This year's IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show offered a lot of networking time, four keynotes, an exhibit hall with 380 vendors and education sessions on a variety of topics. For me, the first highlight of this year's show IHRSA—besides a new location at the Orlando Convention Center after the show moved for just one year from its normal West Coast location to the East Coast—was seeing all the people I've met in the industry since 2002 when I started with Club Industry.
It's amazing how many people you meet in 14 years of covering an industry, and it's particularly amazing how so many of them are genuinely happy, positive and warm people. I've met many of these individuals at other shows, interviewed them for stories in-person or over the phone, and exchanged emails with them. As much as technology has allowed us to reach out and meet more people, there's nothing like a little face-to-face time to create more bonding. Receptions are a great place to connect, and I saw many of these people at the Active Wellness reception, the Technogym reception and the IHRSA opening night reception.
My second favorite thing about IHRSA this year was attending Augie's Bash on Wednesday night. Every year I am amazed at how many people in this fitness industry turn out to support Augie and Lynne Nieto in their fight to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). And every year I am amazed at Augie's ability to continue to thrive despite living for 11 years with ALS.
At this year's Bash, Jim Worthington, owner of Newtown Athletic Club, was presented with the Bash's Leadership Award, given to a member of the community who shares in the vision and mission of Augie’s Quest to fund research to end ALS and who unifies others in an outstanding way to join in that effort, according to a release from Augie's Quest, an organization created by Augie and Lynne.
In the release about the award, Augie, who also is chairman of the ALS Therapy Development Institute, said: “Jim has become a tremendous advocate and champion for ALS research, bolstered by his relationship with Holland, Pennsylvania, resident, Matt Bellina, a young man who served as Lt. Commander in the Navy and who is now battling ALS. Inspired by Matt’s determination to find treatments and cures for ALS, as well as others who are battling the disease, Jim has gone above and beyond to support ALS research through fundraising events, such as Matt’s Mission, which have been held at Newtown Athletic Club. The impact Jim is making in his community to fight ALS is inspiring, and we’re grateful for his passion and fundraising support to drive research forward to end this disease.”
Newton Athletic Director of Public Relations and Community Partners Linda Mitchell added, “Jim really cares for Matt, Caitlin and his two little boys, Kip and JP. We are in awe of Matt: his spirit, his strength, his determination, and everything about him. Matt has brought to our lives a sense of purpose and joy that only comes from being able to give of oneself to someone and something else that is bigger than all of us. Matt's Mission and Augie's Quest are those gifts to us.”
To date, Newtown Athletic Club has donated more than $315,000 to Augie’s Quest, which funds ALS research taking place at the ALS Therapy Development Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Bellina, who is a member of Newtown Athletic Club, presented the award to Worthington, who received a standing ovation.
My next favorite thing at IHRSA was the two keynotes I attended. Monday's keynote was by Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert as well as author of " Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype," which just happened to be the title of his keynote address, too. In my recap of his presentation, which you can find here, I shared some of the marketing tips that Baer offered as he stood onstage in a rather striking plaid ensemble.
For a summary of Tuesday's keynote, check out Eric Stromgren's summary here.
Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, offered Wednesday's keynote. You are probably wondering. Zuckerberg? Is she? Well, yes, she is.
After graduating from Harvard University and going to work in New York City, Zuckerberg got a call from her little brother asking her to help him with his little startup company that he was calling Facebook. She didn't think much of the idea of moving from New York to California to help him.
“I believe my exact words were, 'I would never work for my brother’s stupid company,'” she recounted. “Luckily he was really convincing.”
She ended up working for Facebook for seven years, and that time gave her some social media savvy. She shared some social media basics with the crowd, but what I found more interesting than those basics was the hack-a-thons that Facebook does once a month where employees can work on anything—as long as it's not related to their job. At the end of the hack-a-thon, employees share their ideas with each other. The ability to be creative is important to employees today, she said.
"It's amazing what happens in an organization when you remove that fear of failure. When you remove the fear of looking silly or stupid, you get people to create their best ideas," Zuckerberg said.
I wonder what the fitness industry would look like if companies in this industry held their own hack-a-thons?
And what would a trade show be without new products? There were plenty to be found last week.
On Monday evening, I attended the unveiling of Technogym's SkillMill at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. You may look at the SkillMill and say it's a curved treadmill, but don't let Technogym hear you say that. Instead, the company refers to it as a non-motorized performance-training product that enhances power, speed, stamina and agility training. You can easily increase or decrease the resistance using a gear to the right of the handle. You can also use the product as if it was a sled.
The Life Fitness booth featured a number of new products, including the Discover SE Tablet Console; Hammer Strength HD Athletic system of rigs, racks and storage for accessories; LFconnect Protect remote monitoring of cardio equipment; and SYNRGY90 System, a smaller version of the SYNRGY360 system for personal training. You can read more about these in this press release, which also features a bit about the Cybex SPARC, a non-impact cardio piece that is similar to Cybex's ARC Trainer. Life Fitness purchased Cybex this year, but Cybex had already booked a separate booth at the IHRSA show.
Adam Hubbard at Precor shared with me some of the new personalized fitness offerings from the company. (See more details in this press release.) The company released its P82 Console as well as its Discovery Series Benches and Racks, and its Queenax Functional Training system. Precor also featured its three new Spinner Indoor Cycles: Spinner Ride, Spinner Shift and Spinner Rally. Precor recently developed a partnership with EXOS for the EXOS Energy System Development, which is available on any networked P82 and P80 Precor console. EXOS ESD evaluates a user’s state of fitness to build personalized interval programming including time-efficient, cardio workouts and data tracking, according to a release from the company.
At the Octane Fitness booth, I sat down with Bruce Cazenave, CEO of Nautilus, to talk about the company's purchase of Octane Fitness. (Look for more from that interview next week). While at the booth, I tried out Octane's new Zero Runner. It took a little coaching to get used to how to use the product, but once I did, I felt like I could actually be a runner.
One of my last booth visits was with Mike Post at MacroAir Fans. This is the first year the company is exhibiting in the fitness industry, but the company offers high-volume, low speed fans for small, medium and large fitness facilities. Not only do the fans cool facilities in the summer, but they also help with heating in the winter—both options helping to lower utility bills, per Post.
Did you attend the IHRSA show? If so, share in the comment section some of your favorite things. And check out News Central for more products featured at the show.