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Activating Plan A

IDEA Fitness Fusion-Chicago attendees answer the call.

Only a throng of approximately 400 fitness professionals could make a 7:30 am opening address look like a party. Then again, this was 2005 IDEA Fitness Fusion—Chicago, and attendees were ready to be inspired. Jay Blahnik, 1996 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and senior education consultant for the Nautilus Institute, stands at the front of the room wearing a brilliant robin’s-eggshell-blue shirt. “I picked the brightest color I could find this morning to help wake you up,” he said. But this crowd was already raring to go. After all, these were the people who teach 5:45 am indoor cycling classes and schedule clients at 6:00 in the morning. They made it look easy.

“I always get excited before an IDEA event,” Blahnik says. “This is where I got my start. I decided I wanted to become a fitness professional after attending an IDEA event. Big things can happen while you are here, and you can take your career to the next level.”

Blahnik admitted he was preaching to the choir as he reviewed recent obesity statistics. But he also used this opportunity to challenge the crowd. “Not helping people who are obese and inactive is like the Red Cross doing a blood drive but ignoring the tsunami victims,” he said. “We are the ones who have to take charge; we are the front line. We are Plan A. And there isn’t a good plan B.”

The Diversification of an Industry

Being part of Plan A means being the best you can be and testing your own edge to see what you’re capable of. Today’s fitness professional was drawn to the programming at Fitness Fusion, held April 28–May 1 in Rosemont, Illinois, because it included the crossover that reflects what’s going on in health clubs and studios around the world. Suzanne Nottingham, 2000 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and fitness director at Double Eagle Resort & Spa in June Lake, California, noticed a shift among participants. “In each session I always ask how many people do both personal training and group fitness,” she said. “I was astonished at all three sessions when at least 75% of the attendees indicated they did both! Diversification is key, and it’s finally happening.”

Numerous sessions touched on both career aspects. Many training techniques penetrate the gym walls that divide group fitness and personal training, so it wasn’t surprising to see medicine balls, BOSU® Balance Trainers and tubing as equal-opportunity equipment choices for everyone. The buzz among program directors was that many personal fitness trainers (PFTs) were stepping up to the plate in their respective clubs, leading nonchoreographed group classes. The trainers’ teaching skills, however, needed improvement. This was where IDEA Fitness Fusion sessions helped. For example, PFTs learned how to design an effective muscle-conditioning class in “Fast Track: Group Strength Basics,” taught by Sherri McMillan, MSc, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and co-owner of Northwest Personal Training in Vancouver, Washington.

Group fitness instructors sought out sessions like “Upper-Body Express Toolbox,” presented by IDEA veteran instructor Cheryl Soleway, PT, Can-Fit-Pro’s 1999 Canadian Presenter of the Year. The draw: Many instructors wanted to fine-tune their expertise so they could deepen their professional commitment to participants. IDEA member Kathy Nyquist lives in Duluth, Minnesota, and is both a personal fitness trainer and a group fitness instructor. She appreciated the opportunity to mix and match her education choices. “All the courses I took were terrific, and I’ve definitely come back a better-equipped instructor and certainly a better personal trainer,” she said.

Practical and New

The 106 sessions at the fitness conference allowed for one-stop continuing-education shopping. The fitness event was rife with value and comprehensive learning. Attendees enjoyed more options this year, including a special water fitness “Fast Track” and outdoor Club Without Walls sessions that offered a fun change of pace.

“Attendees were excited about finding new ways to reach out to people who might be intimidated in the gym,” said Leigh Crews of Rome, Georgia, founder of Dynalife Inc. and PowerBar Team Elite member, of her “GPS Adventure Quest” class. “They learned that outdoor activities can be cross-generational, offering something for every member of the family. Everyone experienced an out-of-the-box way to combine mental and physical exercise in the great outdoors.”

Here are some other session highlights:

  • In “STOTT Pilates Prenatal,” taught by Stefania Della Pia, attendees learned exercise modifications, cues and corrections for women in their second trimester of pregnancy.
  • In “Women and Weight Loss,” Nicki Anderson, owner of Reality Fitness Inc. in Naperville, Illinois, led a heartfelt discussion about the specific challenges of training and coaching female clients. Specifically, Anderson offered sensible tips on how to help women break the dieting cycle and start focusing on healthy lifestyles instead.
  • Participants in the session “Working With Minimal Strength Equipment” were craning their necks to watch Douglas Brooks, MS, the head exercise physiologist and strength and conditioning coach for the Mammoth Mountain ski and snowboard team, demonstrate how to train clients effectively with little or no gear.
  • In “Applying Sport Psychology to Group Fitness,” Rebecca Lloyd, PhD, a sport psychology consultant and motivational speaker for SKATE CANADA, explained how to translate professional-athlete skills such as mental readiness, concentration and somatic awareness to teaching a class.

