Monday, October 09, 2006

The Last Day

Saturday morning came too fast for me. The conference and trade show were a whirlwind for me, but I knew I needed to get up for one last day and my last visits before heading home.

My first responsibility for the day was to get the Lifetime Achievement Award shipped to Rick Caro's office in New York. I didn't want him to have to lug the heavy crystal award home in his suitcase. Unfortunately, an open FedEx Kinko's on a Saturday morning is a bit of a rarity in downtown Chicago so I decided my best option was to take the award home and ship it from the office on Monday.

I arrived at the convention center at 10 am and promptly headed to our booth. We ran out of magazines the day before so I neatly stacked subscription forms and pens on our tables, trying to fill up the blank tabletops.

Chris Palumbo of Elements stopped by our booth. I had met him at Club Industry East 2005 in New York. He updated me about his clubs, which are expanding in several cities. Not only is a club open in Atlanta, but they are opening one in Chicago soon, too. They have 30 clubs sold at this point (some in London). The clubs are upscale, women-only facilities that offer lifestyle coaching in addition to fitness. Women can purchase several sessions with a lifestyle coach and either learn about fitness or nutrition during their sessions. Some of the coaches even take a group of women to the local health food store to teach them about healthy eating and shopping.

I then stopped by the Checkfree booth to visit with Randy Ivey, the marketing guru at Checkfree. We discussed the show and the new booth that Checkfree had in place this year. It had a modern yet retro feel to it with vibrant greens and yellows and some cool black couches. Checkfree's advertising campaign hints that the company is introducing something big in March 2007. They even handed out small containers of breath mints that included a quote from Hank Aaron that said, "The pitcher only had a ball. I had a bat." Then the copy read: "We make the biggest bat. Coming March 2007." I'm interested in seeing what they'll be introducing. In the meantime, the mints were tasty and handy!

My last stop for the day on the show floor was at the CSI Software booth where I had hoped to meet with Andy Wigderson, vice president of sales and marketing, but he had already left for the day so I left my business card with one of his associates.

It was about time for me to leave anyway so I prepared booth take-down instructions for Matt Sinkovich, our sales rep and a resident of Chicago, who bravely volunteered to stay until the booth was properly labeled for shipping.

Then, Kelly Cartwright of XSport Fitness, which is based in Chicago, stopped by and we headed out of the convention center to visit one of the XSport facilities. I met Kelly at the Club Industry East show in Philadelphia this past summer, and I let her know that I wanted to visit one of their clubs in Chicago during the Club Industry show. XSport is holding a grand opening of its first New York facility later this week (which I regrettably can't make) and they are expanding elsewhere in the Northeast, too. They were exhibiting at the show looking for personal trainers, managers and other staff.

After struggling to make it out of the convention center with my large suitcase, we finally made it to the valet parking area at the Hyatt hotel and then jumped in Kelly's car for the 30-minute drive to XSport's newest club. I was surprised when I walked into the facility. Despite Kelly's insistence that the club was upscale, the name to me implied a young, hip club with extreme-type sports options inside. However, when I walked inside, I was greeted with a sophisticated, upscale decor. The floor was a dark, multi-colored and natural-looking tile. The walls were medium-toned taupe with specially painted murals in taupes and reds by a local artist. Each piece of cardio equipment had its own personal viewing screen. The three-lane lap pool looked like it belonged in a spa--as did the whirlpool. The locker rooms greet members with a glass chandelier and two chairs in the entryway and dark wood lockers and bowl-style sinks inside. The play area for children had a multi-level climbing area with tunnels and bridges plus video games and a television and craft items. Kelly said that some of the members have told her that they've joined this gym because their children loved the play area. Her five-year old son also loves to play here. Then Kelly took me to the hair salon and spa area, which I would have loved to have lounged in, especially when I saw one woman getting a foot massage (my feet were calling out for one after three days on the trade show floor!). Unfortunately, I didn't have the time.

Kelly said hello to everyone she came into contact with at the club. She mentioned that they have a rule that whenever a staff member comes within a few feet of someone, they must say hello. I thought that made for a friendly atmosphere in the club.

Once the tour was complete, Kelly whisked me off to the airport in her Passat and we chatted some more about the industry and the history of XSport, which was founded by Kelly's brother Dan. She takes a lot of pride in the accomplishment of her little brother, who started with one small club in Chicago and now owns 19 facilities (they've made our magazine's Top 100 club list for the past several years).

We arrived at the airport and my time in Chicago drew to an end as I boarded the plane for my flight home. It was once again a busy but enjoyable trip. I never fail to meet interesting people and learn a tremendous amount by visiting the exhibitors, talking with club owners and sitting in on seminars. I was glad that on this trip I was also able to fit in two club visits. I would have to say though that the highlight of the trip was presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Rick Caro and listening to his acceptance speech and the keynote address by Gayle Sayers. Both are very nice men who have accomplished much in their respective careers and have remained humble about it.

I'm looking forward to next year's Club Industry show in Chicago. It will once again be in October. Check out to find the exact dates for next year's show. In the meantime, get ready for Club Industry East, which will be held June 7-9, 2007 in Orlando, FL. You can view details here: We hope to do another blog for that show, so stay tuned!

Friday Evening Visit

Saturday, the last day of the show, was a busy day for me so I'm only now getting to post what happened Friday evening and Saturday. I apologize for the delay.

Friday evening after the show ended, I headed to the Crunch Fitness facility on West North Avenue in Chicago to meet with Barry Baumfalk, the general manager, and get a tour of the facility. Barry is a former Kansas Citian, so he was willing to stay past 5 pm on a Friday to give me a tour. The two-story gym, which is located on the third and fourth floors of a building in an upscale shopping/dining district was a good-sized location. The most interesting feature was a slide that members and staff can use to get from the fourth floor to the third floor. Some people actually do use it, Barry said. It was located behind the front desk. Another interesting feature was the peek-a-boo showers that we've all heard about at Crunch. However, Barry assured me that when members are using the shower, the positioning of the lighting is such that only the person's head outline is clearly revealed and the body outline is faded back. No one was using a peek-a-boo shower at the time I was there so I can't relate to you exactly how faded back the body is.

The facility also has some funky chairs, a large chess set that you can stand on and that takes two hands to move the pieces and a large group ex room with a glass garage door that can be opened up when the class is too large to fit in the space (which actually happens, Barry said). The club's spin room has a movie screen so spinners can ride to a movie and a microphone for karaoke spinning. For the more subdued crowd, the facility offers a quiet yoga/Pilates studio and an outdoor sun deck on which yoga classes are occasionally held.

The facility is outgrowing its space, and Barry hoped to be able to expand the facility in the near future. He showed me plenty of storage space across the hall that could be turned into a much-needed second group ex room.

After my quick visit with Barry, I hailed a taxi and headed back to the hotel where I planned to grab a quick dinner and then blog about my day, but my plans were waylaid when Marty McCallen, our national sales manager, asked me to join him and Matt Sinkovich, our West Coast sales rep, for dinner. We had an enjoyable meal at the restaurant next door to the hotel and then sat in the hotel lobby area catching up. I finally left the growing group of evening revelers at about 11:30 pm and headed back to my room too tired to blog, but hoping for time to do so the next morning. I'll blog about Saturday's events in the next entry.

Friday, October 06, 2006

ASF Options

I stopped by the ASF booth this afternoon to check out their software. Sean Kirby, national sales director at ASF, showed me some interesting capabilities available on their system. The system can help members who are fortunate enough to get their club membership or personal training sessions reimbursed by their health insurance companies because it allows them to access their attendance record and send it to the insurance company.

