Today is Monday, the day following 4 days of the most rich and fun IDEA World Fitness Convention I’ve ever attended. I am both exhausted and elated.
This morning I woke up with flecks of glittery eye makeup still clinging to my face, reminders of the great parties I attended during the weekend. The makeup will wash off, but the inner sparkle I gained over four days of pure atomic energy from 6,000 attendees hailing from more than 80 countries is permanently engraved inside me. What a wild and fun ride this one was!
With IDEA marking its 30th anniversary, the cache of the event was already special, but there was more to this than the simple marking of time and cutting of a birthday cake. It was a milestone for the whole industry. We are so young, but we have come so far from the days of spandex and high impact aerobics. Fitness professionals are exploring, discovering and inventing new ways to move people (both physically and psychologically). We are the catalysts who make transformation happen.
The sheer size, depth and breadth of the education were astonishing. Over 300 sessions that blended the most recent science-based material with fully practical implementation burst with ideas that had people madly scribbling notes to get every ounce of information. The expert faculty of 180 presenters delivered everything from a massive (and massively fun) boot camp on the aircraft carrier Midway to a dance off (IDEA Supreme Dance Battle) to see which group exercise choreography brand would walk away with bragging rights (Zumba by 1% of a text vote over LaBlast). And then there were the deeply intellectual, science-based but practical sessions that IDEA is known for. There was 30% more nutrition programming than we’ve ever planned to address one of the biggest challenges clients have: food and diet issues. I’m trying to “use my words” but I can’t do justice to the programming by talking about it here because it was simply too vast and rich to describe in a blog post.
The IDEA Fitness & Wellness Expo was our biggest ever and was pretty much a fitness professional’s fantasy come true. You could try all of the latest equipment and be filled with product knowledge from more than 200 exhibitors in 420 booth spaces (it took me two days to get through the Expo this year). You could eat and hydrate in the brand new Nutrition Pavilion, be entertained by eye-popping choreography on the Exertainment Stage or learn (and taste) healthy recipes from chefs at the BE: Fueled Cooking Stage. Heck, I even bought a hydroponic tower garden from Juice Plus so I can grow organic veggies on my patio in the heart of San Diego’s urban core. Imagine that—buying a hydroponic garden at a fitness convention! It’s a sign of the times. We have turned onto a different trajectory.
Our final coverage in IDEA Fitness Journal (October issue) will include many more details than I can offer here; it also will bring the story to life visually with photos and video so you can better understand what this IDEA World experience was like. Stay tuned to get a taste.
To everyone who came and made the event so special—attendees, presenter faculty, exhibitors, press, Assistants and VIPs (Jane Fonda! Elaine LaLanne! Dr. Pam Peeke! Tara Costa!)—the whole IDEA tribe thanks you. We are charged up to top ourselves with next year’s event so we can keep redefining fitness for the future.
I’m off to scrub off the rest of this glitter. When I’m done I will look like my normal self, but know that I am forever transformed on the inside because of the last four days.
For all you do to Inspire the World to Fitness, IDEA salutes you!
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That in mind, my breakfast of champions this morning was Urban Boot Camp led by Ryan Halvorson and Nicole Pizzi.
Their early AM workout buffet included heaping helpings of high energy, gritty, old-school body weight exercise and a steady stream of laughs. Ryan got us outside almost immediately and used the urban landscape around the LA Convention Center as our gym/playground. There’s nothing like the sight of more than 100 adults bear crawling across the concourse and cartwheeling Parkour-style down a line of benches to let you know that this is not a run-of-the-mill convention. We did pull-ups on long, slanted banisters and then flipped over for stair step pushups. We were a sweaty, dirty-handed mess after the last quad-searing jump squat, but it was just what I needed to spark my day off.
