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IDEA World Fitness Convention 2003
Friday, July 18 - Balls Away!

Yep, these are pro aerobics instructors!

7 a.m. Gatorade breakfast in hand, I arrive at Chandra Fetter's Cardio Jam class. "Put a new twist into your high-lo moves," the IDEA brochure promised. Make that three new twists, a few turns and some fancy footwork. One thing I haven't yet mentioned about these morning workouts - a large percentage of my fellow attendees are group fitness trainers who teach aerobics on a daily basis. These people have done it all and danced it all. As a result, the instructors teaching these workouts are all giving us something new and different to chew on. You have to be really, really good at dance aerobics to keep up with these workouts, and in the case of Chandra's class, the choreography is so complicated that it's nearly impossible to keep up at all. If Cardio Jam was a video I'd have to plug away at it for two weeks straight to get it down. Twenty minutes into the class I plunk my sweaty self down at the back of the ballroom and mop up as I watch the other attendees. I'm happy to discover that I'm not a lame aerobics maven after all - the rest of the dancers are screwing up the moves, too.

(Article continued below.)

7:40 a.m. After a futile stab at doing something about my Convention Hair, I head over early to the Convention Center. As I ride the escalator to the third floor, I notice a food concession containing the junkiest breakfast food imaginable. Whatever happened to eating healthy? I ignore the chips, oversized bagels and pastries in favor of a Power Crunch High Protein Wafer Cookie and make my way over to Ballroom D, where I will be taking the Balance 2003 workshop with John Blievernicht. Marcelo Levin is finishing up his Hi-Lo Innovations class and getting ready for the cool down. The music consists of Broadway show tunes and Marcelo is incredible! He's a teacher and an entertainer. The moves are stylish and they look really fun. I note that the class is being repeated Saturday morning and decide to pass up tomorrow's Step Trance II workout in favor of Marcelo.

Bleggh! This is not healthy breakfast fare!

8:20 a.m. John Blievernicht is an earthy, down-to-earth guy who runs the High Altitude Sports Training Complex in Flagstaff, Arizona. He tells us that he hopes we don't expect to be entertained a la Marcelo (who clearly bemused him). And of course, we're not here looking for fun and games - we want to learn how to look for people's structural imbalances, and how to use balance apparatus to help them improve. John, actually, has a wonderfully dry sense of humor and - joy of joys - even though the room is once again filled with stability balls, we just use them as seats while we listen to him. Frankly, I'm all balled out after yesterday. (Surprisingly, my sorest body part is my inner thighs - I think it was the "boat with inner thigh grip" in yesterday's Yoga Ball class that sent those muscles over the top.) Instead, John has set up a load of other torture devices... I mean balance tools. He has us all stand up and balance on one leg, then the other, and picks out a group of likely suspects. I'm glad I don't display the particular alignment malfunction he's looking for because he has his chosen few lay down on some foam rollers and attempt to lift a leg without falling over. Naturally, they all practically fall over. Many of the class's attendees are personal trainers, and John shows them methods to pick out structural imbalances and which ones respond to which device - side-to-side wobble board, foam roller, balance beam, etc. He also discusses static balance versus dynamic balance and multiplane balance. This is a no-fluff, all-substance workshop from a great instructor.

10:30 a.m. Yep, it's the ball again - this time, it's Pilates matwork with the ball, taught by Carol Murphy. Once again I go through scapular stabilization. Once again I do the Hundred with the ball. Once again I hear about how the ball enhances functional fitness. Carol's an excellent instructor though, and those who haven't heard all this before are getting a really good workshop. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment because I've picked out a small, very hard ball. While it's the right height for my legs, its high level of inflation guarantees that balance will be a challenge. If you really want to frustrate yourself some day, try doing a Swan Dive over a small, hard stability ball.

Exhibition Hall - Fitness Mart Central

12:00 p.m. GNC is offering a lecture on supplements that includes a free lunch. The only problem is that it's not until one and I'm hungry now. What to do? The solution is simple - glide through the exhibition hall, snatching up all the meal replacement bar samples on display. That's enough to hold me over for one more hour. Did I mention that one of my missions during the Convention is to find the best-tasting bar in the exhibition hall? It's not exactly a scientific study, but it's still fun. On my first run through, I have to confess that the best tasting bar was Snickers Marathon, a new energy bar that won't be out until October. The good? Both flavors (Multi-Grain Cruch and Chewy Chocolate Peanut) are low glycemic. The bad? They contain partially hydrogenated oil (the really bad kind of oil)... but then so do quite a few other energy and meal replacement bars (in fact, most bars with any sort of chocolate coating have partially hydrogenated oil, so be forewarned).

1:00 p.m. I arrive at the Orange County Ballroom at the Marriott early enough so that I don't have to wait in line for my free lunch and I can get a decent seat. The lunch consists of a huge chicken breast sandwich, a side order of couscous, a bag of Harvest Chips, an apple and a small mint patty. I eat half the sandwich and the couscous and save the rest for later. Ash Bathedja talks about common supplements such as branched-chain amino acids, protein powders and essential fatty acids. The supplement that everyone is interested in discussing is the controversial ephedrine/caffeine stack. The problem is that while this combo is definitely effective for fat loss, it also has dangerous side effects (like, um, death). Less controversial but also effective is creatine, which helps build lean mass and improves exercise endurance. At the end of the talk we all get a goodie bag containing a small towel, water bottle and complimentary pack of creatine. Even without the goodie bag, the talk was time well spent.

2:30 p.m. "Effectively Integrate Yoga Into Any Strength Training Program." I figured this workshop was going to consist of simple techniques for using Yoga to enhance strength training, but instructor Robert Sherman had other ideas. Perhaps I should have known better - I've done his videos and even reviewed one on the site, so I'm already aware his approach isn't the usual sports-Yoga blend. The thing is Robert's appearance can be deceiving - he's a likeable, nice guy type. But once we get going with some poses, he refuses to let us wimp out. He's tough! We're sweating bullets trying to hold these poses! But there's a reward even though I know my shoulders will be killing me tomorrow - I make gains in flexibility and strength that rarely happen in just one Yoga class. In fact, the last time my heels were able to hit the floor this firmly in Downward Facing Dog was when I had a class with an equally tough Iyengar Yoga teacher a couple years back. Even better, Robert talks about using Yoga as an assessment tool in training, and suggests that Yoga's eight limbs also exist in sports. I make a mental note to interview Robert at a later date. I'm impressed.

Next page >> 7/19/03 - My Aching Everything! >> Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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