IDEA World Convention is the largest and longest-running convention for fitness professionals in the world, and this was my fifth time attending it.
This year, in 2022, it was held in Las Vegas, both at the Westgate Resort & Casino and the Las Vegas Convention Center. Today, I’m going to tell you what I learned at IDEA World Convention 2022, and I’m also going to give you some thoughts on the conference this year.
By the way, this year also marked the 40th anniversary of the inception of the IDEA Health & Fitness Association (the event host), so it was momentous. The theme for the convention was “I am limitless.” And that’s an idea we can all get behind.
What I learned at IDEA World Convention 2022 in Las Vegas
I went to a lot of sessions, workshops and workouts over the course of the convention. And rather than break out the individual sessions by name, I’ve decided to group things into themes, with more general insight for you as the everyday person.
I learned plenty of specific exercise moves, techniques and more that matter to me as a group fitness instructor, but this is information that you can hopefully use in your life right now, whether you work in fitness or not. Let’s get to it …
Every body is unique, and everyone will move differently, and that’s okay.
One of the overarching themes I came away with in my sessions this year was to remember and know that every single body is different. Long ago in the fitness world, we’d use very strict cues to get people into positions, and if someone couldn’t do it properly, they had “bad form.” But that’s not the way we see it any longer. Depending on your flexibility, height, torso length, mobility, fitness level and much more, your push-up, squat, deadlift, plie and lunge may look differently from someone else.
As long as someone is doing a movement without pain and feeling the right muscles activating, then it’s okay if their form looks a little different. I can definitely take this idea back to my classes to come up with more inclusive cueing for moves, particularly in my Barbell Strength class, which does tend to be a bit more strict with repetitive lifting/movement pattern cues.
As an example: I attended a session about the science behind training the glutes, and we learned that the old rule that you shouldn’t squat below 90 degrees because it hurts the knees is completely invalid, having been debunked by research. You actually get more muscle recruitment from squatting lower, and as long as it doesn’t hurt someone, they are free to squat below 90. And the width of your feet and rotation of your feet in your squatting stance is entirely up to you and what feels best for your body. Once again, every body is different and will move differently.
(I walked around a lot in these sneakers, and my feet felt great. This is my fourth pair of this same style. Love them!)
Fitness is no longer just about looking good, it’s about feeling good and living longer.
Another thing that I heard mentioned many times this year was the fact that many of us were saved by fitness during the COVID pandemic, and the importance of fitness has shifted and grown. It’s not just aesthetics. It’s way more than that. (Although you wouldn’t know that if you do a quick look under the #fitness hashtag on Instagram with people baring it all and setting poor examples for what being fit means.)
During the last couple of years, many people began to realize they couldn’t take their health for granted any longer. And they needed to be proactive about their own wellness, both to fight off disease and to extend their healthy years. It couldn’t be just about aesthetics any longer, because that doesn’t mean the same thing as health.
In the past, I’ve heard many more physical/appearance cueing at these types of conferences, but not this year. It’s not, “keep squatting to get a cute booty.” Instead, it’s “keep moving in ways that feel right to you, so you can improve your life.” That’s so powerful. This is how I live, and this is what resonates with me. I don’t teach group exercise classes to look a certain way. I teach them because I have a love of movement and community, and I love the way this type of exercise with others makes people feel so darn good. And confidence is the best-looking feature you can have, my friend.
This is another reason that studio classes and gyms are rebounding so much right now, because being in person makes people feel good. People want community, and they missed the in-person element of working out together, so they’re heading back to classes and ditching solely home workouts (with many people choosing a combination of home/studio). I missed live group fitness so much when I went without it for about a year, even though I was teaching virtually. Boy, I don’t ever want to lose it again.
It’s not about the instructor or the trainer, it’s about the member or the client. Fitness professionals need to thank and appreciate those who work out with us.
During the opening ceremonies, the personal trainer of the year for 2022 said something that really stuck with me. He said that, as trainers, you need to thank your clients and appreciate them for spending time with you, not just because they’re spending money with you, but because they’re spending their valuable time.
So often, class members thank me on the way out of our workouts, and while I appreciate that, I always say “thank you” back, instead of “you’re welcome.” I have always thought about thanking them, and now I’m thinking about it even more.
The members/clients are choosing to spend their time with the instructors and the trainers. And as fitness professionals, we can never forget that and continue to show our respect and love for the people who come to work out with us.