After a quick shower and some calories in, I headed over to Michol Dalcourt’s ViPR workshop to gauge if attendees were enjoying this training tool as much as I do. I train a few times a week with Anthony Carey and ViPR master trainer Derrick Price at Function First in San Diego and we tear it up with this crazy tube almost every workout. It’s really kept strength and core work fresh for me; and by the enthusiastic response I saw in the session, the same light bulb went off for a lot of attendees. These folks cranked away doing challenging moves for almost 2 hours, even after Dalcourt told them 30-min is the optimum length for a ViPR workout for many physiological reasons, fascial hydration chief among them. There were a lot of trips to the water cooler after that remark!
Kara Mohr, PhD, provided my mid-morning snack in “Solving your Clients’ Biggest Dieting Dilemmas.” We hear obesity statistics so often I think we’ve become numb to them, but Kara kicked off early in her lecture with a quote that really shook me and reinforced why we’re all here at IDEA World Fitness Convention this weekend educating our brains as well as our bodies: “Across the world, 7,000 people develop diabetes and pre-diabetes every day.” Seven thousand. Every day? Really? Have we ever got our work cut out for us.
Kara was a fountain of practical information and offered several significant takeaways: This one is simple, but I couldn’t agree more: “The single-most empowering thing you can do for your clients, particularly your female clients, is tell them the scale doesn’t matter. Their whole world is a scale; their whole head is a scale.” Can you relate to that? I know I did. When a simple number on a dial has the power to start a client’s day on a note of near-crisis and impacts their behavior in a negative way, it’s time to trade the habit for something more realistic and healthy. The session was filmed, so if you missed it and you could use some insight on this topic with certain clients, it might be a good one to purchase.
Speaking of purchase, the Expo Hall opened today with great fanfare—and funk. Five companies busted out precision-choreographed dance routines to treat the expectant crowd to five consecutive flash mobs before the grand opening ribbon was cut by IDEA founders Kathie and Peter Davis. Thanks to Tmba, Bokwa, Batuka, Les Mills’ SH’BAM and Zumba for creating great excitement.
If you haven’t made it to the Expo yet, there are a lot of great things happening—including special challenges for discounts and prizes in many of the booths. Don’t be shy, ask the exhibitors what their challenge is and see if you’re up for it!
That said, I need to dive into my schedule to see what’s on the breakfast menu for tomorrow’s early workouts. Still a lot of day to go and a client dinner tonight, but not much time to plan between here and there. Maybe I’ll see you at the morning buffet!
If you’ve never taken a day-long Premier Seminar at an IDEA event, put it on your must-do list, stat.
There is nothing like fully immersing yourself in a single topic for 7-9 hours and peeling back the many layers that can help you get to the core of a matter that interests you. Often, once you get to that chewy center, it creates even more fascination and good questions about it for your own research and discovery later. It’s all part of the learning process and the journey of gaining mastery in a specific area of study. It’s a thing of beauty and a welcome way of focusing your mind and getting grounded before the madness of IDEA World begins.
Today, IDEA blew the doors off past pre-conference programming with 11—count ’em—ELEVEN—different Premier Seminars that can’t be found elsewhere in the industry (at least not until they get copied because they’re so good)! The variety ranged from Zumba instructor training and training the fascial lines to the Gray Institute’s “Functional Assessment Strategies & Program Design” and Chalene Johnson’s Social Media Fit Biz Bootcamp. The 11 seminars combined for 93 hours of in-depth education by top experts in each of the fields they taught. There. Was. So. Much. To. Absorb!
I spent most of my day in Dr. Mark Kelly’s course “Corporate Wellness—the Multibillion Dollar Wave of the Future.” First, I hadn’t ever seen a Premier Seminar on this offered anywhere in the fitness industry and it piqued my curiosity. From a more personal standpoint, IDEA has recently stepped up its efforts to give its employees a meaningful wellness program, which we are calling “Exercise Your Happiness.” There was no irony in seeing our HR director/executive assistant Lauren Fraser and IDEA executive director Kathie Davis in the session taking mental and physical notes.
