You might describe it as overwhelming, but even that superlative is an underwhelming descriptor for what transpired at the 2011 IDEA World Fitness Convention in Los Angeles, August 11–14. Between Apolo Ohno’s keynote message of zero regrets and the convention theme of “Take the Challenge,” there was no way to leave even a whisper of yourself on the table. The atmosphere at this event had a way of sucking the energy right out of you and then infusing it right back in—plus 10%. Everyone gave it up and got it back, and the effect was palpable.

You could walk down a hallway and ask Ohno or brain fitness expert Daniel Amen, MD, to sign their new books for you. You could dance with Louis Van Amstel of Dancing With the Stars. You could train with Tony Horton, Chalene Johnson or Brett Hoebel. You could choose from a program that had more than 300 sessions covering the most relevant education available in the fitness industry and have your choices taught to you by the best and brightest global faculty ever assembled. You could absorb over 400 booths’ worth of product knowledge from nearly 200 exhibitors in the IDEA World Fitness & Wellness Expo Hall and get your bags stuffed with cool fitness swag while networking with more than 5,000 people in the industry.

You could—well, you could go on and on about everything you did, learned and saw over those 3½ days and you would still be recounting the story next week. The most important thing is to know that what you came away with is yours forever. Whether you learned a new skill, met a new friend or got turned on by a new fitness specialty, you are changed forever because you “took the challenge” of being at IDEA World in the first place.

“IDEA World is such a great event. Every year I think there is no way to top last year’s event—but then you do it,” said presenter Zoey Trap, MSc. “Every year is new, fresh and exciting. This year’s attendees seemed even more open-minded and eager to try new things, gain new skills and ask probing questions. It is a joy to see our industry grow and grow—and credit must be given to IDEA for taking the challenge to Inspire the World to Fitness®.”

Leadership: In a Quickly Changing World

The global landscape is shifting at an incredible pace, and the fitness industry is changing to keep up with it. Technology, economics and old-fashioned innovation are combining to create a new era for fitness professionals. For example:

  • Social media is quickly becoming the unifying force for marketing and internal communication. Fitness facility owners and managers, directors, personal trainers and group fitness instructors are all using this tool to expand their communities, strengthen their teams and create opportunities. “Group fitness programs were the original social media,” says Christi Taylor, district director of group fitness for Pure Fitness Health Clubs in Phoenix. “We’re simply stepping into a new version of it.”
  • The economy continues to be hard to read, and fitness professionals are learning how to be profitable in a tough environment. Part of their recipe for success includes understanding how to leverage equipment, programs and services to create authentic experiences. Another ingredient is creating a system and sticking to it. “Systems breed success and consistency,” said Troy Fontana, 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year finalist from Sparks, Nevada, in his session “Your Business Culture—The Key to Your Success.” “You must have a playbook and a presentation package to unify your efforts.”
  • Sometimes, for your business to thrive, you must not only think outside the box but play outside it, too. Steve Shenbaum, president and founder of Game On Nation, took a back-to-basics approach to success with improvisational games that taught people how to truly listen and “take care of the other person.” “Don’t tell your client to smile; figure out what makes him smile and do that for him,” said Shenbaum. >>
Personal Training: Put Your Best Foot Forward

This year’s event was all about taking steps: to improve your skill set, to increase your financial stability and to move you from one place to another. And according to an elite corps of educators, it’s how you take those steps that determines your success.

The Booming World of Social Media (Again!). “Social media is where it’s at,” advised an upbeat Chalene Johnson in her preconference session “Social Media—Fit Biz Boot Camp.” “You won’t have the same business success without it.”

Throughout the daylong session, Johnson educated eager attendees on the dos and don’ts of navigating the online world. For instance, she suggested excluding links when posting tweets on the microblogging site Twitter™. “Because you’re limited to 140 characters, you have to shorten the links,” she said. Shorter links do not indicate where they lead. “People are often very suspicious of links,” she warned. Johnson added that while Facebook and Twitter are valuable resources, video-sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo are best bets for effective marketing. “People can decide immediately if they like you,” she says. “And if they do, they will trust you and keep coming back for more.”

Client-Specific Solutions. IDEA World attendees choose to attend specific sessions because they want answers. Not all questions have clean, decisive answers, however. It becomes clear in the learning process why the profession is called personal training, because the desirable outcome or solution to an issue can vary depending on the client. To wit: In the session “CrossFit: Defined and Determined,” led by Doug Katona, a thoughtful attendee inquired about optimal recovery time for the average client. “That is individual-specific,” replied Katona. “It depends on things like fuel intake and sleep.” A highly conditioned client consuming an optimal diet may require far less recovery than a client who does not eat well, he added. The best way to determine optimal recovery is to take a look at individual performance, said Katona; if performance falters, amp up recovery techniques.