Another really great tip I learned for trainers who work on the floor is this: You should not give diet/lifestyle/coaching advice to your clients while you’re training them, during the actual training session. It’s very hard for people to focus and remember your tips in a workout, so you need to schedule separate interview/coaching sessions just before the workout, off the floor in a private area, if you can, to get the most benefit. This can be an up-charge too, but we’re getting a little technical with that aspect. And remember, you can’t give meal plans or supplement recommendations, unless you get additional certifications over and above personal training.
There is no perfect diet, and the best way to eat is in a way that’s balanced and works for you and your lifestyle. And eat more protein throughout the day.
This conference is not about promoting a certain diet or lifestyle. It’s about looking at the research and teaching fitness professionals and nutrition professionals to coach others to make healthier and better choices for themselves. Not once did we ever talk about how to get people to eat perfectly. That’s not realistic. And oftentimes, if people set out to follow a strict diet or label, they are setting themselves up for failure. We can only have so much willpower, and once it runs out, it’s not because we’re bad people, it just means we ran out of willpower for something that was a bit too hard for us.
I attended a nutrition session about how to enhance your performance, and the speakers led with the idea that every active adult needs sports nutrition, no matter if you’re an athlete or not. We all need to care about fueling our performance for life. Fuel matters.
This session covered both general and more advanced nutrition principles, and the speakers all stressed the idea that everyone needs a balanced diet with carbs, protein and fat. While everyone has different nutrition needs, we all need to eat adequate protein throughout the day to support muscle growth and repair. The ideal amount of protein is .7-.8 grams per bodyweight. That would be 105-120 grams of protein per day for a 150-pound person. This amount goes up with activity level and goals, but that’s the baseline. And I bet that’s a lot more protein than you’re eating, right?
We did get into the nitty gritty about which minerals support which functions in the body (vitamin B for energy, vitamin C for immune support, vitamin D for protein synthesis and omega-3s for recovery and anti-inflammation), but the big thing to know is this: Carbs are the primary source of fuel in the body, so you need to eat carbohydrates before you exercise. You also want to eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein after your workout to support repair and recovery. Finally, you have to stay hydrated, no matter what you eat, and if you’re working out for longer than 60 minutes, you’ll likely need to replace some electrolytes too. I tried an LMNT powder packet in my water at the conference, and it was delish, so that’s a great electrolyte option for you.
And a reminder: If your diet is so strict you’re running out of willpower to stick to it, you need to find a new diet. And wellness professionals need to remember that what works for us may not work for our clients. We have to meet them where they’re at.
A recap of three new-to-me workouts I tried at IDEA World Convention 2022
My favorite part of this conference (in addition to hanging out with like-minded fitness folks) has always been trying new group fitness classes. Here are three that I did at IDEA World 2022 …
HIGH Low Fitness
I finally tried a HIGH Fitness class, and it was a total blast. HIGH Fitness is a cardio-based, bodyweight-only workout set to super-popular music, and it’s all about having a really fun time while sweating. You’re doing a little bit of old-school aerobics, modernized, with contemporary pulsing tunes that you’d hear on the radio. The instructors don’t use a microphone and mostly cue with their body and a little bit of verbal shouting.
It was fairly easy to follow, it was just the right challenge, and I totally enjoyed it. There are a few versions of HIGH Fitness, and I tried HIGH Low, which is a version that doesn’t include any burpees or big jumps, but you still get a major cardio benefit. HIGH Fitness isn’t offered near me, but I’d love to take it again one day. Big fan of the fun! And I’m totally pulling from some of the moves for future cardio sections of the classes I teach at Life Time.
Pumped Up Strength
I was so excited to try a Pumped Up Strength class, with Lauren George, who I met at a previous IDEA World and follow on Instagram, and it was even better than I expected. This class is all about functional movements that are easy to follow and that work more than one muscle group at a time to get you fit. While we used a resistance band at IDEA, the workout is normally done with dumbbells, so it’s mostly strength, even though you do get your heart-rate pumping at times.
The cool thing is that the workouts are periodized, so even though it’s a pre-choreographed program, instructors will introduce more intensity halfway through the month adding onto the moves (periodization means adding challenges, either by increasing volume, weight or even complexity, and it’s a great way to get results). We talked a lot about periodization at this conference, by the way, so make sure you’re including that in your workout plan.
Lauren George is the creator and she also provides the music through FitRadio, all of which is around 130 BPM, I believe. The workout she taught was unique, tough and definitely effective. Once again, I’ll be pulling some moves from it. And if I were to choose one workout I did at IDEA that I’d want to do again on my own as my regular personal workout, it would be Pumped Up Strength.