Corporate wellness is not necessarily an old field; Kelly has been studying it for well over 2 decades. But, for most fitness professionals, it’s fairly new and fertile ground. The obesity epidemic and paradigm shift in the way insurers are looking at prevention models versus old-school, reactionary treatment models is pushing the pedal to the mat on the urgency for these types of programs. Qualified professionals who know how to assess, instruct, motivate, organize and market are badly needed in the corporate world, where the smallest percentage of inactive, unhealthy people eat up the lion’s share of the available dollars and push premiums higher for the rest of us. The business and career opportunities for fitness professionals are rich, indeed.
This was a chewy center worth taking the time to get to. I know if I didn’t love my job so much as an IDEA editor, corporate wellness is THE opportunity I would sink my teeth into as a fitness pro. There are so many of you out there with the training and tools to inspire others and make a difference—and corporations/insurance companies are willing to pay you a good living to do it. You have to be willing to live in a world of metrics, however, as dollars are not thrown about haphazardly. You have to prove your effectiveness with numbers and science. That’s where the type of training today's seminar offered is pure gold.
It’s safe to say you’ll see more on this topic in the immediate future from IDEA and certainly in the pages of IDEA Fitness Journal in 2012. Stay tuned.
And now we continue with our regularly scheduled program. Onto opening day of 2011 IDEA World Fitness Convention! See you in classes and at the IDEA Fitness & Wellness Expo tomorrow!
And get some rest tonight. You’re gonna need it for what lies ahead over the next 3 days.
This morning I drank
a small cup of fully leaded coffee. The last time I ingested caffeine purposely
was 2-1/2 years ago and it wired me so hard I was up for almost 48 hours.
Before that, it had been 11 years since my last cup of coffee. But after 5 days
of 2010 IDEA World Fitness Convention in Los Angeles, I needed something to
light a fire under me. When you run on pure adrenaline for several days, you
eventually hit the wall, and today was my day for the collision. What a week! This
convention set an incredibly high benchmark for all it stands for: excellent fitness
education, innovation, product knowledge, networking and plain old fun. Nothing
I’ve seen in the industry holds a candle to the array of sensory experiences I
had the privilege of witnessing and experiencing over the last few days in LA.Beginning with
meeting US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin and joining a symbolic walk for
fitness with her and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the week exploded from the start. On the same day,
IDEA CEO Peter Davis unveiled the much-anticipated IDEA FitnessConnect, a
powerful professional fitness directory platform that has 14 major
certification agency verification partners (13 of which are NCCA-accredited)
that will verify the certification status of all the fitness professionals
listed. Finally, a way to separate the “posers” from the professionals!The directory has
many tools to help you be more successful and devote more time to what you’re
best at—training your clients. If you haven’t filled out your profile yet, go
to http://www.ideafit/fitnessconnect. Watch this fun, informative video to
get a better idea of what it’s all about. This service is absolutely FREE and
will connect you to syndication partners with an estimated 16 million consumers
looking at your profile by the end of the year.The tradeshow was a
blockbuster with 150 vendors selling the latest in fitness equipment and
technology, but the real star of the show was the education, which had IDEA’s
hallmark base of research made practical and immediately usable. With more than
350 sessions taught by the most elite corps of fitness educators ever
assembled, this year's program was incredibly rich and diverse. Sessions
focused on metabolic, body leverage, and multi-planar training methodologies
and fresh equipment-based techniques, as well as innovations in research, group
exercise, business/career, nutrition, Pilates, yoga, mind-body and water
fitness. If you couldn’t find something that interested you, you truly were not
looking hard enough.Here are several of
the trends that ran throughout the programming and in conversations I had with
the professionals attending:
- We need to put fun
into fitness for end users (and for our professional longevity). Your clients
work all day, so when they come to you, training shouldn’t seem like work, it
should surprise, delight and challenge them. Seeing innovative concepts on the
program such as parkour—the physical discipline of
training to get around any obstacle in your path by using only the human body
and the objects in the environment—support this need for playfulness. Watching
this class and the joy it elicited in participants was like seeing a bunch of
kids on a playground. Speaking of playgrounds...further supporting the notion of fun were Rodney Corn’s “Metabolic
Playground” and Jay Dawes’ “Metabolic Conditioning Games—Playing Your Way into
Shape” plus a wide array of other sessions.
