There was a time when trade shows were the place to be to see the latest equipment, network with vendors, and exchange ideas with peers, but with the advent of the Internet, e-mail, and other technology many thought this was no longer true. Well, guess again.

The Club Industry East show, slated for later this month (June 26-29) for the first time in the nation's capital, will be chock full of activity and product introductions.

There will be plenty of education and networking time at the show, as the event will have nearly 100 seminars to stoke the conversation. One of the highlights will be the free keynote address from Lisa Oliphant, executive director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports, on community involvement.

And besides networking at the food court between sessions, club operators can catch up with peers from not only the East Coast, but throughout the country, at events such as the Opening Night Welcome Reception on June 26th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

While networking and educational sessions are two large components of Club Industry East (and don't forget the early morning workouts!) the most often heard question on the floor of any trade show is still, “Have you seen anything new?”

Visitors to the show will get a chance to see plenty of new and existing product entries from the more than 100 suppliers, both big and small, filling the Washington Convention Center exhibit hall from June 27 to June 29.

Heart Racing

One of the big names breaking out new equipment is Cybex of Medway, MA. The company will have what it deems pre-production models of its new ArcTrainer. The company had a sneak preview of the unit at IHRSA and has had them out in the clubs for a field test since then.

“We have had 50 units being test driven at test clubs throughout the country since March,” said Sean Carr, marketing director. “The feedback has been great from club owners and club goers. We have taken many of their suggestions and ideas and used them to help tweak the ArcTrainer for the pre-production units that will be at the show this month.”

Another company climbing the walls to show its latest cardiovascular equipment is MA-based Brewer's Ledge. The LedgeWall Bouldering System is a new offering from Brewer's Ledge, which according to the company converts under utilized racquetball or squash courts (or gym walls) to climbing areas by providing professional quality modules for local installation.

While end-users are on the cardio equipment they can monitor their heart rate with Acumen's new Eon series heart rate monitors. Available in four models ranging from the EON 101 ($119.00 MSRP) to the EON 202 ($199.00 MSRP) the EON series offers users features such as a one-button target zone setting, an enhanced calorie counter, body fluid monitoring, Fitness Indexing, and more. And, according to company spokesperson Michael Weinstein, the EON series offers something for clubs as well. “Club retailers can plan on GPM percentages in the high 30's with minimal numbers being ordered, and even higher with volume orders,” he said.

Must See TV…and More

To help members pass the time while on various pieces of cardio equipment, several companies will be showcasing new equipment and programming choices at the Club Industry East show, including Broadcast Vision.

Broadcast Vision, which recently partnered with Gold's Gym, will be featuring equipment from two new vendor partners. The company has added Koss headphones and Phillips to its list of equipment partners. This will allow Broadcast Vision to bundle Phillips TVs with its packages, while clubs will be able to sell Koss headphones to individual members. According to a company spokesperson.

Enercise will also be showcasing its new 15-inch monitors and all of its entertainment systems that debuted at IHRSA, which company spokesperson Ralph Cissne says are priced to fit any size facility or budget.

“We will showcase our Enercise xTV wireless systems, Enercise iTV individual entertainment systems and our entry level Enercise FM wireless transmitters at the show,” says Cissne, who adds that he expects the iTV model to garner a lot of attention at the show. “The entertainment trend is toward greater individual choice, which the Enercise iTV individual entertainment system, with our exclusive optional CD/DVD player, clearly provides,” he says.

But technology isn't reserved for entertainment alone. Several technology-based companies will be introducing new or upgraded back-office systems and technology at the show.

Aphelion's BOSS system (Back Office Support Services) is one of them. The BOSS combines locally installed software, outsourced billing services, and an expert back office staff. Additionally, Aphelion experts can login to your club and oversee your Billing process right from its offices in Houston, and the BOSS system is professionally hosted, reducing clubs' hardware and IT expense, according to the company.

MembersFirst will also be introducing new Web-based technology at the show, with the debut of its MembersFirst Member Relationship Management (MRM). The company calls MRM the next-generation of Web-based interactive communications designed to increase member retention, participation, communications and revenues from both dues and non-dues revenue streams.

Back to Basics

Apex Fitness group will be featuring some brand new programs at the show — all of which are marketing-oriented and directed at helping gym owners maximized their revenue potential, according to JoLynn Hinger, Apex Fitness spokesperson.

One of the new programs are publicity materials for two of its most popular seminars that gyms can offer to the general public — Get Fit Stay Fit! community seminar and Why Weight? weight-loss seminar. Each packet contains complete instructions with illustrations, a timeline checklist, news releases, and other materials the Hinger says will make it easier for clubs to market these seminars with less time spent on it. And, she adds, these programs can help bring in new members.

“We find there is a direct correlation with membership and program sign-ups in the days immediately following a seminar. A well-executed promotion should easily yield 200 participants,” Hinger says. “Past experience shows us that approximately 60 percent of attendees will sign up within 30 days of a seminar.”

Through this small sampling of new products and services available on the Club Industry East show floor it is clear that trade shows — both regional and national — are still a great way for club management to go shopping, learn a thing or two and catch up with industry friends.

For more on the show be sure to pick up a copy of the Show Guide at the event, and happy shopping!