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Why I Attend Fitness Conferences

by Master Trainer Katy Coffey

At the start of my fitness career, let's be honest, I knew NOTHING. I had taken a few 1 day training sessions under companies like ZUMBA, and I was really excited to have passed my Water Fitness Exam with the United States Water Fitness Association. I was teaching ZUMBA Gold 1 day a week with a decent turn out in attendance, and occasionally subbed our "Water Aerobics Class" focusing on joint mobility and mild jogging. Members were happy, numbers were stable and overall I thought I had figured it out.

When it comes to the fitness industry we are influenced and educated from the immediate world we see and know. You watch other instructors and formats, you learn from classes that are packed and you take notes on what not to do in classes that are lacking in numbers. In many cases you might even be the rockstar! Your classes are well attended, the members adore you and your boss asks can you teach more! What more would you need to learn?

Then I attended my first fitness conference and EVERYTHING changed.

It was the Friday 7:30 am session attending SCW Boston Mania, and Jeff Howard was teaching a workshop on Tabata in the water. We were 3 minutes into Round 1 of Tabata, my muscles were screaming for relief. (Thank you Tabata protocol!) My heart was pounding and my face had a MASSIVE smile plastered on it. I had NO IDEA that you could work so hard in the water.

That one weekend of workshops and education would go on to show me I had so much to learn, so many ideas to work with and an entire industry to be educated through.

Fast Forward to 2022. I am currently an Aquatic Training Specialist through the AEA. I am a Master Trainer with S’WET™ and Aqua Body Strong. I have more than 20 certifications between land and water specialties. And where was I this past November? I was right back at SCW Boston Mania, not as the presenter, but as the student. Why? Because you should never stop learning!

Conferences and continuing education should be a non negotiable when it comes to your fitness career.

It doesn’t matter how long you have been teaching, the fitness industry is always growing and changing. Conferences will give you the unique opportunity to be in a community of professionals and learn the science behind the method.

During training you get to try equipment and decide if you love it or could leave it. You can network with other fit pros and make connections that will build your career. If you walk into these conferences with an open and humble heart, you might even realize things you have been doing incorrectly and see areas of improvement.

These conferences also are great for cross training. I love to attend and take a variety of water and land classes, as the theory always makes me a better educator and allows me to bring back knowledge to my students.

There are a variety of conferences you might be interested in looking at and attending in your local area. Here’s just a few upcoming conferences where the S’WET™ SQUAD will be this year:

February 17th - 19th, 2023

Charlottesville, VA 22904

Jackie Lebeau is the Senior Director of Fitness and Instruction for the Southeast Collegiate Fitness Expo, the premier university fitness & wellness experience on the east coast. More than 500 attendees from 40 to 50 universities come together each year for a weekend of networking, continuing education, and fun! The 2023 Fitness Expo at UVA marks the 30th year of the event, which began as a 1-day choreography exchange between the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and James Madison University.

Join Jenni Lynn for Turf to Surf on Feb 19, 9:15 AM – 1:00 PM.


April 30th – May 5th, 2023

Orlando, FL 32836

If you are looking for aquatic fitness inspiration, IAFTC is the Super Bowl of Conferences! 5 Days in sunny Florida learning from the best of the best in the industry. This year AEA and ATRI combined forces for 1 power house event. You can attend with a focus on Fitness or attend the Therapy Driven conference. You will have the ability to demo and learn about the latest equipment for the water, take workshops in both shallow and deep or even sit in lectures learning about how to speak with your supervisor about support in the industry.

Stay tuned for details on where we'll be at IAFTC 2023!


August 4th – 6, 2023

Reston, VA 20190

For the past 30 years, Fitness Conventions Inc. has been providing continuing education courses to fitness professionals to satisfy their certification requirements and further their education. It is their goal to provide this necessary education in a professional, affordable and service-oriented manner. Their events are great opportunities to promote your fitness related products to the fitness professionals around the world. The attendees include group exercise instructors, personal trainers, fitness directors/managers, aquatic instructors, yoga/pilates instructors, senior fitness teachers, and many more.


October 27 – 29, 2023

Nashville, TN 20190

These FITCONs also are great for cross training. I love to attend and take a variety of water and land classes, as the theory always makes me a better educator and allows me to bring back knowledge to my students.


These conferences are just a few to speak of. There are tons of opportunities to try other local conferences or even host your own educational weekend with the team like S’WET.


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