- Get to the heart of the matter for your
clients. Spend less time giving them information they already know. Stop giving
or allowing them excuses for why they aren’t improving. Challenge them. Be
their guide, but don’t mollycoddle. Make clients accountable for their health
and fitness. Dare them to own it.
- Workouts are getting more adventurous,
attainable and exciting. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in any part of
the industry. “What makes one person’s heart tick may not do it for the next,”
said newly minted IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Carol Murphy. “Find what
makes their heart tick. Get them excited.”
- We’ve reached only a small fraction of
the potential fitness market. As Jonathan Ross, 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer of
the year observed, “We are the special population. We are the weirdos because we
love exercise.” There are millions of untapped customers who need assistance.
- Ross identified a few trends he sees in
- Better movement first. Teach clients how
to move correctly before you do anything else. Biomechanics need to be promoted
to top priority in training.
- Better results; less effort. “It’s all
about making fitness more accessible to people,” he said. "Anything that removes
barriers such as time and money or making it more portable, can help make this
- Life is going to get harder for the
professional “posers.” By this he means personal trainers who put on a show
while training who have no education to back it. Certification organizations
are raising the bar, (and so are tools such as IDEA FitnessConnect) which means
that recently certified professionals will certainly walk onto the scene with
far more education than the “fakers” will ever have.
a philosophy standpoint, Peter Twist, 2010 IDEA Program Director of the Year,
feels that anything that gets people moving is a success. “There is no bad
exercise,” he said. “We’re in the business of building the human spirit. If you
can shift attitude, it pays forward.”
conditioning for kids is hot. Parents understand there is a difference between
sport conditioning and regular conditioning, says Twist. “There is a lot of opportunity
- Exercise is medicine. The fitness industry needs to get more support and buy-in from the
training has staying power. “Technology is making people more sedentary.
Personal training may be the only way people get movement in the future, which will
likely make personal trainers more in demand,” says Twist.
and regeneration. What are we doing with athletes and older adults to help
rejuvenate them after training?
function. What portable tools can we utilize to provide high energy expenditure
in a shorter amount of time?
programming as a way to tackle childhood obesity and family education about
health, nutrition and exercise.
Knowing that IDEA
raises the bar every year, I will save up another year’s worth of caffeine
avoidance so I can again savor a cup of Joe to help me recover from next year’s
IDEA World event at the same venue in Los Angeles (August 10-14).I’ll take mine with
cream--the cream of the crop IDEA attracts. How do you want yours? Until then, for all you do to Inspire the World
to Fitness, IDEA salutes you!
If the only thing to happen all day at the 2010 IDEA
World Fitness Convention’s opening was to see US Surgeon General Dr. Regina
Benjamin and Dr. Pamela Peeke onstage laughing and Zumba-ing up a sweat to
spicy Latin rhythms, then it was a good day. But it was a GREAT day, my friends, and this display by the
two good doctors was simply icing on the cake. And man, can those ladies move,
as you can see by this video clip I took: http://www.ideafit.com/node/370641.It’s been a long time coming, but we finally have a voice at
the highest levels of the US government and a champion for the cause of
Inspiring the World to Fitness. Dr. Benjamin is not just paying lip service to
the notion of getting Americans up and moving and living their lives. She has put herself out there as a very real example
of her Vision for a Healthy & Fit
Nation. Dr. Peeke, national spokeswoman for the American College of
Sports Medicine's “Exercise Is Medicine” campaign, chief medical correspondent
for Discovery Health Channel and a long-time supporter of IDEA, is perhaps even
more enthusiastic a stirrer of this literal movement. Ten minutes after getting off the stage, she apologized for
hugging me in her now-sweaty black couture dress and struck a thinking pose in
her red patent pumps, already coaching me on what to listen for Thursday night
when she and Dr. Benjamin will lay out their ideas on the great opportunities
the Surgeon General’s Vision document
opens for fitness professionals.If you want to find out more about that, you need to show up
at tonight's Awards Show, 5:30-7:00 PM in LA’s famed Nokia Theater.Speaking of the Awards Show, IDEA also will be unveiling a
very powerful platform for fitness professionals that has been in the works for
a few years now. Add to that the excitement of Mario Lopez emceeing the event,
and Andre Agassi being on hand to accept the IDEA Lifetime Achievement Award,
and you have a full night of intrigue and entertainment.However, if you can’t make the awards show, join Drs.
