This post is not sponsored, but my ticket to attend IDEA World Virtual 2020 was comped, as I joined as a SHINE Influencer. All opinions are my own!
Hi friends! How are you doing this week?
It feels busy over here, and that’s not a bad thing at all. My time after attending a convention always leaves my mind racing and packed with new ideas and projects to jump into. It’s the best inspiration and kick-starter!
I attended my first-ever virtual conference over the weekend, and I wanted to share my experience with you, in case you had the opportunity to do the same and were wondering how it compares to the in-person version.
Are you glued to your computer all day? Is it worth the investment? Do you get the same takeaways as you would if you attended in person?
Today I’m answering these questions along with sharing my list of pros and cons to attending a conference online.
If you’ve been following this blog for at least a year, then you know that I really look forward to an opportunity to attend a conference or event that aligns in my field of fitness and/or blogging. I’ve been to a handful of conferences, and my favorite over the years has been the IDEA World Fitness Convention in Anaheim, California. I’ve flown out and paid for my own hotel to attend for a total of three years, and I was excited to hear about a virtual option this year after the conference was originally scheduled and cancelled in early-July.
But did it live up to the hype that I knew and loved?
Here’s a breakdown of what I normally expect versus what I experienced.
You can find detailed recaps of my years attending the IDEA World Fitness Convention here:
- IDEA World Fitness Convention and SHINE 2019
- Top 10 Takeaways from IDEA World 2019
- 2015 IDEA World Fitness Convention
- 2014 IDEA World Fitness Convention
If you’d rather skip ahead to the good stuff, then all you really need to know is that this conference is great for what I need for continued education, best practices and procedures, re-learning and practicing, and sharpening my skills to be a knowledgeable personal trainer. IDEA is perfect for personal trainers, group fitness instructors, club and studio owners, managers, nutrition and behavior change specialists, and anyone with an interest in health, wellness, and fitness.
The conference is usually three full days that are jam-packed with sessions, expo halls, keynote presentations, workouts, and networking events from sunup to sundown. There are additionally one to two more days that are optional to attend for extra certification purposes.
I always go into this conference unsure of what I would like to attend during the session times, because the roster is loaded with content that I want to hear about from multiple presenters at once. Sessions widely vary in material and cover topics like body anatomy, workout programing, building an in-person or online business, nutrition tips, behavior change coaching, and more.
It’s safe to say that I leave the weekend with more than I came into it with, and I’m happy to report that this includes a list of personal and professional goals paired with an action plan every time.
In my opinion, the money required to attend something beneficial to continuing your education in your field of practice is highly worth the investment, especially when you need the CEUs/CECs to re-certify your credentials. I enjoy branching out and would like to get certified in more areas under the training umbrella (I’m currently a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Women’s Fitness Specialist), but if you are interested in a few of days of cover-all information to put in your arsenal of knowledge, then a conference may be the way to go.
Over the years, I have been able to connect with like-minded fitness and blogging professionals who get what I do, and it’s so nice to chat and learn from each other. The networking aspect is always a huge plus, and I go home with plenty of new business cards to lean on from peers and professionals as well as brands that I am interested in potentially working with in the future.
I can’t say enough great things!
So, now that you understand that I am a big fan of attending conferences that make sense for you to invest in, here are my thoughts on how the online version stacked up to the in-person, and if it was worth the investment and time to do so.
Pros of attending IDEA World Virtual
Here are my positives of attending a convention online versus in-person:
- no additional cost for flights, hotel, or meals during the days
- reduced ticket price (this year’s ticket was $289 versus the normal $399-$559 depending on time of registration and member discounts, although my ticket was gifted in exchange for sharing my experience as a SHINE Influencer)
- earning my CEUs/CECs
- option to join any and all sessions, some at the the same time and bounce back and forth
- my husband was able to watch a few sessions with me, which was also beneficial for him and his business
- no need to register for any sessions beforehand, as all were open to join in real-time, without a cap on attendance
- access and automatic notes to valuable information, as all session handouts/slides were available to download and save in a PDF version
- option to pop in and out of sessions, without feeling awkward or rude
- good lineup of inspirational keynote presenters throughout the weekend
- the opportunity to attend a conference of this scale from the comfort of home
- so many takeaways to implement and kick-start a new year of planning
Cons of attending Virtual versus In-Person
Here are my negatives of attending a convention online versus in-person:
- nothing replaces in-person connections and experiences
- reduced number of sessions to attend throughout the weekend
- in-person conference had three days of sessions, versus two days online
- some tech issues (sound/video) here and there
- attending felt like a question mark of what to do at times before it started — there wasn’t a clear itinerary until it began
- the workouts! (I really missed taking workout sessions to break up the day of sitting.)
- virtual networking was available, but not my preferred way of meeting other attendees and brands for potential collaborations
- home environment, which came with distractions
- breaks (normally included to walk from session to session) were not built into the schedule, so I felt like I was missing out on content if I took them
- access to all of the sessions was great, but I kept jumping around to hear multiple sessions at once and missed out on being focused on learning one thing at a time
- missing out on connecting with friends after-hours who are also attending
You’ve probably picked up on this already, but overall, my experience of attending IDEA World Virtual 2020 was a good one. There are ways it could have been better, but that is true in running anything new for the first time. You roll it out, recap, re-asses, and re-structure to make it better in the future.
That said, I would attend another virtual conference, but I do have to say that I miss the in-person format. If I had the choice to attend one or the other, I would choose the in-person if I had it in my budget, with the biggest reason being that I can fully commit my time to being present for the entirety of the trip and focus on why I’m there.
I am very thankful that my mom was in town to help keep Skyler entertained throughout my full two days of learning at home, because I definitely couldn’t have done it or soaked enough in without it. Also, I feel very grateful to have had the option to attend this conference from home this year, and I applaud IDEA for making it happen.
I’m going to end this post with one of the best takeaways from the conference this year:
It’s time to stop waiting for the world to resume and start planning for the world right now. The opportunities are there, are you taking them?
Take your original 2020 plan and throw it away! We are living in an unforeseen time that requires a different way of running your business, so it’s important to rebuild and plan in a new way that includes things like virtual conferences, training, and businesses!
Thank you for stopping by to read about my experience, and I’m open for any questions you may have about IDEA, attending a fitness conference, the blogging aspect, or whatever else you would like to discuss or need.
And thank you again to IDEA for naming me a SHINE Influencer!
If you’re interesting in attending an upcoming fitness conference, FITposium is coming up in October and it looks great. They were actually sponsor of IDEA, and I was able to interact with their staff members a few times. It looks fantastic, and the networking event that I attended with one of their speakers was really helpful and relative to the exact field that I’m in. I’d highly recommend giving it a go!
As of right now, the IDEA World Fitness Convention is set to be in-person in 2021, and I cannot wait to be there. Take care and chat soon!
Have you ever attended a virtual conference?
If so, what are some of your pros and cons?
If you had the choice between in-person or virtual, which would you choose?