NIRSA Nirvana

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Welcome to beautiful downtown Minneapolis, where people are actually walking outside rather than through the skywalks that become so convenient when it's 40-below in the winter.

I'm here at the 2007 NIRSA (National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association) Conference and Recreational Sports Exposition. Say that five times really fast.

As far as the Fitness Business Pro editorial staff goes, I'm flying solo here through Friday. I met up with our sales rep, Matt Sinkovich, on my connecting flight out of Chicago, where Matt lives. Matt already ran into a childhood buddy of his at the Minneapolis airport.

After walking the trade floor together, Matt and I went our separate ways the rest of the afternoon. I had a discussion with Shawn Boom of Active Network, a computer software company. I'll delve more into our conversation in a separate blog. We did talk a lot about a subject matter that is the basis of a story I'm working on for our May issue. Stay tuned.

A few things have caught my eye. Because this is an organization that deals with colleges and universities, I wondered if NIRSA was going to do something in response to the Virginia Tech tragedy earlier this week. Sure enough, there was a small display at a welcoming table where people could write notes that will be sent to Virginia Tech University. Also, there were little orange and maroon ribbons -- the Virginia Tech colors -- for people to wear.

On the trade show floor, my favorite things to see have been box hockey (Matt and I should give this a try), Speed Stacks (these two girls can stack cups at lightning speed) and a free spread that you could spend days at. Seriously, with chicken and meatballs and pasta and breadsticks here, you could gain 20 pounds in one day alone -- and that's after testing out all the treadmills and elipticals.

Another thing about this show that separates itself from last month's IHRSA show in San Francisco is the number of free computers set up on the trade show floor. There are 20 computers here, five times as many as at IHRSA. (My boss, Pam Kufahl, will like the fact that I have not spent one dime writing this blog entry.) Plus, there are no lines in back of you while you're trying to use the Web, and there isn't some IHRSA "heavy" walking by the computers to tell you to "move it along."

Well, that about wraps it up for Day One. On Friday, I'm going to spend most of my time attending seminars and sessions. And if there's a spread at lunch, I'm sure I'll hit that, too. (They just announced that lunch will be served on Friday. YES!)

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