Elaine O'Brien, MAPP '08, is a student in the Doctor of Philosophy program, working as a Teaching Assistant in Kinesiology, Temple University, College of Health Professions and Social Work. Her area of study and practice is the Psychology of Human Movement. Elaine is a professional dance-exercise/group fitness/health trainer, coach, writer, consultant, speaker, and program designer. Elaine has expanded her fitness leadership practice into consulting and writing about the field of Lifestyle Medicine. Full bio. Elaine's articles are here.
“The world is your mirror and your mind is a magnet. What you perceive in this world is largely a reflection of your own attitudes and beliefs… think, act, and talk with enthusiasm and you will attract positive results.”- Michael LeBeuf
Over the past 10 years, Kathie and Peter Davis, visionaries, and founders of IDEA® Health and Fitness Association, have expanded their interest by studying Positive Psychology. They maintain, “The future will be in the integration of prevention and medical treatment with exercise, nutrition, and positive psychology.” One of their main goals for IDEA is to bring positive psychology and the science of happiness into the field of fitness, thereby creating a wholeness model of health for the world.Origin of Interest in Positive Psychology
Peter shares, “When I got interested in positive psychology and spirituality, I did a lot of reading. Then I went to India with about 17 members of my family, and friends. We lived in an ashram for about 10 days, and it really was a great experience. When I went to India, I had an intention of looking at ‘What should the next 30 years be like?’ and ‘What should we at IDEA be focused on?’ and ‘How can we really help the world in terms of the changes that needed to happen?’”
“I came back realizing it wasn’t really about fixing the world; it was about looking at myself and ‘Being the change,’ which Gandhi talks about. I had a greater awareness, focusing on my own health, fitness, and wellness. What we also did upon my return was let our staff know that we wanted to make their fitness, health, wellness, and happiness our number one priority! Ultimately, we wanted to encourage wellness for our staff, our members, and other corporations, but again, I knew that it had to start with me.”Impetus for Inner IDEA®
Kathie and Peter next created Inner IDEA, a conference now in its 6th year and the world’s premiere educational event for Pilates and yoga instructors, personal trainers, mind-body and wellness professionals. “Aimed at developing a community of people that believe in being the transformation by striving for more knowledge, skills, and growth, Inner IDEA attracts people in the pursuit of professional personal wholeness.” As a groundbreaking, unifying approach to mind, body, and spirit, this event offers a rare opportunity to deepen knowledge, hone teaching skills, and experience a transformation in a nonjudgmental, supportive environment.
Peter shares, “There was frustration that the fitness model was just too narrow, and Kathie and I hoped to create an event for people who were interested in a broader approach, and a more whole approach of mind, body, and spirit integration.”
Inner IDEA as a Positive Psychology Lab
“How wonderful that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.” Anne Frank, as quoted in the Inner IDEA Conference Program
Kathie and Peter look at Inner IDEA as a living positive psychology lab. They take the Inner IDEA principles developed over the past six years and put them in practice within their own workplace culture. Peter shares, “We are creating what we call the ideal wellness community with our staff.” Kathie and Peter created a Wellness Committee and now offer activities every day: boot camps, meditation, yoga classes, and Zumba®. These tie in with the Davis’ inspired core values as described by Peter, “The core values are based on how we treat each other, how much we appreciate each other, and how we inspire service.” Perhaps they can create a domino effect by practicing the IDEA ideas first in their workplace and then extending out to their IDEA membership.Tribal Leadership in Practice
Peter continues, “There is an excellent book called Tribal Leadership that calls the top level, “Life is great.” Yes, life is great when you are working together with a group of people and you are passionate about your purpose. We feel like we are in that kind of environment. That’s when we feel we would rather be here than anywhere else.”
Peter shares, “I’m really excited about this because along with providing services to fitness and wellness professionals, we can also look at helping CEOs change by looking at their cultures. We can look at how businesses treat their staff, and encourage them to put the focus on health and wellness in addition to the emphasis they place on personal financial planning. It’s an interesting thing with CEOs; they think that providing a 401K will help a staff member be financially secure after retirement. But what if that person is overweight, has diabetes, maybe he or she has money but doesn’t have health… so what is the use of the money? Implementing wellness is really changing that paradigm.”
“What we are seeing is that we are starting to get the payers, Medicare, and the workman’s compensation people, to recognize that having people engage in best practices and applying health (nutrition, fitness) protocols is actually a healing mechanism. Exercise is medicine.” (See my Medical Wellness in Action story.).
“That is really going to play out in the next 30 years, I believe. We have to go into a wellness model for us to have the ability to help people. IDEA is working with many allied health organizations and being a part of the healthcare solution.” The IDEA FitnessConnect directory connects nearly 250,000 fitness professionals and clubs worldwide with 16 million consumers, serving as a catalyst to integrate health, fitness, and wellness for the entire community.Knowing What is Most Important
With core values at the heart of their lives, Kathie and Peter Davis inspire fitness professionals to learn, share, inspire and empower others to become healthier and happier. Peter states, “I’m most proud of being able to do what we’ve done with my wife and partner, Kathie, first of all, and having our two kids, Kelli and Jason, working for us has been such a blessing. Our highest priority is our family and then to be able to work together to inspire the world to fitness and wellness with the entire family is probably the greatest accomplishment.”
“The human spirit is nourished by a sense of connectedness.” – I Ching
Brimming with vitality, integrity, and cutting-edge innovation aimed at personal and social responsibility, IDEA continues to inspire positive social action, and well-being in the world. Over the past 30 years, the Davis’ have encouraged IDEA members toward excellence via programming, research, and applications that promote self-actualization, personal and community growth, skill development, meaning making, self-determination, goal setting, and happiness. These are all values tied to psychological well-being as described by Carol Ryff and Corey Keyes, and supported by articles in Linley and Joseph’s book. For 30 years, IDEA has given instructors guidance that exemplifies both the optimal experience research of Massimini and DelleFave and the self-determination studies of Ryan and Deci.
According to Kathie, “We believe the future of our industry is brighter than ever as fitness rapidly evolves into a more integrated, balanced circle of wholeness that merges body, mind, and inspiration. Fitness professionals are at the forefront of this evolution, not just because they understand the fundamentals of fitness, but because of their authentic caring for the well-being of others, and their passionate belief in the power of every person to achieve personal highest level of health and wellness.”
This year’s Inner IDEA journey to health, happiness and wholeness with a takeaway of renewed energy, clarity, and purpose will be held on October 25-28 in Palm Springs, CA. Interested? Find out more about it here.
Hoffman, S. J. (2009). Introduction to Kinesiology: Studying Physical Activity, Third Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (Eds.). (2004). Positive Psychology in Practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Logan, D., King, J., & Fisher-Wright, H. (2008). Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. New York: Harper Collins.
Massimini, F. & Delle Fave, A. (2000) Individual development in a bio-cultural perspective. American Psychologist. 55(1), 24-33.
Ryan R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic deﬁnitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54–67.
Ryff, C. D., & Keyes, C. L. M. (1995). The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 719-727.
Most of the images are used with permission from Kathie Davis. The picture of Elaine dancing with seniors is used with permission from Elaine O’Brien.