WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the shadow of the Capitol building, Club Industry East had a bit of a revival in late June. The event, which serves the full spectrum of for-profit and non-profit fitness centers and alternates between New York City and other major East Coast sites, made its debut in Washington, D.C. In the changing post-9/11 environment, Club Industry East dedicated itself to re-examining the priorities of commercial fitness. In that vein was the keynote address, “Making A Difference: How Fitness Facilities Can Reach Out to Their Communities” by Lisa E. Oliphant, executive director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Oliphant, a competitive ice dancer and six-time national dance champion, reviewed the President's Adult Active Lifestyle Award program and discussed how clubs can use it to take a proactive role in inspiring people to take those first steps toward fitness.

Her presentation was just the tip of the iceberg in an information program assembled by Howard Ravis, conference manager, which drew an enthusiastic response from an information-hungry fitness community. Nearly 650 managers and operators signed up for the conference — more than 25 percent of the almost 2,500 who attended the show — enabling the show team to surpass budgeted conference revenue. Topics ranged from “How to Market Your Club in Recessionary Times” to “Making the Community Healthy through Mobile Wellness Services” to “How to Teach Your Members to Find the Time to Exercise.”

“The conference is wonderful — it brings together the leading minds in the industry and also allows us to find out what's working for other operators,” says Teresa Bannon, owner of Razor Sharp Fitness in Racine, WI. “The exhibits are helping me find the right suppliers for the new club we're going to open in December — it's one-stop shopping at its best.”

The return of several exhibitors that sat out last year's show added to the excitement on the floor that buzzed with new product offerings, fitness demonstrations and community-based events. Although the show drew less than New York City did — which is typical as New York has become the show's unofficial home — exhibitors were gratified by the flow of traffic and inquiries from serious buyers.

“Club Industry East has been a good show for us. The people we're seeing are serious and we've had productive meetings. There's been a good cross-section of club owners, YMCAs, personal trainers and military people,” says Chet Grosskreutz, vice president, sales and marketing, for Ivanko Barbell Co. “We've got a new product, which we've cross-promoted in booths all over the show. It's important to mix new locations like Washington with the traditional venue in New York to attract new prospects.”

The success of the show should translate into a strong show next spring, when Club Industry East returns to New York April 24-26, 2003 at the Hilton New York & Towers, according to the show staff.

“In a challenging economy, we were pleased to stage an upbeat event that benefited club operators and suppliers alike,” says Zari Stahl, group show director. “All of the feedback we've been getting tells us that Club Industry East worked well for everyone involved and we are already looking forward to next year's event.”