These Shoes Were Made for Hurting? Attendees at IDEA World likely observed each other sporting a variety of footwear. Some shoes were more like traditional sneakers, while others looked positively alien. Whatever the choices, footwear was a prominent topic during the event. In his session “Footwear and Function: What All Fitness Professionals Should Know,” Michol Dalcourt explained that with its multitude of bones, joints and ligaments, the foot is meant for both mobility and stability.

Delegates were then asked to prod, squeeze and twist their shoes to see if they were pliable or rigid, thin-soled or high-heeled. Dalcourt said that some common footwear may do more harm than good, and that shoes with plenty of cushion and limited mobility may cause the greatest amount of bone-jarring impact throughout the body. But don’t be hasty to toss out your kicks. Dalcourt echoed fellow presenters in saying it all comes down to the individual. People with specific limitations need extra cushion, while others thrive on a more minimalist approach.

For personal trainers, the bottom line was that while there are appropriate steps to take toward professional success, it is important to make them your own. As Johnson said, “Find out what the successful people are doing and do it. But be sure to put your spin on it so you remain authentic.”

Group Exercise: Power and Persuasion!

Good words to describe today’s trends in group fitness are persuasion and power: persuasion for sexy, dance-inspired moves, and power for conditioning, core and strength classes. As 2011 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Leigh Crews put it, what most excites her is the variety of quality class options the industry is offering—and this year’s IDEA World group exercise line-up certainly reflected that.

Two programs that were a big presence in their prelaunch (they’ll be fully launched later this year) were LaBlast™ with Louis Van Amstel of Dancing With the Stars, and Batuka®, created by Grammy®-Award-winning music producer and composer Kike Santander (think Gloria Estefan and Jennifer Lopez). These were just two of several courses that led participants through the cha-cha, disco, jive, Lindy hop, merengue, paso doble, quickstep, salsa, bhangra, hip-hop and samba, in an accessible, partner-free manner. As Crews observed, “We are going back to our roots with the rise in dance-based choreography, but with a sophistication that takes prechoreography up a level from the 1980s.”

To appreciate the full sense of “persuasion,” contemplate some of these offerings: “BIG DANCE™,” “Shake Your Asana!” “Zumba® Fitness® Party,” “Latin Beats—Powered by Drums Alive®,” “Crunch® Presents X-Pert Pole Fitness,” “Dance With GLEE!” “JumpSport®: Body Bounce!” Les Mills’ “SH’BAM™ Workout,” “Dance Evolution” and “Bringing Sexy Back (to Tai Chi)!”

Other trends Crews sees emerging in group fitness address the “power” aspect of the programming at IDEA World. “I think we will see the continuance of functional fitness activities in the group fitness setting. Core, balance and agility are all being addressed in innovative ways and with the use of equipment such as the TRX® Suspension Trainer™, the BOSU® Balance Trainer™, medicine balls, etc.,” she said. “The popularity of circuit-based classes will continue, giving participants a clear choice between music-driven classes and exercise-driven classes. This style of teaching removes a barrier to entry for instructors who do not have a background in music.”

High-intensity, core- and strength-based “power” classes were hugely popular this year, from Tony Horton’s “Warrior Workout” to “4 Top Guns, 4 Zones—Athletic Training That Brings It!” with Douglas Brooks, MS, Todd Durkin, MA, Fraser Quelch and Peter Twist, MSc. Just a sampling of the course titles shows the depth, breadth and variety of options: “TRX® Superhero Workout,” “Urban Challenge Boot Camp,” “Power Kranking®,” “Kettlebell Rehab—Hardstyle Methods in Corrective Exercise,” “BOSU® Pilates 3-D,” “Combine Training Challenge System,” “HIIT Training,” “Club Spotlight: Equinox® Presents ViPR™ Wars,” “SPRI®: 360 Training—Hit It Hard!” “CrossFit: Defined and Determined,” “The Top 10 Corrective Exercises,” “Power Yoga for Fitness Professionals,” “Train Like an Ultimate MMA Fighter,” “Tabata Training” . . . the list is practically endless. If you couldn’t find something new to learn or to excite you, you just weren’t there.

“I’ve gone to at least 25 IDEA conventions, and they are all so amazing,” said Ann Heizer, a wellness professional who specializes in working with Baby Boomers and older adults. “I even get to meet all the people who write the articles for IDEA Fitness Journal. How cool is that?”

