FitnessFest was created in 1997 to give instructors and trainers a chance to get their continuing education credits in one place at one time. Since its inception, our original 66 participants have grown to over 500 attendees. What was once a mostly locally-attended conference now boasts approximately 25% out-of-state attendees. We attribute our growth to our friendly atmosphere and “everyone fits in” approach, the organization and structure of our events, the amazing variety of workshops available, and our top-notch (yet down-to-earth) presenters.
Wellness coach and fitness expert Debra Atkinson has helped 150,000 women “flip” their second half with the vitality and energy they want. She’s the bestselling author of You Still Got It, Girl: The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women; Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust; and Hot, Not Bothered. Debra hosts Flipping 50 TV and the Flipping 50 podcast.
Debra has 35 years of experience in the industry, is an international fitness presenter for associations including International Council on Active Aging, IDEA, NSCA, Athletic Business, and CanFitPro. She is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) subject matter expert, and prior senior lecturer in kinesiology at Iowa State University. Debra is also founder of Flippingfifty.com and creator of the Flipping 50 Specialist Program for fitness professionals. She’s a frequent contributor at HuffPost, ShareCare, and other featured outlets and on the education advisory board for Medfit.org.
Andrea Austin started in the fitness industry in 1987 teaching high and low impact aerobics (wearing leg warmers and spandex). Throughout the years, she continued to teach part time while pursuing work in creative arts. She became a full-time personal trainer in 2001 and used her experience as a creative director and graphic designer to start her own personal training business, Andrea Austin Fitness. Following that accomplishment, she went on to team up with Chris Cronik to found BeatBoss and currently leads hundreds of people in life-changing workouts both one-on-one and in group settings. Indoor cycling is a true passion of hers and a great way to burn calories for anti-aging benefits. Since ‘87, Andrea has held numerous certifications in many methods with a base foundation certification through NASM.
When not motivating and educating others in the fitness industry, Andrea enjoys volunteering in animal rescue, getting two-hour massages, and spending time with her family. Andrea is also a National Physique Committee Judge, judging NPC Bodybuilding, Physique, and Bikini Competitions.
Leslee Bender, PMA, ACSM, ACE, NASM, Gray Institute, is the creator of the Bender Ball Method of core training and co-creator of Barre Above. She has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years and is now an international speaker and leader for fitness professionals. Leslee educates on the biomechanics of a safer method to train the body for a pain-free, functional life. She is a graduate of the Gray Institute, received the Fitness Commercial of the Year Award (2017), and was a finalist for IDEA Instructor of the Year (2010). Leslee is a lead trainer for Club Pilates, Rollga, Savvier and Activ Motion. Her new programming – The Ageless Body – launched in 2018.
Ashley Bishop was born and raised in British Columbia and spent the first ten years of her career working as a professional dancer in Vancouver, a choreographer for Wyndham Resorts in Cozumel, Mexico, and a featured performer for Carnival Cruise Lines. She is a certified ballet teacher (RAD), ACE-certified personal trainer, and AFAA/AEA-certified group exercise instructor. Now Living in Northern California, Ashley is a fitness instructor by day and ballet instructor by night. On weekends, Ashley travels the continent teaching a variety of workshops for fitness instructors. In addition, she is a continuing education provider for ACE, AFAA and AEA, an Aquatic Training Specialist for the Aquatic Exercise Association, a Zumba Jammer™ for Zumba Fitness®, and the fitness director for uforia studios.
Nina Carr is a fitness professional and the creator of the group fitness program Fire Up GX™ that is offered exclusively at EoS Fitness clubs. She began her fitness career over seven years ago after battling depression and anxiety for a long period of time. Nina is a veteran FitnessFest presenter and has also presented at the AAAI/ISMA world conference. She is a partner with fitness apparel company SIX:02, as well as Topgolf and Westgate Entertainment District. In addition to presenting and creating, Nina also serves as the regional group fitness manager of EoS Fitness. She is a current member of AFAA, has been featured multiple times on television for fitness and motivation segments, is best known for being the creator of Fitness in the District in Glendale, AZ which brings over 500 participants weekly to work out and experience group fitness exercise.
