CI East Features Bucky Dent, Ali Vincent

NEW YORK -- Bucky Dent, former New York Yankees shortstop, kicked off the second day of the Club Industry East 2010 conference and trade show Thursday with his keynote presentation, “A Game of Moments: Leveraging Your Advantages for Long-Term Success.”

The show, held at the Javits Convention Center in New York City, opened Wednesday and runs through today.

Dent was the first keynoter for the conference. This morning, Ali Vincent, the fifth-season winner of “The Biggest Loser,” offered a keynote.

Dent told the club operators, directors and personal trainers in attendance that his business, Bucky Dent Baseball School, deals with some of the same issues as club operators—namely, getting and retaining clients.

He emphasized the need to not only focus on the children who are talented, but to also focus on those who won’t ever go further than high school baseball.

“You need to pay attention to kids who aren’t so good because it might be the best week of their life [being at the camp],” Dent said.

In the past, Dent’s school focused only on baseball skills, but in the past few years, he has been adding more fitness training, particularly for speed, agility and strength. However, when asked during the 30-minute question-and-answer period about whether integrating a baseball school into a health club could provide a profit center for club operators, Dent said that some operators had tried to do so, but it hasn’t worked for most because of the space needed.

Vincent recounted the mental and emotional journey she went through during “The Biggest Loser.” During her time on the show, she realized that her weight was a form of protection in case she failed at relationships or in her career. She could blame the failures on her weight rather than on herself. Once she realized that she had the power to allow herself to gain the weight, she realized she had the power to lose the weight and make healthier choices for the rest of her life.

She urged the club operators and personal trainers in the audience to remember that the clients they have are experiencing many emotional issues and probably feel as if everyone is judging them. The trainers must be understanding and supportive and should never allow the clients to give up on themselves.

The first day of the show included 30 sessions and a roundtable luncheon in which about 100 people participated. It ended with a welcome reception on the trade show floor.

Thursday’s events included an industry forum, “Can Personal Trainers Cure Disease?” The forum was led by Phil Kaplan, president of Be Better Solutions Inc., and Kelli Calabrese, president of Calabrese Consulting. Panelists were Terry Dezzutti, COO of Merritt Athletic Clubs; Dr. David Haase, found and medical director of MaxWell Clinic for Proactive Medicine; and Dr. Michael Jones, president of American Academy of Health, Fitness and Rehabilitation Professionals.

The panelists told those in attendance that it’s too easy for people to become personal trainers, and more education should be required. Personal trainers need to do more research and present their findings at conferences and in journals because that’s what doctors do, Jones said. If personal trainers offer research, it can elevate their professionalism in the eyes of the medical community. Personal trainers also need to quit being intimidated by the idea of reaching out to doctors and instead let doctors know what trainers can offer their patients, panelists said.

This morning, attendees at the networking breakfast heard from New York City firefighter Matthew Long, who recovered from severe injuries suffered in a bike/bus accident to run marathons and participate in triathlons.

After Long’s accident, the doctors gave him just a 5 percent chance to live, but the athletic and fit firefighter surprised them all and survived. However, he didn’t get back to running marathons overnight. Perhaps his biggest challenge was the mental obstacle, Long says. He was depressed and had pushed away many of his family and friends. He kept saying that he “wanted” to do this or that, but one day, sitting with his younger brother, who was his caretaker at the time, he finally said, “I will do this.”

That was the start of his turnaround, which eventually led to him participating in marathons and triathlons again. His I WILL Foundation helps other people who have experienced severe injuries, providing them with Long’s inspirational story as well as occasionally providing equipment for rehab and training.

Sessions at the Club Industry East show run through this afternoon. The exhibit hall is open until 2 p.m. Next year’s Club Industry East show will return to New York.

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