Every year for the past twenty-nine years, the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) hosts an International Aquatic Fitness Conference -- IAFC -- in Palm Harbor, Florida. I've attended the last three years in a row, and just booked my ticket for year four!
Billed as Five Days of Education and Training, IAFC is where presenters from all over the world converge as a community to offer amazing group sessions and educational lectures to help you "discover your potential" in and out of the pool. Well, they deliver that and so much more!
And guess what? I'm not even an aquatic instructor! So why do I go?
Here Are Five Reasons Why You Should Attend IAFC 2016
1. Fun in the Sun
For some people, the idea of laying out on the beach to burn to a crisp sounds relaxing. Not for me. I like my vacations to be active, jam-packed with fun and interesting people while also getting some personal time to meditate and detox from the city-life I'm used to.
Five days in a row I get to spend my afternoons in a pool working out. And before you roll your eyes and say "how relaxing," you have to remember that water workouts are unlike any other kind of fitness activity because while you are burning out your arms, legs and core, you are also recharging and relaxing your body -- without all the pain to your muscles and joints!
Oh, and did I mention the conference is hosted at the truly spectacular and exclusive Innisbrook Resort and Spa? Six different pools, unending green grass and beaches in every direction just minutes away from where we are!
2. Try Out Something New
Ever ride a bike underwater? They got that. Ever try a pole dance in a pool? Or how about some underwater trampolines? They got all that too. Kickboxing, weight-lifting and yoga. They have sessions for each and every one of those things. And they're open to everyone -- instructors and enthusiasts to try out!
You can spend entire afternoons checking out the latest trends in aquatic fitness and also learn about why water works as a safe and sometimes more effective alternative to land-based training.
3. Meet New Friends and Contacts
Whether you're a fitness professional or just a fan like me, you will meet tons of new people from all over the world who share your passion for aquatics. Young, old, male, female, it feels like everyone has something to gain from attending.
Last year I discovered Tri-Swim's product line of shampoo and conditioner at the Marketplace, an entire floor dedicated to the best this industry has to offer -- swimsuits, equipment, music and more! And when I left, I stayed in touch with the people who ran the booth and they still keep me updated on sales and discounts.
4. There's a Dance Party
Perhaps the best way to end the conference is by attending the Dinner and Dance Party. After a full week of sun and fun, grooving with everyone you met is a must! I was soaked in sweat by the end of the night...(literally) more than during the workouts even.
The true power of pulling people together is demonstrated at this dance. No matter what language you speak (or how well you dance), there is something breathtakingly beautiful about bonding with each other after experiencing the week we just had. It is magical watching the entire global community bust a move as one!
5. Muscle & Memories
Don't forget, this is an international conference run by FITNESS PROFESSIONALS! So you will work hard AND play hard. After a solid week of working out, eating healthy and coming back to New York City with a well-maintained tan, the muscle and the memories will last a lifetime...or at least until next year!