Live from the 2009 IDEA Convention Exhibit Hall

August 22, 2009

By Tannis Kobrinsky

The 2009 IDEA convention, known as “The World’s Largest Fitness Convention,” offered more than 300 groundbreaking educational sessions plus the chance to earn up to 23 CECs and to learn from 140 world-renowned presenters. It took place August 12-16 in Anaheim, California, right around the corner from Disneyland, at the city’s Convention enter. Yep, people wearing Mickey Mouse ears were walking the nearby palm tree lined streets. Saturday I checked out the show room alongside fitness fans and pros, some of whom came from as far away as China!

These female athletes were selected from thousands of hopefuls to be sponsored by Niki to attend IDEA!

These Chinese female athletes were selected from thousands of hopefuls to be sponsored by Niki to attend IDEA!

I got some stats from IDEA representatives that were heartening to us fitness professionals. Current economic woes put a slight dent in overall attendance, which was approximately 4,000. Exhibitors and presenters dropped from 150 last year to 130. Major mind-body fitness players missing in action were Balanced Body, Gratz and GYROTONIC® but STOTT PILATES and Peak were prominent—literally. Both were positioned at the front entrance, which I took as proof positive that Pilates principles are considered fundamental by everyone in the fitness industry. Laureen DuBeau, STOTT’s communications Director, said the STOTT education sessions were filled to full capacity and product sales maintained growth even with the economic slump. Conference attendees took advantage of 25-percent-off savings and snatched up smaller items and DVDs. Discounted floor models of the latest combo Reformer/Trapeze in gunmetal gray sold out. If you’re planning on attending the INNER IDEA Conference in Palm Springs in September, you’d be wise to order discounted demo equipment now, before they’re all gone.

Making my way around the busy but not crowded hall, I encountered loads of training courses and new equipment that emphasized the Pilates fundamentals of core strength, stabilization and flexibility. Some examples of equipment that can add new color to any Pilates program palette for large facilities, studios and/or home use are the Jukari Fit to Fly, a trapeze from Reebok and Cirque du Soleil, TRX Suspension Training, BOSU’s innovative Ballast Ball, and Madd Dogg Athletic’s Freeform Board. A friend of mine, a well-known Pilates pro with abs to die for, raved that the Fit to Fly worked her oblique muscles better than anything she’d ever tried, and at the same time she had a blast. Randy Hetrick, a former Navy SEAL, creator of TRX Suspension Training and founder of Fitness Anywhere, Inc., guided me through a few Pilates-inspired moves on the TRX, including a suspended Mermaid. I left with my own TRX to introduce to clients both for use at the studio, in their homes and when they travel. TRX is an ideal fitness travel tool, thus the name Fitness Anywhere.

At first look, I questioned the logic of the Ballast Ball–a balance ball that stays put–wondering if that detracted from the whole concept of training on an unstable object. On the contrary, the sandy stuff that steadies the ball from within lets it double as a large core training medicine ball and serve as a safe platform for drills like freeform squats. In the next booth attendees were on all fours and also standing on Madd Dogg’s Freeform board, a nine-wheeled disc that rotates 360 degrees. Imagine being on strapless skates that respond to micro movements. If you don’t engage your core and stay aligned, you may take a nasty tumble. Think your legs get a workout on this contraption? You betcha. And talk about power leg workouts! Attendees who tried out Kangoo Jumps gained a few inches’ height when they slipped on the Kangoo boots, which have rebounding spring action oval stilts on the soles. I asked if I could take a picture of two hotties having a great time in Kangoos and told them they might end up in this blog. They said “Sure, go ahead, but we don’t look like Pilates chicks.” (Hmm. Note to self, an idea for next blog: “How to Get That Pilates Chic Look.”) Back to reality: Instructional DVDs and training courses are available to help pros and fitness lovers alike max out with these pieces of equipment. The tools can also adapt to be used for rehabilitation and with special populations.

After working my Pilates body out on these various products, I finished off my Exhibit Hall exploration with the treat of a Tap Tech Massage, manufactured by Korean-based TRF. I placed the U-shaped portable massage unit on my shoulders and let the pulsing warmth pummel my upper back and shoulders and zoned out for a few. Ahh… the perfect capper to a fun afternoon.


The Mind-Body cousin of IDEA, INNER IDEA takes place Sept. 10-13, 2009, in Palm Springs