What another AMAZING year at The International Fitness Showcase in Blackpool!!  Each year just keeps on getting better and better with so many fabulous presenters coming together from all over the world!!  They come to share their love of fitness, choreography and music with hundreds of like-minded fitness instructors and enthusiasts from all over the UK and abroad – a true fitness paradise!!

Personally, this year was even more special for me as I was given the honour of presenting not one but two solo debut sessions as well as team teaching a step session with my fitness co-presenter, Gina King.

Gina and I kicked off the weekend with the first session of the weekend in the amazing Chrysalis Ballroom with our trademark step session “Step To The Future 2018” coinciding with our new release on Pure Energy “Step to the Future 2“.  This year we presented a vertical step session with Gina presenting the first block and myself presenting the second block using Gina’s mix “Fresh and Funky Step” from our new release.  We were greeted with an arena full of choreography hungry steppers eager to get their first session of the weekend underway…and what a fabulous session it was!!  Looking out to a sea of happy smiling faces as we brought our session to an end with our “Pump Up The Jam” finale was fantastic!!  The tone was now set for another weekend of fitness fabulosity!!

Straight after team teaching with Gina, I had to grab my stuff, quickly change and run up to The Spanish Hall to get ready to present my second session and first debut aerobics solo session with “Keeping Freestyle Fabulous!” – and boy did we do just that!!  Standing on that stage, all alone, at first felt daunting without my co-presenter beside me.  However, as soon as I pressed play and we all started step touching to the beats from my mix “Fun and Frantic Step” on “Step To The Future 2″(which I pitched up about 6% to use it for aerobics), the crowd’s whoops and cheers of encouragement soon relaxed me.  Before I knew it we were all jumping for joy (or for love by The Pointer Sisters), spinning around and getting ourselves into a right freestyle frenzy!!  As the finale approached and “The Night Train” by Kadoc came on, I was delighted to see that I had as many participants finishing  the class that had started with me who cheered for one more time before they went to their next session.

The following day, I was given the honour and privilege of covering a double step session in The Showcase Arena, in place of international fitness presenter Claudio Melamed from Brazil.  I decided to present my “Stepway to Heaven” routine whereby one step is placed horizontally on the floor with a second step placed horizontally adjacent to it but on one or two risers to give the effect of climbing stairs.  I was met with confused and worried looks from nearly ALL the participants used to stepping without risers due to their injured or delicate knees.  I reassured them to trust me as I had taken all this into consideration when writing this routine.  Thankfully, their trust in me paid off as the feedback I received after this session has  surpassed any I had previously received!!  One participant told me how scared and apprehensive she was about having to have one step so high but then praised me on how clever and imaginative the routine had turned out to be and how much she enjoyed it and hopes to be able to do it again in the future (a comment I will cherish forever!!)  Keith Coleman, the winner of the “IFS Presenter of the Year Award”, also congratulated me on how well this session had gone as I had managed to finish my session with an arena as full as it had started – evident in his comment to me “people vote with their feet.”  To receive this feedback and support from a such successful and fabulous presenter whom I also look up to, respect and admire was a true delight and with no doubt, has been the highlight of my presenter career thus far!!

To bring the weekend to a close, Gina King presented her debut solo session “Step Fever” in the Chrysalis Ballroom with not one or two or three steps…..BUT SIX!!!! (ending up using four for the final routine!)  With another arena full of bewildered steppers, Gina soon calmed their nerves as the tunes kicked in and her smooth flowing choreography commenced.  After 18 sessions since Friday morning with an additional two nights of great entertainment, Gina took her dedicated hardcore steppers over the finish line with the final leg of their freestyle journey bringing their final and 19th session of IFS 2018 to a climatic and fabulous finish!!
Due to some structural issues caused by a recent concert by the Prodigy, some of the walls within the Winter Gardens had been disturbed due to the extreme volume of the music!! Therefore, this meant that the layout of the ballroom was different this year to allow for scaffolding to be erected.  Thankfully, this did not affect the atmosphere or buzz that was created in every session in the ballroom proving that where there are freestylers….there is a PARTY!!!!
Every time I go to IFS I really want and intend to try lots of other different sessions such as the aerial hoop, kettlebells, pilates, yoga, HIIT, abs and bounce not to mention the many different lectures that there are on a variety of different subjects.  However, with there being a step or aerobics session on EVERY HOUR and being the stepaholic and aerobic addict that I am, I am too scared I am going to miss out on a fabulous routine meaning that year after year I leave having experienced no other class other than step of aerobics BUT gaining a wealth of new ideas and inspiration for my next step/aerobics routine!!
Highlights of other step and aerobics classes include THE QUEEN OF STEP, Anastasia Alexandridi’s “Steptacular” session on Friday and her “Step Alexandridi” session on Sunday.  Both sessions were choreographed to perfection and I particularly enjoyed her Sunday session where she choreographed 2 triple thigh/hand claps to a brilliant remix of “We Will Rock You” by Queen.  Anastasia is another one of my idols as the way she moves and captures the participants’ attention is second to none.
Another highlight was Keith Coleman’s “Step Fresh” on Friday afternoon and his “Aerodance “on Sunday morning.  I loved both of these sessions not only due to the choreography but Keith’s music was superb too!!  At points, especially during his “Aerodance” session, I just wanted to dance and bounce about as his tunes were fantastic!!  As I’ve previously mentioned, Keith was the proud winner of the “IFS Presenter of the Year” award at the Gala dinner on the Saturday night.  I have been to a few of Keith’s fitness events both in the UK and in Europe where he has continued to inspired me ever since I first met him.  The way he executes his moves and the height that he can jump to is the image I keep in my mind’s eye when I am practicing my own moves and routines at home in the studio.  Keith has only been in the freestyle industry for 5 years but has come a long way very quickly down to his relentless hard work and unwavering dedication…he is a true role model – he is MY role model!!
I did have a break from the norm on Saturday afternoon and joined some of my friends in Jo Parry-Ali’s session “My Girl Janet” where I tried to find my inner dancer, connect with my hips and get groovy as she taught us a routine to “Miss You Much” by Janet Jackson – quality tune!  I am always out my comfort zone when doing a “Dance” session BUT Jo’s lovely personality and fabulous style of presenting put me at ease as we got on down and strutted our stuff in the Chrysalis Opera House Dance Stage.  This session was packed full of not only delegates but presenters too!!  The atmosphere was brilliant and I will DEFINITELY be doing another one of Jo’s dance classes next year!!
In addition to all these fabulous sessions, there are a number of stands and stalls where you can buy everything from fitness foods and drinks, protein shakes and smoothies to clothes, equipment and even courses to take your career to the next level!!  However, the stall that stands out the most for me is without a doubt the PURE ENERGY stand!!  The guys here all have such fabulous and infectious energy who are all a joy to be around.  Of course the choreography is important, however, the MUSIC is JUST as important too – this is what brings the choreography ALIVE!!  It is with infinite gratitude to the team at Pure Energy that another dream of mine has been realised and I have been given the great opportunity to become part of this team.
Now, as the week after IFS progress’s, the IFS blues inevitably start to set in!!  Next year seems so far away but due to the fabulous world of technology we now live in, reliving the memories is so much easier thanks to the vast library of pictures and videos that are uploaded to the world of social media by everyone who was there!!
In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for lots more upcoming fitness events both in the UK and abroad and hopefully I’ll see you on a step or aerobics hall before next year!!
Stay fabulous and KEEP ON BOUNCING!!!!
Much love,
Alistair xxx

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