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Branding, a full Thursday and one early morning

During my booth visits yesterday, the name of the game was branding. Because the fitness industry is fairly new, it's interesting how at each show I can see signs of its maturation, professionalism and overall creativity. This show is now different, and in my humble opinion, the industry is really (pardon the pun) shaping up. I spent a good hour and a half at the Life Fitness booth where I met with a number of the company's marketing and branding gurus, and Tour de France winner Greg LeMond. The name of the game was marketing the brand as more than just fit people working out on new products with new bells and whistles (although Life Fitness has plenty of those with its full line of cardio products that can charge your ipod or download workouts via a USB memory stick). Instead, Life Fitness -- and many other companies at the show, I might add (before the show, I had a conference call with executives from Star Trac who have similar aims at reducing obesity rates across the world via their message and cross promotion of fitness) -- is promoting physical activity and fitness for all. The branding process took Life Fitness more than a year to develop. As more fitness manufacturers and, I hope, clubs begin to brand, I think it'll raise the profile and professionalism of the industry. When you go through the same product processes as big kahunas such as Apple, Tide and Target, it can't hurt, right?

Yesterday, I also sat in on one of the feature presentations. Dick Vitale gave a passionate and heart-felt presentation about his life, leadership and how to overcome struggles, telling the crowd that he was "living the dream." He also gave his three "E's" of life: enthusiasm, energy and excitement. Those three "E's" definitely speak to the fitness industry.

After the keynote, I walked the show floor and ended up purchasing a few new CDs for the group exercise classes I teach back home. (You seriously can't pass up some of these deals at the shows -- five CDs for the price of four!) Then, once the show closed at 6 pm, Pam and I walked over to the Gas Lamp district and dined outside (heat lamps rock) at this cute little Mexican place. Being from the middle of the country, I couldn't resist the shrimp fajitas. After dinner, we walked around the district, walking off our dinner and admiring the architecture.

I hit the hay pretty early last night, and, due to the two-hour time difference, couldn't sleep past 5:30 a.m. So I was raring to go at 6:30 a.m. for early morning workouts, where I participated in a 20-minute Real Ryder class, which is basically a cycling class on bikes that you can move from left to right, thereby activating your core and giving you more of an outdoor, mountain bike feel. The instructor was awesome, and the class was fun, but my legs are seriously wobbly. Talk about a good workout! I have about an hour to find breakfast and then rest up for my next workout: a 9:30 a.m. demonstration at FreeMotion. I walked by their booth a few times yesterday, and it doesn't look easy. More on that later! --Jennipher

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