CanFitPro, the Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals, exists as a leader in fitness and wellness, hosting conferences across Canada and offering a number of fitness and wellness certifications.

Most certifications in the fitness field require fitness professionals to accumulate a certain number of continuing education credits/units each year to keep their certification valid.  This has become easier over the years with on-line offerings, and at-home study programs but they pale in comparison to an in-person hands-on event where the interaction with other fitness professionals enhances the learning.  I’ve been fortunate to attend many such conferences and events over the years.

Each year CanFitPro offers a one-day event in Moncton, NB which is about 200km from my home.  Given the rural nature of Eastern Canada, events hosted in this part of the country are generally small with a limited number of session options.  This year’s event was, at first blush, lacking in variety and relevancy and initially I decided not to attend.  I am so glad I changed my mind.

Before I recap my day let me offer a bit of background.

Training is difficult to come by in Eastern Canada and particularly so in Prince Edward Island.  Islanders frequently bemoan the fact that we must go out of province (off island in the local vernacular) to obtain training.  At one point we had an Island Fitness Council which hosted local training opportunities though few fitfolk availed themselves of these sessions and the Council eventually met its demise due to lack of participation.  Do you see the Catch 22 which exists in this state of affairs?

So, off island we now must go for most of our in-person networking and professional development.   Fitness New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Fitness Association provide us with some opportunities.  CanFitPro likewise.  However, much the same is happening with the CanFitPro conferences as happened with the Island Fitness Council .  Fewer participants means less offerings and less offerings means fewer participants.  Each year the venue changes as CanFitPro struggles/strives to find facilities in the right price range and each year the Eastern conferences dwindle in size.  The trade show which was once a part of the Halifax Conference was dropped a few years ago.  Then came the time when equipment sponsors fell off so all conference sessions are now lecture-based or bodyweight only workouts, not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it does limit the experience.

The other part of this equation is the fact that many folks working in the fitness field in this neck of the world do so without certification and sometimes little training beyond infomercials and magazines.  I’ve had one such person borrow a pile of my Muscle & Fitness Her mags in order to design her “new program”.  There is also the situation where folks complete a certification but then never bother to maintain that certification.  Case in point, the personal trainer/facility co-owner with a 15 year old certification who has never stepped a foot in a facility other than his own and has never taken advantage of any formal professional development in those 15 years.  I’ve had a personal trainer stop by my studio and tell me about his decision to train clients in their homes because then he can get away with not carrying any professional liability insurance (yikes) and I know plenty of folks who teach classes or do “personal training” with absolutely no experience other than a personal workout history.

Sorry.  My tirade is not really a digression.  This local fitness scene means that there is low demand for professional development opportunities even amongst those who are providing fitness services.

Returning to the conference at hand, I changed my mind about attending not because there was an agenda which would meet my current needs (I have never been in need of CEC’s – I love to learn and attend for that reason.  As a consequent, I am always flush in credits) but because I felt a very strong need to support the opportunities which do exist.  I cannot put myself in the camp of complaining and whining about lack when I do nothing about supporting and providing feedback to that which does exist.

So, off to Moncton I headed at 5:00am Saturday morning.  I participated in 4 sessions, all of which were really quite fantastic, much to my delight and surprise. I left that conference with new skills, ideas, energy, and knowledge from each of those sessions.

Lisa Mastracchio

Lisa Mastracchio, from Quebec and a National Nubody’s Trainer was a great presenter.  She has energy, passion and an engaging training style.  I attended three sessions with her – all ‘workshops’ which means ‘workouts’.  The first, Hi-Lo Muscle Mix at 8:30am took a room full of sleepy bodies, and got our blood pumping, our adrenaline flowing, and our creative juices sloshing.  Superset strength drills combined with simple but effective hi-lo combinations left us in puddles, scribbling notes on soggy papers.

Lisa’s after lunch Kick Butt Boot Camp was crazy full and a controlled frenetic.  She put us through our paces with some great moves and combinations and fantastic bodyweight exercises and cardio drills.  I’ll be using lots of these moves and patterns in the MOVE IT Boot Camp I’ll be co-shouting in May.  I’m pretty excited about the prospect.

I ended the day with a third Lisa M session on Core Conditioning.  I have a lot of training in this area and found some of this session to be excellent.  I was concerned, however, with many of the V sit variations, particularly when I scanned the room to find at least 90% of the fitness professionals unable to maintain good, i.e. safe, form.  A good portion of the workshop exercises I would never use in a group class format but might in personal and small group training.

Mark Stone

The other session I attended was with Mark Stone of the C.H.E.K. Institute and North Shore Smart Bodies.  The session was called Muscles and Movement in 3D.  Mark gave us a great lecture on functional muscle activation, walked us through a few muscle imbalance diagnostics and then gave us some great corrective prescriptions.  I have taken some training from Paul Chek and have a certification in Scientific Core Training from C.H.E.K. Institute and so was amused at the similarity in presenting style between Mark and Paul.  This was a good session and gave us a chance to work with partners for the diagnostics and correctives.

So, CanFitPro, thank you.  Moncton was an invaluable experience and I am so pleased to bring to my work fresh, cutting edge, best practice methods of training.  My clients and class participants deserve no less than this.