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IDEA World Fitness Convention 2003
Thursday, July 17 - On the Ball, All the Time

Waiting for a Workshop

7:00 a.m. Each day the convention kicks off with a choice of 14 or 15 workouts - everything from Tae Bo to step to Spinning and swimming. I don't want to kill myself the first day so I decide to try something easy. "Island Groove" with Jamaican-born Chinyere Minott seems like just the thing - the IDEA brochure said, "Experience a fun-packed, free-spirited dance workout to pulsating and intoxicating rhythms from the Caribbean and other tropical lands of South America." So I grab my Gatorade (breakfast for me - my stomach doesn't handle food well before 8 a.m.) and head over. The music starts, Chinyere begins moving, and wham! Several hundred attendees (and I) don't get a chance to rest for an hour. I didn't know that "island grooving" involved plyometrics, but here we are jumping around like maniacs, along with shaking our butts (thank God for those belly dance lessons!), and covering loads of space. We form conga lines and speed around the ballroom. Then Chinyere arranges us in two long rows. We join hands with the person opposite and one by one we have to do the limbo under all those outstretched arms. We get sweaty. Chinyere encourages us to get up close and personal (in the Caribbean they don't mind sharing a bit of sweat). I'm dripping (but grinning) by the time we're done and I dash to the bathroom to dry off and change. I plug in my blow dryer and try to fix my hair, but I discover that no matter what I do it refuses to look right. My Convention Hair affliction continues for the next four days.

(Article continued below.)

8:30 a.m. My first actual workshop of the convention is called Stott Pilates: Dynamic Balance - "Learn how to simulate the STOTT PILATES™ Reformer exercises using a stability ball." The instructor is Laureen DuBeau, who has appeared in seven Stott Pilates videos. Much as I'm looking forward to this workshop and the others, I realized just days before the convention that I had made a little mistake. We all had to sign up for the workshops weeks ahead of time on a first-come, first-served basis. Since I signed up early, I got all my first choices... not considering that for the first day and a half of the convention, every last one of them involved being on a stability ball. I walk into Pacific Ballroom B of the Hilton Hotel, right next door to the Anaheim Convention Center and am faced with hundreds of huge, gleaming gold stability balls. I mean gigantic. Normally when you sit on a stability ball your thighs should make a right angle with your lower legs. Someone must have gone a little nuts with the pump on this group of balls because they practically come up to our waistlines. For the next five minutes all I can hear is the gentle hissing of dozens upon dozens of stability balls being deflated until they're the right size. This will become a familiar sound for the next day and a half.

With the precise Stott Pilates approach, Laureen leads us through a warm up (including breathing, learning how to sit on the ball in neutral position, and imprinting). She then takes us through a series of Pilates moves that, for the most part, are far more challenging when having to balance on a ball (a few are easier, but not many). I can already feel that my core and legs are starting to fatigue. It turns out that a lot of what she taught us is available on video: Dynamic Balance: Ball Pilates Level 2. (Warning: this is not a wimp workout.)

Stability Balls Galore! 10:20 a.m. "Roll Back the Years with Resist-A-Ball" - a series of stability ball exercises for older folks. Good, a nice way to chill out for 90 minutes. As I enter Ballroom D of the Convention Center to the sound of more hissing. We all sit on our chosen balls as Josie Gardiner and Joy Prouty discuss how the ball can be used to teach balance and build strength in the over-50 population. Actually, both Josie and Joy are over 50 themselves, and Josie is a 5-year cancer survivor (she was also a 2002 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year). "Stability before mobility" they remind us. The duo shows us modifications and simple exercises that will help elderly people get stronger (we're even shown some ball push-ups), then they lead us through a fun, dancey aerobic session with the ball. I find myself getting sweaty again, and fatigued, and thinking, "No! This is only the first day of the convention! I can't be feeling old yet!"

12:30 p.m. I have lunch with Lizbeth Garcia, the featured instructor and choreographer of On the Ball Pilates Workout (yep, it's certainly a stability ball kinda day!). Although she appears serene and focused in the video, in person Lizbeth is an energetic and enthusiastic powerhouse! I have so much fun interviewing her I never make it to the exhibition hall - no matter, I have two more days to do that. She looks over my list of workshops and gives me the lowdown on several of the instructors (not to worry, she says good things about all of them).

2:40 p.m. Stability Ball Yoga with Candace Copeland Brooks. The pile of balls is definitely getting softer - there's less hiss and more squish. People are now looking for balls that aren't too deflated. I pick a medium-soft ball and wind up wishing I'd chosen one even more deflated when we start using the ball to do balance postures. Try to do Half Moon and while keeping your ball from rolling away! Revolved Triangle with the ball is especially difficult (not that I'm that good at Revolved Triangle to begin with). In addition, my core has been fatigued since about the Dyanmic Balance Ball class. We finish up at 4:30. My next challenge is to navigate a two-hour long traffic jam without falling asleep at the wheel.

Next page >> 7/18/03 - Balls Away! >> Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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