Eating a club sandwich at midnight is probably not the best way to start your day. But it seemed like a pretty darn good idea as the clock officially edged into a new morning.
After going to the VIP/Presenter Reception and then the TRX party last night, I was absolutely famished, as I hadn't eaten since lunch. There were so many people to see, hug and catch up with that I never made it to graze the food tables at either get-together. I really needed sustenance, though, and so eating late became the lesser evil of not eating at all, which would have kept me up all night. Tonight at the Welcome Party, I will endeavor to eat first, talk later so I can be fully digested before I hit the hay tonight. Probably won't happen though, as I get carried away by the moment very easily. Focus, Webster! Focus!
As I sat down to write this, I was thinking about how much things have changed since I covered my first World here in Anaheim 7 years ago. Changes not just in the way the IDEA editors cover our events, but in the weave of the events themselves. Such transformation has to happen in all facets of our work and lives or we grow stale and forget to challenge ourselves.
On the coverage front, I arrived onsite in 2002 with a couple of legal pads and pens as my weapons of choice. These days, my backpack is chock-full with digital camera, smart phone, FlipVideo pocket cam, computer, legal pad and pens. I used to be able to catch a nap between the last session and the evening activities. Now I--and the rest of the editors--come back and file our stories with just enough time to shower and move on to the evening functions. These changes have made all of us better writers, time managers and reporters, but mostly, we’ve been able to deliver more timely information as it happens. Heck, I’ve been tweeting quotes live from sessions since I got here. You can’t get more on-the-spot than that.
On the industry front, one of the biggest changes I've seen since World 2002 is the emergence of the "hybrid trainer." For the past two days, I've heard this phrase over and over. What does it mean? To me, it’s a reflection of what we at IDEA saw in 2004 when we not only began calling our Midwest event Fitness Fusion, but when we decided it was time to merge IDEA Health & Fitness Source magazine with IDEA Personal Trainer magazine to create IDEA Fitness Journal.
This strategy seriously considered the crossover and convergence we saw then among group exercise, mind-body specialists and personal trainers. It’s even more pronounced today, which is why a convention like IDEA World works so well. A personal trainer can attend and learn from group ex pros more about leading in a group setting. A group ex pro can likewise expand her professional repertoire by taking personal training curriculum. They both can advance their careers by studying the wide array of management classes we offer. The program is rich with possibilities and our delegates are clearly taking advantage of them.
Are you shaping yourself to become a hybrid trainer? Define what hybrid trainer means to you in the comment box below. Do you favor the emergence of this “utility” professional in the industry? Should hybrid trainers be compensated more? I’m really interested in your thoughts about this.
Meantime, I’ve got to pack a few media collection devices in my evening bag and get ready for the party. If you see me there gabbing away at the Tweetup, please bring me a plate of broccoli or something. I’m sure I’ll need a snack!
Like everyone here at World, I've been up since the crack of dawn moving, grooving, navigating, meeting, greeting and learning. I'm also schmoozing, blogging, tweeting and observing. This is a work week for me, and I'll tell ya--I've been working like a dog...the Weinstein way...at least as of mid-afternoon.
Keynote speaker Matt Weinstein wryly made fun of this old axiom about toiling the day away by asking a packed convention ballroom at this morning's opening ceremonies to ponder how hard dogs really work. I don't know about you, but the ones I've had in my life spend most of the time sleeping, mooching food, being petted, barking at the mailman, fetching Frisbees, wagging their tails...generally good, fun stuff like that. Weinstein, an author, motivational speaker and founder of Playfair, Inc., an international consulting firm based in Berkeley, suggested that maybe we should take a page from a dog's life and apply it to the way we work and live.
So, today, that's what I did. Not that I normally don't have fun in my work. I do. I think laughing--especially at work--is a high priority. But at World I tend to go at each day like a ball of fire, tearing my way through session after session with my multimedia guns blazing. At one point today I caught myself in a rowdy, loud session taking photos with one hand and talking to an IDEA colleague with phone in the other. My video flipcam was tucked nearby in my waistband. "Seriously," I thought, "I need a holster for all these gadgets." That's when I decided I needed to start the day over and be more dog-like. I went around and got lots of hugs and love from people I hadn't seen yet. I sat down and ate lunch with Karen Wells, who is part of the MELT crew this trip and who has been attending IDEA conventions for something like 19 years. And I learned a few new tricks and played some fetch by spending an entire time block participating in Todd Durkin's and Brett Klika's "Buddy Up" session. Mostly, I laughed at myself and how goofy I must look doing fast feet and ladder drills. But like a good puppy, I didn't care. I just went at it like it was the best thing ever. I came out of there panting, wagging my tail, slurping lots of water and ready to nap (and like most dogs after a good play, I could use a bath, too), but alas, I must write.
