Soggy Vegas Welcomed the Club Industry Show

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Despite the unusually soggy Las Vegas weather and my aversion to handing over my hard-earned money to casinos, I was able to enjoy the Las Vegas location for Club Industry this year. The change of pace from our usual Chicago event will be short-lived, however, as the Club Industry show is returning to Chicago next year, going back to McCormick Place Oct. 23-25. So, save the date on your calendars now.

But back to Vegas: The opening night reception at FIRST Food and Bar (sponsored by Ab Coaster) was packed, and I ran into several old and new friends from the industry, including Joe Cirulli and his large group from Gainesville Health and Fitness, Jeff Skeen with Titan Fitness Holdings, Laurie Cingle with Akron General, Christine Thalwitz (who had just renewed her wedding vows with her husband) with ACAC Fitness and Wellness Centers, Casey Conrad with Communication Consultants, Randy Ivey with iGo Figure, Linda Mitchell and Amanda Konigsberg with Newtown Athletic Club (winners of the Best New Member Sales Program in our Best of the Best contest), Tina Nibbe with Octane Fitness, Rob Engstrom and Peter Ashworth with Ashworth and Co., and Loren Thomas with Loren Thomas Fitness, who happened to be the winner of our free airfare to Vegas giveaway at our Chicago appreciation event in August.

I also saw several of our judges for the Best of the Best vendor award contest. These judges took a tremendous amount of their precious time while at the show to judge their categories. Many thanks to: Ken Baldwin, assistant professor at State University of New York, and executive director for the National Posture Institute; Scott Chovanec, president of Scott Chovanec and Associates; Ellie Ciolfi, owner of Fitness Rx Personal Training; Percy Reynolds with Gold’s Gym, Donna Krech, owner of Victory Management Inc.; Mark Miller with Merritt Athletic Clubs, Anthony Slayen, vice president of operations and innovation, Valley of the Sun JCC; and Kevin Steele, chairman of the Medical/Scientific Board at Performance Health Systems and principal at Communication Consultants Inc.

I have to add two special names to all this name dropping. At almost every industry trade show, I run into one of my favorite couples: Bruce and Johanna Carter of Optimal Fitness Design Systems. (Bruce is one of our Smart Design columnists.) This year, I ran into them three times. First, they visited with me prior to my presentation Friday morning. Then, Stuart Goldman, our managing editor, and I spoke with them at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. And as Stuart and I wandered through the Las Vegas airport looking for food prior to our flight home, I joked to him that it would be funny if we ran into the Carters again. So, as the waitress sat us at our table at Chili's Too, who did we find sitting a few tables over? You guessed it! The Carters.

In addition to running into and working with all these fabulous people, I had the pleasure of getting to know some more of the CEOs in the industry through our CEO Summit, which was held on Thursday. The group of 30 CEOs included Mark Mastrov of New Evolution Ventures, Chuck Runyon of Anytime Fitness, David Patchell-Evans of GoodLife Clubs, Gale Landers of Fitness Formula Clubs, Joe Cirulli of Gainesville Health and Fitness, Jim Snow of Gold’s Gym, Angel Banos of Gold’s Gym-Los Angeles, Lynne and Victor Brick of Brick Bodies, Mark Stevens of The Houstonian, Keith Worts of Crunch, Rodney Steven of Genesis and more. I can’t share what was said during the day (as we promised it would be off the record), but I can say that the feedback was positive, especially for the luncheon speaker, John DiJulius of The DiJulius Group, who also was the general session keynoter.

Meeting new people or catching up with old friends is what makes going to industry trade shows so special. Social media is quick and easy, but it will never replace that face-to-face time that you get at trade shows.

And, of course, trade shows also offer the opportunity to try out new equipment. We were so pleased to see so many of the large equipment manufacturers at the show, including Life Fitness, Precor, Technogym, Star Trac, Octane Fitness and many of the software vendors and other vendors.

My schedule was rather full, but I did have a chance to talk with Ken Carpenter, director of sales with SportsArt Fitness. He shared with me information about SportsArt’s Green System, which is a group of fitness products attached to an inverter that harnesses human-generated power from exercisers. The system produces electricity and feeds it back into the power grid as useable energy.

I saw the system in 2011 when it debuted behind closed doors at the IHRSA show. The system now offers the ECOFIT Networking System and Display, which shows exercisers how much electricity they are producing on in-club digital media displays. The program includes a rewards system in which exercisers can accumulate points for the energy they create. Points are redeemable at the fitness facility or another partner of the facility’s choice.

This was just one of the many products on display at the show. We will be featuring more in additional blogs and in the November issue of Club Industry magazine.

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