Friday, October 06, 2006

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

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