Mind-Body-Spirit: The Edge of Everything

We’ve moved beyond the idea that “everything is mind-body” to the realization that mindfulness itself is the seed for all movement. From this kernel, numerous options have flooded the “marketspace.” Mind-body-spirit exercise permeates everything fitness professionals do, whether or not they acknowledge it. Traditional mind-body offerings also continue to evolve, as the following examples illustrate:

  • In his sessions “Creating Mindful Walking/Running Programs,” Lawrence Biscontini, MA, 2004 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, shared several research-based methods fitness professionals could use to help clients connect with their “whole bodies” while walking and running.
  • Yoga presenters shared layered tips on how to refine cues and sequences and help participants get past the boundaries of the body to reach a still point. During “Beautiful Mind—Beautiful Body: Vinyasa Rasayana Yoga,” Jonny Kest, master trainer from the Detroit-based Center for Yoga, challenged attendees’ beliefs: “Your mind is the biggest barrier to finding your body,” said Kest.

Pilates teachers continue to educate themselves on how to expand their understanding of the powerhouse and apply it in the field. More experienced Pilates professionals are using their knowledge to work with the medical community and various special populations. Cathleen Murakami, director of SynergySystems® Fitness Studio in Encinitas, California, reminded attendees to constantly ask questions: “Where does this move initiate? Where is it stabilized?”

On Tap for 2012

As rich in content and experiences as this year’s IDEA World Fitness Convention proved, count on next year being even more special. IDEA will be celebrating its 30th anniversary all year, and the festivities will culminate at this event next year. Save the dates: July 5–8, 2012, San Diego Convention Center, Marriott Marquis Hotel.

As 2004 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Todd Durkin, MS, said, “I had a blast this year, and it was great to connect with so many great trainers. It really is exciting to wonder what IDEA has in mind for its 30th anniversary at the 2012 IDEA World Fitness Convention!”

Keynotes and Welcome

The IDEA World opening ceremonies commingled star power, research brilliance and an unexpected surprise from 85-year-old Elaine LaLanne, who capped her acceptance remarks for the inaugural IDEA Jack LaLanne Award by dropping down and pumping out three solid push-ups. The crowd erupted to its collective feet, screaming, fist-pumping and clapping as she carried on husband Jack LaLanne’s legacy. Charming and humorous, Elaine encouraged everyone to join her and First Lady Michelle Obama on October 11–12 in leading kids around the globe in an attempt to break the world record for the most people doing jumping jacks. (Details: http://kids

Apolo Ohno, the most decorated American Winter Olympian, set the stage for the event with his inspiring words and stories. Using his book’s title, Zero Regrets, as his mantra, Ohno told the stories—of his pursuit of Olympic gold and of how performing for the first time on Dancing With the Stars was possibly his most terrifying experience—as a way of exhorting the audience to live life fully and without regrets. Interesting fact: Apolo hired his personal trainer to live with him full-time when he was training for the last Olympics.

Research-based inspiration from Daniel Amen, MD, author of 28 books (about to be 29), including Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, kept the momentum of the morning rolling. “I have brain envy. When it comes to the brain, size matters,” is one of his more memorable quotes, which refers to the fact that exercise and healthy eating can lead to a brain that will age backward and increase in mass. And he proved it with case studies and slides showing “before” and “after” brain scans. The message Amen wants all fitness professionals to share? When it comes to the brain, avoid things that hurt it; do things that help it.

IDEA World Fitness & Wellness Expo Brings It

From the moment attendees stepped inside, it was apparent that this year’s Expo Hall was a bit different from those of previous years. Right in front were soft-surface treadmills by Sproing, multiple flavors of Chobani® Greek Yogurt from Chobani Fit, circulatory health-enhancing cacao-based drinks from Mars Botanical™ and a huge IDEA Vision Wall where everyone was invited to post their ideas about the future of fitness. G Series FIT anchored the challenge arena with a welcoming lounge and their prime, perform and recover products.

The music that is always part of the Expo experience had a heavy worldbeat aspect to it, owing to the influx of dance-based programs such as Batuka®, Timba, Bokwa and, of course, Zumba®. And companies weren’t just playing music—you could also watch demonstrations, both at the booths and on the performance stage. One of the demos on the performance stage was by Brett Hoebel, the newest trainer on the television show The Biggest Loser, who showed the crowd a combination of boxing, capoeira and drills. Another intriguing program—led by the extremely flexible and personable Tracey Mallett—was Booty Barre™, which looked like a combination of ballet and Pilates. Also new to the scene was Flirty Girl Fitness®, a dance-based “flirty, not dirty” cardio workout with moves that seemed perfect for a music video. Some of the other eye-catching demos were by Cheerobics®, which melds cardio and pompoms, and Body Hoops, a combination of weighted hoops and cardio moves.

