The most profitable and successful personal trainer entrepreneurs know that education is an absolute must for building a business that thrives for the long-term. That’s one reason why Jill McKay first attended IDEA Personal Trainer Institute in 2015—and has returned ever since. Amidst a transition in her life from busy mom to fitness entrepreneur, she knew that she needed to learn more about the industry before she could feel comfortable starting her new company.

“I lacked confidence that I could be considered an ‘expert’ in 2015—I had an idea to help a lot of people but didn’t know how to share my idea beyond my tiny hometown,” she recalls.

All of that changed after attending sessions, meeting presenters and networking with fellow entrepreneurs.

“The IDEA Personal Trainer Institute certainly has had a huge impact on my career,” she says. “To be surrounded by people who have a passion for getting people well and not just marketing the latest gimmick was crucial for growing my confidence in sharing my voice. I still have a lot to learn, but I am armed with the tools to get started.”

McKay plans to return to IDEA Personal Trainer Institute—along with hundreds of other knowledge-hungry professionals—to gain new skills, make new connections and learn how to take her business to new heights.

Knowledge Is Power

Each year, IDEA’s programming department scours the earth looking for the most respected, most innovative education and experts so that personal trainers can learn top tips, skills and strategies to build and grow fulfilling careers. Here’s a small sample of the topics you can expect to learn about this year:

  • Technology has become a major player in helping personal trainers maintain contact with clients outside their three weekly sessions. In “How to Use Technology to Change Your Clients’ Behavior,” presenter Clifton Harski, director of training and global head coach for Fitwall, plans to share his insights on the top tools available and which are most appropriate for each client. For example, he offers this simple tip to keep clients adherent outside of scheduled sessions: “They set an alarm to go off a few times per day that alerts them to move in a way that they determine (walking, stretching, brief exercise, foam roller, etc.), and [then they] mark it off a to-do list on their smartphones,” he explains. He discusses the experience with clients during a subsequent meeting to enhance accountability.
  • Investing in equipment can be expensive. But Shari Kalkstein, CSCS, owner of Fortify Your Frame, says you don’t need the latest and greatest to provide clients with fun, challenging workouts. “I’m a business of one and don’t have a budget for lots of ‘toys,'” she says. “However, I like a variety when I work with my older clients.” If she’s looking for new tools to add to her toolbox, Kalkstein can be found roaming the aisles of her local dollar store. She’ll share some of her finds in the session “Budget-Friendly Tips for Creative Trainers.” “One of my new favorite core activities is done with a beach ball. I’ll be using videos of my clients using these dollar store items.”
  • A strong social media presence may be a necessary component of a profitable business, but not everyone makes the right choices when sharing content. One of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is to focus on himself and not the customer, says Vito La Fata, founder of Fitness Profit Systems. “[Business owners or trainers] send promos and post class updates, etc., but they don’t actually deliver . . . helpful and useful content with the intention of serving their ideal avatar,” he says. Baffled about what to post? In “Social Media Content Made Easy,” La Fata will clear up the confusion and provide a step-by-step process for producing attractive, engaging content.

These sessions scrape the surface of the wide array of education that awaits you in Seattle. Take a look at some of the other workshops and lectures from the program:

  • Selling Without “Selling”
  • Your Career Roadmap: Where Are You Now?
  • How to Use Technology to Change Your Client’s Behavior
  • Smart Money Tips for Smart Business Owners
  • NPE: How to Double Your Sales in 6 Months (or Less)!
  • The Productivity Plan—Align Purpose With Passion to Create Profit
  • How I Opened My Fitness Studio (Panel)
  • Get Financially Fit in Three Easy Steps
  • Top Sales and Marketing Tips to Grow Your Training Business Now!

For a full list of sessions, visit

Conference Highlights

Do you need more reasons to attend IDEA Personal Trainer Institute? Here are few of the highlights of this year’s conference:

  • Over 100 sessions, with up to 12 in every time block. Choose from a plethora of in-depth hands-on workshops, groundbreaking lectures and workouts. Sessions are selected and designed to help personal trainers, fitness professionals, owners and managers position themselves on the leading edge in the fast-paced personal training field.
  • The chance to earn up to 21 CECs in one convenient weekend.
  • Small-sized sessions lasting 2–3 hours and offering personalized attention. Fully learn new strategies you can use immediately when you get home.
  • Three preconference workshops to boost your brand and market value. Come early to expand your career with intensive advanced training.
  • Networking happy hour. Enjoy yourself as you trade stories and ideas with the world’s leading trainers.
  • Top trends and equipment at The Sponsor Marketplace. Take advantage of special discounted prices.

2017 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West Details

Where: Seattle
When: March 30-April 2, 2017
Preconference: March 30, 2017
Advance registration deadline: February 24, 2017–Save $50!
Headquarters hotel: Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Seattle Airport, 18740 International Blvd., Seattle, WA 98188
Special IDEA room rate: Single/double rate: $119, plus applicable state and local taxes. Subject to change. Additional rates may apply for more than two people per room. This rate is based on availability and is valid until March 7, 2017 (cutoff date). This rate can also include up to 3 days prior and 3 days after the fitness event, depending on availability. Be sure to mention the IDEA Personal Trainer to get the special rate.

2017 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West: Registration Info

Business/Program director discount: IDEA business/program director members receive the discounted member price on an unlimited number of registrations for the full fitness conference and preconference sessions.
Budget-friendly payment plans: Sign up for IDEA’s budget-friendly payment plans and get instant access to select your sessions today.

Three Ways to Register

  1. By website: Register online at
  2. By phone: To register using MasterCard, VISA, American Express or Discover, call 800-999-4332, ext. 7. Outside the U.S. and Canada, dial 858-535-8979, ext. 7 (7:00 am-5:00 pm Pacific time, Monday-Friday).
  3. By mail: Mail registration form(s) and payment to: IDEA Health & Fitness Association, 10190 Telesis Ct., San Diego, CA 92121.

Early registration is strongly advised: The East conference has consistently sold out. Event and session attendance at both East and West is limited to maintain the instruction’s high quality.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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