Fabio Comana, MA, MS, NASM CPT, CES & PES; NSCA CSCS; ACE-CPT & HC; ACSM EP-C; USAW1; CISSN, currently serves as faculty of San Diego State University and NASM, is the scientific advisor for OrangeTheory, Core Health and Fitness, Stroops, and Turbostrapp, and the recent recipient of the IDEA China Innovator of the Year Award (2018). Previously with ACE, Fabio was the original creator of ACE’s IFT™ model and their live educational workshops. Prior experiences include Division I collegiate head coach and strength-conditioning coach, opening/managing clubs for Club One, and president of Genesis Wellness Consulting. He is a national and international presenter; media spokesperson and accomplished author.
Phil Donnelly is the regional group fitness director of EoS Fitness Arizona. A competitive endurance athlete since 1981, Phil competes in marathons, ultras and triathlons regularly. He has been a certified group fitness instructor since 1995, and continues to pack classes on the EoS group fitness schedule.
Carolyn Erickson is the president and CEO of CE Fitness Consulting LLC and is a 34-year veteran of the fitness industry. From teaching classes and training clients to multi-unit health club management, Carolyn served as the district manager for sixteen 24 Hour Fitness locations in the San Diego area and the director of sales and business development for Jillian Michaels’ BODYSHRED. She is currently the national education sales director for Savvier Fitness. She is a master trainer for Jillian Michaels’ BODYSHRED™, GOFLO® Trainer, Barre Above™, and Tabata GX. Carolyn is also a consultant for the industry, supporting and improving fitness and group fitness programming within the facilities she helps as well as creating a better member experience, promoting staff longevity, and team building.
Chris Gellert, PT, MMusc & Sportsphysio, MPT, CSCS, C-IASTM, is the CEO of Pinnacle Training & Consulting Systems (PTCS), the creator of the Certified Post Rehabilitation Specialist (CPRS) certification, and 16 home-study courses. Chris has 19 years’ experience as a physical therapist, 20 years’ experience as a personal trainer, and 15 years as an experienced international presenter. He holds an advanced master’s degree in orthopedics & sports physical therapy from the University of South Australia, a master’s degree in physical therapy from Nova Southeastern University, and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from SUNY Plattsburgh.
Ryan Glatt’s passion for human health and brain health coaching began while studying at California Lutheran University, where he received a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. Through his continued education, he accumulated over 15 qualifications and certifications relating to human movement, nutrition, mindset, and soft-tissue therapy. This includes the Fellowship of Applied Functional Science with the Gray Institute, mentorships with the Institute of Motion, and the Anatomy Trains’ Kinesis Myofascial Integration Training.
Currently, Ryan is developing curriculum for the health and fitness industry on health neuroscience and coaching individuals toward optimal brain health. He continues to pursue education from the Amen Clinics, the NeuroCoaching Institute, the Neuroscience Academy, and others on the topics of brain health, behavior change, sleep science, breath work, coaching and mindfulness.
Angella Hamilton is the co-founder & CEO of Simple Jane CBD Wellness Co. and creator of the Stretch, Rock & Roll with CBD class. Angella shares her extensive knowledge of CBD products and how to incorporate them into your daily lifestyle through local classes, events, and personal consulting. She has been a personal trainer and rehab specialist since 2003, and instructs at many five-star resorts and national conferences.
Leslie Harrington, BA, Certified Yoga Therapist, E-RYT-500, CHC, CPT, is the owner of Iron Belle Fitness, providing on-site and corporate health and wellness programs in the Southwest. She is also a senior master trainer for YogaFit®. Leslie loves being able to combine her background as a Certified Holistic Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, ACE Certified Personal Training, E-RYT-500 and Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) to help her clients find their way to their best health. She enjoys traveling the country for the world’s largest yoga teacher training school to help certify yoga teachers and continue their education.
Joella Hopkins is the vice president of group fitness for EOS Fitness with markets in California, Arizona and Nevada. Formerly the national director for both XSport Fitness and Gold’s Gym International, Joella has over 25+ years of management experience in the fitness industry. She was also an international trainer for Les Mills for 10+ years and presented in BODYSTEP videos #74 and #83 in New Zealand. Joella has expertise in group fitness management, but has also held executive roles in club management, sales, operations, training and education. Joella has presented business workshops/seminars about group fitness and small group training, as well as instructed workout classes and education at many large fitness conferences in the US including IHRSA, Club Industry, SCW and DCAC. Joella currently lives in Solana Beach, CA and is a huge animal advocate.