The company's Club Pro 3000 is a client management software system that offers clubs help with their prospect lists. With the system, clubs can do paperless contracts with electronic signature capture, call back reports and other options.

Sean had me try their fingerprint check-in system, but for some reason my fingerprints didn't take so Angie Gates, our online person who had come with me to the appointment, offered her finger instead and it worked. It's an interesting option for check-in that made me feel a bit like I was in a James Bond movie.

ASF integrated their system with a phone tree system by Critical Motion. By doing so, the phone tree can call new members with messages of the club's choosing and can e-mail members messages (and perhaps a coupon or another special offer).

The online scheduler helps clubs schedule classes and personal training sessions, and notifies personal trainers when a client calls the club to cancel a personal training session.

ASF also offers an online chat option with technical support and client support.

According to Sean, he and the other executives at ASF have backgrounds at clubs so they understand what clubs want and need. However, that hasn't stopped them from seeking feedback from club owners to see what they want and need in their software, he said.

When I asked Sean whether club owners used all the options that their software offers, he said that many don't, but when ASF finds that out, they can go in and retrain the club owners to show them how taking full advantage of the options can save them time and money in the long run.

Visiting the oldest Crunch gym in Chicago

I flipped through the Chicago phone book this morning, and I noticed that a Crunch gym was nearby our hotel, the Palmer House Hilton. After I returned to the hotel following early morning workouts and checked out, I left my luggage with the attendant and took a cab over to Crunch's gym on North State Street.

Our magazine writes about Crunch all the time, but we don't have any of their gyms in the Kansas City area, so I was excited to see what one looked like. After being shown a few areas of the club by a front desk employee, I met with the manager, who gave me information about the club. The gym was built in 1989, and is the oldest Crunch in Chicago. The five Crunch gyms are all within about a mile of each other, so I asked Pam, our editor, if she wanted to visit the flagship gym tonight. She set up an appointment with the manager for 6 p.m.

During my visit today, I saw a boxing ring at the entrance, a foosball table, chairs like looked like giant purple hands and the infamous peek-a-boo showers in the locker room. The gym also had a huge group exercise studio, where they have a variety of classes each week. The hot class right now is called Kangoo, and the students wear roller blades with a spring on the bottom, the manager said.

The club has member appreciation parties twice a month, and brings in beer, food and massage therapists. Overall, the club had a fun and laid-back theme with bright colors and a friendly staff. Pam will write about her experiences at the other Crunch club later on.

I fly home to Kansas City with Jenn tonight, but Pam will be at the show tomorrow, and she'll keep all of you updated on the events. Take care and have a good weekend!


Fighting Childhood Obesity

While writing a story about children's circuit training for our magazine, I interviewed the owner of, a health club for children in Homewood, IL. I suggested Vernard Allsberry as a speaker for the Club Industry show because of his experience running a successful children's health club and his passion for helping kids improve their health.

At 8:30 this morning, I attended Vern's session, which had a full house. He discussed the health, orthopedic and psychosocial effects of childhood obesity.

He and his wife, J. Diane Adams-Alsberry, are both in the physical therapy field and used their expertise to design a program for children. Vern said that while preschool programs such as Little Gym, My Gym and Gymboree have been around for quite some time, stand-alone centers for children and adolescents are just beginning.

"When children aren't 13 and can't go ino the gym with their parents, they're not going to go into the toddler room, so they'll stay at home," he said.

At home, kids nowadays are likely to eat unhealthy snacks and play video games, which can lead to childhood obesity or a weight problem.

In addition to working with obese kids, Vern also works with athletes who are looking to improve their performance. Today's kids need to be strong enough to participate in organized sports and prevent injuries, he says.

It's up to fitness professionals to make a difference, he says.

"There has to be a big push (to prevent childhood obesity)" he says. "The kids need it."


Let's Zumba

I woke up early this morning, changed into my workout gear and took the bus over to the convention center for the early morning workout. After taking a few photos of attendees trying out the latest cardio and strength training equipment, I walked over to the Cardio Studio to join the Zumba class.

As an avid Jazzerciser for the past five years, I love to dance and find that it is a fun and effective way for me to exercise. I tried a Zumba class at my local health club in Kansas City, and I loved the diverse choreography and upbeat music. My second attempt at Zumba was even more fun. Professional Zumba instructors swung their hips, threw up their hands and performed fun dance moves to salsa, Irish and hip hop music.

I danced in the back row and attempted to keep up with the teachers' fast footwork and quick moves and found I got my heart rate up in no time. Even at five months pregnant, I found the 45-minute routine to be relatively easy to handle. By making exercise fun, the Zumba instructors will be able to keep students coming back time and time again.

Following the Zumba class, the instructors passed out postcards listing the schedule for their workshops.


Where Are We Going?

People (myself included) love free stuff -- pens, magnets, t-shirts, water bottles. It doesn’t matter what it is. As long as someone is handing it out free of charge, they generally love it. While most giveaways aren’t usually worth more than just a buck or two, today I attended an event worth a pound of gold. The free panel discussion, titled: “Identifying the Issues: The Biggest Challenges Facing the Club Industry Today and Tomorrow,” was an informative and interesting event. Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Rick Caro moderated a panel of industry leaders who discussed key issues facing clubs today and offered insights about the future direction of the industry.

Rick started the discussion off with a question about the growth of the industry. Last year, the industry stayed flat, while in years past it has grown by 5 percent or more, he said. The panel all agreed that by remaining the same the industry is doing alright (a decrease would be much more troublesome), however, clubs should focus more of their time and energy on retention. As one panel member put it, “Change or die.”

They each discussed the obesity epidemic and clubs’ role in helping to combat it. They all agreed that clubs needed to be more inviting and less intimidating to encourage deconditioned people into facilities, and they believed clubs should take a more proactive role in getting kids fit whether it’s through creating new, fun programs or working with school districts.

The next time you attend a Club Industry show, I highly recommend going to these few events—especially the panel discussions where successful and knowledgeable professionals are on hand to answer your burning questions. While I rarely turn down a free workout towel, I would never miss a freebie like this. --Jennipher Shaver

Early Morning Sweat Session

All of my non-fitness business friends are jealous of this industry. Every time I travel to a trade show and tell them about my schedule, they all exclaim, “You get to workout on the trade show floor?!” Yes, I do. And I absolutely love it.

Today I rolled out of bed, put on my sneakers and caught the bus to the McCormick Convention Center for a bona-fide sweat session. Dying to try Life Fitness’ Summit Trainer, I hopped on for 15 minutes of cardio fun. The new product isn’t easy; it delivers a tough and efficient workout. Best described as a cross between an elliptical and a stair stepper, it was definitely challenging. Next, I hopped on one of Life Fitness’ treadmills for a guided power walk which varied it’s intensity based on my heart rate.

Next I hit the Star Trac booth and jumped on one of their ellipticals, which allow you to choose either a push or pull motion for your arms. From there, I decided it was time to pump some iron, so I headed over to Matrix and tried a few pieces in their strength circuit. The line’s user-friendly features impressed me.

