This conference is designed to create light bulbs. It's designed to shift mindsets and pose questions. However, this year there was a definite rebellious bent. Each session I attended challenged conventional wisdom. From the importance of core training and corrective exercise to current common business practices to calorie obsession, this year seemed focused on rethinking what is thought of as truth.
Michol Dalcourt, ViPR inventor and owner of the Institute of Motion suggested that the practice of developing stability before mobility may be inhibiting physical function. "We should never sacrifice mobility for stability," he argued. Alluding to the research and practices of Stuart McGill, PhD, Dalcourt questioned one specific exercise--the plank. "How long should we hold it?" He asked to mixed responses. "According to McGill, we should hold it for only 10 seconds and rest." He goes on to say that anything beyond that creates an overactive muscular system. And that such practices could potentially create dysfunction because muscles are unable to shut off. "It's time to work on chain reaction kinetics, rhythmic movement patterns. Rhythm and timing is the next corrective exercise."
Steve Jack spoke about how most fitness professionals are stuck in conventional business modalities. Going to work, training for 8 hours and then returning home burnt out and energy deficient is an inefficient way to live, he said. Focusing on active income--that which requires actual in-person man-hours is limited. He urged attendees to work toward developing passive income, or income that can be made, essentially, while you sleep. Passive income can be made selling online products and services, for example. "Once your passive income matches your expenses, then you will truly be living."
Finally, Jade Teta, ND, co-owner of Metabolic Effect left attendees reeling with his charge that the "calories in, calories out" model should be tossed out. "If any other industry utilized a model such as this, that has had such a low success rate, it would have been abolished long ago." Instead, he suggests that fitness professionals focus on hormones, not calories. "Have you had clients who have done everything right according to conventional wisdom--they're on a caloric deficit eating plan, exercising multiple hours per week, but can't drop a pound? Yet others, who have poor nutrition choices and exercise a few times a week achieve success? Still think it's about calories?"
Your food and exercise choices impact what messages your hormones send such as whether to store or burn fat, he explained. This session was so full of information that I could easily write pages and pages, but I don't have the bandwidth--nor energy after this incredible conference--to do so.
Why is it that we do what we do? And if what we're doing isn't working, isn't it time to rethink the system and challenge conventional wisdom? I suppose that's up to you.
For as long as I can remember, fitness and wellness professionals have eagerly informed weight loss clients that the path to their goal is simple: eat less, move more. I know I've spouted this phrase with confidence. Over the past several years I've learned that this model may be flawed. These days the experts are looking deeper and have sights set on something a bit more complex: the hormone.
Hormones were a popular topic of conversation at Inner IDEA this year. While discussion didn't solely surround the concept of hormonal balance for weight loss--the presenters talked about stress relief, energy levels, emotions--the standing room-only classes are evidence of a hot topic.
In "Hormones: A Critical Link to Health," presenter Mark stone caught everyone's attention when he suggested that the oft demonized cholesterol plays a significant role in the development of progesterone--a hormone that helps us handle stress and decrease inflammation. He also suggested that low cholesterol may be linked to the extensive fertility problems among modern women. "We need the right kinds of cholesterol for optimal hormone function. Those cholesterols are found in organic, grass-fed animal meats," he says. He also calls for a variety of vegetables, but urges moderation--especially with leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. They carry a compound known as phytates which can inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals and can disrupt thyroid function.
Though food is important in balancing hormones, our daily actions can create problems as well. For example, Stone suggests removing that big 40" from the bedroom and to log out of Facebook by 7 or 8 at night. The body needs time to shut down naturally. Visual stimulation can disrupt the release of melatonin which diminishes the regenerative benefits of sleep.
Ray Gin, DC, also tackled the topic of hormones and how our outlook can affect them. He posits that hormones and emotions are directly linked. "Hormonal symptoms create emotional changes," he says. "And emotional symptoms create hormonal changes." Negative attitudes, thoughts and beliefs can engender a negative hormonal response that leads to inflammation. "Change your beliefs, change your life," Gin adds. He says that erasing or re-recording beliefs or thought patterns via mind-body techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Technique or Neuroemotional Technique can help reduce the potential for inflammation and disease.
Attention to hormones and how fitness, wellness and nutrition practices impact them is likely to gain steam over the coming years. Professionals will begin to look past the "calories in, calories out" model with a more discerning eye, especially as clients' goals remain out of reach. There will be greater focus placed on the types of foods eaten, methods of exercise and daily care practices for overall improved health.