A few quick recaps of the day:
*I met Milo Levell in person and had a photo taken with him on my iPhone (yes, I'm a total geek). Did you see that guy bustin' it this morning with his 1,000,000 Dancers before the Opening Ceremonies this morning? What a great way to kick off the day.
*In case you missed the tweets and micro-blogs on Twitter and Facebook, our Award recipients are as follows: Fitness Instructor of the Year, June Kahn; Personal Trainer of the Year, Cynthia Carrion Norton (who trains the President of the Philippines and 15 of her cabinet members); Program Director of the Year, Debi Pilarella; and IDEA Inspiration Award recipient Scout Bassett.
*Favorite presenter observations: 1. Evan Osar, DC, in "Improving Hip and Trunk Rotation," wondered aloud whether we should tell clients to pull belly buttons inward or to push them out when loading the spine. His take, based on child development models and what babies do instinctively, is to push them out. "We are creating dysfunction for our clients when we ask them to pull in," he said. 2. Todd Durkin, MA, in "Buddy Up," reminded the 200 or so in this rowdy explosion of a session that no trainer has all the answers. "We can learn from each other's creativity and we can learn from wathching all of our clients move." 3. Jenna Bell-Wilson, PhD, RD, in "Are You Hungry or Are You Stressed?" said "One of my favorite things about the human body is that it has this overwhelming drive for homeostasis." Balance, people. The body craves balance!
*Trends in the Industry Panel, always one of my favorite sessions becuase it provides perspectives on current industry challenges and trends from the newly named IDEA Award recipients, was packed with good questions and ideas. For instance, June Kahn sees mind-body fusion and dance as the two top growth areas in group exercise. "Dance has now come full circle," she said. "For clients, I see it as a form of self-empowering exercise." Darren Jacobson, one of the Program Director of the Year finalists, filled in for Debi Pilarella, who had to catch an early plane. Jacobson, who directs multiple programs for Virgin South Africa, observed that one of the most important things he's learned in his career is that we have to strive to add value to everything we do. "Act with honesty and integrity in all you do. Once you lose that, you lose your credibility." Also, he emphasized being clear on expectations with staff, "and knowing your true North, so your team knows where you're going." Cynthia Norton cited the main challenges she faces in her country as lack of continuing education and what she calls "fancy gyms" versus "core gyms," her description for facilities that have basic equipment with smart trainers who know how to use it. She is working to get trainers (and the public) there to understand that training doesn't mean body building and that you don't have to have brand new, shiny equipment and every bell and whistle in the book to help clients toward success. Hmmm. Some things are just universal in this industry.
Now I'll see about that bath. Hope you're all workin' like dogs, too.
Has it already been a year since the last World Convention? Hard to believe, but here we go again!
This is actually my seventh straight World. I was hired at IDEA 2 weeks after the 2001 convention in San Francisco wrapped up, so was able to use our other events that year and in 2002 as training ground for this true extravaganza. Even as wonderful as our other events are, there’s really nothing that can fully prepare you for your first IDEA World. Any newbies out there? Any veterans? I’d love to hear from you about your favorite experiences at this or any past events. Just drop me a note in the comment box below.
A change of pace and something almost unheard of in Southern California as my chosen means to get to Anaheim from San Diego this morning: I left my car at home! How great is that? I hopped a ride on AMTRAK and was able to get some work done, occasionally reminding myself to savor the sight of the beautiful coastline peeling away on my left. Mainly, I reviewed the event catalog again and tried to focus on which sessions are “must-sees” for me over the next 4+ days. Unfortunately, most of them seem to fit that description. Honestly, I’d rather be limited to a set number of sessions; I think it would force me to be more in the “coverage zone.” But when you’re a fitness editor at the globe’s premier education event, you get a little greedy. Inevitably and unapologetically, I end up being a total glutton by trying to do and absorb it all.
