Club Industry to Return to Chicago after Stopping in Vegas

The Club Industry conference and trade show’s move from McCormick Place in Chicago to the Las Vegas Convention Center was the topic of much conversation during the Oct. 10-12 show. Concluding its 27th year, the show’s change in location helped attract more West Coast attendees along with its Midwest and East Coast audience. Next year, the show will return to McCormick Place in Chicago, Oct. 23-25.

On the first day of the show, more than 50 people attended tours of the Zappos corporate headquarters and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Participants in the Zappos tour saw the company’s offices and heard about the brand, culture and employee benefits at Zappos while those touring UNLV got an inside look at its $55 million, 165,000-square-foot rec center. That evening, attendees escaped the unusually cold Las Vegas night to network at the show’s welcome reception at FIRST Food & Bar at The Palazzo Hotel.

On the second day, Club Industry presented its annual Lifetime Achievement Award to Joe Cirulli, founder of Gainesville Health and Fitness Centers, Gainesville, FL. Cirulli received the award for his passion for fitness and entrepreneurship and for establishing a leading fitness company despite many adversities in his early career.

Also on the second day, John DiJulius, president and owner of John Robert’s Spa and of consulting company The DiJulius Group, presented the keynote about how to deliver optimal customer service. DiJulius suggested that instead of setting rigid policies, club operators should set guidelines. Doing so allows staff to make exceptions when appropriate and to promptly respond to unique member demands.

CEOs from some of the most profitable commercial clubs, medical fitness centers and fitness management companies attended the second annual invitation-only CEO Summit. Though conversations were kept private, the summit attracted a group of 30 CEOs, including Mark Mastrov of New Evolution Ventures, Lafayette, CA; Chuck Runyon of Anytime Fitness, Hastings, MN; Gale Landers of Fitness Formula Clubs, Chicago; and Jim Snow of Gold’s Gym International, Irving, TX.

“The CEO Summit at Club Industry was an essential chance to connect and share insightful information with peers and discuss how to grow the industry,” Runyon says.

On the Show Floor

On the second and third days of the show, vendors displayed their new products in the exhibit hall.

Star Trac, Irvine, CA, featured its TreadClimber. Two years ago, Star Trac signed a license with Nautilus Inc. to produce the TreadClimber for the commercial market.

The benefits of the TreadClimber, according to Star Trac, include more flexion at the hip and knee for more muscle engagement and a better lower body workout. The TreadClimber is scheduled to launch to the general public next March at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) show.

Octane Fitness’ Lateral X won the Best of the Best elliptical award at the show this year. The Lateral X, which debuted last March, allows users to adjust and move side to side. University research, according to the company, shows that Lateral X users experience a 27 percent increase in caloric expenditure going from lateral width 1 to the maximum of lateral width 10. Studies also show that the Lateral X motion represents a 30 percent increase in hip abduction, hip adduction and knee extension over traditional ellipticals.

Life Fitness, Schiller Park, IL, displayed its new Elevation Series with Discover Tablet Consoles, which the company says offers enhanced interaction, Internet connectivity and entertainment options. It is integrated with LFconnect, in which a user can manage equipment and update software remotely. Life Fitness says exercisers can also build a custom workout app through LFopen that works directly with Life Fitness open platform products.

Other companies at the show included Relay Fitness Group, Costa Mesa, CA, which debuted its Evo CX bike, and StairMaster, Vancouver, WA, which showcased its StepMill 5 and StepMill 3.

The Club Industry Live space on the exhibit hall floor featured live product and group exercise demonstrations. Jennifer Rush Jacobs from “The Biggest Loser” hosted several classes in the Club Industry Ride booth.

Women in the Fitness Industry

The Women’s Fitness Professionals Forum drew female industry leaders who shared their stories of persistence in the face of adversity. Sara Kooperman, CEO of Les Mills Midwest and SCW Fitness Education, Northbrook, IL, says the participants drew strength from within when facing obstacles but still shared a sense of humor.

“The sharing of the emotional side of being a woman in business was very rejuvenating,” Kooperman says. “You would not hear men being this open. Whenever we think of professionalism, we think of organization, strength and a lack of a passion. With women, we are so bound with our passion, and it was very fascinating to hear this openness from some very successful women in the industry.”

The Fitness Industry Technology Council panel session, moderated by FIT-C President Bryan O’Rourke, attracted a packed room of attendees. The panel consisted of Runyon, Graham Melstrand, vice president of corporate affairs for the American Council on Exercise, San Diego, and Kevin Laferriere, CEO of FitPro Services.

The second annual Fitness Industry Personal Trainer Summit, organized by Jay Del Vecchio, president and CEO of W.I.T.S. Education, Virginia Beach, VA, was held on the second day of the show. The panel of experts included Melstrand, Walt Thompson of American College of Sports Medicine, Indianapolis, and Mike Bannan of the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, San Diego.

Another popular event on the second day was the Best of the Best Awards reception, where Club Industry recognized five club companies in six categories for their programming and gave its first-ever vendor awards. At the reception, the club winners took to the stage to share details about their winning programs.

The club program winners were: LifeStart Wellness Network, Chicago, for Best New Member Integration Program and Best Nonmember Program; Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center, Charleston, SC, for Best Behavior Modification Program; Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, PA, for Best New Member Sales Program; The Keller Pointe, Keller, TX, for Best Community Program; and Herbert Wellness Center at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, for Best Children’s Program.

The best club management software award went to ABC Financial, Little Rock, AR. The judges noted the product was easy to use and was innovative. The best elliptical award went to Octane Fitness for its Lateral X elliptical. One judge noted that its varying degrees of change made the product “incredibly unique.” The best stationary bike award went to the Woodinville, WA-based Precor RBK 885, which offered the best multiple options for aging and overweight members, according to one judge. The best treadmill award went to the Star Trac E-TRxe, which struck a happy medium between too much and too little, one judge noted.

To highlight the personal trainer sector of the health and fitness industry, Club Industry partnered with Personal Fitness Professional (PFP) magazine to bring the Trainer of the Year Award to the Club Industry show this year. PFP gave its 2013 Trainer of the Year Award to Valorie Ness of Catalyst Fitness Midtown, Atlanta, for her exemplary commitment to her clients, career and community and for her embodiment of the spirit of fitness and health.

The Club Industry Theater featured panel sessions and presentations, including a design Q&A session with designers in the industry and a media panel that consisted of Ashley Koff, a registered dietician and a member of the Fitness magazine advisory board, Jeanine Detz, deputy editor of Shape magazine, and Devin Alexander, TV chef and author of “The Biggest Loser” cookbooks.

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