The 2018 Club Industry Show Reports 21 Percent Growth in Its Conference Attendance

Paul Brown, Mr. Retention
Photo by Bryan Beasley., One of the biggest draws at this year's Club Industry Show was the speaker Paul Brown, aka Mr. Retention. Brown, who is CEO of Face2Face Retention Systems, presented two sessions on retention.

For the past three years, the Club Industry Show has focused on its education programming, and this year, that portion of the show experienced a 21 percent growth in attendance, according to event management.

The show, which was held at the Hilton Chicago, wrapped its 32nd year on Oct. 24-26, 2018. (Check out photos of day one here and the rest of the show here.) Attendees included fitness professionals from commercial multipurpose and fitness-only clubs, studios, YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers, parks and rec facilities, university rec centers, hospital wellness centers, club management companies and others.

The show’s conference program had 21 percent growth in attendance over the 2017 show. Attendees took part in more than 90 education sessions categorized into 9 tracks: Leadership and Management, Technology and Trends, Wellness, Retention, Marketing, Sales, Personal Training, Active Training and Programming.

“We’ve worked hard during the last three years to refocus our show on the conference program,” said Pamela Kufahl, director of content for Club Industry. “The goal of our sessions is to educate our attendees about the business of fitness and how to implement the trends they see and the trends that are coming into their business. This year, those efforts have paid off. We have also received positive feedback about the quality of the topics and the speakers at our show, but this year, the positive feedback is off the charts. We couldn’t be happier.”

Part of the success of the show is due to the conference program’s track chairs and the show’s brand ambassadors, Kufahl said.

The 2018 track chairs, who helped to put together the education sessions in their tracks, were: Casey Conrad, president of Communications Consultants – Marketing track; Marisa Hoff, general manager of Stevenson Fitness – Programming; Bill McBride, CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3 Consulting – Leadership and Management track; Kevin Steele, president of PTA Global and PTontheNet – Wellness track; Chris Stevenson, owner of Stevenson Fitness – Retention; and Karen Woodard, president of Premium Performance Training – Sales. The conference also offered sessions in Active Training, and Technology and Trends. 

For the first time, Club Industry also gathered together seven industry people to serve as brand ambassadors. Those ambassadors spread the word about the Club Industry Show through their social media channels, emails and through visits to fitness facilities in their cities. The seven brand ambassadors for 2018 were: Michelle Blakely, founder and owner of See Jake and Jane Train; Luke Carlson, CEO of Discover Strength; Kurt Gillon, owner of Balanced Fit Life Training; Mike Gelfgot, franchisee owner of Anytime Fitness; Suzanne Gray, owner of Right Fit Sport Fitness and Wellness; Tony Maier, director of production and growth at Fit Club; and Cosmo Wollan, senior executive of Synergy Cubed.

On the second day of the show, attendees came together for a community breakfast, sponsored by Genavix. PFP magazine then gave its Trainer of the Year Award to Andrea Leonard, founder of Cancer Exercise Training Institute, Portland, Oregon. The Cancer Exercise Training Institute is designed to empower and teach trainers to have an impact in the recovery process of cancer survivors.

Ford Saeks, speaker and author, then delivered the keynote, “Super Power Success: Unleashing Your Inner Superhero.” The keynote, which was sponsored by ABC Financial, is recapped here.

As part of the show’s focus on its education, the event is also focused on wellness with the expansion of its Wellness track from one day to three days. In addition, the Club Industry Show partnered with the MedFit Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to co-locate the Medical Fitness Tour with the event. The two-day Medical Fitness Tour offered fitness and allied health professionals an opportunity to grow their knowledge in the field of medical fitness. Sessions cover a wide range of topics in prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of chronic disease/medical conditions.

For the eighth year, the show also included its co-located CEO Summit, which brought together more than 80 CEOs from some of the largest revenue-generating clubs in North America, including Chelsea Piers, East Bank Club, Gainesville Health and Fitness, In-Shape Health Clubs, Las Vegas Athletic Clubs, Merritt Clubs, Mountainside Fitness, The Alaska Club and The Houstonian. As a cornerstone of the CEO Summit, Dr. Steven Rogers, Harvard Business School professor, led an interactive case study about how to determine whether a company is worth purchasing. The CEO Summit was sponsored by Motionsoft, MyZone, Ladder, UpShow, Yombu and Zeamo.  

The Club Industry Show will return to the Hilton Chicago, Oct. 9-11, 2019.

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