Actually, today I didn’t do too badly in the overload department. I stopped by just a few of the precons, but was mostly riveted by Sue Hitzmann’s 6-hour session “New Science of the Human Body: The MELT Living Body Model™.” If you or your clients have tension or pain (and who doesn’t these days?), this material certainly provides new perspective and offers what appears to be new science (I need to track down the studies and look more into them). Sue walked the 80 or so attendees through neurofascial science regarding connective tissue, pelvic stability and the NeuroCore system.
She has some amazing surgical footage on cadavers that shows what human connective tissue looks like under a microscope. To see this stuff is to be awed by the brilliant architecture of the human body all over again. The visual/video aspect made me understand the neurofascial science more clearly, and literally see kinesiologic systems work in concert. I’ve read/heard about this before but had never witnessed it. It really is all connected. Anatomy geeks be forewarned. You’ll be all over it and have a million questions for her.
A side note on Sue: Around 2003-2004, she wrote the Fine Anatomy column in IDEA Personal Trainer magazine. This lady knows her business. She took over the column after Greg Roskopf, who wrote it from 2001-2003. These columns are all in the IDEA Library and are always worth a visit for a primer or quick review of insertion, origin, action and, injury prevention and postrehab tips for specific musculature. We carried the column over to IDEA Fitness Journal and ran it through 2006. We covered every part of the body, so keep that in mind the next time you have an anatomy question.
With that, I’m wrapping it up for the day. I’m going for a run—ironically, probably my last chance for good cardio exercise over the next few days—and then having dinner with Nicki Anderson.
Tomorrow, we’re really off to the races! Can’t wait!
IDEA’s Award-Winning Editors: (from left) associate editor Ryan Halvorson; managing editor Kate Watson; editor in chief Sandy Todd Webster; production editor Margie Rogers; and senior editor Joy Keller.Meet the IDEA editorial team. Smart. Hard working. Dedicated to quality. Perfectionists (in a good way). Did you know that just five IDEA staffers (and a few wonderful freelancers) produce all of IDEA's publications? These include IDEA Fitness Journal, IDEA Trainer Success, IDEA Fitness Manager, IDEA Fit Tips and Inner IDEA Body-Mind-Spirit Review.It's with great pleasure that I tout my colleagues and their splendid talents as we all enjoy being recognized by our magazine publishing peers for our fifth consecutive Western Publications Association “Maggie” Award. This year, IDEA Fitness Journal took top honors in the Best Health & Fitness/Trade magazine category. This is the second time IDEA editors have taken top honors in this division for the prestigious Maggie, also known as the “Oscar” of the periodicals publishing world.Our team has been together for 5 years now; what a privilege it's been to work alongside these fine professionals!“We are extremely proud of the IDEA editorial team,” says Kathie Davis, executive director of IDEA. “Their commitment to producing the industry’s most high-quality and educational print fitness magazines has been recognized with yet another prestigious award. The fact that their professional magazine industry peers have recognized them as best in class among many others vying for this magazine award is a testament to the gold standard quality they deliver. Their expertise in packaging practical fitness articles for fitness professionals around the world on the most relevant health and fitness topics has helped IDEA stay at the forefront of this industry."Past Maggie Awards for this IDEA team include the following:2005: Best Health, Fitness Beauty & Fashion/Trade Publication2006: Best How-To Article/Trade (“Shaping a Healthier Future for America’s Children”)2007: Best Health & Fitness/Trade Publication2008: Best Web E-Newsletter/Trade & Consumer, Inner IDEA Body-Mind-Spirit Review Congratulations to one and all!
