IDEA fitness group aims to expand reach

A year after celebrating its 20th anniversary, the IDEA association for fitness professionals is hoping its year-old tagline -- Inspiring the World to Fitness -- will help it expand its networking ability, grow partnerships with other groups and, indeed, beef up its own membership.
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A year after celebrating its 20th anniversary, the IDEA association for fitness professionals is hoping its year-old tagline -- Inspiring the World to Fitness -- will help it expand its networking ability, grow partnerships with other groups and, indeed, beef up its own membership.

"The organization is maturing after 20 years," said Kathie Davis, IDEA CEO and co-founder. "It brings front and center the reason we created IDEA, and that is, that we're the organization that's serious about health and fitness and what we do."

Today, approaching its 21st annual convention -- July 17-20 in Anaheim, Calif. -- IDEA has grown from a newsletter and association run out of Davis' home office to a worldwide network of 19,000 mostly instructors and other fitness trainers that could be a gold mine for manufacturers seeking to reach the "influencers." The conferences can attract 4,000 or more with large instructor groups from Europe and Asia making the trek to take workshops on instruction, choreography, biomechanics, nutrition, business skills and everything in between.

The attempt to represent a broader constituency than its group-exercise instructor and personal trainer base and to step into alliances with groups such as PE4Life and the President's Council on Physical Fitness were some of the reasons IDEA (www.ideafit.com) re-assessed its mission statement and taglines a little more than a year ago. Directors came up with a five-year plan with goals that include outreach to other groups, so IDEA doesn't "have to re-invent the wheel," Davis said.

The group's current mission statement reads: "IDEA's mission is to support the world's leading health and fitness professionals with credible information, education, career development and leadership to help enhance the quality of life worldwide through participation in safe, effective fitness and healthy lifestyle programs."

Said Davis, "It's not about working only with the 20 percent that are already inspired."

This year at the group's convention, more than 300 sessions will be presented by more than 100 professionals. Plus, the exhibit hall will feature products and companies to attendees and their guests. IDEA's top sponsors, which it calls "senior partners," are The Nautilus Health & Fitness Group and Stott Pilates, both of which will present branded workouts and classes throughout the show as well as present their brand in large, prime booths in the front of the expo hall.

Nautilus for example will launch a class it calls "Schwinn Cycle: Cycle Circuit," which fuses circuit training and indoor cycling in a 50-minute workout with equipment.

Other exhibitors that also frequent other trade shows include Airex, Balanced Body, Ball Dynamics, Bowflex, Chameleon, Dosho Designs, Exel/Nordic Walking, Fitter, Ivanko, KINeSYS, Mad Dogg (Spinning), Nautilus, New Balance, Nike, Polar, Spri, and Stott Pilates. Because of show attendee demographics, exhibitors place an emphasis on programming and accessories, as well as the types of equipment that many trainers either use with clients or can sell through commission programs.

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