IDEA member Diane Knirk, a group fitness instructor from Folsom, California, was glad she chose the Fusion venue to get her CECs and meet other fitness professionals, because the scale of the fitness event suited her. “The most important thing I learned is to continue to learn every day,” she said. “It makes me think about all the ways I can make what I do better the next time.”

Plan A Commits to Wellness

A community of fitness professionals came alive during IDEA Fitness Fusion. The spark began in the inspirational welcome when Blahnik challenged people to reach out “beyond the gym walls to help people” with two simple exercises—one involving three rubber bands and the other using a simple postcard.

Blahnik asked the audience members to place the rubber bands on their left wrists. The object was to approach strangers throughout the fitness event and ask them what inspired them to fitness. Each time an attendee did this, he or she would collect a rubber band and put it on the right wrist. “At the end of the [event] I expect to see someone with an arm full of blue rubber bands,” Blahnik said.

The postcards were to remind attendees of their new commitment. Blahnik asked everyone to detail what they were going to do in the next 3 months to Inspire the World to Fitness®. Attendees then self-addressed the postcards for future delivery by IDEA.

These activities did more than inspire camaraderie; they infused people like Amanda Bliss, co-owner of West Coast Crosstrainers in San Mateo, California, with a renewed professional purpose. “It was an honor to be around such an amazing group of people,” she said. “Everyone had a different experience, but we all left inspired.”

Expo-nentially Exceptional

Before, during and after sessions, the Fitness Expo was the place to be. This year the hours were extended and the hall relocated to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. With 70 booths to explore, attendees got a chance to meet one-on-one with equipment manufacturers. They also got deep discounts on apparel and the latest music releases. The Fitness Expo featured everything a fitness professional needs to create and maintain a positive image: training equipment, business software, reference books, CDs and more.

Why We Are Plan A

In his inspirational welcome address, Jay Blahnik mentioned 10 main gifts fitness professionals share that enable them to create winning relationships with clients and students. The following words, according to Blahnik, describe the typical fitness professional:

1. energetic

2. popular

3. sincere

4. motivational

5. dreamy

6. community leader

7. persistent

8. knowledgeable

9. philanthropic

10. caring

Average Client Fee for Personal Training

This section of the article is still in the process of conversion to the web.

The IDEA Salary Survey 2004 was conducted in October 2004 and answered by 517 owners and managers in the United States and Canada. Results appeared in the May 2005 IDEA Fitness Journal. Complete results with additional information are available through IDEA Professional Education (www.ideafit.com; 800-999-4332, ext. 7; or 858-535-8979, ext. 7).

Runners, Watch Your Water Intake

Rushing around to all the different sessions at IDEA World Fitness Convention® might make you feel as though you were running a marathon. While you certainly want to stay hydrated, results from a recent study suggest that drinking too much water may actually be more of a problem than drinking too little, at least for endurance athletes.

The study, which ran in the April 14 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (2005; 15 [352], 1550–56), enrolled 766 runners during the 2002 Boston Marathon. Prior to the race, subjects took a demographic and training history survey. They gave a blood sample at the finish line and completed a questionnaire detailing their fluid intake and urine output during the race. They were also weighed before and after the fitness event.

Of the 766 runners, 488 (64%) provided a usable blood sample. About 63 runners (13%) had hyponatremia, or abnormally low blood sodium levels, which can result in lethargy, disorientation, seizures and respiratory distress. In extreme cases, the condition can be fatal.

“Researchers . . . found a surprisingly large number of runners had actually gained weight during the race, and their sodium concentrations were very low—some were dangerously low,” said Benjamin Levine, MD, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Levine added that people lose water and salts from their bodies at different rates during physical activity. Heat and humidity also play a role. Endurance runners can calculate fluid loss by weighing themselves before and after exercise and comparing the difference to the amount of fluid consumed throughout an fitness event.

