Behind the Scenes
IHRSA 2018 Photo courtesy IHRSA/the photo group.

My IHRSA 2018 Experience by the Booth to Booth to Booth

Two days of exhibit hall hours allowed time for only a fraction of the booth visits required to cover the IHRSA show, but this blog highlights one attempt to see what could be seen.

Attending the annual IHRSA show always makes for an invigorating week, especially when it’s held in one of my favorite cities, San Diego. It’s a mixture of seeing industry friends and co-workers, attending educational sessions, eating my way through receptions and seeing new products in the exhibit hall.

Rather than regale you with all the wonderful visits I had with old and new friends, I instead will regale you some of the products and companies that I saw this year at IHRSA.

Let’s start with the heart. And this year, that also involved the stomach. I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to the Myzone Hot Breakfast event that has become quite the hot ticket since its start several years ago. In addition to filling up on some hot eggs, bacon and fruit, I watched Todd Durkin lead a workout using Myzone’s heart rate monitors. Then, both Emmett Williams and Dave Wright, two of the top executives at Myzone, shared some of the new offerings from the wearables company (Myzone 3.0, the Zone Match feature within the Myzone app, the MZ-1 physical activity belt and the MZ-60 watch).

Ralph Rajs, senior vice president of operations at Leisure Sports, then took the stage to share how a club challenge using Myzone not only helped engage members but also helped to raise money for Augie’s Quest, an organization working to raise money for research to cure amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Michelle Dand, health and fitness manager at David Lloyd Clubs in Europe, also presented during the breakfast about how the Blaze boutique studios within David Lloyd Clubs use Myzone’s heart rate monitors to get an 88 percent occupancy in its 33 classes per week.

Other heart rate monitoring companies also exhibited at IHRSA. I stopped into the Polar Electro US booth to talk to Tom Fowler, president of Polar. Fowler shared a bit about the company’s partnership with software development firm AthliOS. The partnership introduces Polar View, a customized platform that integrates Polar’s heart rate zone training into cardio equipment so that it can be viewed on consoles and stored in the cloud. It also allows exercisers to use new Polar Smart Coaching features, drop-down heart rate zone and workout summaries that can be exported to fitness apps.

Another stop involved talking with Chris Patton, vice president of wellness solutions at Peerfit. Peerfit offers a platform for insurance carriers and employers to offer fitness classes to clients and employees. Patton showed me how the app works to engage employees by rewarding them with wellness dollars that they can use to attend classes at any studio within the network.   

Another rewards program I heard about involved the Shopping Boss. Although the company didn’t have a booth, I met with Steve Bostic and Scott Walker, managing partners of Broadway Media Group, who own Shopping Boss. The company developed the rewards app for charities, but soon found that health club operators wanted to use the app to reward their members and make paying for memberships easier. Users of the app earn cash whenever they shop at participating retailers and restaurants (which now number more than 200 and include Macy’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Kohl’s, Chili’s, Whole Foods, CVS). The app is branded with the health club’s name on it. As a person buys using the app, they earn money and the health clubs earn 10 percent of the cash back, which makes the platform a profit center. Users of the app can then pay for their purchases with the money they earned back. They can even pay for their gym memberships with it.

I had a quick stop into Hyperice, which was demonstrating its line of recovery products, including their newest, the Hypervolt, which is a vibration massage device for muscle relief as well as its vibrating foam roller, Vyper 2.0 and a massage ball called Hypersphere. I kept meaning to get back to this booth at the end of the event to soothe my aching legs and feet with some of the products, but time didn’t allow for it.

I got some core work in at the Reactive Training booth where founder Anthony Carey showed me his company’s Core-Tex product. The disk-shaped product tilts, slides and rotates to combine dynamic strength, cardiovascular endurance, reaction, flexibility and balance workouts. He also showed me the company’s new Core-Tex Sit product.

Although MuscleSound didn’t have a booth this year at the show, I met up with part of the team to hear about how the company’s product, which uses ultrasound technology to measure muscle health, has launched a MuscleHealth assessment menu. The menus are created with the end user’s goals in mind and will allow better communication about how to most effectively use MuscleSound.

My more traditional fitness equipment booth visits included a visit with Life Fitness CEO Jaime Irick (watch for a story coming soon on what he had to say about Life Fitness spinning off from Brunswick) and a lunch at the Life Fitness booth where I heard about how the LF Connect platform is going away and Life Fitness has introduced the Halo Fitness Cloud, a software offering that enhances the member experience by offering workout suggestions, tracking their goals and allowing them to schedule fitness classes. It also helps the club operator with asset management as well as notifying them when a member is at risk of cancellation. Additionally, Life Fitness revealed a partnership with New York City-based startup Studio that will offer on-demand fitness programming via Life Fitness cardio products. Studio founder and CEO Jason Baptiste said the venture's pricing models are yet to be determined.

I also stopped into Precor’s booth to see the company’s new organic look, a change from the white look of Precor’s booth for the past several years. The booth even included a little coffee café at the back, appropriate for the Seattle-area (read: Starbuck’s) company. The new look extended through the cardio and strength equipment, which now come in new color options (black pearl and gloss metallic silver) and new upholstery colors so health club operators can create a greater visual cohesion between their cardio and strength areas.  

Precor also introduced its Spinner Climb indoor cycling bike, which allows club owners to enhance their non-power classes with what a Precor release called “a low maintenance, premium bike.” Club owners have the option to add the Spinner Studio Console, which is compatible with most leaderboard solutions on the market.

SportsArt was another stop on the cardio tour. I saw the company’s new VERDE G690 energy-producing treadmill and the latest addition to the company’s ECO-POWR line. This line of equipment turns the human energy that is created while using the equipment and turns it into utility-grad electricity, often up to 200 watts per hour per machine.

Appropriately, my last visit on the trade show floor was the company Zeamo. A company that begins with the letter “z” has destined itself to be last in any alphabetical listing—although I didn’t find Zeamo to be last in its place as a day-pass app. Zeamo CEO and founder Paul O'Reilly-Hyland as well as Zeamo Managing Partner Patrick Williams had just finished trying out the goFlo Trainer in the booth behind them when I stopped in, but they weren’t too out of breath to spend 30 minute sharing with me how their app works. In case you aren’t familiar with Zeamo, it’s a digital fitness platform that features 25,000 gyms worldwide and allows users to purchase day passes at those gyms. Now, Zeamo also offers the ability to purchase one-week and one-month gym passes. Users can pick health clubs based on their preferences for activities and amenities as well as location. It’s a way for gyms to add some additional revenue from travelers or from those non-committal people we all know are out there.

Next year, IHRSA returns to San Diego from March 13-16, 2019.

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