Employee fitness: Five top trends from IDEA World Convention 2018

Each year, our Optum On-Site Fitness team joins 14,000 fitness professionals at the IDEA World ConventionTM. Often referred to as the “Superbowl of Fitness,” this industry event promises to inspire the world to fitness. It does that and so much more. We were challenged to “find our epic,” dream big and help our members and clients reach new heights. Our staff left armed with new tools, toys and a refueled passion to share with our members and staff.

Event highlights included:

  1. Holistic approach: The industry needs to be more holistic, says keynote speaker Robert Holden, PhD, director of the acclaimed Happiness Project. He urged us to shift from simply having a job to having a purpose, and to encourage our members to shift their focus from self-improvement to self-acceptance. This was echoed in the increasingly popular behavior coaching sessions geared to help participants find joy and connect with their true selves.
  2. Fierce, fast and focused: Fitness classes and workouts are boasting circuits and timed intervals using a wide variety of equipment and movements. This gives participants a lot of sweat equity in a short period of time. Workouts ranged from gritty tribe-style, all-purpose exercising to the elegance of ballet barre exercises, yoga and Pilates. Boxing is back, baby, and it’s more diverse than ever. Knock out some stress by punching traditional hanging bags or pummel the bags on the floor and unleash your fury. High-impact aerobics and dance-based classes are in the house and gaining attention.
  3. Maximus overload: An array of equipment and workouts paid homage to the almighty gluteus maximus. Employees can tone their booty, build their butt, lift it or define it by discipline: yoga, barre, dance, power lifter.
  4. Recovery: The fitness industry’s battle cry has been “better, faster, stronger,” but that is evolving to “better, faster, stronger… rest.” You don’t get better during, you get better between workouts. Maximizing recovery between workouts optimizes adaptation, which is how the body gets better, faster and stronger. Flexibility classes, one-on-one stretching, foam rolling and other forms of myofascial release using a variety of tools are increasingly popular. The same is true for massage, massage chairs and education around the cadence of performance training.
  5. Technology: Technology is used to enhance the exercise experience in a variety of ways. Tracking information and data to report outcomes including steps, heart rate, distance, calories and other performance metrics. “Exertainment” (exercise meets entertainment) improves performance and use by making exercise more engaging. Streaming workouts are also increasingly popular, allowing participants to tap into live and recorded classes and workouts to get their groove on. Will technology replace human interaction? Of course not. Nothing beats a fist bump or high five from an instructor. But pairing humans with data that tracks your performance can be a true winning combo.

As always, it was an exhilarating four days. And we’re ready to serve our clients and customers with the best the industry has to offer.

To learn more about how Optum can help you, visit optum.com.


About the Author:


Grace DeSimone is the national group fitness director for Optum. Grace and her group fitness teams manage group exercise classes in worksite wellness programs across the country.  Grace serves on the Executive Council of the ACSMs Committee on Certification and Registry Board. She is the editor of ACSMs Resource Manual for Group Exercise Instructors (LWW 2011), and is a regular guest on Radio MD. Grace holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance and is certified by ACSM as a group exercise instructor and personal trainer.


7 thoughts on “Employee fitness: Five top trends from IDEA World Convention 2018

  1. Interesting and informative post. Thank you, Grace DeSimone, for keeping our collective finger on the pulse of the direction and trends of fitness and wellness.

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