Key Takeaways from 2017 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute East - Erin's Inside Job

Key Takeaways from 2017 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute East

Some of my Key Takeaways from 2017 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute East last week!

Man, that’s a title for you.

IDEA is the company that also brings you Blogfest — a smaller conference that runs concurrently with their annual World fitness conference. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know that I’ve gone for the past two years and plan to go again this July in Las Vegas.

PTI East is a smaller version of the World conference. There isn’t an enormous expo, but there are a number of vendors present during the day. You can see all the conferences they offer here.

The conference was held in Bethesda, MD, which you saw on Monday allowed me to see some family and spend time with my friend Jess who was within driving distance. There were over 100 sessions to choose from, so my experience is limited to the ones that I selected:

  • two TRX sessions
  • two TriggerPoint sessions
  • two nutrition sessions
  • 101 BOSU drills
  • Anatomy in Motion — What Muscles Really Do

While I preferred some sessions over others, I definitely took something away from each one. Some of the sessions were active, such as the BOSU drills, TRX, and TriggerPoint, while others such as the nutrition-focused ones were more of a lecture format.


A lot of the information I took away concerning fitness involved ways to train with certain equipment (TRX and BOSU) or specific procedures for foam rolling and myofascial release. I won’t go into a ton of details on those since I would basically be reiterating the presentations.

I took away a lot of practical information, and in the Anatomy in Motion session I was able to take away one of the same lessons that I did in the nutrition-focused lectures — meet your clients where they are. Understand movements, but also understand that mechanical and biological differences in each person can result in variances in those moves. Learn their limitations and choose appropriate movements. It might be ok for someone’s knee to go past their toe when squatting — it’s all about understanding how the body works and each client is different.


Both presentations were given by registered dietitians who also had a ton of other credentials behind their names. My two sessions were on meal planning and current food trends and they were my favorite of the conference. You know I love food.

While I loosely discuss nutrition with my clients, it’s something I feel best left to those who have a degree in the subject. As trainers we can broadly discuss foods and planning, but anything more detailed than that I usually refer out.

Meal plans are meant to be temporary

Meal plans can be tough for the every day person to follow. They should be designed to help a person reach a short-term goal and longer ones, especially those that are rigid, can lead to disordered eating habits. Obviously this won’t happen for everyone, but obsessing about food for too long may change a person’s relationship with it for the negative.

Every day people need different types of plans

Telling a person who has just started training and working on their eating to only have 4 oz of turkey or other foods measured out in specific quantities is going to be overwhelming. These people do not think about food in terms of individual ingredients such as protein quantities, vegetable quantities, etc. Instead, they think about food as whole meals — lasagna, chicken pot pie, etc. You need to meet people where they are in terms of meal planning or it will become too overwhelming and their likelihood of stopping increases.

You need to meet clients where they are

This was by far the biggest takeaway I learned in terms of both nutrition and fitness. I absolutely loved this point in the nutrition seminars and both presenters touched on it. We need to teach clients that there is a continuum of foods and not just “good” and “bad” ones. Take what people are already eating and improve on it incrementally, otherwise the shock of going from unhealthy to SUPER healthy will not be sustainable.

In the first session I attended about meal prepping, he gave the example of improving a client’s breakfast. What started as a whipped cream coffee drink and chocolate croissant could be improved to a coffee with cream and sugar and a muffin. While those still aren’t the healthiest choices, they are better than the current ones. After they get comfortable with that breakfast, maybe introduce some yogurt and switch to a whole wheat muffin. You can see where I’m going with this — it’s not about a complete 180 when working to improve nutrition.

Meet every person where they are and work with them to make those small changes that will ultimately lead to a more sustainable lifestyle change.


Since some of you love food as much as I do, I thought I would also list the seven key trends in food and nutrition as presented by the Bell Institute:

  1. Digestive health – think probiotics, kombucha, fermented foods
  2. Plant based eating
  3. Personalization – DNA and intolerance testing, personalized diets
  4. Inflammation – anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, cinnamon, etc.
  5. Protein
  6. Sportification – taking healthy food/drink and packaging it in a “sporty” way
  7. Snackification – people are turning a lot to healthy snacks (dried fruits and veggies, etc.)

Overall, I had a good time and took away a good amount of information to incorporate into my training. If you’ve ever been to a fitness conference, let me know what you learned in the comments!

10 comments on “Key Takeaways from 2017 IDEA Personal Trainer Institute East

    1. It was good! I need to get the power points from the sessions so I can remember all the moves

  1. I love how you talked about meeting people where they are; that applies to so many things (i’m learning) including blogging. Sometimes I have these posts that are just way too ‘heady’, and they aren’t right for the audience, and I realize that I’m not meeting people where they are and therefore, I’m not really helping them.
    Emily recently posted…#NEDAwareness – Is Total Recovery Entirely Possible?My Profile

    1. Absolutely. Helping people is always about where they are, not where you think they should be

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