PHILADELPHIA — Club Industry East attendees learned about the key issues that make a difference between surviving and thriving during a panel discussion June 9 at the conference in Philadelphia.

Terry Dezzutti, CEO of Merritt Athletic Clubs; Ed Trainor, vice president of fitness for Town Sports International; Gwen Foster, fitness czar for the city of Philadelphia; and Rob Goldman, vice president of sport and fitness for the Columbia Association, discussed topics such as technology, membership retention, international franchising, Baby Boomers and the relationship between the fitness industry, medical community and insurance industry.

The Club Industry East conference drew 2,252 attendees and 113 exhibitors for the three-day show in June. Attendees could sit in on 86 seminars or six full-day sessions.

Michael Scott Scudder's presentations on two topics of interest — franchising and competing with low-priced clubs — attracted about 50 attendees. His franchising seminar discussed the ins and outs of franchising for those interested in franchising their clubs or becoming a franchisee.

“Franchising will have a tremendous influence on this industry,” Scudder predicted. “Every industry in its maturity is influenced by franchising.”

In “How to Compete with $19 a Month Clubs,” Scudder offered ideas for evaluating whether a club should join the value-priced ranks or set themselves apart based on service and offerings. He also offered ideas for cutting expenses to help a club owner compete.

Wayne Wescott, research director for the South Shore YMCA, delivered a series of presentations on the latest strength training research, and Jasmine Jafferali of the East Bank Club discussed how to bridge the gap between health care and fitness.

During the keynote address, Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, who coined the term, “boomeritis,” said that 15 years ago, the common cold was the number one reason Americans went to the doctor. Today, musculoskeletal concerns top the list.

“We've added more years to the human lifespan, but there's a mismatch between longevity versus durability,” he said. “We've outworn our warranty on the human frame.”

On the exhibit floor, a few facilities were looking for a few good men (and women). Xsport, a Chicago-based chain of clubs, sought personal trainers, managers and other staff for clubs it is building in the Northeast. The Jewish Community Center of North America also exhibited looking for staff.

Several companies used the trade show floor to launch new products for the fitness industry. Advanced Fitness Technology introduced to the health club industry its I-Form equipment, which is a cable-system equipment with a computerized personal training system that demonstrates how to perform certain strength exercises.

Vitabot demonstrated its nutrition-based, whole-food online meal-planning system, which can help ensure members are getting the nutrients needed for a balanced diet and can help members lose weight.

Aqualogix unveiled its line of balls and fins for water-based fitness classes and personal training.

For details about the national Club Industry conference, which takes place in Chicago Oct. 4-7, visit www.clubindustryshow.com.