As I write this post, the sun is gently setting on an uncharacteristically blue Pacific. Just inland, the vibrant greens of the world-famous Torrey Pines golf course have developed an amber glow. It's been a while since I've felt this peaceful.
I'd like to say that the calm I feel is due to the lush surroundings wherein the 2011 Inner IDEA Conference is being held. That's partly it. However, as a first-time attendee, I readily admit that the dominant factor leading to my current state is the message I picked up from all the learning I experienced today.
When I was in college I remember that, despite the vast array of courses on my schedule, there always seemed to be a central theme among them. While the Inner IDEA Conference contains a bit more obvious unity than, say, calculus and anthropology, there are two unifying factors that led to my calm: Be aware of the subtleties and express yourself.
This morning I stepped into the "Somatic Experiencing and Integrative Wellness Study" session. At one point, presenter Steve Hoskinson, MA, MAT, asked the group to "simply let your eyes go where they want to go." He said that we've been so conditioned to sit up straight, watch the teacher, take notes. We are so obedient that we lose sight of ourselves and our surroundings. So as my eyes scanned the unpleasant carpet design, slightly disheveled bun of the woman in front of me or the swirled designs on the backs of the chairs, I felt an ease drift over me. Hoskinson said that the development of awareness is a significant component of stress relief. The simple act of taking a moment to take in what surrounds us will undoubtedly increase our level of comfort.
Later, I dropped into Sue Hitzmann's "40 Is Not the New 30" session which showcased her MELT techniques. I tried to be an observer, but one of her assistants insisted I take a foam roller and soft small ball and be a participant. I'm glad I did. We were gently escorted through a series of tension releases and breathing techniques. While lying supine, Sue would say things like, "notice where your toes are pointing" or "feel what part of your back is pressed against the floor." But she insisted we do this without looking. "Don't look!" She would say. "Notice." Essentially, be aware of the nuances and understand who you are and what you need without seeing.
Finally I stopped into Kimberly Spreen's Find Y.O.G.A.--Your Own Gorgeous Asana. I'm not a yogi. I even hesitated dropping in because I didn't feel confident accurately describing what I was to see. But, I didn't need to be an expert. Again, two take homes: understand and be aware of your body, and be yourself! "Let go of expectations and the desire for [your pose] to look right or be right. Move as it feels right for your body." As she said this she guided them through a series of poses. Once learned, Kimberly instructed them to move through it, at their own pace, the way they feel is right. And just as the sequence started--I was thoroughly astounded by the flawless timing--she increased the volume of the music and out poured, "Express Yourself" by The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band. "It's not what you look like, when you're doing what you're doing, it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing. Express yourself," the band and Kimberly sang in unison. Thus ensued a choreographed, yet somewhat freestyle--I chuckled as some of the participants threw in some booty shakes along the way--yoga flow session.
As the sun descends into the big blue sea, I relish the peace I've found. Today I was given permission to slow it down for a bit, learn more about me and my body and to express myself how I see fit.
This has been a good day.
It's hard to walk through the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center without noticing the various footwear worn by attendees. I'm pleasantly surprised at the number of professionals donning what are now referred to as minimalist shoes..
I've seen some pretty incredible designs. Some seemed like they come from the future. Others look as though they were molded specifically for the foot, serving simply as thin rubber protection from the elements. Of course more traditional options still abound.
At a convention like this, minimalist footwear is the norm. In the "oustide" world, however, these types of shoes are rarely seen. Wear a pair of 5 Fingers and you're likely to receive some interesting stares. Because we're conscientious professionals, we love to share helpful information with clients and exercisers.
I dropped into Michol Dalcourt's session on footwear. One of the takeaways was that shoes that offer the most cushion and support often create the most impact. The irony. Minimalist shoes help evenly distribute forces through the body for reduced impact and pain.
We know this, but what about our clients?
This got me thinking about the global picture. We want the best for our clients. We want them to eat loads of vegetables. We want them to exercise regularly. We want them to choose footwear we know will benefit them. We have high expectations and often want them to meet us where we stand. But I think we're missing the boat as evidenced by the grand scope of obesity or pain. So instead of trying to convince them to come to us, perhaps it's time to find that happy medium for improved health. We need to meet clients where they "live," not the other way around. What is it that we can do to gently motivate this planet toward improved health?
Today is pre-conference day at IDEA World Fitness Convention. That means the halls are still quiet and the registration booths are only two people deep. Despite what I refer to as “the calm before the storm,” there was still plenty of education to be enjoyed.
Of particular interest to me was Chalene Johnson’s all-day session on leveraging social media. “If you’re not using social media, you will not be successful,” she warned the surprisingly sparse crowd. “Social media is where it’s at.”