I had also always wanted to try a Barre Above workout as well. I had actually considered going through the Barre Above training a few years ago when I was teaching Bootybarre and thinking of moving on to another program, because I had heard good things. I definitely prefer the Barre Above format to Bootybarre now that I’ve experienced it.
Barre Above is more fluid, more dynamic, includes larger full-body movements and seems a bit more welcoming. I took the class with the co-creators of the program, Tricia Murphy Madden, Lauren George and Leslee Bender. Fun fact: We used a green bender ball in the workout, which is a plastic fitness ball, made famous by Leslee Bender herself.
The patterns in Barre Above are simple, but the complexity builds throughout the 32-count sequences, and so it’s a good workout that keeps moving, not a boring barre class where you pulse in place for minutes on end. Once again, I discovered some new patterns and combinations I will bring back to my members.
I was eager to try all three of the above workouts and was ecstatic to see them all on the session list. I had a great time in all three workouts, and I learned moves that I will use moving forward. It feels so good to get inspired and broaden my fitness horizons with new programs.
And the presenters for all three were top notch — with two of the programs being presented by the actual program creators (that’s the beauty of going to IDEA World). If you get the chance to take any of the above classes, either virtually or in-person, go for it.
Information and logistics to know about IDEA World Convention for fitness professionals
I’ve purposely made my recap a bit general, but please know there are very specific niche-related sessions you can attend, from powerlifting, to training athletes, to boxing, to equipment-focused, to marketing your solo fitness business and so much more.
My personal favorites this year were a behavior change workshop (getting to the WHY a client has a behavior, and this is the only way to make lasting improvements), a workshop about women leaders (we need more women in leadership, and women MUST support other women on their way up) and of course, the workouts I detailed already. (I also went to a sound-bath healing experience, which was so relaxing, and I’d love to do another again one day.)
Who is the conference for?
This conference is for personal trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, group fitness instructors, group fitness managers, fitness directors, nutrition coaches, health coaches, college students and leaders in the fitness world too. You need to be 18 to attend.
Not only do you get continuing education credits for your certification (I got all I needed for my NASM in one fell swoop), but you also get to network with other fitness professionals at your level, and you hear from those who you aspire to emulate in your career. There really is something for everyone. And many leaders in the fitness world attend and speak, so you can meet them in person and learn from them in the flesh.
You have a chance to select your sessions once you sign up, and you take about four workshops a day, with time to visit the fitness expo. Days started at 7:30 a.m and ended at 5:50 p.m., so it it’s a lot of content and programming.
How much does it cost to attend?
This year, for early birds, the conference registration, along with a one-year IDEA Health & Fitness Association membership was only $281, which is a deal for an almost-four day conference. The hotel was incredibly reasonable with the conference room rate discount (only $125 a night plus a resort fee), so other than travel and food, it’s definitely affordable for the everyday fitness professional.
I calculated how much I spent on my air travel, hotel, registration, Ubers, taxis and all my meals, and the total was $1,650. While I know that seems like a lot, it could have been less, had I had more people in my room and had there been easier healthy food options, so we didn’t have to spend so much for delivery each time (more on that issue below). And, my flight was almost $600 roundtrip, because I was coming from across the country, so there’s that too.
This conference is definitely more doable for those based on the west coast. But, sadly for the east coast folks, there’s no comparable alternative in our time zone. This is the biggest and the best, so it’s worth the trek.
Also, if you’re not sure you can afford it, you could volunteer as part of the support squad to lessen the costs, so that’s an option too. In addition, sometimes fitness centers or brands will send their team to this conference. In the past, I’ve had my registration totally covered by attending the social media/blogging portion, but this time, because that portion didn’t take place, I paid in full as a regular attendee for myself.
If you’re a fitness professional, you need to try to get to this conference at least once. You’re sure to be wowed. I still remember how I felt during my first conference … the wow, the excitement, the drive … I’ve still had a bit of that every time I’ve attended since.
A few thoughts on IDEA World Convention 2022 in Las Vegas
Here’s the deal: This was a “rebuilding conference,” after a couple of pretty tough years for the fitness industry due to COVID, and so it’s a big deal the conference even took place. Props to IDEA Health & Fitness Association for making it happen.
We need this type of conference to support fitness professionals, and we all missed it greatly the last few years. It’s very important for fitness professionals to put more professionalism into fitness, while keeping it fun and inspiring others. This association and convention certainly adds professionalism.
Truthfully, it was quite clear that the conference didn’t appear to be quite as big as it has been in previous years, and I get why. There seemed to be less people, less sessions, less big-name fitness celebrities, and the expo (where you walk around and sample food, fitness technology and workouts) was also a lot smaller, with less vendors showcasing their goods.
