Pete McCall by Pete McCall

Educational opportunities abound at IDEA World, including workouts, interactive workshops and lectures to help fitness professionals stay current on exercise research. The wide variety of workouts available allow attendees to try a variety of new equipment and programming options from some of the top fitness professionals and companies in the world. In addition, the trade show and expo feature an extensive array of vendors offering products, services and programs to help you help your clients live healthier lives.

After having conversations with several attendees at last week’s IDEA World, I’ve made 10 observations.

What I Loved

  1. One of my favorite things about IDEA World is the amazing energy created when so many like-minded professionals gather in one place. I’ve been to almost every IDEA World since 2005 and each year it keeps getting bigger and attracting more people from around the world. Every year IDEA is a chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues as well as expanding your social network by meeting new people from inside and outside of the industry. In this day and age it is always fun to meet people you've been following on social media.
  1. The field of health coaching is expanding, and a number of sessions featured specific strategies for how fitness professionals can integrate health coaching into their businesses. Fitness professionals are already knowledgeable about how to design exercise programs to get results but understanding how to coach clients to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors is a different skillset. Fitness professionals with the skills to serve as health coaches will likely have increasing career opportunities in the next few years. The ACE Behavior Change Specialty Certification and the Health Coach certification are both great resources for developing the knowledge and skills needed to provide these services.
  1. Over the years IDEA World has evolved into a variety of tracks that focus on specific aspects of the fitness industry. Whether you’re a fitness blogger, studio owner and or fitness professional who wants to learn more about influencing behavior change, this year’s IDEA World offered specific courses to help meet those needs.
  1. Announcing the winners at the opening ceremony is a great idea and is a chance to recognize the winners for their contributions to our industry. This year’s winners were Ken Wiechert for Instructor of the Year, Carol Michaels for Personal Trainer of the Year and Grace DeSimone for Program Director of the Year. In addition P90X creator, Tony Horton, received the Jack LaLanne Award and Olympic Gold Medalist, Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, received the inspiration award for turning a devastating injury into an opportunity to motivate others.
  1. From foam rollers to vibration platforms to massage chairs to supplements the trade show featured a plethora of products designed to promote post-exercise recovery. Likewise, the educational sessions featured workshops and lectures on specific recovery strategies. We know exercise imposes physical demands which lead to specific physiological adaptations; exercise is merely the stimulus, and the body will actually adapt to make the desired changes during the recovery period after a workout. Fitness professionals who know how to implement successful recovery strategies will set themselves apart from their competition.
  1. I love the fact that the expo hall is open to the general public; what better way to inspire the world to love fitness than by allowing average consumers to see and experience all that the trade show has to offer? A medical doctor, professional photographer, Special Forces operator, professional boxer and elementary school teacher were among the folks I met walking through the trade show. Even though they lack a specialized knowledge of exercise science, the general public, like fitness professionals, plays an important role in determining the products, programs and services that can provide the best solutions.
  1. The LA Convention Center is a top-notch location. There are plenty of hotel, food and entertainment options within walking distance so you don’t have to get in your car (or rent one if you’re flying in) over the course of the event, which is a good thing because LA traffic is so bad that Jay Leno once said, “If traffic gets any worse we'll be driving backwards.”
  1. IDEA World is truly an international event; I had sessions with people from Portugal, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Canada and Sweden. In addition, I ran into friends from Singapore, Jakarta, Moscow and Manila as well as working with other master trainers from the United Kingdom and Germany.

Some Potential Areas of Improvement

  1. One comment I heard from a number of participants was that there were so many high quality sessions offered at the same time that it was difficult to pick the best one(s) to attend. Other conferences will offer the same session at different times in an effort to allow attendees to participate in all of them. This would be a great thing to implement at future IDEA events.
  1. IDEA is doing a fantastic job of engaging attendees with their Challenge Arena, which is an awesome opportunity to allow participants to experience a variety of workouts from top instructors. While I did not see all of the events happening in the Challenge Arena, I did see some video and a discussion thread on Facebook about one exercise in particular that left me a little concerned about the potential for injury. The Challenge Arena is a fabulous idea, but let’s be mindful of the programming; an exercise does not need to be overly difficult or cause discomfort to be effective.

Final Thoughts

The fitness industry does many things well but we are still not appealing to a wide swath of the general public. Rather than creating high intensity everything, we need to take a step back and focus on getting the basics right by simply coaching people how to add more activity to their daily habits. IDEA World featured a number of companies and scores of sessions designed for the sole purpose of helping people exercise, but, as my friend David Jack pointed out, Pokemon Go, launched a week before this year’s event, has done a tremendous job of getting people moving. Maybe we're making things too complicated. 

If you want to update your skills and experience IDEA World, the 2017 show is being held in Las Vegas, where I probably WON'T be doing a post-conference blog because what happens in Vegas, well, you know. So don’t miss it!