Although I stuck to the booths, this year the show features “Club Studio,” a space for group exercise classes. Amy attended a Zumba class there this morning, and she’ll be on soon to tell you all about it. I walked by; it sure looked fun! –Jennipher Shaver

Life is a Party

Last night I had the chance to check out Chicago at dark. After going to the beautiful Star Trac party at the Sears Tower, Angie Gates, our online sales manager; Marty McCallen, our national sales manager; and I headed across town to hang with Life Fitness and their clients in one of Chicago’s premier nightclubs, Enclave. By the time we got there, the party was hopping, the music was pumping and we somehow managed to get a couch to sit on while we sipped martinis and mingled with industry professionals.

After an hour or so we decided to head closer to “home” (the Palmer House Hilton). The three of us met up with Matt Sinkovich, account executive, and some manufacturers for a nightcap at the hotel’s bar.

I love going to this show for a number of reasons, but one of the best is getting to know manufacturers, club owners and even my coworkers a little bit better. Everyone in this industry has such energy and life, that it’s always a party. --Jennipher Shaver

MYE Press Conference

MYE Entertainment held a press conference on the show floor this morning to talk about their partnership with Netpulse and to talk about the new options available with MYE's FitP3 player.

Brian Arp, Netpulse president, showed the members of the press the MYE Netpulse N4i Broadband Entertainment System, which provides personalized entertainment to exercisers. Using the LCD touch screen (or a keyboard), which looks as if it’s integrated with the equipment, the user can access the Internet, check e-mail (50 percent of users use the system to read their e-mails, said Arp), watch TV, play games and listen to music.

Users log into the system with a user name and password that allows the system to track the member, his or her preferences and his or her workouts anywhere the system is available. The workout data is even available from a user’s home computer, allowing them to enter exercise they’ve done outside a club. Users can establish personal preferences on the system and those preferences are automatically configured every time the user logs on.

Streaming video is also available and users can watch shows on any of the four major networks using the Internet. Clubs can add a channel of their own to list their programs and other special events at their facilities.

The Club Net option of the system enables clubs to get usage data on each piece of equipment. The system monitors each product at all times and can remotely control the equipment if necessary. The system can also notify clubs when maintenance is needed.

Tony Garcia, president of MYE Entertainment, then showed the press the new options related to MYE's FitP3 player, which is a less expensive version of a MP3 player available for clubs to sell to members or offer as part of a membership package. Members can download motivational music or six genres of music using a docking station at a club. They can then take that music home and download it to their computer and build their own music library.

Users of iPods aren’t left out, Garcia said. The docking system doesn’t work with an iPod and restrictions don’t allow music to be downloaded in public onto an iPod, but the MYE system allows users to send the music they want to their home e-mail where they can then download it to their iPod.

MYE pays the fee per download. Clubs pay a flat fee to MYE based on their membership.

Party with Star Trac

After a long day at seminars and on the show floor yesterday, we were invited to a Star Trac reception at the Sears Tower in the evening. After dropping our stuff in our rooms at the hotel, Amy Fischbach, our managing editor; Jennipher Shaver, our associate editor; Angie Gates, our online sales manager; Marty McCallen, our national sales manager; and I jumped in a taxi (after a cold and long wait in the taxi line at the hotel) and headed to the reception. I had been to the Sears Tower pre 9-11 for a reception and it was a simple process getting onto the elevator, but this time we had to show identification and we had to pass through a metal detector. I guess that shows how times have changed.

However, we soon made it to the 66th floor where the party was in full swing and the view out the windows at the Chicago lights was spectacular. Most of the 200 or so people in attendance were club owners and their staff intermingled with Star Trac people. We found the food table right away and then found two tables to share with others. By the end of the evening, we’d had an enjoyable conversation with several people from Star Trac.

I then headed back to the hotel with Amy to get a light dessert and head back to my room to blog about the day, but Marty, Angie and Jenn headed to the Life Fitness party, which lasted until about 10 pm. Jenn will blog about that later.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sports Art and Life Fitness Visits

Today was a busy day and I had little time to get to many booths, but I did make it to two pre-set booth appointments—one with Sports Art and the other with Life Fitness.

I met with Scott Logan at Sports Art, arriving a little late because I was answering questions at our booth, but Scott was nice enough to overlook my tardiness. He was excited to tell me about the company’s family of cardio equipment, the Extreme Series, which they are launching at this show. Sports Art is trying to get their message out to the young personal trainers in hopes they’ll use the equipment with their clients. The company decided the Extreme name would appeal to these individuals because they are young and grew up with extreme sports.

The treadmills in this line use a different drive system than has been used before, he said. In fact, it’s the same technology that is used to stabilize fluctuations in the Apache helicopters.

He emphasized that the treadmills use 32 percent less power, which means a $3,000 per year savings in electricity costs for a club with 10 treadmills. The savings don’t end there as the treadmills don’t use brushes, which is what generally wears out on treadmills, so maintenance requirements are less, he said.

Scott showed me the company’s new recumbent bikes, too. The bikes have a comfort-dry seat back, which has venting, and the seatbacks are adjustable.

Later in the afternoon I headed to the Life Fitness booth to see the Summit Trainer, which is being officially launched at this show. I had seen it in its preview stage in June at Club Industry East. In fact, I spent part of an early morning workout getting a workout on the Summit Trainer at that show. I have to say that I felt my workout the next morning in several areas of the lower body.

Robert Qwest, senior director of cardio product management at Life Fitness, demonstrated the Summit Trainer for me. Users can adjust the stride during their workout—shorter or longer or lunge strides. Users can get a full body workout by grasping the handles or let go and just work the lower body. The equipment looks a bit like someone took some bike pedals, attached them to a thick metal rectangle and set the rectangle on a bit on an incline.

Qwest said the Summit Trainer has been tested in four test sites since April. Users like that the equipment is new and different, that it offered a total body workout and that they can control their stride, Qwest said. After getting the positive feedback, the first Summit Trainers are ready to be shipped this month.

Qwest also showed me the treadmills, which had the company’s new integrated LCD screens on them (the LCD screens are available on all the company’s equipment). The screen should make use easier for first time exercisers and seniors to figure out, Qwest said. The new screens allow for pace training for marathoners. Users can watch their progress around a track, on a nature trail or climbing a mountain, or they can watch TV instead. The screens also allow for a promo channel for the clubs on which they can promote their own club programs and messages. The clubs also can scroll a message along the bottom of the screen.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to workout on either the Sports Art or Life Fitness equipment during early morning workouts tomorrow as I have an early morning meeting, but perhaps I can get a great workout on them on Saturday.

Improving Your Club

At the risk of turning this blog into the Rick Caro blog, I wanted to create this entry about Rick’s presentation this morning, “Improving Your Club: Making the Right Decisions,” because the information he presented will be very helpful for many of you. I was pleased to see that the room was full—about 70 people in attendance, which for an 8:30 am seminar is a great turnout.

I’ll just note some of the highlights here.

Sales: Rick emphasized the need for sales software that allows you to make notes on people so anyone can pick up the account and handle it should the original salesperson be ill.
He suggested that clubs do more online sales training. Rather than just offering lectures, he urged club owners to test the staff on what they heard—do role playing and videotape it so the staff can watch themselves and can see for themselves where they need to improve.

Member Retention: “We need to know who the ‘fragile’ people are,” Rick said, meaning the people who are on the verge of leaving. “Who can we save if we intervene?” You must know who has never belonged to a club before or who is a reluctant joiner (perhaps the spouse of a very eager joiner who got pulled into the membership) or who is new to town. These are fragile members. They need more hand holding. Figure out what they want out of the club and tell them where and when they can get that. Along with these, clubs need to do a better job of offering starter classes and advertising them to members. Not everyone is a yoga expert and they need to know there will be other beginners in the class with them.

