People sat on the edges of their chairs and leaned in to better hear Tom Purvis, PT, founder of the Resistance Training Specialist® (RTS) program, Oklahoma City, finish the sentence he had started. The session, “Progressing Beginners,” touched on a subject many personal trainers take for granted, according to Purvis. “It’s easy to train athletes,” he said. “It’s much harder to train beginners because no truly standardized protocol or assessment exists. Our assessment tools are for advanced exercisers, but the continuum for beginners is vast and varied.”

And with that, Purvis paused to give attendees at IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West, in Seattle, a moment to reflect and ask questions. During the weekend fitness conference—the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest—this personalized educational experience with Purvis was one of many in which the best and brightest personal trainers met to explore new concepts in functional fitness, corrective exercise advanced training techniques, and business and marketing concepts.

Over 500 people left their studios and fitness facilities to dedicate time to deepening their understanding of the human body in motion while also refining their business practices. Attendees chose from more than 90 sessions covering foundational basics, upgraded programming, exercise research, nutrition strategies, specific-population programming and career development. Here are some highlights from this pivotal weekend:

  • Smaller presenter-to-delegate ratios and extended session lengths of 2–3 hours ensured greater understanding of the topics and a more focused, individualized experience. Trainers who wanted to dive deeper into a chosen category came early for the preconference experiences, which included daylong sessions on metabolic conditioning, foundational movement training, and strategies for improving balance and mobility in older adults.
  • The concept of three-dimensional training threaded throughout the fitness event. Sharing research and practical tips on topics ranging from anatomy to performance, presenters argued that personal trainers have been limiting themselves to the primary planes of motion for too long. “It’s time to stretch your mind and leverage new principles and strategies if you want to truly help your clients excel and stay pain-free,” said Lenny Parracino, Gray Institute faculty member from Manhattan Beach, California, in his session “Gray Institute: 3-D Performance Training.”
  • Assessments and corrective-exercise techniques continue to break new ground in programming, making it possible to create superior customized sessions for clients. In his session “The Forgotten Five,” Brian Richey, owner and operator of Fit 4 Life DC in Washington, DC, explored five muscle groups that he said atrophy as we age. “These muscles are often the culprits for imbalances in our healthy clients,” Richey said. “By targeting these muscles you can eliminate up to 90% of muscular imbalances.” Richey presented protocols for the rotator cuff, multifidi, transversus abdominis, gluteals and vastus medialis.
  • Nutrition and business topics were also well attended at IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West. Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD, of Mohr Results, Louisville, Kentucky, helped trainers gain a better understanding of supplements (of which there are more than 56,000, according to Mohr) in his session “Nutrition Supplements—What THEY Are Not Telling You!” Business-centric topics included tips on how to improve customer service, boost social media engagement and harness the power of small-group training.

If you missed out on IDEA Personal Trainer Institute this year, you still have a great chance to hear from some of the same presenters—and many more—at the 2013 IDEA World Fitness Convention ( August 7–11, in Los Angeles.

Joy Keller

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master.

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