Jeff Howard is a world-renowned fitness presenter and current promotional director of fitness at Milestone Baptist East in Louisville, KY. He has trained countless celebrities as the pioneer instructor at the Golden Door Spa, appeared on several national TV shows, and has lived in South Africa, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Jeff has starred in a multitude of fitness videos and educated fitness professionals at conventions worldwide for over a decade. Along his journey, he has also managed award-winning fitness programs for companies like Equinox (Chicago) and Virgin Active. Jeff is certified through ACE, AFAA, NASM and SCW and serves as group ex and aqua education/certification faculty for SCW Fitness.
Mary is a Certified Yoga Therapist with IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists) and an E-RYT 500. She has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 35 years. She completed her yoga therapy training in India, where she studied Thirumoolar’s Therapeutic Ashtanga Yoga. Mary is a YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider) and Certified Thai Practitioner (CTP). Her teaching style is highly influenced by her Thirumoolar lineage.
Mary holds a graduate degree in education from Colorado State University and an undergraduate degree from MTSU with a double emphasis, one of which is in health, physical education, and recreation.
Janice Jaicks has been teaching water fitness since 1985 and training instructors in water exercise for over 20 years. She is the founder and CEO for FitnessFest Conference & Expo, AquaCon, and Desert Swim School, all of which have been in operation and incorporated since 1990. Since 1997, Janice has trained hundreds of instructors using her Aqua Progressions program (previously titled Water Aerobics 101). She is certified through AEA, ACE, AFAA and the Arthritis Foundation, and has enjoyed presenting aqua workshops for IDEA, SCW, AquaCon, and her own FitnessFest conferences. She is also the co-creator of Aqua Balance, a SilverSneakers-branded program that was developed over twelve years ago and is still used nationally by the organization. Additionally, Janice served as the fitness coordinator for Fitness Forum Health Club for more than a decade, and still teaches weekly water fitness classes and swim lessons at the facility.
Coined as the “Indian Jane Fonda,” Sarina Jain is the creator of the original Masala Bhangra® DVD series. An AFAA-certified fitness instructor for over 28 years, she teaches classes ranging from step aerobics to total body conditioning and many more. She successfully moves, touches, and inspires people around the world with her knowledge and passion for Bhangra and Bollywood. Recognized as a global game changer, Sarina has over 15 workout videos under her belt with Masala Bhangra® classes offered in over 15 countries around the world.
Jain says proudly, “People fall in love with the beat of Bhangra and the exhilaration of Bollywood. The music combined with vigorous movements recreates the excitement of a celebration. People have so much fun; and they are getting an awesome cardiovascular and muscle-strengthening workout. Bringing Masala Bhangra to people around the world is so gratifying — I am living my dream.”
June Kahn is an internationally recognized fitness leader and educator. She is the 2009 World IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, founder of June Kahn’s Bodyworks™, Pilates rehab specialist & owner of Center Your Body Pilates in Louisville (Boulder), CO. With over 30 years of Pilates experience, June is best known for bridging the gap between classical Pilates and the fitness industry. June is special consultant to Curves International and an elite master trainer for Savvier Fitness. A published author and IDEA media spokesperson, she is an expert subject writer for the ACE exam, an affiliate of the PhysicalMind Institute, and serves on the program selection committee for ACSM.
Dr. Jason Karp
A competitive runner since sixth grade, Dr. Jason Karp quickly learned how running molds us into better, more deeply conscious people — just as the miles and interval workouts mold us into faster, more enduring runners. This passion that Jason found as a kid placed him on a yellow brick road that he still follows all these years later as a coach, exercise physiologist, bestselling author of eight books and 400+ articles, speaker, and educator. He is the 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and 2014 recipient of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership Award. His REVO₂LUTION RUNNING™ certification has been obtained by fitness professionals and coaches in 21 countries.