By this time next week, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) will have kicked off its annual conference and trade show in Los Angeles.
With a new venue, there is lots of anticipation and excitement. We have been getting more requests for booth visits the past few weeks than we have had in past years. We plan to produce coverage in different and unique ways during and after the show, too.
With the economy improving ever so slowly, the show seems to have a lot of momentum. Not to sound like a Debbie Downer, but we still are seeing some club operators continue to struggle around the country.
Just in the past two weeks, we've seen a sports training facility called SportsQuest in Virginia evicted from its building for not paying rent. ZX Fitness, which has a troubled past from its days as Peak Fitness in North Carolina, closed a club in Durham, NC. On Monday, Club Fitness in Jacksonville, AL, closed its doors, surprising both members and employees alike. Club Fitness closed a club in similar fashion last year in Rome, GA. Now the company has only one club in operation, that one in Carrollton, GA.
Those are just the closings we have found. There could be others, damaging the industry's reputation and causing headaches for members and vendors.
There is no doubt that IHRSA will put on a great show, and the feeling will be that the industry is growing and manufacturers are coming back. But once the show ends, the reality will set in that this industry still has a long way to go to come back.
UPDATE: More bad news continued on Wednesday as the Lehigh Valley Racquet and 24-7 Fitness Clubs in Pennsylvania filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The business began in 1979.