IHRSA 2001: Dot-Coms Disappear

Nearly a year ago, this very column summed up IHRSA 2000 by trumpeting that “the eyes have it.” This declaration was a reference to the influx of dot-coms and entertainment companies that planned to revolutionize the industry — and make money — by capturing eyeballs.

What a difference a year makes.

It's not that dot-coms were not in attendance at IHRSA's San Francisco show in March (Asimba, for one, displayed an interesting Web-based service for personal training), but the show was pretty thin as far as Internet offerings went — especially considering the number of dot-com exhibitors last year. This came as no surprise, given the overall trend of dot-com businesses pulling their plugs.

On the entertainment side, BroadcastVision, ClubCom and Cardio Theater were exhibiting, but E-Zone and Netpulse, still mired in bankruptcy, were conspicuous by their collective absence. And while news persisted that E-Zone officials were on hand to announce a new venture with their existing clients, the company created from the combination of E-Zone, Netpulse and Xystos seems to be gone for good.

While this entertainment partnership may have failed, IHRSA 2001 did witness the birth of a new tech partnership. Known as Legend, the strategic relationship includes Legend Information Systems, Belmont Financial Services, FitnessInsite.com, FutureLink Corp., BookingPlus and First Credit Services. Together, the Legend group claims to provide club members with a total management and IT solution.

Speaking of groups, group exercise was alive and well out on the show floor — though not exactly kicking. Instead of kickboxing classes (passé, perhaps?), IHRSA 2001 featured new programming ideas. Yes, staples like group cycling classes still drew crowds, but balance training could become the new buzz, evidenced by the attendees gathering around Reebok's Core Training demonstrations. The Urban Rebounding booth — obviously bolstered by its new owner, the cable shopping network QVC — also stopped curious passers-by in the aisles.

Another entry into the group ex arena was causing quite a stir at the Ground Zero booth. Called Group Free Motion, Ground Zero's group workout incorporates mobile versions of its selectorized strength-training equipment.

In a similar vein, Vortex, a new company, made its debut at the show with its own unique functional strength-training products. Boasting cable attachments that hang in various angles around a curved design, the Vortex units allow users to grab and go.

Not to be outdone, existing manufacturers also unveiled new strength products at the show. Star Trac By Unisen, for example, introduced the Thruster, a circuit-style machine that allows users to perform push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, squats and dips.

A few aisles away, the StairMaster crew announced an agreement to sell Integra Body Sculpting's new line of six machines that target the central and lower body. StairMaster also showed 10 new plate-loaded machines.

At the Nautilus booth, the low-cost Nitro selectorized line got a little bigger with an incline press, seated dip, and innovative combination abduction/adduction machine. Meanwhile, Life Fitness introduced new low-cost selectorized machines of its own: the Club Series strength line. Furthermore, Life built on its Pro Series strength line with the dual pulley pulldown and the dual pulley row, and the Hammer family expanded with the arrival of new plate-loaded equipment, benches and racks.

East Coast clubs that couldn't make the trip to San Francisco should be happy to know that many of the products mentioned here will be shown at Club Industry East this June in New York City. In fact, both Life Fitness and Ground Zero will be on hand to exhibit their products. And Ground Zero even promises to introduce new equipment at Club Industry East. (To register for the New York show, turn to page 32.)