A few years ago, I discovered spinning and threw myself into it. I went three times a week for about a year, which dwindled to twice weekly, which dwindled to once a month (in a good month). What happened? Did I just burn out? I’m pretty steady in my fitness pursuits, so I’ve often wondered why I lost interest in it. Last night I gained a bit of clarity on the matter.I’m training for a half Ironman later this year and getting back into indoor cycling is important to my success. Yesterday after work, I jumped into the 5:30 pm spin class at my gym and concluded that the missing ingredient for me has been a good instructor. I suspected that was the issue, but there’s nothing like taking a class from a really great teacher—or one whose style overlays well with the way you approach training—to make you realize this. Bryant Crouch, a longtime IDEA member, has been teaching the Wednesday class at my club since I first got in the saddle a few years back. His workouts are challenging, but they seem to be more fun than hard because of his motivational approach. The time flies by as he plants great imagery in my head or challenges me to reach down and find a little extra. He does this without screaming into the mic, without getting in my face while I’m trying to ride in relative post-work anonymity, and without doing any ridiculous acrobatics or contortions that road cyclists would never do anyway. With Bryant, it’s about good form, mind-body-breath connection and healthy structure in the work he plans. When we wrapped up the final push, something he said really stuck with me. “The hard work is done now…we don’t ‘ride to death’ in this class, we ‘ride to life. We ride until we feel alive.’” How great and healthy is the simplicity of that thought? Are you riding/working your clients and students to death or are you making them feel more alive? Have regulars dropped out? Do you plan your classes or sessions around what you need to get out of them or around what your students need? If you’re not sure, ask one of your regulars how you’re doing or ask for general feedback from the class. You might be surprised what you find out. Share any anecdotes or insights about your experiences in the comment box below.
If you’ve ever been to Jazz Festival in New Orleans—or if you’ve ever spent time in the great state of Louisiana, period—you know it’s all about food and fun. For the second straight year, IDEA membership director Annina Torri and I took a quick vacation down South to visit our friend and IDEA member Charlie Hoolihan, personal training director for the stunning Pelican Athletic Club (PAC) in Mandeville, on Lake Pontchartrain’s north shore. (Charlie and me, below) We arrived on Wed night, April 29, drove across the causeway to our home away from home and the calorie fest began almost immediately. Charlie, who is a terrific cook, had a delicious one-pot meal of chicken and noodle stew simmering on the stove. We dove in and didn’t look back, except for maybe where the next glass of wine was coming from.We spent most of Thursday and Friday kicking around the Fest sampling as much great food as we did music. I can’t even begin to talk about the many delicious dishes I ate or I’ll spend the rest of the day drooling on my keyboard as I remember the delight of it all. “The air is deep fried down here,” as Charlie is wont to say. I don’t even eat fried food, but they do this stuff up right. It’s “slap yo’ mama” good, and a once-per-year splurge into it—especially when tempered by exercise—is certainly not a crime. Here’s where the fitness aspect comes in. In order to eat like the strapping Southern boy that seems to control my appetite, each day I made it a point to earn my calories before I consumed them. Thursday and Sunday I got up early and ran 6 miles before breakfast; Friday I went up on the roof of Charlie’s house (an expansive deck that overlooks the beautiful Tchefuncta River) and concocted a grueling circuit for myself using 1.5 liter club soda bottles for weights and balance props, and a bathroom rug for a mat. Side note: If your clients still think they need anything other than body weight and imagination to work out on their own, then you’re not doing your job as an educator! Here’s an idea: Challenge your clients with a homework assignment to come up with a 1-hour workout (including dynamic warm-up and cool-down) using only 2 props and see what they come back to you with. You’ll know whether your lessons are getting through or not. They have to be able to take the “tools” you’re giving them and apply them when you’re not around (which is most of the time). The highlight of my fitness-for-food extravaganza was when Charlie invited us to his spinning class on Saturday morning. Our little group piled into the car, got a quick tour of the beautiful PAC (which looks like a plantation house—see photo), met some members and got into the saddle to sweat out the previous day’s damage. Charlie has his cycling group, who are mostly regulars, on a 6-week periodized plan. He customizes intervals for sprinters, middle distance and “enduros” (the unfortunate Type I fiber people like me), cuing intensity and rest as needed for each. It was an awesome way to start the day. The sweaty glow of our little group, which included IDEA member and PAC personal trainer Mary Beth Simmons, says it all (see the PAC, below and Charlie, Mary Beth, Sandy Todd Webster & Annina Torri). From there, famished, we headed straight for the grocery store to provision ourselves for a big breakfast, our pool party that afternoon and a chicken tamale dinner that night. Fitness-fun-food: it really is the circle of life—or at least it’s my little slice of heaven. Charlie—we need to start planning next year’s menu!