Chalene is probably best known for her fitness DVDs and programs like TurboFire, however she has become quite the queen of social media. She is building an empire by simply leveraging these tools to her benefit. She now offers courses on how to use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for financial gains.
“We no longer have to go door-to-door to sell services or products,” she says. “The grapevine is pointless.” When executed properly, social media pursuits can put you in front of as many “eyeballs” as possible. Those eyeballs belong to individuals who may become clients or consumers once they trust you.
But you have to be careful about how you approach it, she adds. Simply asking for business is ineffective. You have to give tidbits of information first. Don’t tweet something like, “buy my organic cotton t-shirts.” Tweet about why organic cotton is earth friendly. Then tweet about how it feels better on the skin, and again on how it benefits farmers. Once you’ve gained trust, ask for the sale.
I can go on about the power of social media. If there’s one take home I can share it’s to not be afraid of it. As Chalene says, schedule half a day and play with it. Watch tutorials on YouTube. Like it or not, social media is the next wave of marketing. Catch it and thrive. Miss it and sink.
It's Sunday and I was up at 5AM; a time of morning I haven't seen in quite some time. But it was to be a special day as I was invited to join 20 of the top presenters in the world for the blowout "Showdown/Throwdown" session. I didn't need coffee (though I did get one just in case) as the bundle of nerves in my body worked overtime. As I meandered toward the convention center I noticed well-worn attendees digging deep to close out IDEA World Convention 2010 with a bang. Some were wobbly; most deep in thought attempting to make sense of the ideas and theories bouncing through their brains; all were tired. You can't blame them; this was the final day of an exhausting convention. But these people are the lifeblood of IDEA's message to Inspire the World to Fitness. These are the professionals that definitely walk the talk. What impressed me most was the vigor and enthusiasm with which hundreds of fatigued attendees poured through the ballroom doors. Those stalwart folks had burned it at both ends, but somehow managed to give it one last go. And they were glad they did.Two rooms, 20 presenters, one massive 2-hour workout that challenged balance, agility, strength, but most of all: utter determination. What's more? Those who pushed hardest were rewarded with BOSU Balance Trainers, DVDs, IDEA swag, training equipment, books and more. But it didn't stop there. Two tough-as-nails attendees were rewarded with not one, but TWO convention registrations for IDEA World Fitness Convention 2011. This session is just one example of the power of what it is fitness professionals do. I am 100% confident that those participants--and all World attendees for that matter--will head home to their respective homes, and use their undying enthusiasm to get this world moving.Until next year.
Fitness professionals brim with skills. We make people sweat. We build muscle. We create programs that inspire others to embrace change. But is it the program that initiates progression? Or is it the way information is presented that promotes progress?Communication was a primary focus today. Whether this communication involves a oneness among movement professionals, or the interpersonal relationships developed between professional and consumer, communication can make or break best intentions.My morning began with a 45-minute Zumba Dance Party in order to avoid the ever-long Starbuck's line. It worked. The interesting thing about Zumba is that a lot happens with nary a word spoken. Instead, it's all about body language and visual cues.Next I stopped in to learn a movement nomenclature developed by the GrayInstitute's Gary and Doug Gray. The goal of the session was to introduce a universal language that would unify the fitness world. "We need a consistent language among all modalities," challenges Doug Gray. "We need a more sensitive nomenclature, which will help to create a more sensitive measurement system." At the end of the session, one Gray would shout "single-leg right anterior lunge with bilateral posterior reach," and everyone in the room moved their bodies in sequence similar to a well-choreographed Zumba routine.Bobby Cappuccio challenged his attendees to examine facial expressions to better understand what emotions lay beneath a client's surface. Picking up on nuances can help trainers better direct the most successful session for that particular day. He also suggested that some professionals are so focused on strict rules for movement that a client can become overwhelmed with too many movement cues. "Play is becoming more relevant," he says. "Too many cues slow motor learning, and you can actually activate an inner judge within that client." He urges professionals to focus on movements that are safe and enjoyable.Fitness professionals rely on communication to initiate change in others. Have you evaluated how you communicate with your clients or exercisers? Are they really getting the message? Effective communication may be one of the most important skills a fitness professional can possess.
Day three of the convention and my feet are breaking down. I’m not sure how many steps I’ve logged, but I’m sure it’s well above the American Heart Association’s recommendation of at least 10,000 per day. After five years’ of these conventions, I’m well aware of the toll they take on the body and so I try my best to arm myself against pain or injury. The pups are at a dull ache right now, so I take that as a victory.
