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.


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