Sessions Galore

It's a beautiful spring day here in New York City, but unfortunately, the Javits Center still thinks it's winter. Although temps outside the convention center reached the mid-70s, inside, the high never got above 60. However, that doesn't mean things weren't "hot." Today, I attended four sessions, and all four were inspiring, informational and in some cases eye opening (despite the fact that I had to wear a coat and scarf while attending them.)

The first session of my day (after scarfing down breakfast at Cosi, which I really, really wish we had back home in Kansas City) was a presentation on circuit strength training with Wayne Wescott, fitness research director for the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. Wescott presented the audience with many studies on the benefits of circuit strength training, including increased muscle, decreased fat, improved VO2 max, and all in a 20- to 30-minute format. Although the crowd was a bit divided (and testy, I might add) about whether we're doing a disservice to our members and clients by not always sharing this information and research with them (and instead encouraging them to do longer, more involved strength training routines), I think everyone learned something from the presentation. And impassioned people with strong opinions are always a good thing, leading to more diversity in the industry, right?

Next, I crashed the show's JCC track. (And when I say "crashed," I mean it, because I actually got called out for not being with a JCC by the JCC's head fitness person. Thankfully, I talked my way into staying.) Rick Caro, last year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and Sandy Coffman, Focus On Seniors columnist, both addressed the group of JCC fitness professionals and directors about how to improve customer service, retention, programming and how to find and cater to your niche. Both speakers stressed that you can't be all things to all people, so you need to find your bread and butter (so to speak) and stick with that. Caro suggested implementing a loyalty rewards program for your members to increase the rate of retention, and Coffman emphasized the importance of good customer-service skills when keeping your attrition low.

After a quick bite to eat at the back of the convention center (and a quick call to the husband on how he and our puppy were doing), it was back into the classroom for a session with Doug Ribley of Akron General Health Systems. Ribley gave an interesting talk about medically based wellness facilities. Ribley shared his top tips for creating and managing a medical fitness center, which included making sure medical components are truly integrated with the fitness side of things (meaning you share equipment, resources and staff instead of just dividing up all the services and then placing them under one roof and calling it integrated).

Although the content for today's seminars was fantastic and the speakers were all very good, I was most struck with the business intelligence of attendees at this year's show. Maybe it's because it's New York and the health club industry here is the most established in the country, but I'm not sure if I remember a show where the questions have been more interesting and intelligent. Session after session, attendees have asked specific , business-driven questions and received great advice for them. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings, but I do know one thing: I won't forget my coat! --Jennipher





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