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Creative Freedom

When I first started leading group exercise in the late 1970s, I taught a prechoreographed program called California Aerobic Dance. After doing this for about 2 years, I had the opportunity to start choreographing routines for my own classes. I loved this process, as it gave me a level of creative freedom that I found fun and challenging. Two years later, I was designing routines and teaching them to about 50 instructors who traveled and taught classes in facilities all around San Diego County. I recall practicing for hours before leading the instructors, just to make sure I had the choreography and cuing down! I continued teaching for about 9 years and was still instructing when low impact made its debut. I stopped after our son was born in 1983, about a year after Peter and I created IDEA. I have such great memories of the personal and professional rewards I realized from teaching classes, and hope to get involved again soon as a group instructor. As our youngest goes off to college in the near future and some of my time frees up, I’m looking forward to the possibility of teaching kids’ classes.

While I’ve kept up with the dramatic evolution of group exercise over the years, reading the instructor-focused features in this issue gave me some rich insights into the contemporary terrain of this membership mainstay. As I soaked up the latest information—from the importance of using personalized music mixes to the surging popularity of prechoreographed formats—it was energizing to think of all the fantastic tools I’ll be able to apply as a veteran instructor returning to lead classes after a long hiatus.

Perhaps the biggest challenge I will face is persuading my kids to give me a crash course on how to use an MP3 player for compiling signature music lists—what a wonderful dilemma for any instructor (and mom) to have! As author Juliane Arney says in the feature “Music Matters!”, “Today, group fitness music is more diverse, accessible and personal than ever before. Since the days of dancing to LPs, music has been the main companion in an instructor’s professional sidecar. Music inspires, connects and has the power to change moods. There is no better motivational magic than seeing the energy shift in class as a song you handpicked begins to play.” Turn to page 54 as instructors and music companies share the latest from the digital front, comment on current classroom trends and peek into the future.

In “The ‘Perform or Create’ Continuum” (page 46), author Alexandra Williams, MA, starts by asking whether prechoreographed formats help instructors achieve consistency or instead stifle their creativity. As you read the piece, you’ll discover the answer may be a little bit of both. Like a lot of instructors, some days you may want to create, while other days you may prefer performing. Many instructors like to move at will across the continuum, teaching both styles of programming while blending their creative and performance talents. The array of choices on this continuum may well present us with more freedom than ever. Again, a delightful dilemma that keeps our industry interesting and progressive.

On other fronts, we’re swinging full speed into IDEA convention season. At the end of this month (April 20–23), we’ll see many of you at IDEA Fitness Fusion® in Chicago. You’ll also notice in this issue the kickoff to our 2006 IDEA World Convention® preview coverage. In every issue from now through July, we’ll unveil another glimpse of the programming and provide suggestions on maximizing your educational experience in Las Vegas. For those of you who may be more mind-body oriented, look for Inner IDEA® conference previews in the May and June issues. The excitement is building here at IDEA headquarters; we hope to see you very soon at one of these events!

Yours in good health,

Fitness for All, page 26. Applying for grants and creating accessible programs to reach lower-income clients.

Take the Stress out of Training, page 32. Helping clients physically during times of emotional and mental turmoil.

Ask the A Team, page 62. The IDEA member services team answers FAQs about the 2006 IDEA World Fitness Convention®.

Gaining Weight the Right Way, page 73. If your aim is to add pounds, just eating a lot may not be the best way to accomplish it.

Funky Step Beginnings, page 80. Get your classes movin’ and groovin’ with simple step patterns.

Yoga for Kids, page 91. Learn how to pass along the vast benefits of yoga to children.

Kathie and Peter Davis


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