Group Programming: Rick suggested that some clubs don’t change their group programming enough and they continue to schedule classes with low attendance. He suggested talking to the people who participate in poorly attended classes to let them know that you are canceling the class due to low attendance and help them on an individual basis find a class that better meets their needs. One club that Rick worked with canceled a class attended by just two regulars and once the manager talked to the participants, she found out that they didn’t enjoy being the only ones in the class. They were happier when the manager helped them find another class.

Member Research: Not enough clubs know enough about their members, Rick said. Clubs should be collecting information about their members when they first join and they should continue to do so. That way, they can tailor e-mails to these individuals. He suggested doing annual surveys and doing a mini survey or focus group with members prior to changing any programs or renovating.

Staff/Team Development: “We have a bunch of stars in our clubs, but they don’t know it,” Rick said. “If you have plans for them, let them know and chart it out for them.” A club owner who wants an individual to move into the GM position in a few years must communicate that to the individual and offer him or her suggestions on classes they should take, responsibilities they should take on in order to make the promotion happen. That gives the employee a plan and a goal to work towards.

Expense Management: Rick said clubs need to get lean and mean. They should find expenses hidden from members and look at how to lower those—expenses such as health care expenses, insurance costs, alarm system costs. Clubs should also implement a cost savings contest to staff because staff often see savings where management doesn’t.

The seminar offered a wealth of information beyond these areas, but these are at least some of the highlights. We’ll blog more later on other seminars we attend.

Meeting a Legend and Presenting to a Legend

I grew up in Topeka, KS, just 30 miles to the west of Lawrence, KS, where the University of Kansas is located. At some point in my childhood I became aware of Gayle Sayers, his football skills as a Jayhawk at the University of Kansas, and his relationship with Brian Piccalo, which was the inspiration for the movie “Brian’s Song.”

I was excited when I heard that our show group contracted with Sayers to give our keynote address. While the people of Chicago see him as a Bear, I see him as a Jayhawk. So, it’s no surprise that when I met him prior to the keynote address, the second thing I said to him was that I was a fellow Jayhawk. Of course, he probably hears that more often than I think, but still, he seemed pleased, saying, “Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”

He is a soft-spoken man who seemed to want to sink into the background but who had learned long ago that because of his achievements, he would never be able to go unnoticed in a crowd—and he seemed to have accepted that. He signed several autographs for some of the staff. As people trickled into the room prior to the Lifetime Achievement Award presentation and the keynote address, some of them came up to him to say hello and get autographs signed. He quietly and kindly obliged each one.

Before Sayers gave his keynote address, I had the honor of presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Rick Caro. After taking several pictures with him, Caro then gave a short speech (detailed in an entry below). Caro then introduced Sayers, who gave a short speech and then took questions from the audience (detailed in an entry below).

Afterwards, Sayers patiently signed autographs and posed for pictures with some of the 300 people in attendance at the presentation. He stayed until everyone had left, and then he did a short interview with me for a video that the Club Industry show group is putting together. Later, Tara Kuhn, the marketing director for the Club Industry show group, led Sayers around on the show floor to see the equipment. He told me that he was interested in seeing some of the equipment to see what he might want to add to his home gym.

Prior to saying goodbye, I asked if he had seen the KU football game the weekend before in which the Jayhawks had almost beaten the University of Nebraska. He smiled and we commiserated about how the Jayhawks had not gone for a two-point conversion at the end of the game, which sent the game into overtime and eventually meant that the Cornhuskers won. He said that the team is one or two players away from being a very good team and we spent several more minutes talking Jayhawk football. He didn’t seem rushed like he wanted to leave. He seemed to enjoy in a polite and quiet manner talking with the people around him, and I felt a great satisfaction in knowing that sometimes the people you admire really are as nice as you hope they’ll be.

Find Your Open Field

Gayle Sayers, a former running back for the Chicago Bears and the owner of Sayers’ Computer Source, drew a full-capacity crowd for his keynote address today. When he was introduced, the 300 attendees gave him a standing ovation as he walked to the podium prompting him to say, “I’ve been out of football for 30 years, and I thought all my fans were dead.”

At the age of 28, Sayers retired due to a knee injury after playing just 68 games for an NFL team, but he still became the youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. During his keynote address, he used the analogy of running down an open field as a way to tell the attendees to follow their dreams. “There’s no question you will succeed if you have the skill and desire to go all the way,” he said.

He credits his success in his football career to five friends, coaches and mentors such as Buddy Young. “During my career, I worked with special people who gave me support in a dark hour,” he says. “You face setbacks, and you have to have the courage to get through the good times and the bad.”

He took several questions from the crowd following his keynote presentation and then signed autographs for Chicago Bears fans.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm, Right?

There’s nothing like starting your day early. And by early, I mean early. Today I woke at 4:15 am, made it to the airport by 5:15 and caught a flight from Kansas City to Chicago that landed at 7:30 am. The early morning wake-up was well worth it.

I was here in plenty of time to watch my editor, Pam Kufahl, present our Lifetime Achievement Award to the king of the industry himself, Rick Caro. Rick knows the industry so well and is so well respected that we were thrilled to give him the award.

For the presentation he spoke briefly about the history of the industry and his role in the foundation of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). He also delighted the crowd by donning the “symbolic” cowboy hat that the IHRSA board gave him years ago.

Rick’s words of wisdom? “If you can find an industry for which you have a passion for, that’s a win. If you can find an industry for which you can make a living at and have a passion for, then that’s a double win. If you find an industry in which you’ve made life-long friends, have a passion for and can make a living at, then that’s a triple win. Thank you for giving me a triple win.”

Now that advice is worth waking up for. --Jennipher Shaver

Weight Loss Session and Business Basics for Trainers

It’s the first day of the Club Industry show, and the music is pumping and the attendees are trying out the new equipment on the show floor. I’ll walk the show floor this afternoon, but in the meantime, I’d like to tell you about the seminars I attended this morning.

Casey Conrad, founder of Healthy Inspirations, revealed the keys to creating a profitable weight loss program during her session from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Casey offered real-world tips that attendees could take back to their clubs and weight loss centers. Here are some of the lessons I learned from the session.

1. Give the weight loss program a different name and advertise it separately from the club. To establish different identities, consider giving out separate phone numbers for the club and weight loss program.

2. Determine if you want to target new members or existing members.

3. Since the majority of weight loss clients are often women, make sure they feel comfortable attending the weight loss program and working out at your club. Consider sectioning off a space specifically for the weight loss program by using plants and dividers.

4. Give your weight loss clients personalized attention when they’re working out on the equipment so they don’t feel intimidated.

5. Show your advertising to people outside the fitness industry to see if they will be effective for normal, everyday people who want to lose weight.

6. Hire people who have had difficulty losing weight so they will have empathy and understanding for your clients. “You must have people who are not fitness Nazis run your program,” Casey says. “Your clients need to know that they are not alone and you understand the struggles they’re going through.”

7. Create a program that can be duplicated easily by having consistency.

8. Weigh your clients three times a week rather than once a week so they will be held accountable for their weight loss or gain.

9. Make sure you have attendance requirements and follow up with the customers. If one of your clients doesn’t show up for a session, give him or her a personal call to remind him or her to come into the center. “When a woman is left alone, she will blame you for failing in the program,” she says. Casey advised the attendees to ask for their client’s contact information when he or she signs up.