The last day of any IDEA conference is always bittersweet for me. I’m sad that all the excitement is over and will miss seeing so many friends and colleagues until our next event, but at the same time, I’m exhausted and ready to go home! Plus, it’s been raining here for the past 3 days and today it’s cold to boot. I’m ready for some California sunshine back at IDEA’s San Diego HQ.First and foremost, a very heartfelt thank you from the IDEA staff to all of our attendees, fantastic educators and our marketing partners who filled the Expo Hall with terrific products and bargains. We are grateful for your support!As usual, I’m taking home a lot of great memories and a whole notebook of new concepts to explore in the pages of our publications and as made-to-order content ideas for the IDEA website.Here are a few areas I’ll be drilling into deeper based on conversations I had with delegates and presenters, questions I heard in sessions and general observations of what seems to be on people’s minds.
- Small Group and Partner Training. We’ve already done a lot on this topic, so be sure to check the IDEA Library for resources. However, there are a lot of nuances in this business model yet to be explored. We’ll be looking into programming for partners and for groups up to 10 strong. Also, while it’s clear this is a lucrative model, how do we systematize what we’re doing to maximize dollars earned and keep the administrative overhead low? How do you arrive at the right price point, etc?
- Program Design for Older Adults. We all know the stats on the volume of older adult exercisers flooding the market. Have you researched this special population's powerful potential for your club or training business? Do you understand how to communicate with them? What kind of programming is appropriate in the group and personal training settings? Look for a new column dedicated to this topic beginning in September IDEA Fitness Journal.
- Step Programming. There was some interesting discussion here about how instructors are overcomplicating high-low for their participants. Is it because instructors are not challenged unless they throw in advanced choreography? Are group leaders designing classes for themselves or with the participant in mind? Are we killing participant enthusiasm with too many bells and whistles?
- Stretching. There seems to be a lot of confusion out there about what safe, effective best practices are. What does the research say? How should we proceed with clients?
- Childhood Obesity. How can we give kids back the power of play or a sense of entitlement about making decisions about their playtime activities? As Brian Grasso, who presented two kids-related topics here yesterday said, “When we stop making passive passengers out of kids and start expecting them to be the active drivers of their activity, that’s when we change the physical culture.”
…this barely scratches the surface on interesting content, but I still have to pack and catch a plane, so I’ll leave you with those thoughts for now. Even if you weren’t at Fitness Fusion, I’d love to hear what areas you’re challenged by and how we can present those better for you. Please take a moment to jot a note in the comment area below so the community can weigh in or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can dialogue about it. Meanwhile, please check back here often, as I have almost an hour’s worth of great video clips from sessions to post and many, many photographs. For immediate gratification, join the IDEA Health & Fitness Association Fan Page on Facebook. There are already three photo albums from the Fusion event posted. For all you do to Inspire the World to Fitness®, IDEA salutes you!
There is more talent and personality embodied by IDEA presenters in the Rosemont, Illinois, Hyatt at this moment than I can possibly even fathom. There is the usual star power—Blahnik, Purvis, Glick, Kolber, Roskopf, Murphy, Anderson, Fable, McMillan (x 2), Brooks, etcetera. Too many to mention or count, really. And then there is newly mined gold that IDEA conference programming director Aprile Peishel has carefully cultivated to ensure that conference education stays fresh and relevant to today’s fitness professional. In 8 years of covering IDEA programming for the publications and our conference blogs, I can remember some exciting days when I was lit on fire by one or two new presenters’ material or by a unique teaching style. But today turned out to be a banner day for this. I felt like I hit the jackpot in the many sessions I attended. Here is a glimpse of some of the new (and not so new, but newly discovered to me) talent in the fabulous IDEA presenter brain trust: · Okay, so Fabio Comana isn’t new to IDEA’s program, but I’ll start with him because he impressed me with his amazing command over a broad range of very complex topics. He presided over 3 fascinating and very useful lectures/workshops on metabolic training, balance training and functional regressions emphasizing triplanar movement. He also is a nutrition expert. Next time you get the opportunity, make sure you sign up for one of his sessions.· Wendy Williamson, PhD, is new to our line-up. She is an experienced educator who consults by helping facilities train their trainers and who also works on the front lines of medical fitness full time. She kicked off her IDEA teaching debut with a session about training trainers and went on to show her versatility by speaking about women and the lumbo-pelvic puzzle and spinal stabilization.· Jill Winegar steered the STOTT PILATES® curriculum here with an opening day precon on working with Pilates props and additional sessions yesterday and today on total body toning, using the stability ball for Pilates, and STOTT PILATES Fitness Circle® Flow. Her teaching style and use of a model to demonstrate as she cues and explains things are excellent.