Benjamin and Peeke, IDEA co-founders Peter and Kathie Davis and L.A. Mayor
Antonio Villaraigosa tomorrow at 12:30 outside the West Hall of the LA
Convention Center for a fitness walk to symbolize their commitment to health
and fitness for the nation. One step at time, one person at a time, we’re going to beat this obesity thing. And that, my
friends, will be the BEST day of all.
Ten years ago, IDEA Fitness Fusion was pretty much a small conference strictly for group exercise instructors. When IDEA took it over, it was called “Fact Fest,” but we changed the name around 2002 to “Fusion” to reflect the integration of personal training in the overall mix. We felt it was essential to balance the event.
This seemingly prescient move to rename and reshape the event has delivered what is one of the richest, most diversified programs (aside from IDEA World) for hybrid fitness professionals available in fitness education today.
I was doing my usual 10-15 minutes per session, per time block today when I noted just how many layers of skills and niche areas we have to plan for at this event. It’s a balancing act that IDEA programming director Aprile Peishel has mastered beautifully and woven into a show that ranges from foundation curriculum (hi-low step, indoor cycling, choreography, exercise science, special pops training) to the leading edge (lactate training, corrective exercise, the brain-exercise connection). “The biggest challenge I have is narrowing down the choices,” she told me. “There are so many great presentations and educators to choose from, but we only have so many time slots.”
This mostly happy dilemma, of course, is partially borne of the ever-growing client base fitness professionals need to serve: seniors, kids, athletes, pregnant women, chronically ill, postrehab cases, etc. In order to carve the proverbial niche in any of these, you almost have to have special curriculum under your belt to keep up with the latest innovations in training and research.
Then, of course, there is all of this inspired equipment that’s been developed to answer training challenges over the years (BOSU Balance Trainers, TRX Suspension Trainers, Ballast Balls, BeamFit, Indo-Row and so many others). Each year, I see old equipment being used in new, imaginative ways and new equipment (how cool are the Platform BOSUs and Twist Conditioning Smart Muscle Training Products we saw here?) that will also find customized uses as time goes on.
In addition to this programming and equipment feast, today’s sessions (especially the personal training movement classes) stand out to me because of the child-like wonder and joy I saw on the faces of what are normally fairly stoic adults. These were primarily personal trainers, a group—if I were to generalize—that I would describe as being far too serious for their own good at times (group ex classes I cover always seem like so much more fun—sorry personal trainers!).
What I saw happening here was a possible trifecta of things unfolding: 1. Encouragement from IDEA faculty for PFT attendees to “stand at ease” and let themselves go a little bit. 2. Perhaps it’s the continuing evolution of the hybrid pro, which puts more uninhibited group ex veterans in the soup and shakes up the model, and. 3. It may just be the magic of a large group, great instructors and engaging material.
Whatever it was, the peals of laughter and connection between people are exactly what we need to put FUN back into the sacred word “function.” If we can proliferate this spirit of playfulness to everyday personal training sessions and training studios, inspiring the world to fitness is going to take care of itself.
Finally, I have to mention the IDEA Product Showcase (expo), which was more fun and interactive than any I’ve experienced in my years of covering IDEA’s regional events. On Friday, there was a very festive happy hour in the hall as people shopped, chatted and entered their names into a raffle for one of about 40 very generous prizes from our exhibitors. The fun continued in the Showcase today, as BOSU and Indo-Row held playful competitions (The BOSU Ball-to-Bucket Toss and the Indo-Row “row offs”). Delegates who had qualified yesterday and earlier today brought their own cheering cells and added to the festive nature of the shopping zone.
