This last weekend I attended one of the largest fitness conferences in the world, IDEA World Health and Fitness Conference in Los Angeles. Since it was my first time attending as a student versus a speaker, my goal was to seek out the hottest new trends in food and fitness and share some of my discoveries with you.
This week I’ll start by sharing what I found to be a common theme throughout the conference: fun.
I have a long-held belief that if exercise isn’t fun, it will be short lived. Whether its walking, running, dancing, spinning or whatever you prefer, there has to be a fun factor. I’m happy to say, there was no shortage of that at this event.
The expo hall at IDEA was full of different vendors. I felt like a kid in a candy store as I made my way through different booths and demos each offering their unique twist on fitness, food or clothing you can’t live without.
One of the first booths that caught my interest was Parkour Generations. Although the set up was very basic, (wooden boxes connected with heavy piping), it’s what people were doing with these basic materials that caught my eye.
Parkour, also known as Freerunning believes in making your environment a playground.
According to Blake Evitt, director of East Coast Operations at Parkour, “The goal of our program is to make movement and the use of the body a central part of our daily life.”
As I watched others trying out the course, although it seemed a bit advanced for me, there was no lack of the fun factor here.
As I moved on, I came across Cardio Bounce. Remember the old rebounding classes (mini trampolines)? This is a structured aerobics class that uses the rebounders to add a new component to the old, basic aerobic class.
“It’s high energy because everyone loves or remembers jumping on a trampoline as a kid,” said Aaron Scheller, the owner and program developer of Cardio Bounce.
“This takes it to a whole new level. DVD’s allow people to take these classes in the privacy of their own home or join in on a class at their local gym.”
As I visited the various booths, I was swept up in the energy of the attendees and vendors enthusiastically touting their exercise gadget, class or equipment. If I had an unlimited budget, I would have had to rent a U-haul to bring back my new fitness finds.
In talking with other attendees, most of whom are certified fitness professionals, the consensus was clear, this is the year fun comes back to fitness.
Longtime fitness pros, Kymberly and Alexandra of FunandFit.org in California see this trend.
“Our area of focus is midlife women,” they said. “Baby boomers are still the largest part of the population and will need to stay active as they age. For them — also us! — exercise has to be appropriate as well as fun.
“We find that the super high intensity programs with stressful joint impact leave a lot of boomers feeling that their options for exercise are limited or ignored. Bringing playfulness and moderate impact back to the world of exercise is just what we need to consistently engage all ages of fitness, especially the boomers.”
I have to echo Kymberly and Alexandra’s sentiments. During the last few years with the popularity of super high-intensity programs such as Crossfit, P90X and Insanity, many people, especially boomers like me, have been turned off. The new playful approach to exercise not only includes the fun factor but also the safety factor.
Of course, classes like Zumba continue to engage all ages. Dance classes are coming back stronger than ever perhaps giving Zumba proponents a run for their money. But Zumba practicers shouldn’t worry. Zumba has staked its claim in the world of fitness for well over 10 years.
I have been attending fitness conferences since the early ’90s, and I have to say that I have never been more excited or inspired about the future of exercise than after this conference.
I can’t wait to share more with you during the next few weeks. So, stay tuned and maybe you’ll be inspired to get out there and focus on fun as part of your fitness program, there’s no better time than now!
Nicki Anderson is a 30-year fitness veteran and lifelong Naperville resident.