The size and range of the new products were amazing: Kamagon™ Balls that are water-adjusted by weight; squishy, weighted Ugi™ medicine balls; Railyard Fitness platforms that looked like an actual rail yard; the CoreFitnessRoller,™ an all-in-one tool for massage, balance and resistance training; Proskins high-performance, compression sports clothing; and the CrossCore® War Machine Rotational BodyWeight Training™ System.

There was also a great menu of interesting technology. FitView, an iPhone/iPad app designed by a former head of product management for Apple®, lets personal trainers customize workouts, interact, engage and monitor trainee results. Activate beverages have vitamin powder stored in the cap, so that when you twist it, the powder is released into the water. Compex® was there with its FDA-approved Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation device, and TRX® introduced its new three-dimensional Rip™ Trainer.

In addition to the food products you’d expect to find, there were some delightful surprises popchips™ was handing out bags of their chips and taking “pop celebrity” photos. Xoçai® Healthy Chocolates was giving samples, including peanut butter cups.

Video Web Extra!

You may not have been on-site to see this exciting competition, but get inspired now and watch the speed, agility, quickness, endurance and heart of the athletes that left it all on the floor in the Combine 360 “I WILL” Take the Challenge in the IDEA World Fitness and Wellness Expo Hall.

Women’s Finals:

Men’s Finals:

What Challenge Did You Take?

In the spirit of this year’s convention theme, “Take the Challenge,” physical and mental challenges were woven throughout the programming and included the demanding and intense Combine 360 “I WILL” challenge that culminated in one of the most exciting events ever to unfold in the IDEA World Fitness & Wellness Expo Hall.

IDEA Members Take the Challenge

IDEA Members Take the Challenge

This year, attendees had the chance to be recognized for their inspirational, physical and mental prowess by participating in challenges laid down by presenters in every session. IDEA Challenge Medal winners were invited to compete for a selection of prizes at the G Series FIT Challenge Arena in the Expo Hall, where they also posed for a group photo with other challenge winners.

“One of my favorite parts of being an IDEA Challenge winner was the new friends I made because of it,” says Bianca Brennan, from Kamuela, Hawaii. “It encouraged me to start conversations with other challenge winners and congratulate them. When we all came together for the final challenge, we were instant friends. I loved it, and I look forward to seeing my new friends next year in San Diego!”

Congratulations to the two overall IDEA Challenge winners, Melissa Rowles of Albany, Oregon, and Ken Rosenthal of San Diego. Both were awarded a complementary registration to the 2012 IDEA World Fitness Convention in San Diego.

Combine 360 “I WILL” Take the Challenge

Combine 360 “I WILL” Take the Challenge

A true highlight of this year’s Expo Hall was this Combine 360 competition, which came to a roaring conclusion on Sunday afternoon. The finals got underway as the top 10 females who had qualified with the fastest times via online registration or during trials at IDEA World stepped into the G Series FIT Arena with their game faces on. Onlookers hollered and cheered as each gritty competitor ripped through 25 TRX suspension rows, 50 battle rope jacks, 50 skater plyos, 50 heavy-rope jumps, 50 BOSU ball crunches and a 500-meter Indo-Row®. The rowing was a last-minute addition sprung on competitors to intensify an already brutal challenge. Abbey White of San Jose, California, was crowned women’s champion with a commanding 24-second stretch between her and the second-place finisher. “The only thing that went through my head was, ‘Just don’t stop,’” recalled White as she accepted her award. The top three women were White (4:46), Alicia Obriecht (5:10) and Deana Wyland (5:15).

Next, the top eight male qualifiers, plus special guest competitor Combine 360 President Brian Griffin, took their posts for the start. Once again, the crowd channeled their highly tuned motivational skills to help each athlete tear through the exhausting course. In just 4:02, White’s co-worker Brian Nunez came out on top, collapsing to the floor in a combination of pride and fatigue as he finished. Once able to speak, Nunez explained why he believed he’d won: “I train all out, every single day,” he uttered between heavy breaths. “There is no pacing. I kept it in my head that my competitor was always a step ahead.” The top three men were Nunez (4:02), Casey Miranda (4:15) and Billy DeLaRosa (4:19). Griffin dug it out with a respectable 5:40.

In addition to richly deserved bragging rights, White and Nunez each won a prize package that included $2,500 in Under Armour® product; 2 training weeks at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida; a Gatorade® prize package; and a TRX® Pro Pack, a BOSU® Pro Balance Trainer and a SPRI® heavy jump rope.

IDEA Editorial Staff

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