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The 2003 IDEA World Fitness & Personal Trainer Convention®

Personal training enjoys the spotlight on the world stage.

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.



Food, Glorious Food

The vegetarian and Asian cooking lecture/ workshops may have been indexed in the brand new “Just for You” track, but most attendees agreed that they would bring the information home to share with clients, family and friends.

These hands-on (and food-in-mouth) sessions were very popular and brought smiles and welcome breaks from technical lectures and demanding workouts during the fitness conference.

Jenna Bell-Wilson, MS, RD, who facilitated the classes and provided 20-minute primers on each of the food topics before the Marriott chefs stepped in to work their magic, thought the combination worked well. “The delegates were such great participants and so eager to learn how to master each recipe,” she recalled. “They reflected real interest and enjoyment in learning from the team of chefs. The statement I heard most often was ‘This is the session to be at!’ It just goes to show that nutrition knowledge and healthful choices can be sliced, diced and rolled into scrumptious meals and snacks.”

The 2003 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award

The 2003 IDEA Health & Fitness Awards took place on July 17, 2003, in Anaheim, California. IDEA announced its initiative to Inspire the World to Fitness™ with great fanfare as two giant screens documented the challenges that lie ahead for fitness professionals. Every IDEA member is encouraged to motivate five nonexercisers per year to become active. The projected outcome? In 5 years, 500,000 people will discover the joy of health as a direct result of an IDEA member’s leadership.

The award recipients—Greg Mack, IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, Carol Scott, IDEA Program Director of the Year and Keli Roberts, IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year—have already touched the lives of many and continue to inspire their colleagues and clients everyday.

Greg Mack

A lot more than hairstyles has changed since the early ’80s when this year’s PFT award recipient was struck with the idea for his business niche at an IDEA fitness conference. Once accessible to only the rich and famous, personal training has become as accessible as a latte—thanks to professionals like Mack, who have forged new ground and continue to elevate our industry.

He recalls attending an IDEA session on demographics that helped him understand that the aging population was growing and needed medically coordinated fitness programs. His company Physicians Fitness has since contracted with hospitals, outpatient clinics, chiropractors and massage therapists to introduce fitness training to the medical community.

Do patients understand the benefits of working with fitness professionals?

Mack: We have the opportunity to inspire the inactive to fitness. The sedentary and the unfit are in the clinics and hospitals. They’re sick; they’re in pain—and unfortunately, pain motivates. We move them through the stages of pain and get them to think beyond what hurts. Our clients become our voice in the medical community. Once they feel the benefits of a fitness program, they continue to exercise and improve their health. They discover they need fewer of the traditional drugs, X-rays and surgical procedures, and they tell their doctors. When we approach the medical providers, they’re already familiar with our service.

Do health care providers understand the benefits of working with fitness professionals?

Mack: Yes and no. You’re not going to find a physician who doesn’t believe that his or her patients should be healthy, but getting a physician to make fitness a part of the care package is challenging. The research is clear. Beginning an exercise program is going to make clients healthier. The limitations are wrapped up in the financial challenges of third-party reimbursement.

How can a trainer make the transition into the medical community?

Mack: I’ve developed a curriculum to help trainers interface with the medical community. One of the biggest challenges they face is learning the lingo. Medical professionals want you to know what they are talking about; it legitimizes your knowledge to speak in their terms. If you are going to interface with diseased people, you’ll need a more advanced training program.

How do you think the obesity epidemic will play into this?

Mack: The obesity epidemic is bound to break the bank with insurance costs. Most insurance companies don’t pay for health maintenance, because people change their health care providers so often. Healthy 20-year-olds don’t pay off for an insurance company unless they stay with that company and become healthy 70-year-olds. I think we will see insurance premiums go up for clients with high BMIs.

Reported by Cynthia Roth

Award Criteria

IDEA Health & Fitness Awards candidates . . .

  • are practicing industry professionals spending at least 15 hours per week actually training clients one-to-one
  • demonstrate exceptional leadership, business management, motivation and instruction skills
  • inspire clients to greater personal growth

Look for the 2004 IDEA Health and Fitness Award applications in the July-August 2003 issue of IDEA Health & Fitness Source.

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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