San Diego — This year's International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) convention was themed around the phrase “One for All.” Held March 5-8 in San Diego, that “all” ended up equaling more than 12,000 fitness industry professionals from 70 countries.
“On behalf of IHRSA, I extend our deepest appreciation and gratitude to all who joined us in San Diego,” says Joe Moore, IHRSA president and CEO. “The superior quality of the educational programming and the trade show made our great event the best ever, and San Diego was more than a gracious host city. It is our hope that each and every attendee returns to their business with a renewed commitment to grow our industry, with the collective goal of enriching the lives of all through regular exercise.”
Held within the San Diego Convention Center, 413 exhibitors occupied more than 400,000 square feet of exhibit space with their fitness products and services. Nearly 200 educational and networking sessions were also held at the convention, including notable keynotes and feature presentations.
In the first keynote of the show, former ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff shared with a crowd of several hundred his experience in Iraq, in which he was injured by an improvised explosive device. The injury left him in a coma for 36 days. Once he came out of the coma, it took a lot of physical and mental rehabilitation to get where he is today, especially in his ability to find the right words when speaking — something so vital to a journalist, he said.
Kjell Nordstrom gave the second keynote presentation called “Funky Business,” which focused on how the world is becoming more personalized. For example, members want a club that speaks to them and equipment and classes that fit them.
“Successful companies do not compete. A temporary monopoly is a moment in time when you are perceived to be different, unique. It's all about perception,” he said.
Dick Vitale, well-known college basketball analyst, also spoke at the event, giving a passionate presentation about his life, leadership and how to overcome struggles. He also offered his three “E's” of life: enthusiasm, energy and excitement.
On the last day of the show, Martina Navratilova gave her feature presentation, “Champion for Life.” Navratilova spoke at length about her experiences playing at Wimbledon and other tennis tournaments, and applied what she's learned throughout her life to the fitness industry.
On Friday, March 7, more than 1,000 attendees turned out to support The Beach Bash for Augie's Quest. The third annual Augie's Quest event raised $1.5 million in the fight to combat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease). The event, emceed by NBC's “Today Show” national correspondent Natalie Morales, featured Pat Monahan from the band Train and NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.
“I spent my whole life making people normal and healthy; that's a cruel irony,” Augie Nieto, co-founder of Lifecycle Inc. (now known as Life Fitness), said about ALS's effect on his life. “But I'm happier today than I've ever been in my whole life.”
Other special events included the Technology Summit, where Jeff Skeen, CEO of Titan Fitness Holdings, which is a Gold's Gym franchisee, spoke about the importance of technology when running a club company.
Official IHRSA business was also conducted at the show. Gene LaMott, former president and CEO of Gold's Gym International and current chairman of the board, was elected as IHRSA's board chairperson. LaMott will succeed Michael Levy, effective July 1. Those elected to begin serving terms on IHRSA's Board of Directors effective July 1 were: Jeff Klinger, co-founder and CEO of Anytime Fitness; David Hardy, president of CLUBFIT, and founder and president of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada; and Kilian Fisher, chief executive of the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management.
Geoffrey A. Dyer, founder of Lifestyle Family Fitness, and IHRSA Associate Member Matrix Fitness Systems were recognized with IHRSA's annual honors. Dyer was presented with the Dale S. Dibble Distinguished Service Award, and Chris Clawson, president of Matrix Fitness Systems, accepted the IHRSA Associate Member of the Year Award.
The 2009 IHRSA show will be held next March 16-19 in San Francisco with the theme “A World of Opportunity.”