That being said, I really enjoyed the sessions I attended, especially the workouts, and everything I learned is directly applicable to my job as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer and wellness writer. I love that there were some new-to-me workouts to try that were right up my alley.
I came away with what I went after, and I even completed all of my continuing education credits to re-certify for two more years for my National Academy of Sports Medicine personal trainer certification, just by attending this one event. That’s a major accomplishment! And I also loved hanging with my roomie and friend, Giselle, over the course of the event …
However, I do need to tell it to you straight: I didn’t like the location this year. I’m a huge fan of Las Vegas, and I’m a huge fan of IDEA World, but I don’t think the two go well together, and I didn’t realize that until I arrived.
The Westgate Resort & Casino is not very nice, and the room I got was small, dark, old and barely had outlets for technology. In addition, in order to get to the sessions, we had to walk through the smoky casino (there literally was no other way). Second-hand smoke and a wellness conference do not mix, if you ask me. If we’re cognizant of our environment affecting our lifestyle choices, it doesn’t seem like an old smoky casino hotel should be the host for the biggest fitness conference of the year. Maybe I’m being harsh, but it was a miss for me.
In addition, the walk between the Las Vegas Convention Center sessions and the Westgate Resort & Casino sessions was about 15 minutes, and that’s if you were really going fast. But because the sessions were all over, that made it tough to make it back and forth all day between activities.
Also, and this is a big one: It was not easy to get healthy and quick meals at this hotel, convention center or in this location. Because Westgate is somewhat off the Strip, you couldn’t really walk anywhere to get a healthy meal or go to the grocery store, like you have been at conferences in Anaheim and Los Angeles in the past. The convention center food court wasn’t even open the first day, and once they did open, only a couple of restaurants were there — not serving the healthiest options either. And when you have thousands of fitness professionals in one place, you need some healthy food to feed them.
While I’m sure some people ordered groceries to be delivered, the tiny fridge in the hotel room likely wouldn’t have even kept food cold, so that didn’t seem like a good idea to me. We made it work, but it wasn’t simple, and it wasn’t ideal food-wise.
Here’s one delicious meal that we had delivered to the convention center, and it was super pricey and took forever, but it was filling. We tried to order the same thing the next day, and it wasn’t available for delivery then. Dang …
All of this said: If the IDEA World Convention is held in Las Vegas again, I don’t think I would attend it. I didn’t like taking in second-hand smoke, watching people drink and gamble and have to spend a ton of money on food delivery (I used both DoorDash and GrubHub) just to get a healthy meal to fuel my excessive movement from this conference.
Once again, it seemed like an odd coupling to be located there, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. End rant.
One more thing is that in all of my previous visits to IDEA World, there has been a social media or blogging tract, which I’ve attended, and there wasn’t one this year. I would’ve loved some more advanced writing/social media/influencer based trainings, but that clearly wasn’t the focus this year, and that’s okay. Once again, I did get what I went for.
Overall and concluding thoughts on IDEA World Convention 2022
Overall, I’m very glad I made the trip to IDEA World Convention 2022, even if I wasn’t pleased with the location. I learned a lot, I came away inspired, and I have some brand new moves/skills/techniques and ideas to deliver to my group fitness classes right away.
As a reminder, it’s important to get continuing education in any field. And this conference is a way for fitness professionals to truly up-skill. I have missed that feeling of “leveling up” over the last three years, having not attended IDEA World since it was last held before the pandemic in 2019. If you’re a fitness instructor, trainer or coach of any kind, make sure you’re searching for educational opportunities regularly, because that’s what can set you apart and help you make even more of a difference for the people you serve.
And as the CEO and owner of IDEA Health & Wellness Association, Amy Boone Thompson, said at the opening ceremonies this year: “Go out there and inspire more people to give the gift of health and wellness.” And that’s what I intend to do!
Thanks for reading my post about IDEA World Convention 2022, my friend. Have a wonderful day!
If you’re interested in going to IDEA World Convention in the future, I highly recommend it. It will be held in Los Angeles in July of 2023, and you can head here for more details.
Other posts you may like …
- Five big takeaways from the 2019 IDEA World Fitness Convention and SHINE event
- Highlights from the 2018 IDEA World Fitness Convention and BlogFest
- My current favorite workout clothes that I always wear to teach classes
Questions of the day for YOU …
What would be your dream session at IDEA World Convention?
Have you ever been to a conference and come away inspired? If so, which conference and why?
What’s one thing you want to know more about in health and fitness?