Ann Angell | The Anniston Star | July 19, 2014

Where can you take fitness classes like Piloxing, Speedball Metablast, XpertPole Fitness, Aqua Mixology, Schwinn Cycling and Rope Burn all in one weekend? Atlanta Mania is where.

If you are a fitness instructor, trainer, owner, director or just love to workout, Mania is a must. This year was my 15th visit to the humongous fitness convention. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Mania fitness conventions are held in seven other U.S. cities and serve more than 11,000 fitness professionals a year, with a virtual component that touches another 100,000 people.

As teachers, we must be tuned in to the newest trends and safety protocols, which in turn makes us more versatile and well-balanced instructors. Started 30 years ago by attorney Sara Kooperman, CEO of Sara’s City Workout, Mania is the leader in educational conferences for fitness professionals.

The week kicked off with certification classes of all kinds. Kettlebell Training, Group Step, Small Group Training, Yoga, Sports Nutrition, Personal Training and Moms in Motion were just a handful of the certifications offered this year.

By the time Friday arrived, more than 1,000 instructors and trainers were there bright and early choosing from more than 200 different classes. The convention brought in more than 60 internationally renowned presenters with many years of experience in their fields, many of whom are involved in exercise research and hold graduate degrees. Together these master trainers —  college faculty members, inventors and even TV fitness experts among them — taught up to 15 sessions an hour from morning to evening for three days straight.

Louis van Amstel from “Dancing with the Stars” unveiled his dance fitness program, LaBlast. No partner is needed for the workout, which uses a variety of popular dances seen on the reality TV competition. including disco, salsa and cha-cha.

Other new trends worth noting included Zumba Step, Tri Plane Pilates, Wave Pilates, Battle Ropes, Pole Fitness and Vipr.

Equally interesting was the new equipment on display — from Kettlebells filled with water – easily portable – to the RealRyder, an indoor cycle that sways from side to side as you lean, just like an outdoor bike.

In the fitness industry, things change a lot over the years. Who knew 10 years ago that balance training would be so important? Now it is a component of many different types of exercises. Continuing education keeps fitness instructors up to date on the world around us — and that benefits all of us.