A new twist on fitness

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Area fitness gurus from all ends of the exercise spectrum are converging on the Alexandria Mark Center in July for the 16th Annual DCAC International Fitness Conference & Expo to sharpen skills, acquire certifications and earn professional continuation hours required in the growing fitness industry.

Suzanne Olson, co-producer of the conference, expects 1,200 attendees from all over the world, she said. The conference, from July 25-29, features 67 presenters teaching 200 classes and 30 in-depth pre-and-post-conference workshops. Categories of instruction include personal training, yoga, Pilates, dance, spinning, Gliding Core Pole, Bosu and aquatics.

This is all about fitness professionals and the need to stay up on their certificates. For insurance purposes, you need certifications, Olson said. That includes everyone from the personal trainers and yoga instructors at Alexandria recreation centers, to the instructors at all the private clubs and yoga studios throughout the area. Whether they are employed by the gym or contract out to teach these classes, the certifications are necessary.

Teri Bothwell, the group exercise director at the Sport and Health Club in Old Town as well as the Corporate Group Exercise Director for the whole company, said she has been to past DCAC conferences to see whats new in the field. After spending a few days with lots of other exercise professionals, exchanging positive thoughts about exercise, you come back really pumped up about teaching, she said.

One new piece of equipment she is learning more about at past conferences was the DSL Ball. Its a heavy ball similar to the Swiss exercise ball, but heavier. She learned a whole new avenue of exercises you could do.

Fitness experts
The conference has all kinds of field experts, including exercise physiologists providing expert opinions in a variety of fields, Bothwell said, describing the whole week as positive, energetic fun.

These fitness experts are a great resource, said Mary Malof, the fitness director at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center. She attended last years conference and looks forward to hearing Dr. Len Kravitz again this year. Kravitz is an exercise science expert and researcher from the University of New Mexico. Hes up-to-date with all the new studies, Malof said. Several of the instructors at Mt. Vernon will be going this year to keep up on their certification requirements. I keep track of that, added Malof.

Marie Vasquez is the fitness director at Lee District Park in Alexandria. She has eight staff trainers attending the conference, working on getting certified in group exercise while others are establishing second careers as fitness instructors. Vasquez noted that they are concentrating on continuing wellness as part of the Fairfax County program. Wellness is a system that combines fitness and diet. It has to be done in conjunction, nutritionists are part of it, she said.

Dances, too
Various types of dance are featured in the conference, including belly dance and striptease dance as an aerobic activity. There are no clothes removed, but the class teaches a risqu routine that is a cardio dance workout, said Olson. Teri Hatcher does it, its kind of the in thing to do, Olson said. The Liquid Tease, class focuses on dance in the pool to find your inner sex appeal, while the belly dance workout feeds the soul and celebrates the body, according to conference literature. Although the strip tease dance classes were not something that Bothwell chose to take, that was quite popular last year, she said.

Outdoor fitness is another area that is being focused on this year. It was developed by Tina Vindum, a championship skier that found she could get a good, cardiovascular exercise and enjoy the outdoors at one time. The DCAC class teaches how to use your outdoor environment to create a well-balanced work out, said Olson.

In addition to the classes available at the conference, there are many exhibits and promotions going on that do not cost anything or take a whole day to see. Thats what Dawn Jakutowicz, of Dahn Yoga in Old Town, intends to do. Shes taken classes at past DCAC Conferences, but this year shell teach classes at the studio while other Dahn instructors attend. There are four YogaFit classes being offered but that is a different type of yoga than is taught at Dahn. I just go to see whos there, what kind of new things are going on. Some people get certifications just to learn more, she said.

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