Behind the Scenes

A Final Look Back at IHRSA 2009

I normally blog a lot more at trade shows either on site or in the days after returning to the office. However, after spending some extra time in the Bay Area after IHRSA 2009 and hustling to get the April issue out, I haven't posted anything officially other than this post on the IHRSA Financial Panel.

I'm starting to make a habit out of this. I didn't blog about last December's Athletic Business show until February. It's a habit I hope to break at future shows.

So against the wishes of my boss—who'd rather I just plow ahead with other duties—and with my boss not around on a lazy Friday afternoon, and with the Royals playing their home opener (that's where my boss is right now, by the way), I thought I'd take a few minutes to give you some of my highlights of IHRSA 2009 in San Francisco.

• I had meetings with several vendors, including Power Plate, Real Ryder and 5-Hour Energy. The interesting thing about 5-Hour Energy is that at the time of the IHRSA show, the company was exhibiting at another show for truck drivers. Makes sense if you want to stay alert in the middle of the night. (Is it bad that I'm still scared to death to take this 2-ounce bottle?)

• As with most shows, I think I had more misses than hits as far as scheduling goes. Trade shows can get crazy, and schedules change on the fly, so I wasn't able to get to as many people as I had planned. (Let's try again next time, Spin Fitness and dotFit!) Also, I need a good, long talk with the person who set up my schedule (me). With exhibitors in two different halls, I found myself doing a mid- to late-afternoon workout going back and forth just trying to get to everybody.

• Speaking of hustling, Michael Altfest, a representative from San Francisco-based Edelman, which does PR work for 24 Hour Fitness, caught up with me at the show. He not only came by my booth, but inquired about my whereabouts before he caught me going into a session upstairs. That's a first for me at a show. Way to go, Michael!

• Last year at Club Industry, I met up with the folks at Water Rower. This year, I met one of Water Rower's representatives, an actual, living breathing gold-medal-winning Olympian. Xeno Muller won gold in single scull rowing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and earned a silver at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Muller is an American citizen now living in southern California, and the way he passionately described his rowing studio, he could be the next California governor, a la Arnold Schwarzenegger. If I have more time, I'll have to share with you a photo I took of Muller and more of my interview.

• Of all the visits I had, Matrix impressed me the most, both with the amount of equipment on display and the details its representatives had while talking about their products.

• Of all the sessions I attended, perhaps the most interesting was an update on employment law coupled with details about how to manage the Generation Y worker. The session was conducted by Tex McIver, an Atlanta-based lawyer, and Brook Brewer, based out of San Francisco. Gen Yers tend not to stay at an employer for more than two or three years, and they keep close to home, as in living with or moving back with their parents. They also can be beneficial to updating a company's information systems. An e-mail that takes 15 minutes to get from Point A to Point B just won't do for these folks, who help encourage firms to put in T1 or T2 lines for instant e-mail transmission. All at a cost, of course.

• Hybrid cars can be scary. I drove one on our vacation getaway to Napa Valley. All you do is push a button, and off you go. No roaring of the engine or anything. The scary thing is backing out with kids around since the car is so quiet. You need to make sure they're in the car before taking off.

• Now I know why wines taste better with age. The latest versions we tried were 2007 editions. My wife tasted some 2008s out of a barrel, since they're not really ready to drink yet. The guy would put an oversized medicine dropper into a barrel and pour the wine into a glass. I don't remember this from the movie "Sideways."

• I had a hot dog at the San Francisco airport that rivaled the one I had in New York at Junior's (Club Industry East 2008) and the one at Earl Campbell's restaurant in Austin (NIRSA 2008). Big, grilled and toasted bun. 'Nuff said.

• Next year's IHRSA show will be back again in San Diego. Can we get San Francisco penciled in for 2011?

There you have it, my look back at IHRSA 2009. Next week, I'll blog about my cruise to Mexico and Central America from 2006.

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