I once read that the feet must absorb about a million pounds of pressure during a strenuous exercise session. Ideally, the body is well adapted to distribute such stresses in an efficient pattern. As most of us know, few have ideal body alignment. So it’s no surprise that many of the sessions I went to today spent time discussing the feet.
The first mention of the day was by Juan Carlos Santana as he discussed the four pillars of human movement. During a single leg anterior reach exercise he talked about wobbly feet and knees as a sign of weakness in the butt. “Think of the knees and feet like kids and the butt is the parent,” he advised, garnering a bit of laughter from attendees. “If the kids are doing something wrong, you wouldn’t yell at them, you yell at the parents! Strengthen the butt and the feet and knees will behave.”
Leslee Bender’s main cue throughout her discussion on improving posture involved lifting through the feet. “Did you feel your butt when you did that? Isn’t that amazing?” She exclaimed. It must have been amazing because attendees simultaneously let out moans of groans of satisfaction.
Finally, Chuck Wolf, aka “The Foot Guy,” echoed Santana’s sentiments stating that the butt is very important in overall structural stability and health. Get the butt more involved and the feet will function more properly.
Agreed. Now I just hope I’m not too late to run (or limp) down to the Trigger Point Therapy booth to pick up one of those painful little balls to help release my plantar fascia!
The sessions I covered today were all about program design for those who make up the majority of our clientele: Average Joe and Jane.
The problem with Joe and Jane is that they are busy, sit at desks all day and experience some form of pain as a result. “The human body was designed to perform movement,” said Brett Klika of Fitness Quest 10. “And that movement must be varied.” During Klika’s morning session (yes, I went back to see him speak), “No Pain = Big Gains,” he discussed the importance of knowing who your client is. He also mentioned knowing how to give them an effective, supportive and safe workout. Most people sit all day, so perhaps the “pound ‘em into the ground” workouts that are becoming increasingly popular may be doing more damage than good. “If you drove your car like a jet-ski, what would happen?" he asked. There will likely be a breakdown somewhere.”
Anthony Carey urged class participants to understand each client’s potential limitations. Someone with a previous injury may not ever be fully capable of optimal movement patterns. Such information will dictate how a program is created. Rodney Corn offered a series of full-body exercises designed to challenge clients within various planes of movement. “But, not all of these will be right for all of your clients,” he added. Finally, Fraser Quelch discussed CrossFit-type programs and their sometimes gendered--and non-specific--approach to fitness. “I am 6’2”, 175 pounds soaking wet,” he laughs. “My friend is not. Should we really be lifting the same amount of weight during a workout just because we’re both men?” You decide.
Information like this can be somewhat frustrating for a fitness professional; there seem to be endless training options and it often has me wondering, “Which one is right?” The truth is there is no perfect blanket method that will work with each client. That’s why it’s called “personal” training. Colleague and friend Jan Schroeder says, “That’s why you need to have an open mind. What works for one client won’t work for another.”
Each client is different from the next and it is up to the trainer to perform thorough assessments and provide programs that meet individual needs. This is the only true method for helping others succeed.
When I first became a personal trainer, a mentor once told me that it’s a bit like being an actor. With each new client, you adjust your approach to fit their needs. Now, more than four years later, I realize how true this is. Of course, a quality trainer is someone who is sincere, but as I popped in and out of classes, one word stuck with me: experience. Just like actors learn lines and step on stage to create an experience for the audience, successful fitness professionals create an experience for clients and class participants. Without the experience, people who hate exercise--and let’s face it: these people comprise most of the population--will never find joy in movement.
Such was a theme in Brett Klika’s morning session, “Speed Demons—Youth Fitness to Youth Fatness.” Klika was all about the experience. “Kids have a short attention span and don’t really care about how exciting it is to be able to perform contralateral locomotion while eccentrically loading the quadriceps,” he says. “So give them an adventure!” I admit to being thoroughly amused during the practical application of his teachings as he led a group of “7- to 10-year-olds” on a mission to Planet Booger to save the endangered Queen Snot. “Kids need a plot to stay engaged,” he said. He took them through a mission debriefing (a cleverly disguised dynamic warm-up) and then through a turbulent solar system to reach the planet. The adults in the room were having a blast as they avoided being shot at by dangerous aliens; I could only imagine how young kids would react. And while this type of program won’t work for older age groups, it was a fantastic example of how to create an “experience” for your client or class. What does your client want? What do they like? How do they tick? Tap into this and create an experience that will keep them coming back for more.
Do you have a unique way of creating an experience for your clients or class participants? I want to hear about it. Post your ideas in the comment section below.