A heartfelt thank you to the 1,200 attendees, assistants, faculty, exhibitors and staff who have made this the most fun-filled Fusion event I’ve attended to date! I loved touching base with so many of you and hearing about your exciting projects and plans for the future. Please stay in touch! email@example.com.
There are a lot of reasons people get into this profession. They are inspired to help others; they experience a life event that drives them to the industry’s door; some know early on that they will be a sport coach, a group ex guru, a choreographer, a fitness manager or a kids’ specialist. Some come to it with a full heart and mind later in life, as a second career.
But no matter what brings you to fitness, you need to know what compels you stay with it.
There’s no flaw in not being able to articulate a heartfelt value proposition or purpose for your role in the industry (at least temporarily). But until you do, you will probably just float along as a guest of the current until you find the precise rudder and sail to power you toward your true North.
Trina Gray made this abundantly clear today during her presentation “Your Club: The Place to Be on a Friday Night.” It seems out of whack for a marketing session to be so philosophical, but after reflecting on her words and seeing veteran pros in action paying their knowledge forward to eager conference delegates, I realized she was right on target.
After what I observed today, I’d be willing to bet that a good many attendees may have figured out or refined their raisons d'être in the fitness world in the past 12 hours. When faculty are out there leaving all their passion on the floor as I saw so often today, you’d have to be made of Kevlar to remain impervious to such influential energy.
Whether it was Rodney Corn filling in for colleague Michol Dalcourt (who got stranded in Europe by the Icelandic volcano fallout) to teach about training movement, not muscles in “Joint Integrity and Injury Prevention: Shoulder and Spine,” or Pete Twist fully throwing himself into the three sessions he taught from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, there was some pretty meaningful energy exchange and inspiration happening all day here in Chicago.
The conference video and photo album on Facebook say it all: http://www.facebook.com/ideafit
Have a great evening, everyone. Talk to you all tomorrow.
An opening thought for the 2010 IDEA Fitness Fusion Conference: Life is a symphony of contrasts.
I flew into Chicago a couple of days early to hang out with a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in years. We both grew up in the city’s southwest suburbs umpteen years ago and have had one of those easy, pick-up-where-you-left-off friendships that are a rarity and a treasure.
This friend called me a year ago to tell me that, not only had he had a massive heart attack, but that he wanted to say goodbye and thank me for the many years of crazy capers and laughs we shared. Needless to say, I was in disbelief and denial. Part of me still is. I mean, people live long and happy lives after heart attacks, right? But in my friend’s particular case, it appears not to be.
He is the classic case of everything we’ve ever tried to educate IDEA members about: Diabetic, noncompliant, heavy smoker, terrible eater and too bothered by his seeming everlasting youth to exercise or be proactive about any of the warnings he was given by his physicians. In his mid 40s, the "good life" caught up with him. Today, he has a pacemaker-defibrillator in his chest and wires running through his body to help keep his tired old heart on track should it decide to so much as hiccup. He tires easily and walks slowly. Osteoporosis has already compressed his once strapping 6’2” frame by two inches. By his account, the doctors say his heart is dying and therefore, so is he.
But this man has repented. He quit smoking cold turkey after the big one. He lost 50 pounds. He regularly goes to the gym and gets on the elliptical or the treadmill for as long as he can stand it. A diabetic food service delivers specially formulated meals for him. The cortisol he once thrived on no longer fuels him (because he can no longer work or afford the stress). He takes his gift-basket sized set of drugs faithfully so he will remain dialated, oxygenated and insulin regulated. But is it too little, too late? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, he is on a list for a heart transplant and is saying his goodbyes and thank yous while he waits for any positive news on the donor front and tries to do the right thing for his body.
Our goodbye in front of the Hyatt Regency O’Hare today was quite a sight. Both of us weeping and sloppy and sad that this could be the last time we ever saw each other. We hugged and parted ways: he to his uncertain future and me, to something much more concrete.