· Shari Kalkstein, PTA, CSCS, knows her stuff and delivers her material in totally no-nonsense style, but with a flair of humor that had me doubled over with laughter at times. She has an impressive knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics and uses her therapy background to bolster her training services. With more aging seniors joining the ranks daily, her knowledge of and experience with postural issues for older adults is sorely needed today and was welcomed by those who attended the session. · Donna Hutchinson is not new to presenting by any means, but new to IDEA audiences. Her experience and confidence combine with an approachability that invited a conversational air to her presentations. Here are five quick steps she provided for creating innovative and edgy new programs: 1. Identify the need. 2. Create the experience. 3. Have the right people. 4. Get pumped! 5. Evaluate.· Melissa Baumgartner is a personal trainer, life coach and corporate worksite specialist who brought a freshness and enthusiasm for the psychological dimension of fitness to the Fusion program. I ran into her in the hallway after one of her sessions and her powerful question asking and excellent listening helped flip a couple of switches for me regarding career issues…just like that. She’s good! · Brett Klika left attendees wanting more after his Sports Star in 60 Minutes presentation. A protégé of the Todd Durkin Fitness Quest 10 school of inspiration and “edutainment,” Klika has a rare magic and the type of magnetism that draws people to him effortlessly. He huddled up all of his sweaty, exhausted students at session’s end and told them if they want more from being a fitness professional or from anything in life, they have to BE more. He had every one of us believing we could do anything! The best thing about all of these presenters—veterans and newbies alike—is that they are humble, approachable and classy professionals who are genuinely interested in sharing their knowledge and ensuring attendees have a top notch experience. They know that by inspiring their students at these events, they are putting one more strong link in the most kinetic chain of them all—to Inspire the World to Fitness®.
It’s a beautiful spring day here (in the low 80s) in Chicago and the first full day of programming at 2009 IDEA Fitness Fusion is wrapped up. Fusion couldn’t be a more apt name for this event. Concepts from all corners of fitness have fused and morphed and overlaid beautifully over the past few years to give pros from all disciplines interesting and meaningful training choices for their clients. Today I saw, photographed and videotaped everything from athletic sport performance circuits, nutrition and functional moves for group exercise to high-low step, life coaching, Pilates and yoga. There is a lot of detail I’m leaving out on programming. With more than 50 offerings on today’s schedule alone, I wouldn’t have room to describe everything here. Such breadth of quality classes makes it challenging to choose just a single class per time block, and fortunately (or not), as an IDEA editor, I don’t get that luxury anyway. I was in and out of at least two-thirds of what was scheduled today and my head is kind of spinning right now with all the cool concepts I saw. It will take a day or two for all of this to really sink in. One of the neatest “new” things I saw was Indo-Row®, an updated rowing machine concept that is reportedly all the rage in group ex in Los Angeles. Fusion attendees are among the first fitness pros around the world to see it in action and Jay Blahnik and Josh Crosby presented it well. The organic-looking, wooden-bodied rower has a low-profile, clear plastic tank (a circle about two feet in diameter) on the foot end, with paddles inside that create resistance and a nice whooshing sound on the back stroke. The design looks like something you’d see in the lobby furniture of an austere, arty, high-end hotel. The mechanics were butter smooth and the noise level was pretty low (remember those horrible loud rowers of yesteryear?) Attendees worked in teams, as partners and as a crew for this fun, high-intensity workout. With Jay coaching, it’s hard to not get a good workout and leave with a smile. Another piece of equipment that’s been around for a little while, but that I’d not seen in action yet is the MVe™ Fitness Chair by Peak Pilates. Cherry Herzog explained that the concept of the chair takes Joseph Pilates’ vision of the Wunda Chair a step further. Small enough for the home and with the versatility to use it for total body conditioning, it looks to have interesting potential as a tool for training multi-joint, multi-planar movement, strength and endurance, dynamic flexibility and propulsive strength and endurance. The third new tool I saw demonstrated is the tether system Douglas Brooks was using in the BOSU® Athletic Balance workshop. Basically, it’s an elastic band encased in soft accordion-like material that clamps on either end to belts worn by training partners or to the wall if you’re training alone (like rock climbing gear, but not bulky at all). They can be used for many drills—your imagination’s the limit. Today Douglas employed them for balance perturbation. Once partner would leap onto the BOSU (dome up) and find his balance point; meanwhile, the training partner would pull on the cord and move it from side to side to try to unbalance his partner. I have some good video of this that I’ll upload early next week and link to these pages, so be sure to check back! Tomorrow’s program is equally packed, so tune in again for more from this exciting event.