10. Ask the clients to sign a success agreement that states that your club has the right to contact them if they don’t show up for weigh-ins or consultations. Then if they tell you they don’t want to come in anymore, send them a copy of the success agreement.

11. Plan convenient, fast, family-friendly meals. A mother doesn’t have time to cook one meal for herself and another for her family. Make it easy for her to prepare nutritious meals so everyone will be healthy.

12. Make sure your clients are aware that just because they are working out, it doesn’t mean they can eat whatever they want.

13. Keep your sessions with your clients short.

14. Make sure your clients stay properly hydrated by giving them a water bottle with your club’s brand name on it at the beginning of their session.

15. If you are working with women in menopause, on antidepressants or with a thyroid problem, it may be difficult for them to lose weight. Keep this in mind when setting goals for these clients.

Business Basics for Fitness Professionals
The second session I went to dealt with business basics for personal trainers. Fitness professionals packed the conference room to listen to Lisa Coors, a former business professor and the ACE Personal Trainer of the Year 1st Runner Up, talk about business basics.

In her presentation, she said that fitness professionals can use their business skills to make more money.

She covered the following areas of business skills—economics, marketing, management, business ethics, and accounting/finance. To get the attendees engaged in her presentation, she handed out a quiz that asked them to write the full names next to acronyms such as CEO, EBIT, LLC and SBA.

Lisa then had everyone spend two minutes writing down his or her vision for a fitness product or service.

To drive more business, fitness professionals can ask their personal training clients the following questions:

What do you like the best and least about training with me?
What do you like the best about the club?
What is one thing you’d like to change, and how would you do it?

To get free business advice, she advised the attendees to go to their local university and ask the business professor and students to visit their health club to give them different insights.

Dinner with Rick Caro

A small group of us (Gregg Herring, our publisher; Margaret Peterson, who heads up our show group; Amy Fischbach, our managing editor; and me) had the pleasure of dining last night with our Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Rick Caro, president of Management Vision. He arrived from New York yesterday afternoon (what ended up being a nine-hour trip for him due to weather delays), and rode to the hotel with our national sales manager, Marty McCallen, who happened to arrive at the airport at the same time.

We met in the beautiful lobby of the Palmer House Hilton, one of the show hotels, and all five of us piled into a taxi for a 10-minute drive to Ambria, an elegant restaurant in the Gold Coast area of Chicago. Rick is a big fan of Richard Melman restaurants (he's the guy who has the Lettuce Entertain You restaurants) and Ambria is one of his restaurants. It was definitely worth the trip. Not only was the restaurant beautiful and the food delicious, but listening to Rick recount stories about his visits to clubs all over the world and tell us about his vacations with his wife and a group of Harvard Business School friends of hers was entertaining.

All but one of us indulged in the desserts, and Rick, being a huge chocolate fan, indulged in the flourless chocolate cake, which looked decadent. By the time we left, the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped, but a taxi soon arrived and we piled in again for the ride back to the hotel.

I'm preparing my remarks this morning for the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Rick today at 11:30 am in room N427. I'm meeting with him and Gayle Sayers, our keynote speaker, about 30 minutes prior to the presentation. I'm excited to meet Mr. Sayers because not only was he a great Chicago Bears football player, but prior to that he was a Jayhawk from the University of Kansas. Great school, I have to say from personal experience!

I'll blog later today about the presentations.

Arriving in Chicago

I made it into Chicago yesterday. Flights coming into the city were delayed yesterday morning due to some thunderstorms that rolled through, but my flight from Kansas City was only an hour late. Some of our other staff coming from Raleigh, NC, Atlanta, GA, and Stamford, CT, weren't so lucky with several hours of delays. I'm sure some of the attendees and exhibitors also experienced delays. Once I arrived in Chicago, however, the weather had cleared to reveal a gray fall day.

I checked into the hotel and took the Club Industry-chartered bus (it stops at all the show hotels) to the north building of the McCormick Place Convention Center. Amy Fischbach, our managing editor, had arrived on an earlier flight and already had everything in place in our booth. We're in a good spot right by the entrance to the exhibit area.

It was a typical pre-exhibit hall day. As attendees registered for the show at the front of the exhibit hall, the exhibitors set up their booths and their equipment in a semi-darkened exhibit hall. It's always a bit of a noisey day--forklifts beeping as they back up, people talking, boxes and crates banging, people hammering. It also always looks like quite a mess--no carpeting in the aisles yet, remants of boxes and styrofoam peanuts and packing paper strewn around the floor. It amazes me every year that the exhibit hall can look this way the day before it opens and just 14 hours later, it looks clean and exciting as the lights come up and the music comes on and the people come in.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Making Special Events Profitable

More than 40 people showed up this afternoon to attend Angela Cuocci's presentation on how to plan and execute a successful and profitable party or special event at a health club. Angela's club, Dynamic Women and Ladies Total Fitness, has about 1,000 members, and she and her staff plan several events throughout the year including a fundraiser for Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation as well as member appreciation and holiday parties. These events go beyond just fun and celebration by bringing in more members and ultimately generating more profit for her club.

During her presentation, she emphasized the importance of getting referrals from current members. In some cases, she says these referrals are even more effective than spending a lot of money on outside advertisements.

"There's a huge advantage of letting hte members do the work for you," she says.

Her club also works with several community partners, who often donate the food and drinks for the events. If a club ties an event to a charitable cause, it's often easy to get sponsors, she says.

During the final stages of planning a special event, health club owners mst confirm everyone and everything to make sure that the party runs smoothly.

She also gave the attendees several ideas for themes for parties from Survivor to Deal or No Deal. During the Winter Olympics, her club organized a competition and organized members into teams. The teams then won medals in different categories, which kept them motivated and excited about the event, she says.

When asked if her club charges her members for special events, she says she didn't have much success going this route. She only had one-fourth of the signups when she charged for an event, so her club decided to make its future events free for its members.

Every event should be tied to member referrals, she says. For example, a club can do a cash drawing and give the prize to the member who has given the club the most referrals. During the special events, she says her club also gives participants points for signing up for a personal training or massage session, which gives her club even more business at the end of the day.

When one of the attendees asked why she came to Club Industry to speak, she said that she wanted to help make other club owners successful. While many club owners have a passion for fitness, many of them throw in the towel. She said she hoped to inspire them to continue working in the health and fitness field.

I'll plan on attending more sessions tomorrow, and I'll write about them then. See you later!

Visit the National YMCA Headquarters in Chicago

I arrived in Chicago at 9 a.m. this morning, dropped my bags off at the hotel and made my way over to the YMCA's national headquarters on Wacker Street. The YMCA takes up four floors of a high-rise office building. After getting off on the 14th floor, I was greeted by a large YMCA logo and a door into the lobby, which had a bronze statue of the YMCA's founder as well as photos representing the YMCA's different programs.

Arnold Collins, YMCA's media relations director, met me in the lobby and took me to a conference room, which was decorated with objects from around the world and international YMCA posters. I showed him a copy of our magazine and told him about our coverage of nonprofit fitness facilities.

The most significant news from the Y's national headquarters in terms of fitness is that the organization is searching for a new health and fitness director to replace Michael Pazzano, who had been with the Y for about 30 years. He left his post in June and has since moved on to the YMCA of New York. The national Y has not yet replaced him or his supervisor, the head of program development, who also recently resigned. The new health and fitness director will have large shoes to fill, Collins says. Pazzano served on the medical advisory board committee, and he was in charge of all programs in connnection with health and wellness.