I walked with blind faith toward something I know to be as true as the sunrise: The magic and positive energy of an IDEA conference. I wheeled my bags into a building filled with dedicated fitness professionals and educators who each day help clients make life-changing decisions and who absolutely have, or who someday will, make a profound difference in a life such as my friend’s.
So, hello everyone—and thank you for being who you are and for doing what you do. I hope you have as wonderful a conference as I’ve already had by simply being in your company today.
I was reluctant to resurrect the subject of John Cloud’s opinion piece/cover story "Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” from the August 9 issue of TIME Magazine. I hesitated primarily because the hoopla has pretty much died down and I didn’t want to give this sensational (in a bad way) piece any more time in the sun. Also, two IDEA members-educators (Nicki Anderson and Jonathan Ross) did an outstanding job of building such strong, elegant counterpoints in their blogs that I felt I’d just be piling on by joining the fray. But enough people have asked me to weigh in on the topic that perhaps a bit of late-in-the-game analysis is warranted.
1. IDEA’s Position. IDEA’s position on the many benefits of exercise (which includes weight loss) is woven into the very fabric of 27 years of content dedicated to educating fitness professionals on the science of exercise and its practical applications. We have never wavered in our stance and, furthermore, we don’t feel it’s productive to raise a rant against Mr. Cloud’s and TIME’s clearly distorted presentation on the topic.
What IDEA will do is continue providing you with the industry’s highest quality education through our various award-winning publications, educational products and conferences. Educating you is the best way we know to set such nonsense straight in the minds of confused consumers.
As far as official action, in mid-August IDEA joined a coalition of about 20 fitness organizations brought together by the ACSM and signed a collective statement to Mark Halperin, TIME’s editor at large. The statement strongly supported the benefits of physical activity and underscored the importance of exercise not only to weight loss, but to overall health.
An excerpt from the letter: “Exercise is, indeed, a crucial part of the weight-loss equation. Activity and proper nutrition are both necessary keys to both shedding pounds and maintaining a healthy weight. As reported at the recent “Weight of the Nation” conference, held by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity accounts for some $147 billion in annual U.S. health care costs. At such a crucial economic time, we should be encouraging behaviors that reduce these costs, not further increasing them by promoting sedentary lifestyles. Perhaps even more important, exercise is a powerful preventive tool that can yield benefits far beyond weight loss…”
The letter ended by encouraging TIME to highlight these benefits in future stories, in order to give readers a balanced and accurate understanding of the factors that lead to optimum health.
2. A Journalist’s Perspective. Cloud’s piece lacked balance and ignored volumes of research that would have easily refuted his ham-handed attempt to bolster his argument that exercise cannot help people lose weight. The piece also fell short on journalistic integrity: As reported by the Los Angeles Times, one expert quoted in the piece, Dr. Timothy Church, said his professional opinions were misrepresented along with a statement from the ACSM.
Personally, I was offended as a career magazine professional by TIME’s use of the cover story to ignite controversey with such an ignorant perspective. Their writer was given the ultimate mantle of influence to sway public perception in what basically amounted to a 4,000+ word blog. As we have seen, the effect of first-person anecdote combined with loosely constructed facts in a cover story for a major magazine is incredibly powerful. It’s also incredibly irresponsible—especially with regard to such inflammatory subjects such as the nation’s expanding waistline and fear and loathing of exercise. As an editor I can tell you that cover stories don’t land by happenstance, especially with circulations as enormous as TIME’s. This was a very measured move on the part of TIME’s editors and likely secured the exact bang they were looking for: high voltage buzz on the street, increased single-copy sales and a lot of eyeballs to their website. Cha-ching! Mission accomplished. End of story.
3. The Lesson: If all of this tells fitness professionals anything, it’s that our job as educators and cheerleaders for our clients is certainly more of a challenge than we ever imagined. If John Cloud is representative of how Joe and Jane Public think about diet and exercise, we either haven’t done our jobs very well, or we need to start taking a new tack on how to combat the powerful misinformation coming out of major media sources. The main point is that we can’t ever get complacent. Our industry is—YOU ARE—the last bastion of strength in this battle. We need to stand united and hold the line with excellent facts and ongoing education for ourselves and our customers. It’s frightening to say that lives depend on us doing this, but it’s the truth. Your job has more meaning and purpose than ever before.
