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Friday, August 13, 2010

The Fitness Industry

Today is the first day of the CAN-FIT-PRO (Canadian Fitness Professionals) conference. This is an annual event that draws over 6,000 fitness instructors, personal trainers and gym owners from across Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Australia. It is the largest conference of it's kind in the world and has expanded from 3 to 5 days. And I hate going. I think this is mostly because I don't really feel like I belong. There are a bunch of fitness industry "types" which I don't fit into. You have the full-time fitness instructors and personal trainers, who work in the industry for a living...and I don't usually have much in common with them. You have the young California beautiful blonde types, who are single and into partying...I definitely don't have much in common with them! You have the over 50 "moms" who teach fitness while there kids are at school all day, in between taking them to soccer practice and I don't have much in common with them...yet! And finally, you have the club owners who are essentially entrepreneurs looking for ways to increase their bottom line and I don't have much in common with them either.

Luckily, since Adam became a spinning instructor, I at least have him there, but because he doesn't teach other types of classes, we don't tend to take many of the same sessions. The one nice thing is that I often run into people I have worked with in the industry way back when I lived in Halifax or Kingston and haven't seen in years. That's pretty cool.

The other reason I hate going is the sessions are often so disappointing. I now consider it a success if I come out of it with 3 new ideas (new exercises or ways to coach/motivate my participants). Expecting anything more is not realistic. I have also learned not to go to aerobics/step sessions because the presenters ALWAYS demonstrate such intricate choreography that it is completely inappropriate for the populations I teach. Heck, I can't even follow, so how could my participants??? Aside from spinning workshops, I gravitate towards the ones that use common equipment (stability balls, bosu balls, body bars, etc.) in new ways, geared towards personal trainers or instructors who teach more athletic style classes.

While you might think an event such as this would be full of the fittest most beautiful people, this is not the case. You have some of the buff beauties, of course, but you actually get people of all ages, shapes and sizes, which is actually kind of refreshing. Fitness comes in a range of packages. But what is always shocking to me are all the bad habits some of these fitness professionals have: eating crap, smoking, drinking and partying too much. Then again, except for the smoking, that was me in my early 20s, so I shouldn't be so surprised.

What I like best about the conference is the trade show. This is basically a shopping orgy where a zillion companies sell their wares at decent to amazing discounts. You can find fitness music, equipment, DVDs, supplements, shoes and clothing. My goal this year is to hit up the "Sketchers" sale. As much as I love my MBTs, they are butt-ugly, and it would be nice to have a slightly nicer looking pair of shoes that use the similar technology (the Shape-Ups). I can't really wear any other type of shoe anymore for long periods of time. I also want to get a few small weighted pilates balls, but that's about it. I don't need protein bars this year (I have TONS that I got on sale from our online supplement supplier), nor do I really need any new music. Besides, the fitness music seems to have gotten worse in recent years with the companies that used to supply you with the work of the original artists, now shifting towards "remakes" that sound like garbage.

The other thing I hate about the conference is it is at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre so it involves cycling all the way through the downtown core and then walking/taking escalators through the whole massive complex to get to the north end of the building. Today getting there will be even more hellish since it is 30 degrees and humid. I could take the subway, I suppose, but that would take a lot longer and cost money. This conference is expensive enough as it is!

You can also check out the latest, greatest cardio and weight equipment at the tradeshow, and usually even try them out. A few years ago, this is how I discovered the Jacob's Ladder machine http://www.jacobsladderexercise.com/, which I think is one of the coolest cardio machines to be invented. It is incredibly intense, but is completely non-impact. When I tried it out, I didn't feel like doing more than 3 minutes...that's how intense it is! The tradeshow is also where I tried out Freemotion and Gravity equipment for the first time and did a Zumba workout (and made a total fool out of myself because I can't dance to save my life!). There are also machines to test your metabolism and body fat and free massages but the line-ups for these services are always too long for impatient me. You can also sample the newest protein drinks, bars, and health foods and pretty much make a lunch of it if you don't pack anything or buy anything at the overpriced food kiosks.

I always try to go for Friday and Saturday, but no matter how much I try to convince myself to show up on the Sunday, by then I want nothing more to do with it. I've never gone to the "pre-conference" stuff on the Wednesday or Thursday. Oh well, in half an hour I will head down to the trade show and then have my first session: This is How we Roll, a spinning demo using a new kind of indoor bike. Yippee!

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