"It's certainly an important need," Collins says, "but I'm not sure how much we're looking right now. It might be that the position above his might need to be filled first. The timeline is ASAP."

In the interim, Jim Weaton is stepping in to serve as the interim head of program development and membership.

While I was hoping to get to meet Neil Nicoll, the new YMCA president, he was out of the office this week. Collins says YMCA CEOs typically travel 200 days out of the year to visit branches and speak at YMCA events. He says the new CEO is still very new to the position, but once he is in place for a longer period of time, the YMCA will implement a strategic plan, but he wouldn't discuss the details at this time.

The show begins tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to meeting fitness professionals from YMCAs around the country. If you're from the YMCA and are at the Club Industry show, please stop by our booth, which is located in the registration area.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

More New Products

Pam and I are about ready to leave for Chicago for the show, but before I leave, I thought I'd let you know about a few more new products to look for on the show floor. I hope to see you there!

5 Hour Energy
5 Hour Energy gives you hours of energy now - no crash later. It's a powerful blend of B-vitamins, enzymes and amino acids - zero sugar, zero net carbs and just enough caffeine. Portable 2 ounce bottles require no refrigeration.

Free samples are available for everyone along with more information.

Aquatics by Sprint
Aquatic Exercise Workout Field
First equipment of commercial quality, treadmill, bike, stepper and twister - recumbunt bike - all for your customers in the water.

Athletix Products by Contec, Inc.
Athletix™ Corrosion Inhibitor
Protect your equipment from the rust/corrosion caused by overwhelming amounts of sweat produced during intense workout sessions by applying a protective barrier of Athletix Corrosion Inhibitor on all hard surfaces. This protection can help reduce warranty claims. Comes in a specialty applicator for precise application with little or no dripping or overspray.

Athletix™ Odor Neutralizer Spray
Sweat penetrates multiple surfaces including sports equipment, mats, showers and restrooms, eventually accumulating into mildew and becoming foul smelling. Unlike aggressive cleaners, which can expose members, facilities and sports equipment to harsh chemicals and vapors, Athletix Odor Neutralizer Spray utilizes an exclusive nanopolymer technology to neutralize odor-causing elements and lay down a protective barrier for reduction in the accumulation of odor-causing elements on most hard and soft surfaces.

B & D Specialty Concepts, Inc.
Introducing the GymValet™, a combined bottle and towel holder that is easy-to-install and universally attachable to virtually all makes and models of exercise equipment. Its multi-purpose design makes it the perfect solution for holding fitness equipment, sanitizing supplies, or an exerciser's personal water bottle and towel.

Body-Solid, Inc.
Pro-Dual™ Line
Body-Solid® introduces the Pro-Dual™ commercial equipment line, developed specifically to address the needs of facilities with limited space options, such as hotels, fire stations, office buildings, and residential complexes. Ideally suited for smaller workout environments, the new line includes 10 function-specific dual machines that can stand-alone or be combined with a three-stack or four-stack weight tower to build a single multi-function gym. This modular flexibility allows facilities to create a customized series of workout stations even in the smallest spaces.

Brewer's Ledge
The newest member of the Treadwall family the M4 is a compact, whisper-smooth Treadwall for commercial and residential use. This is a true piece of fitness equipment, elegant and effective, offering fitness climbing within the footprint of a traditional cross-trainer.

EVERLAST Performance Flooring
EVERLAST® Performance Flooring - Available in rolls, tiles and ultra tiles
Everlast Performance Flooring has increased its selection of cutting-edge color combinations to 28 patterns in rolled goods and tile dimensions. Our 1" thick ultratile with a pedestal underside now is available in 12 colors.

Expresso Fitness
The S2
Introducing the S2 interactive cycling system, combining a premium indoor cycle with the latest video game software to engage riders as never before! Why should your members simply "exercise" when they can explore eye-popping, 3D worlds, race against their friends, and pedal to the beat of their favorite music or watch TV? The S2 is not only fun but effective, providing a rich interactive training environment and giving riders both real-time and Web-based tools to keep improving.

GOJO Industries, Inc.
CX Count Mount System
The GOJO CX dispensing system is a counter-mount foam handwash system that provides the luxury of foam soap and the convenience of a sanitary, sealed counter-mount soap refill. Enjoy the rich feel of GOJO foam soap and the labor efficiency of this high-capacity dispensing design. Built to last, guaranteed to last. This is a breakthrough design with trouble-free performance.

TFX Touch-free Dispensing System
The GOJO TFX dispensing system is a touch-free wall-mount dispenser that delivers PURELL® Instant Hand Sanitizer to your club patrons and staff while eliminating the potential for cross-contamination. Neat dispense design eliminates drips. There is also a skylight to show when it's time to reload. Show your commitment to well-being and provide America's #1 brand of Instant Hand Sanitizer.

Peak Pilates
MVe Fitness Chair
Peak Pilates is announcing the new MVe Complete Workout System by offering free demonstrations. Unlike anything available at clubs or pilates studios today, the MVe complete workout System is a re-imagined breed of pilates equipment, set in a high energy, group-class format, with heart pumping music. It fits the needs of clubs by offering a turn-key solution including cost-effective instruction, education and programming.
Special Event/ Guest:
Chair demo's and Pilates Master Trainer, Clare Durphy will be on hand answering questions.
Date/Time: All day, Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Location: Peak Pilates, Booth #925

Quantum Fitness Corporation
Kids Quick Circuit
Fast, enjoyable, efficient and safe exercise equipment for kids. Featuring a precision hydraulic cylindar for years of heavy usage. Quantum Kids Circuit leads the way to a healthy future.

The Royale Smoothie Co.

The Royale Smoothie Co. is a turn-key system - the facility provides the ice and we provide everything else.

Real Fruit Shelf Stable Concentrates, containing No Corn Syrup, Cane or Beet Sugars.

Push Button Production using a variety of equipment styles or blenders.

Increase your bottom line with guidance from a innovative beverage industry leader with over 25 years experience and You KEEP 100% of the Revenues.

SportsArt Fitness
Extreme Series Cardio
All new treadmills with cusioned deck & SXE™ Servo Drive System; new step through recumbent cycles with integrated comfort system seating.

Troy Barbell & Fitness
DR-10, BB-10 and GTAR
A series of commercial racks that incorporate function as well as aesthics to any facility looking for some style. From the platinum color to the curves on the frame, you nor your members will be disappointed.

TruForm Fitness
The revolutionary new IsoBar® line of commercial weight bars utilize innovative, patented, sliding hand grips that remain evenly spaced from the center to combine the range of motion, isolation, ease on joints and muscle recruitment possible with dumbells, with the control, simplicity and racking ability of barbells. Olympic compatible free weight and cable attachment IsoBar's® are available.