Finally, for the substantive and scientific refuting of Cloud’s position that’s already been provided by two highly regarded industry professionals, I encourage you to read Nicki’s blog and Jonathan’s blog. Many thanks to both of them for their swift and well-reasoned responses to TIME’s article. Read both blogs and keep their logic close at hand for when your next client asks you about this or seems confused about conflicting research. (The link to the TIME piece can be found in both their blogs. If you haven’t read it yet, you really need to so you know what you’re up against.)
Most important, keep the conversation going. Talk to your colleagues and share ideas and strategies. Feed your clients constantly with research-based facts so your positive message is what they hear in their self-talk when they don’t feel like exercising or hear/read warped interpretations of exercise and diet information from the media. Don’t doubt for a moment that it doesn’t matter. Yours might be the only voice of sanity and truth in the sea of misinformation that engulfs them.
The 2:30-4:20 timeblock was in full swing, but I was not.
My tank was running low after a 2-hour meeting (and another late night here in Anaheim) and I still had a few rivers to cross before I'd be able to sit down and write this. I was feeling a little strung out and was fantasizing about how nice it would be to go upstairs and have a power nap. I imagine this is how the inactive population we try so desperately to reach feels about exercise. The mere thought of exertion probably drains their reserves and defeats them before they even pack their gym bags sometimes.
My avoidance button was on full tilt until I walked over to see if I could snap a few photos and get some video of Kimberly Spreen teaching "Blast! The Boxer's Workout." Let me tell you, entering that room had the same effect as a double espresso (or 5-mile run) would have on me.
The energy in the Marriott's Platinum 5 was pulsing out the wall joists. It lured me in and gave me the kick I needed to get through the rest of the afternoon. Everyone in there was sweaty, smiling and full of life as Kimberly led the packed room as a unit through the fun-yet-intense martial arts-themed choreography.
I wish we could somehow package this before-and-after feeling--the pure, raw energy that movement can feed into our bodies. Wouldn't our job to Inspire the World to Fitness be easier if we could give this essence to the many clients who hover on the bubble between adopting a holistic lifestyle and falling back into bad habits? Don't feel like exercising? Here, take a shot of this. Tempted to eat processed, empty calories? No problem, have a taste of this.
It's worthwhile to note that we all feel better after working out. Reminding clients that we understand this challenge and that sometimes even fitness pros fall prey to the "lure of lazy" may be one of the best things you can do to motivate them. Once through a training session or class, ask your clients to close their eyes and take one minute to capture the good feeling of endorphins running through their systems. Coach them to conjure this the next time they're tempted to opt for the couch intstead of activity. It just may get them out the door for the movement their bodies are craving.
Actually, here I am a few hours later and I could use another dose of IDEA presenter motivation and love. I may have just caught enough of a wave of energy from the chuckles I got looking at the photo albums I uploaded to Facebook a few minutes ago. There are some really fun dancing shots from last night’s Club Intrigue Party and a few other good ones from today’s education (including some from Kimberly’s class). But, I think my favorite one is of IDEA CEO Peter Davis bounding around the Health & Wellness Expo in a pair of Kangoo Boots. Caught that one on video, too. Stay tuned as I’ll be posting that once I’m back at IDEA HQ in San Diego!
As you all return to your “offices” next week, I hope you continue to channel the fantastic energy of the past few days—all you’ve learned, the new friends you’ve made, the product knowledge you’ve amassed. Take out your memories of World whenever you need to fill your inspiration tank and keep it full. Because if your tank is empty, there is nothing to give others. I can’t imagine where the world would be without the leadership and passion of the fitness industry’s best and brightest.
You all inspire me. Keep spreading your rare brand of magic and thank you for coming to World this year. I hope the experience was everything you anticipated and more!