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! firstname.lastname@example.org.