IHRSA 2014 Was Worth 14,000 Steps a Day

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Four days at IHRSA 2014 means a lot of walking, talking, learning and networking. Check out some of the highlights.

This blog is going to read a bit like my mind felt when I returned from IHRSA 2014: full, and like I had been all over the place. The fitness tracking system that I began using the week of IHRSA can attest that I was all over the place at the conference. My device logged about 14,000 steps each day while I was there. That's pretty good for someone who is mostly deskbound in her job, and it included flight time, sitting during several sessions and keynotes, standing at booths and receptions, and foregoing my usual daily workouts.

Let's start with those receptions. Who didn't have at least one reception to attend each night? I'm going to start with my final reception of the show (actually, it was more of a dinner) because it was the most special one: the Bash for Augie's Quest. I've attended all but one of the nine Bashes, and I have to admit that I doubted that Augie Nieto, who started these fundraising events for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) after being diagnosed with the disease nine years ago, would still be with us today. ALS tends to take people's lives after a short five years.

However, Nieto is not only here, but he also seems to be improving. He actually walked on the stage this year. It wasn't a full stride on his own. He used a walker and had some assistance, but considering that two years ago he was using a ventilator and could only move his toes, his efforts last week were a tremendous accomplishment that the crowd at the Bash rewarded with a standing ovation. Nieto has been taking some experimental drugs that have helped, but he also has been working out in the Project Walk program at the Claremont Club in Claremont, CA. I was lucky enough to be at the club this past summer on a day when Nieto was there working out, so I witnessed his workout with my own eyes. Now, I hope he makes his next goal of walking his daughter down the aisle when she gets married this summer.

So now let's go back to the first night of the show. That night, I attended a StairMaster and Schwinn reception where the Club Industry staff got a peek at Schwinn's new Class Tamer app for group cycling instructors. I definitely plan to tell my group cycle instructor about this app, which is downloadable to an iPhone or an iPad and allows instructors to program in cues, reminders to welcome people or tell them about a special, organizes their music and allows them to change the tempo of the music, among other features.

The next reception of the evening was the ever-popular Active Sports Clubs reception at the Hard Rock Hotel. You may not have heard about this reception because it used to be the Club One reception, but since Jill Kinney and Bill McBride, co-owners of Active Sports Clubs, purchased many of Club One's clubs, Active Sports Clubs now hosts this reception. It felt like coming home to me because the Hard Rock Hotel was the site of the first Club One reception I attended at an IHRSA show.

And we couldn't miss the IHRSA welcome reception later that evening where I ran into old friends and acquaintances. I chatted with Jay Ablondi of IHRSA and congratulated him on a wonderful show this year. I spent some time with Jim Worthington, owner of the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), and Linda Mitchell, director of marketing and public relations at the NAC. That company is making a name for itself in the industry with a recent cardio area addition, the opening of a sports training center and the construction of a pool complex. I also ran into Rick Caro of Management Vision, who was one of our Lifetime Achievement Award recipients and works with us each year on our invitation-only CEO Summit, plus this year's new Fitness Leadership Forum for the most senior executives at commercial, wellness, corporate, university and nonprofit fitness facilities.

The next evening, my one-and-only reception was at the Westin Hotel where Precor put on a bash on the terrace overlooking a huge blue-tinged Precor logo projected onto the building next door. I didn't get to chat with Rob Barker, the new Precor CEO, that evening, but I did catch up with him at the Precor booth the next day, exchanging thoughts on the importance of tracking on cardio equipment and the incorporation of wearable devices inside fitness facilities. We didn't get around to talking about Precor's 20 pieces of new strength equipment or Preva Video On Demand, which offers timed music playlists that are based on beats per minute science to help users maintain their energy level and motivation during workouts.

Another one of my booth visits was with Colleen Logan at ICON Health and Fitness, which was exhibiting its Freemotion products. New this year for Freemotion is its iFit Active fitness tracker, a wearable tracking device. Using this device and a screen that attaches to cardio or strength equipment from any manufacturer, exercisers can track their workouts and be prompted with workout suggestions based on their past workouts. (Watch for a story on wearable devices next month on our technology microsite.)

Other highlights of the show included unveiling our new booth design. Our Club Industry Show is set for Oct. 22-24 in Chicago, We welcome commercial club owners and operators as well as nonprofits, university rec centers, wellness centers, parks and rec facilities and military facilities as well as small studios. We recently launched our website for that show with a new design and colors that also flows over to our now all-digital media side. We received many compliments on the design of the booth, so kudos to Tina Beebe, our show marketing manager, for working with our design team to get that produced.

I also enjoyed attending two of the four keynote addresses. (Each will be covered more in depth later on our website.) I also attended a press conference announcing the partnership of Genavix with the American Council on Exercise for its wellness coach certification. (Again, we will run a separate story on this.) I also attended a session on fair labor and wage regulations. (Yes, we'll run several stories on our management microsite on this.)

But the most fun was seeing familiar faces from Gale Landers of Fitness Formula Clubs, to Jim Thomas of Fitness Management and Consulting, to Colin and Julie Milner of International Council on Active Aging, to Norm Cates of Club Insider, to Rudy Fabiano of Fabiano Designs, to Eddie Tock of REX Roundtables, to Bruce and Johanna Carter of Optimal Design Systems International. Because despite all the education you get and all the bells and whistles that impress you, it all comes down to making those personal connections, something that we all still need even in this digital world. 

(For more on IHRSA 2014, check out our photo gallery.)

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