Look for more in-depth information on this topic in the September issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

Lifestyle Trails Fitness Activities IDEA Poll
Certifications Current

During the month of April, IDEA asked website visitors (www.ideafit.com) how they kept their certifications current. Here’s how 265 people responded:

events and regional

training: 58%

original certification

organization: 18%

online education providers: 16%

other methods: 8% Although people exercise to improve their lives, lifestyle is still not a focus for many fitness facilities. The reason could be low client interest or lack of either space or staffing.Offer It’s Growing10%20%30%40%










classess s s s

Radical Diets Linked
to Obesity in Girls

Adolescent girls often face pressures to conform to a particular body type, and some respond by adopting dangerous weight control measures. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin wanted to know if these measures—vomiting and laxative abuse among them—could be greater indicators of future weight gain than infrequent exercise and binge eating.

The study, which appeared in the April issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (2005; 73 [2], 195–202), found that some weight control behaviors do contribute more to weight problems than others. They also concluded that parents (both biological and nonbiological) who are overweight may contribute to their children’s future weight problems.

The study authors discovered that 496 adolescent girls (11–15 year olds) who tried extreme dieting, were depressed and had obese parents were more likely to become obese themselves. In particular, they found that vomiting and laxative abuse promoted weight gain more than weight loss, due to their effect on metabolic efficiency. Conversely, the authors found no clear connection between future obesity and high-fat food consumption, binge eating or infrequent exercise.

Older Americans


to Gyms

Fitness participants aged 55 and older are making a distinct mark on the fitness industry, accounting for 25% of the 41.3 million health club members in the United States. This was just one of the findings in the 18th annual SUPERSTUDY® of Sports Participation, conducted in January 2005 and based on a representative sample of 14,684 Americans.

The SUPERSTUDY also found that the number of frequent fitness participants aged 55 and older grew by 33% from 1998 to 2004. This same age group made up 25% of the 6.1 million clients who paid for personal training services in 2004. For more information, visit www.americansports data.com.


That Get Kids Moving

Since 1999, the Michigan Departments of Community Health and Education have provided grants averaging $1,000 to 47 schools with a total enrollment of 26,437 students. The grantors recently released the findings of a survey used to quantify the grants’ success rates. Review the results at right to glean your own ideas for crafting winning s chool programs.Schools that increased physical activity did so by

  • encouraging students to ride bikes to school;
  • allowing students to skateboard or Rollerblade® in the hallways before school and at recess;
  • adding a spring walking club;
  • having scheduled times for exercising and playing active games in classrooms;
  • adding basketball, ballroom dancing, cheerleading and floor hockey to afterschool activities;
  • having morning warm-up exercises;
  • giving pedometers to third and fourth graders;
  • improving the playground;
  • adding walking trails.

media morsels

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will give $1.2 million to help reduce obesity among African Americans through a new partnership with national organizations.

The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, in Silver Spring, Maryland, will work with the National Urban League in New York and the National Council of Negro Women in Washington, DC. These organizations’ projects include prevention, education, public awareness and outreach activities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adult African-American women had age-adjusted obesity rates of 48.8%, compared to 30.7% for adult white women, between 1999 and 2002. African-American girls and boys also had higher rates of overweight than white children in the same age groups.

You want to encourage your older-adult clients to push the athletic envelope when they can. But do you know how to recognize when enough is enough? Here, from the department of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Michigan Health System, are some facts about how aging affects the body:

  • The first signs of wear-and-tear injury in active adults occur between the ages of 50 and 60.
  • The most common wear-and-tear injury to the knee involves the meniscus cartilage, a small structure between the two bones of the knee.
  • Most shoulder injuries occur in the rotator cuff, a series of tendons around the shoulder that can wear thin and even tear with sudden movements or falls.
  • Rotator cuff injuries are typically caused, not by sports, but by everyday activities like putting on shoes or extending an arm too far when reaching for objects.
  • Many seniors are genetically predisposed to wear-and-tear injuries involving their joints; to minimize risk, they should use extra caution when choosing activities.

    People Are Talking About . . .

    . . . Anger-obics, exercises that “engage the body, mind, creativity and humor to help people understand and express their anger in healthy ways”; . . . Repacer, computer software that lets you change the tempo of any song to match the exact pace of your workout; . . . the continuing popularity of customized boot camp classes for kids, women, older adults and other special populations; . . . Face Val-U, a group fitness class that uses movements like puffing the cheeks out and puckering lips to work the muscles in the head and neck.

Joy Keller

Joy Keller is the director of marketing communications & PR at IDEA, and has also served as executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal, IDEA Fitness Manager, IDEA Pilates Today, and IDEA Fit Business Success. She is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor and yoga teacher (RYT 200).

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