During Thursday night’s Best of the Best Awards reception, Club Industry recognized five club companies in six categories for their programming and gave its first-ever vendor awards.

At the reception, which was sponsored by Wyman’s of Maine and included drinks and appetizers, the club winners took to the stage to share details about their winning programs.

Those winners were: LifeStart Wellness Network, Chicago, for Best New Member Integration Program and Best Nonmember Program; Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center, Charleston, SC, for Best Behavior Modification Program; Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, PA, for Best New Member Sales Program; The Keller Pointe, Keller, TX, for Best Community Program; and Herbert Wellness Center at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, for Best Children’s Program.

Mike Flanagan, LifeStart Wellness Network president, took to the stage first with Liz Prebish, LifeStart’s director of nutrition, and Katie Folkema, LifeStart’s general manager, to accept the award for Best New Member Integration Program and Best Nonmember Program. Flanagan shared how the MyPath program helps participants identify their own starting point on their path to healthier living. Their individualized approach helps tailor the program to the specific needs of each participant. Flanagan continued on to discuss their other winning program, PT-55, which was a winning program in 2011 as well. He credited Prebish for its continued success as LifeStart incorporated more nutrition aspects to the program. Aimed at engaging sedentary nonmembers by providing short, motivating, effective and affordable workouts, PT-55 comprehensive approach led to 45 percent of nonmembers joining the club after the program ended.

Janis Newton, assistant director of the Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center, accepted the award for Best Behavior Modification Program for the MUSC Healthy Charleston Challenge. She oversaw the first state-wide program in South Carolina that addressed obesity and chronic disease prevention. She told the audience how the program wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the director of the facility, Bobby Shaw. The 12-week lifestyle change program was designed to increase physical activity and empower participants as they developed healthy lifestyle habits. Newton has seen more than 700 participants finish the program and more than 20,000 pounds lost since it was created.

 

The Best New Member Sales Program award went to Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), which was represented by Linda Mitchell, director of marketing and public relations, and Amanda Konigsberg, director of sales. Mitchell credited the overwhelming opportunity her boss, Jim Worthington, presented her when he asked her to generate a net increase of 400 new memberships to support the NAC’s $5 million, 12,000-square-foot expansion. She told the audience the program did a great job of generating revenue, but she said that without her boss’s encouragement, none of it would have been possible.

Clint Konkle, fitness coordinator and lead personal trainer at The Keller Pointe, accepted the award for the Best Community-based Program for the Lifestyle Improvement Challenge. He spoke about how Keller Pointe partnered with the city of Keller, TX, to offer a variety of events for the community that helped make the program a success. The plaque that Keller Pointe received was not the only award the facility garnered for the Lifestyle Improvement Challenge. The city of Keller, with which Keller Pointe partnered on the program, also was awarded a $25,000 grant for its participation in the Lifestyle Improvement Challenge from Baylor Regional Medical Center to help incorporate more outdoor fitness opportunities for the community.

The Best Children’s Program was awarded to Herbert Wellness Center at the University of Miami, which was represented by Rhonda DuBord, camp director and Herbert Wellness Center associate director, and Ashley Falcon, assistant director of wellness. DuBord told the audience about how the Mini Canes Recreational Sports Camp is much more than a sports camp. With Falcon’s help, she said they have incorporated wellness concepts varying from physical fitness to financial wellness.

Judges for the facility portion of the Best of the Best contest were: Karen Woodard-Chavez, president, Premium Performance Training; Paula Neubert, general manager, Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club; Debbie Lee, director of marketing, Gainesville Health and Fitness Centers; Eddie Tock, owner, Eddie Tock Consulting; Thomas Kulp, director, Solution Consultants; Laurie Cingle, owner, Laurie Cingle Consulting and Coaching; Ann Gilbert, director of fitness, Shapes Total Fitness for Women; Christine Thalwitz, communications and research director, ACAC Fitness and Wellness; Maria Yannuzzi, regional programs manager, Merritt Athletic Clubs; and Casey Conrad, owner, Communication Consultants.

For the first time, Club Industry gave Best of the Best awards to vendors. Vendor submissions were narrowed to three finalists in each category by online voting. Then, club operators and consultants in the industry were selected to judge the three finalists at the show. The contest was close, with most of the finalists separated by just one point.

Finalists in the best club management software category were ABC Financial, ASF International and Shape.net. The winner was ABC Financial. The judges noted that ABC’s software was easy to use and was innovative.

Finalists in the best elliptical category were the Octane Fitness Lateral X, the Precor AMT and the Technogym Excite. The winner was the Octane Fitness Lateral X.

“No other elliptical feels like it does what this one does,” one judge noted about the Octane Fitness Lateral X. “In reality, they are similar, but with such varying degrees of change available, it seems incredibly unique. Members love new, exciting offerings in equipment. This provides that from the moment you get on the piece.”

Another judge noted, “There is a certain novelty to this product, but it is strong, tested and solid enough to stay and really entertain and engage users.”

Finalists in the best stationary bike category were the Precor RBK 885, the Star Trac E-RBE and the Technogym Excite+Recline. The winner was the Precor RBK 885.

One of the bike judges commented, “This decision was difficult. The products are all great. But I feel the Precor model offers the best multiple options for aging, overweight, etc., members who we need to help more. The program offering with this bike is by far the best and easiest to use and comfortable even for people who don’t know how to use them initially.”

Another judge noted that the Precor bike had broad/comprehensive programming along with an easy display panel that offered good user feedback. He also noted that it had comfortable ergonomics with a strong/solid construction.

Finalists in the best treadmill category were the Precor TRM 885, the Star Trac E-TRxe and the Technogym Excite+Run Now. The winner was the Star Trac E-TRxe.

One judge said that the Star Trac treadmill struck a happy medium between too much and too little. Another judge noted its stable deck and user-friendly interface with fitness coach component.

Judges for the vendor portion of the Best of the Best contest were: 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.