I should have stuck around John Blievernicht’s balance training class a little bit longer yesterday. I could have used some extra agility and proprioception this morning when I tripped over a hose during an early morning run and face planted myself directly in front of the turnstyles at the hallowed gates of the Magic Kingdom. It wasn’t pretty but I wish I had video, because the one guy who witnessed it was probably trying not to crack up. Well, at least I was first in line to see the Mouse! Too bad I couldn’t stay. It was just 5:15 AM so even a sliver of daybreak would have helped, but that was still over an hour away. After I ran out of sidewalk, I slipped into the convention center at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (conference HQ) and methodically moved from ballroom to ballroom using med balls, resistance cords, stability balls, BOSU® Balance Trainers—whatever I could find lying around that I needed to finish an invigorating full-body workout. Ryan (Halvorson, IDEA associate editor and also my personal trainer) would have been so proud of me…I even did the wicked BOSU Burpee Pushups! The maintenance guys finishing the night shift thought I was nuts. As I sweated my way through the workout, I processed the fun of the previous day and knowledge overload to try and clear some space for what I knew would be more of the same today. A highlight of Friday evening for me had to be when I met IDEA member Charles “Charlie” Chege Kinugi at the welcome reception. Turns out Charlie had never been on an airplane in his life and he’d only been out of his home town once in those many years. I was humbled nearly speechless when he told me he had traveled all the way from Nairobi, Kenya (a 20-something hour flight) to join us at our conference. Like the rest of us, he is on a quest for knowledge, but he has to plan a bit more carefully, save financial resources over a longer period and step further out of his comfort zone than any of us just to get here. That’s the kind of story I inevitably find at IDEA conferences. The dedication of fitness professionals to improve themselves and be the best trainers they can be is nothing short of astonishing to me sometimes. Look for Charlie’s photo (and lots of others) in the conference photo blog. Connect, Expand, Solidify There’s something about breaking bread with a group that helps us to relate better to each other. It’s a familiar, comfortable, universal ritual for most of us and I think we relax when we eat together and share. Breakfast today was yet another opportunity (the fourth of five hosted meals at this event) for this newly formed community of PFTs and educators to connect, expand and solidify. It was networking at its finest. Business cards were exchanged all around the room, as were challenges, hopes and dreams for PFT careers and entrepreneurial business models. A balanced breakfast—that even included Mickey Mouse-shaped waffles—fueled everyone up for the activities of the day. Turns out that these calories were seriously needed to propel everyone through intense movement workshops and keep minds alert for absorbing information throughout the morning. I Like to Move It, Move It! Activity blocks included Douglas Brooks’ BOSU Progressions for Personal Trainers (he told me later the class could be 7 days long with all the potential iterations for these exercises); a great study on dynamic warm-ups by Loren Landow; the “Functional Movement Screen” by Lee Burton, PhD; and a sweaty, raucous course with Fraser Quelch on TRX® Suspension Training techniques for functional strength, core conditioning and flexibility (talk about potential exercise permutations! Wow!). Sustenance burned up, attendees emerged ready for another healthy buffet lunch and a little break before the next time block.Industry Issues Afternoon lunch sessions/breakouts touched upon issues that PFTs come up against often.
- Scope of Practice—Where Fitness Ends and Nutrition Begins with Beth Wolfgram, MS, RD, provided some excellent hypothetical case studies to get delegates thinking about whether they’d advise the client or refer them. She walked the class through each scenario asking key questions about what trainers can and cannot do: (a.) Are you the right health pro to be doing nutrition counseling? (b.) Are you within your ethical scope of practice? and (c.) Are you within your expertise and skill level? If there’s ever any doubt, it’s likely you’re over the line. Interestingly the trainers in the room were split on several of the examples, which demonstrates how vast the gray areas are in this arena.
- Nicki Anderson, Darren Jacobson and Tony Tamules formed a lively panel for discussion on pricing training services. It’s no secret that many PFTs struggle with how much to charge and often give themselves the short end of the stick. They wonder about giving away free sessions in packages and, if they’re in management and have trainer employees, how much the split between the house and the trainer should be—or if a flat rate is the better solution. The questions were looked at from the vantage points of the panelists’ vast experience and different business models, and provided a well-rounded base for attendees to take home and help them make sound decisions. The final word on this topic was to base your pricing on not only what your particular market will bear, but on your customer’s perceived value of what she is paying for. If you’re priced right and deliver what your clients want (or exceed that consistently), she will gladly pay without expecting anything for free. What’s more, you’ll get the referrals that satisfied customers send your way.
- Greg Mack, whose business model in Columbus, Ohio, is based on physician referral, guided delegates on how to approach, establish and nurture excellent relationships with physicians, physical therapists and other allied health pros. Earlier in the day, Greg and I chatted about how well his business was performing and he commented that a new physician relationship he’d been cultivating for some time recently panned out. In a very short time span, she had sent him at least a dozen new clients. Proof that it works!
Final Notes and Anecdotes
- Darren Jacobsen flew in on Thursday from Cape Town, South Africa, as faculty for the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute. Not surprisingly, his body clock was a little out of whack. He woke up raring to go at about 3 AM on Friday morning. Bored, he turned on the television. Ironically, he said there was nothing to watch except Tom Purvis doing the Bowflex infomercial! I told him he could chuck the all-day Purvis lecture off his Friday list since he’d already spent quality time with him that day!
- For those of you who attended, if you didn’t meet presenter Todd Durkin’s Mom, it was most definitely your loss. The following was a classic, funny moment and another fine example of irony. Todd was just settling into “the zone” on his 3-hour “Great Trainer—Great Business?” lecture when the annoying scream of a cell phone started sounding off. Everyone looked around and Todd stopped just long enough to observe his dear 75-year-old mother diving for her bag and high tailing it out of the room as fast as her legs would carry her. “That old lady is in trouble!” he yelled after her goodheartedly as she scrambled out the door. You can just imagine the laughter that ensued. A light, fun moment. See a picture of Todd and his Mom in the photo blog.
- Every time I ran into presenter Chuck Wolf in the hallway, he was carrying around a nasty-looking flesh-colored fake foot. The way he cradled it in the nook of his arm reminded me of Paris Hilton and one of her Chihuahuas—they never seemed to be apart. He uses the foot for demonstration purposes of pronation and supination in his various function workshops. For some reason (maybe lack of sleep or something got jarred loose in my head when I wiped out on the run this morning) I thought this thing was hysterical. We started goofing around with it, and before we knew it, a bunch of us had all practically started crying from laughing so hard. It starred in its own special photo shoot, which you can see in the photo blog as well.
You see? These events are all about learning, sharing…and best of all…LAUGHING with your new and old friends. Cheers and talk to you tomorrow.