Worldwide Sport Nutrition/MET-Rx
Extreme Thermo RAGE
Worldwide Extreme Thermo Rage is the next generation of RTDs! This advanced thermogenic blend contains 300 mg of Caffeine, plus Yohimbine and Taurine, - which is the aggressive blend you need to feel the Rage and support your workout goals. Rage is a Vasodilator containing only 20 calories and is sugar free. For more information, call 1-800-556-3879 or visit

MET-Rx Xtreme Size Up
Introducing MET-Rx Size Up METAMYOSYN Muscle Mass Formula! Specially designed for hard gainers who want to gain weight and pack-on quality mass.* If you're one of those people who have a tough time packing on solid, powerful muscle, try MET-Rx Size Up. Our specially selected nutrients are designed to meet your body's needs for both immediate and sustained energy and protein synthesis.* Each serving contains 600 calories, 59g protein, 64-67g High-Quality Complex Carbs, 3g Creatine, and 3g Glutamine. For more information, call 1-800-818-7672 or visit

MET-Rx Big 100 Colossal Crispy Apple Pie
Sure, the name’s a mouthful, but the bar is too. The New MET-Rx® Big 100 Colossal Crispy Apple Pie bar tastes so good, it should take the meal replacement bar market by storm. But don’t take our word for it…just take one bite and you’ll wonder how MET-Rx loaded 31 grams of high quality protein including Metamyosyn®, vitamins and minerals — and 0 grams trans fat — into a bar that tastes like a heavenly slice of crispy apple pie. For more information, call 1-800-55-MET-Rx or visit

Special Event/ Guest:
Mariusz Pudzianowski
Date/Time: Thursday October 5, 12:30pm- 5:30pm; Friday October 6, 11:30am- 5:30pm
Location: Worldwide Sport Nutrition/MET-Rx Booth, Booth #1048

Mariusz is a 3-time World's Strongest Man Champion. Stop by Worldwide Sport Nutrition/MET-Rx, Booth #1048, for an autographed photo of Mariusz and a free sample of the new MET-Rx Big 100 Colossal Crispy Apple Pie

Thursday, September 28, 2006

More Visits with Those in the Know

My schedule is definitely filling up for the Club Industry 2006 show. I'm excited to share with you some of the new products I'll be seeing next week.

Since my last schedule posting, I've added more booth visits to my schedule. I'll be visiting ASF International to see software, billing and EFT offerings. In addition, MYE Entertainment is hosting a press conference to talk about some entertainment options. I'm finishing a story on entertainment options for fitness equipment (due to appear in the October issue), and I must say that there are some exciting things happening here. I'll fill you in on what's happening with MYE next week after the press conference.

I've also scheduled a visit at the Life Fitness booth to hear more about their new Summit Trainer, which they describe as a hybrid of a cross trainer and a stair stepper. I tried out this equipment during its preview at the IHRSA show. I have to say that I felt my early-morning workout efforts on it the next day!

Make sure to come back next week to hear how these booth visits went and to get more details on these products.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Top 10 Signs You Need to Attend the 2006 Club Industry Show

Sure, there are plenty more than 10 reasons to visit the Club Industry Show this year, but for simplicity’s sake (and in homage to the “Late Show with David Letterman”) we at the magazine decided to blog about the top 10 signs that you need to attend. Enjoy, and feel free to comment at the end of this post about your favorite part of the show and why you feel you need to attend this year.

10. You spend so much time at your facility that the janitor has started dusting you after he wipes down the ellipticals.

9. You still think that your female clients will “bulk up” by lifting 15-pound weights.

8. You keep your own shampoo and soap in the club’s locker room because you shower there everyday.

7. After teaching a group exercise class, you can’t get the beat to 1984’s chart-topper “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! out of your head.

6. You have no idea what “fusion” is unless it involves nuclear reactions.

5. You own a pair of leg warmers or a leotard.

4. You actually wear a pair of leg warmers or a leotard in public.

3. When your circa 1988 treadmills run they actually sound as if they’re crying out for help.

2. Your fitness director keeps talking about this new fangled thing called “circuit training.”

1. You’ve never been to Chicago.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hear What the Presenters Are Saying

While this blog site offers you insight into what the editors have scheduled for the show and what we plan to see while we are there, the Club Industry show group has set up a sister blog for you to read what the seminar presenters are talking about prior to the show.

If you'd like to check out what some of them have to say, please visit that blog by clicking here:

But don't forget to return to our site! We'll be updating it on a daily basis until the show next week when we'll be posting to the blog several times each day with news about what we're seeing and hearing at the show. It's a great opportunity for you to be there even if you can't physically make it to Chicago.

Friday, September 22, 2006

New Product Gallery

Many manufacturers showcase new products at the Club Industry shows, and this year will be no exception. Over the next week, we will unveil some of the new products that will appear at the show.

Get Fine, LLC
The Abdominal Lean and Obliques Lean Exercises of the LEAN ABS MACHINE are isometric exercises that also offer additional resistance or assistance during the movement. The movement full stretches the upper torso on the lean out and fully engages the upper torso on the return.

The LEAN ABS MACHINE allows you to pivot on your feet which give an additional 2 feet of leverage resistance making it unnecessary to have to lean out parallel to the ground. With the LEAN ABS MACHINE you will no longer have to get down on the ground; pivot on your knees; stretch out straight by bending at the waist which causes a lot of strain on the lower back. Home and commercial equipment available.

The Raptor SeriesRaptor is a new design of pin select equipment.

BVE - Broadcast Vision Entertainment
BVE - Ewave Wire Free Exercise Entertainment
The first totally "wire free" system provides club members with 14 audio entertainment channels with the freedom to roam with wireless sports style headphones.

BVE Axcess Series Combination 800MHz/FM Receivers
The first combination 800MHz/FM wireless entertainment system receivers for the international market. Provides 10-800MHz audio entertainment channels with FM radio stations.

BVE Axcess Series Personal Screen/Wireless Receiver Controller
The first in the fitness industry - combination personal screen controller & wireless FM/900MHz/800MHz receiver. Club members now have access to more exercise entertainment choices than ever!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

For More Postings...

Technology is great, isn't it? Who would have thought just a few years ago that we'd be blogging about our show and bringing you the highlights as close to real time as we can make it?

Of course, technology also has its glitches--and we are experiencing one of those today! We've been posting to this site since late August, but we've noticed that today only the last post and part of the previous post are showing up on the main page for some people. So, if you are seeing just two or three posts, please be aware that there are more! To view those additional posts, please click on the previous posts links to the right or hit refresh on your computer.

On another note, if there is something you are not seeing on this blog that you think might be helpful to you as you plan your trip to the show or as you view the site to see what you will miss because you can't make it to the show, then let us know by posting a comment. We'll see what we can do to accommodate your requests.

Thank you!

A Man of Achievement

I’ll have the pleasure of presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Rick Caro at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5. If you've ever worked with Rick, you know what a knowledgeable and nice guy he is. He’s worked in our industry for more than 30 years and has devoted a lifetime to the health club business. He not only owned eight clubs for several years, but he also founded IHRSA, has spoken at most IHRSA and Club Industry shows, authored a financial book for the industry and consulted with hundreds of clubs over the years.

You can read more about Rick in this profile, which appears in our September issue:

Last week, we ordered the crystal award we’ll be giving Rick. It should arrive in our office this week. I’m hoping that it makes for a nice addition to the collection of other industry awards that Rick has already received through the years. —Pamela Kufahl, editor

Friday, September 15, 2006

An Energizing Time

I look forward to the Club Industry Show each year. Chicago is beautiful in the fall, and it’s a nice respite away from my desk and into the actual industry. Fitness professionals have so much energy and such a desire to help out their clients and the public that it’s only natural to be energized by their presence. Plus, it’s great to meet our readers and match faces to names and voices over the phone.

