A History of canfitpro: A Continued Glory
By Mo Hagan
By the early 1990s, there was an increasingly growing demand for quality group fitness instructors (back then called “Aerobics Instructor”), and at the same time personal training was just emerging onto the scene. Like other conference organizations within the global fitness industry, our passion for moving the industry forward was fearlessly high, however our beginnings were very humble. With a simple company purpose to communicate, educate and motivate one fitness professional at a time, canfitpro set forth in 1993 to help grow the fitness industry in Canada with an education conference called BodyLife.
As the owner of a small chain of clubs at the time, canfitpro founder and CEO, David Patchell-Evans, purchased the rights to this well-known and respected magazine and conference brand from Germany. His idea at the time was to help his company find and develop educated fitness professionals, while at the same time raise the standard within the fitness industry to benefit everyone across the country. I recall Patch’s answer to my one-and-only question upon hearing this news, and my question was “WHY?” His answer was simple. “The demand for fitness is growing and the supply of fitness professionals is not going to be able to keep up in its current state. To ensure that Canada’s fitness industry is able to keep up, someone will need to step in to provide education and training at a grassroots level, and to be consistent (in order to build credibility), it would have to be on a national level”.
By the time BodyLife launched, with its first event in the fall of 1993, there was only one Fitness Instructor Training Network in existence, along with provincial-level government funded training associations, of which only a few remain today. The company’s first couple of years was built from the side of my desk, with the help from BodyLife Germany education director, Darin Dieterich. Darin introduced BodyLife Canada to many amazing fitness presenters and educators, and in turn provided Canadian presenters the opportunity to present abroad, myself included. In 1995, BodyLife was officially re-named Can-Fit-Pro and relocated to Toronto. Soon after, Can-Fit-Pro launched the Fitness instructor Specialist (FIS) certification, and a few years later the Personal Trainer Specialist (PTS).
As Canada’s largest fitness education organization today, we have always maintained the position of an education organization, with our purpose of inspiring healthy living through fitness education. We have weathered both black-outs (in 2003) and countless industry breakthroughs, beginning with a non-traditional model of education delivery through our PRO TRAINER network. With a simple company purpose to communicate, educate and motivate one fitness professional at a time, canfitpro set forth in 1993 to help grow the fitness industry in Canada with an education conference called BodyLife.
Now, 26 years later, our membership has grown globally to surpass 25,000 fitness professionals on an annual basis, certifying over 10,000 professionals annually. What began as a quarterly magazine and an annual conference that drew 250 delegates, has grown into one of the largest fitness education conferences in the world and the largest fitness Expo and Tradeshow in Canada, serving over 5,500 fitness professionals and well over 10,000 consumers annually. Annual regional conferences in Vancouver, Calgary/Edmonton, Montreal, Halifax, and Toronto help to support our fitness pros coast to coast, making education and certification accessible.
I believe that the secret to success we have had at canfitpro over the last 26 years has been due to the following:
- Know what brings you passion and focus on it, understanding your WHY (why you exist to do what you do). This will ensure your emotions (passion, excitement, joy/happiness) outweigh fear.
- Align your strengths with the strengths of others; bringing people together to share your vision and to contribute to that vision (and cause). People want to align and follow leaders and innovators, and contribute as they can.
- Know the value (benefits) you bring to your work and to the industry, and be daring to raise the bar. Patch and I both believe that there is always room for MCI (Measurable Constant Improvement) and you can only get better if you are learning and growing, and being consistent in that. Like any athlete, you must train every day to remain at the top of your game. The same goes for any fitness professional. You must always be learning and with greater knowledge comes the responsibility to show up and stand up for your profession (lead by example). This is a big reason live conferences are so important for every fitness professional to show up to, at least one time each year.
- Decide who you want to be in the world and go out there and create yourself. Do not let anyone tell you it’s okay to play small in the world. Do not let others’ actions of complacency stop you from becoming the best version of yourself. Do not let “Black Outs” (2003) or “Flash Floods” (2018) stop you from moving in the direction of your goals, and know that the only thing or person that will hold you back from pursuing your life purpose is YOU.
On behalf of everyone at canfitpro, I am tremendously grateful for the leadership our staff, PRO TRAINERS, sponsors, education partners, presenters, and members exude on a daily basis as representatives of the Canadian Fitness Industry. I look forward to celebrating with all of you at this year’s canfitpro 2019!