If there’s one thing I love about working in the fitness industry, it’s the variety of things I get to try. Take today, for instance. I flew into Chicago a couple of days before the start of our 2009 IDEA Fitness Fusion Conference so I could visit Nicki Anderson, 2009 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, who also happens to be a dear friend. Aside from all the fun we had in the city yesterday on a wonderful architectural tour of historically significant buildings in the downtown loop, we shared a lot of conversation and exchanged many ideas about what’s happening in the industry. Very enlightening, good stuff! Here are two highlights from today:
- We got up earlyish, walked to her studio in downtown Naperville, Illinois, and dove into a pretty intense workout. About halfway through, it dawned on me that I was training with one of the real elites in our business and was delighted at my great luck of having this opportunity. There was Nicki sweating next to me as she counted out reps, cued me on form and kept me going with her abundance of energy and humor. My muscles were trembling when we finished the creative cardio-strength circuit work.
The last time I was at Nicki’s studio in 2007, it was in the middle of a remodel and frankly, it wasn’t pretty; but at least it gave me perspective for my visit today. The result of the remodel is a bright, colorful, flowing space with many private rooms for her primarily female clientele. Nicki has discovered over the years that her clients thrive in this protective setting. By providing such an environment, Reality Fitness helps women achieve their goals and change their lives in a safe comfort zone.
- Nicki writes a weekly fitness column for a local newspaper. This week she chose to research and report on a local pole fitness enterprise that has opened in Naperville. A few hours after our morning workout, we drove over to Tease and Dance Fitness and were warmly welcomed by owner Kristin Hubbard. Kristin’s philosophy for women is to “Be Confident; Be Sexy; Be Strong,” and I definitely got the sense that she lives and breathes it. At first glance, her space appears to be the polar opposite of Nicki’s. It’s open, it’s dark—it’s sensuous with wafts of lilac and patchouli wafting through the candle-lit studio. There are 4 poles in the room forming a “circle” with an old antique chandelier softly illuminating the center and colorful, silky material forming an exotic “tent” overhead. But then it dawned on me that, beneath the surface, this space wasn't so unlike Nicki's afterall. It also is a "safe" environment for women. It was dark, comfortable and pretty. It was so unlike a regular fitness facility that I could see why so many women who otherwise would never set foot in a gym would feel unintimidated about being here.
Kristin put us through the dynamic warm-up and training portion of the class (about 45 minutes), which included Pilates variations, yoga and some strength and stretching work. Mostly, what it achieved for me was a way to connect with my body—to get in tune with it and appreciate all it does for me as an athlete and as a woman. It also helped put me at ease about what was to come next—maneuvering on the pole! It was fun. It was dizzying (figuratively and literally). It was damn hard! Talk about an athletic activity! Anyone who makes fun of this form of dance and gymnastics or thinks it’s easy has never tried it. It somehow seems appropriate that I heard today that people are petitioning it for a slot in the Olympics. Why not!? Do you know what kind of strength it takes to shimmy up a pole gracefully and then flip yourself into a superman position sideways? That’s all core, baby! Kristin’s stunts were incredible, and she performed them all with the iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove finesse that only a very strong, very flexible woman can pull off well. Although I’m bruised and a little sore, I vow to become a disciple of it when I get back to San Diego! The greatest thing about both experiences with Nicki and Kristin is the common thread of empowering women. Nicki’s private rooms and no-nonsense approach give women the strength and confidence they need to move forward on the sometimes rocky road toward fitness, weight loss and, indeed, life. Kristin’s approach puts women back in touch with their bodies and makes them connect to the very essence of being a woman. She works with everyone from beginners (including overweight and deconditioned) to advanced students. She told us she has watched women blossom under the dim lights of her studio and learn to love their bodies and themselves again. As I mentioned, it was a great way to spend the day. What a wonderfully diverse industry we work in! Have you had a similar experience? Does your studio do something unique to empower women? Share your thoughts with me in the comment box below.