Afternoon Blur

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Okay, it's getting late as I blog this and I'm getting a little blurry-eyed from the whirlwind afternoon of visits to various exhibitors--although I did have that one blue-tini at that Nautilus reception earlier tonight. But no, my aching feet and head were not caused by a fru-fru drink. Instead, they are ailing due to constant walking in shoes that seemed to shrink as the day wore on and due to the information overload that I seem to be suffering from.

I met with Sandy Coffman, an industry consultant and columnist for our magazine, this morning to go over a way to revise our Best of the Best contest. She had some great suggestions, and it was a pleasant way to end the morning. However, I knew that my afternoon would be all about ensuring I held each scheduled appointment to a 30-minute time limit. That, it turns out, was impossible.

I quickly fell behind after attending Rick Caro's Financial Panel Session and staying afterwards to meet Ron Rich, one of the panelists who has been following Bally. I then met Elaine Moal of Dahlin Group, an architect firm, and spoke with her about some of the fitness facilities that her company is working on.

That put me a bit behind as my 3 pm appointment was at the Marriott where I met up with Pamela Block and Jennifer Churches of Virgin Life Care to talk about the rewards program that they are rolling out in clubs in April (it's already been tried at Spectrum Athletic Clubs, as Matthew Stevens, CEO of Spectrum Clubs will tell you in our May Executive Insights column).

I then rushed to Moscone South for a 3:30 pm meeting with SportsArt, but I was already 15 minutes behind. I put in a frantic call to Stuart to cover the Nautilus unveiling of their new strength line at 4 pm so I could spend more than 15 minutes with Mike May and Scott Logan of SportsArt. I'm glad I did as SportsArt is introducing a new treadmill, the T600 series, that uses 32 percent less electricity. For a club owner with 12 of these treadmills, that could mean a savings on their electric bill of $3,000 to $5,000 each year.

I also found out that SportsArt is involved in an Xtreme EcoChallenge in which the company is asking attendees to run on SportsArt's new treadmills for 5 minutes to see how many calories they burn. For each calorie burned, SportsArt donates 10 cents to the Center for Ecosystem Survival, a group that creates global partnerships to help preserve the ecosystem. The person who burns the most calories wins a trip to a Costa Rican eco-adventure destination.

My next stop was at Light Space, a new company to the fitness industry. Chris Cantone, senior vice president of marketing for the company, introduced me to their new children's fitness product, a dance-type floor that lights up, allowing individuals to play a variety of games or activities. The product is a bit pricey--about $26,000--but the adults who were trying it out were certainly having a good time.

I then headed with Stuart and Jennipher to the Nautilus booth to get some more information about Nautilus One, the new strength line whose introduction I missed earlier. Ron Arp was excited to show off the new line to us. It uses a dial to change the weight and the weights are enclosed so that no one knows how much (or little) the user is lifting. The dial is meant to make the equipment more user friendly and less intimidating to the deconditioned market.

Whew! That was it for the afternoon. It's difficult to get around to any other booths since the people I'm meeting are so excited about their products that they have no trouble talking about them for a full 30 minutes. I guess it's good to be in an industry where people believe so much in their products.

It was then back to the room for a little recovery time before heading to the Nautilus reception. But I know that Stuart has already blogged about our adventure there so I'll leave it at that. -Pam

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