Unfortunately, this year I’ll be in for just a quick trip; however, I’m making the most of my time. Here’s my schedule for the show:

Thursday, Oct. 5, 2006
11:30 am- 12:30 pm –Lifetime Achievement Award and Keynote Address

2:30 pm – 4pm – Free Franchising Seminar: Franchising: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm – Come see me at our booth in the registration area

Friday, Oct. 6
7 am – 8:30 am – Early Morning Workouts

10:15 am – 11:30 am – Seminar: Working Smart: 101 Tips for Selling Success

11:30 am – 12:30 pm – Free Panel Discussion: Identifying the Issues: The Biggest Challenges Facing the Club Industry Today and Tomorrow

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm – Come see me at our booth in the registration area

--Jennipher Shaver, associate editor

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Planning My Trip to the Windy City

I'm looking forward to my second time attending the Club Industry show in Chicago. The conference schedule is packed with interesting seminars, and I plan to write about the following sessions while I'm at the show:

Noon to 1:30 p.m. : Not Just Another Event: Creating Parties and Other Special Events that Make a Profit

4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.: Take Your Corporate Fitness/Wellness Program to the Next Level


8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Creating a Profitable Weight Loss Program

10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Simply Business: Seven Basic Business Skills Every Fitness Professional Should Know

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Lifetime Achievement Award and Keynote Address

8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Fitness for Kids: Fighting Obesity

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Identifying the Issues: The Biggest Challenges Facing the Club Industry Today and Tomorrow

You can also stop by our booth during the following times to meet with me:

Thursday, October 5
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday, October 6
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
--Amy Fischbach

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Schedule Full of Seminars

This will be my fifth Club Industry show. I can’t believe that I’ve attended that many shows. I look forward to going to the show more now than in the past. I guess that’s because my first few shows were like walking into rooms full of strangers. Now, going to the show means seeing friends and acquaintances that I talk to on the phone often, but only get to see in person at industry events.

As the show nears, the editors are creating our schedules for the show. I have visits scheduled with exhibitors, but I’ll blog about those in another sitting since more visits are being planned.

I have chosen some seminars to sit in on and blog about while at the show. I will attend the Thursday morning session “Improving Your Club: Moving in the Right Direction,” presented by Rick Caro, president of Management Vision. I’ve attended his sessions before, and they are always insightful.

After Rick’s presentation, I will sit in on “What It Takes to Be an Effective Fitness Manager,” presented by Bob Esquerre of Esquerre Fitness Group. Bob is a well-known expert in the personal training field and has written for our publication in the past.

On Friday morning, I plan to sit in on Michelle Guerra’s presentation, “Increasing Revenues by Breaking into Corporate Health Promotions.” Michelle is president of Health-Ever-After.
Later that morning, I will attend the panel discussion, “Identifying the Issues: The Biggest Challenges Facing the Club Industry Today and Tomorrow.” Rick Caro will moderate the session so I’m confident it will be worth my time and plenty of space on this blog.

I haven't yet decided which seminars I'll attend on Saturday. I'm leaving that open at this time since I could be spending a lot of time in our booth in the registration area on Saturday. If you are at the show, feel free to stop by and say hi, offer your comments about the industry or pass along some news about your fitness facility. I also plan to be at the booth on Thursday from 12:30 pm-1:30 pm and 3 pm-4 pm. On Friday, I'm scheduled to be there from 2:30 pm-3:30 pm and then again from 4:30 pm-5:30 pm.--Pamela Kufahl, editor

Friday, September 08, 2006

Club Industry 2006 T-Shirt Exchange

If you plan to attend the Club Industry show in Chicago, don't forget your T-shirt! Bring an unused T-shirt from a fitness facility, university or manufacturer for the T-shirt exchange from 3 p.m.-4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6, in the registration area by the Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro booth.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Schedule of Events

Club Industry 2006
Conference: Oct. 4-7

Exhibits: Oct. 5-7

Location: McCormick Place, Chicago

Exhibit Hall Hours
Thursday, Oct. 5
12:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 6
11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 7
9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Early Morning Workouts
Friday, Oct. 6
7 a.m.-9 a.m.

Saturday, Oct. 7
7 a.m.-9 a.m.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Welcome to Club Industry 2006

In mid-August, when it feels as though it's hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk (and in some states it actually is toasty enough to make an omelet on your health club's pool deck), it's easy to begin daydreaming about fall's cool, crisp, fresh air. While comfortably cozying up in jeans and sweatshirts is still a few months off, you can ensure an autumn getaway retreat by booking your travel and registration to the Club Industry Conference and Exposition for Health and Fitness Facility Management, Oct. 4-7 in Chicago.

This year's show has more than gorgeous* fall weather to offer. Reflecting trends in the fitness industry, the show will feature two new showcase pavilions. The Healthy Aging Pavilion will help club owners reach out to the Baby Boomer market and offer new programming ideas for senior members. On the other side of the age spectrum, the Kid's Fitness Pavilion will showcase the latest innovations in children's fitness and ways to better educate children about the importance of exercise.

Other must-see events include the inspiring Lifetime Achievement Award and keynote address. Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro editor Pamela Kufahl will present Rick Caro, president of Management Vision Inc. and industry consultant, with the fourth annual Lifetime Achievement Award at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5. The magazine selected Caro for his contributions to the industry throughout the last 30 years as club owner, advisor, consultant, speaker, author and founder of the industry's trade association. After the award ceremony, Gale Sayers, owner of Sayers Computer Source, will deliver the keynote address. Best known for his successful football career with the Chicago Bears, Sayers will discuss how the same principles that helped him on the football field have also helped him with his business career. Sayers, who owns one of Chicago's top minority-owned firms, was also inducted into the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

You'll want to be on hand for the free franchising seminar, “Should You or Shouldn't You?” from 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5. Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro columnist Michael Scott Scudder will speak on the ins and outs of franchising in the fitness industry. Scudder, owner of MSS FitBiz Connection, will address both attendees seeking to become franchisees of existing club chains and those wanting information about starting their own fitness franchise.

Don't miss the free panel discussion, “Identifying the Issues: the Biggest Challenges Facing the Club Industry Today and Tomorrow,” from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6. Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Caro will moderate the panel of industry leaders who will discuss key issues facing clubs today and offer insights into the future of the fitness industry.

To see more trends in action, check out the trade show floor. Roughly 225 companies will exhibit from 12:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5; from 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6; and from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Never miss a workout while you're away from the club either by participating in the early morning workouts on the show floor from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 7. If you're looking to pick up new Pilates moves and sneak in a good workout on Thursday morning, check out the early morning Pilates class led by Leslee Bender, owner of The Pilates Coach, from 7 a.m.-7:45 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5.

Are you looking to increase your client base, learn more about the industry or manage your staff more effectively? Club Industry is the place for that, too. More than 100 seminars are on tap for the show, ranging in topics from business management and development; sales, marketing and retention; creative programming; personal training; wellness/medical integration; and staff/self-management and customer service. Seminars not only provide a wealth of information, but they also are approved as continuing education credits by more than 13 organizations. On Tuesday, Oct. 3, numerous certifying agencies will also hold certification exams in the north building at McCormick Place.

Start the event right by stopping by the annual welcome reception, “A Taste of Chicago” from 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5. Enjoy foods from Little Italy, Mexico, Wrigleyville/World Champion Sox Park, China Town, Greek Town and the Chicago stockyards all while networking with industry colleagues.

So go ahead, pack your suitcases chock full of sweaters and jeans, and make your travel plans now. The Club Industry show is sure to be an informative, career-boosting and very cool time.

*Note: Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro does not guarantee beautiful, clear and 65 degree weather in Chicago during the show.