There is no greater experience for fitness professionals than attending a Live Event! Fitness conventions, conferences, and symposiums are the best way to meet your mentors and be revitalized while renewing your certifications. If you are operating on a low budget or attending for the first time, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way:
Research Early: Most events occur at the same time every year. Write down the early registration dates to save on the event price, and shop early for hotels and air fare. Also the sooner you register, the higher your chances of getting first picks on all your classes. Verify first that the event has the CEC transfers you need for your specific certification(s).
Staff Assist: Another perk to your early research, most events have a Staff Assistant Program which discounts your conference fee in exchange for job responsibilities. I was a staff assistant one year, bringing the cost from $249 to $49. As a door monitor, I checked attendees into class before each lecture and had access to staff (and faculty) events.
Gather a Group or Share a Room: Groups of 5-10 receive discounts and/or you can share the cost of a hotel room with a colleague. Some events have a room-share list: you provide your information and they match you with another professional looking to share a room. I prefer purchasing my own room or sharing with a friend. Stay in a hotel near or in the event for frequent shower and clothing changes. I once checked into a hotel and had participants in the lobby asking to share my fee to sleep on my floor. (Early registration, that’s good advice!)
Take Every Class and Expo Demo: Often a $10 fee will give you an additional Master Class or workshop“ Take It! Attend every lecture, open speaking event, networking meal, and as many Expo hours as possible. Expo is a separate room for music, equipment, and clothing, and has short demos running continuously at various booths. I once participated in a free Zumba demo with Beto when I was a new attendee. It was Fun, Fun, FUN!
Buy on the Last Expo Day: Many vendors do not want to ship extra products back to a warehouse so prices drop on the final day. On a SCW Mania final day, I purchased items 50% off. At a FitnessFest, I left a great class and went straight to the Expo booth to buy the music and it was already sold out, so use the last day sale for bonus shopping only. Vendors occasionally take orders for sold-out or large items and mail them to you. (Remember: Don't buy large items that you can’t take home on the plane! I've seen many BOSU and Stability Balls left in airports.)
Sleep at Night and Pack Food/Drinks: Stick to your usual
at-home nutrition schedule if possible. Take protein powder if that’s
your recovery drink and pack empty water bottles and hand towels (for
sweating at every class). It is not uncommon to see participants so
wrapped up in the thrill of the event that they neglect hydrating and
pass out (scary!). IDEA had free Propel bins
along the hallway for their attendees; very gracious of IDEA and
Gatorade, but don’t count on it as a participant. Also buy food in bulk
when possible and save it in your room to avoid long lines, food
shortages, and time away from other events.
Be Daring But Safe: Fitness experts and beginners at convention are trying new things; Yoga experts try Step classes, seniors learn kid workshops, and special populations attempt Spinning. That being the case: Don’t ignore your fitness level. Mix fitness classes with lectures each day for the duration of the event. You see many broken bodies sitting on the side lines Day 3 and 4 because they took eight fitness classes Day 1 and 2... which leads me to the next tip:
Successfully Switch Classes: If you were unable to get your first class picks, the final day is the day to try and take anything you missed or didn’t know about. Many people sleep in or go home early so your chance of entering any last day class is very high. Go to the schedule/registration desk early each day for class changes. If you still can’t get in, stand outside the class door before the session; the door monitor may let you enter if there are no-shows.
Stay Focused on Your Passion: I always want to bring my family along! However, I would slight myself on all the opportunities I mentioned above while trying to split my time. Stay focused for the event duration; take in every moment.
I wish you a GREAT live event experience, go with confidence and enjoy every little bit!
Special thanks to Sharon Luten, Dr. Len Kravitz, and Heather Morgan for your support, encouragement, and advice through my first Fitness Conventions!