ACSM fitness expo cozy, but targeted affair

With a focused audience of personal trainers, club fitness directors and exercise instructors, exhibitors at the American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition keep it small, targeting the "influencers" of end consumers.
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With a focused audience of personal trainers, club fitness directors and exercise instructors, exhibitors at the American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition keep it small, targeting the "influencers" of end consumers.

Among the fewer than 30 companies setting up shop at the show in Reno, Nev., was a selection of sports nutrition firms, a few traditional equipment companies, a lot of accessories, a little new stuff, and a few eyebrow-raising items that may fall into the "snake oil" category.

Life Fitness, as the premier sponsor of the event, was front and center with a booth considered large for this show -- perhaps 300 square feet -- with a smattering of items that would appeal to personal trainers and their clients. Precor also had a small booth, perhaps 200 square feet, with the basics. Bowflex, a popular piece of equipment for trainers on the move and for their clients, was setup to demonstrate equipment and sign up trainers for its popular referral program that gives trainers a percentage commission on sales.

Gatorade had its new drinks and products out for tasting, as well as sheaves of materials and printed copies of research findings from its Sports Science Institute. No real selling here, just presence and good take-away information, not to mention a reformulation of a meal drink that tasted really yummy.

New out of Japan was something called Amino Vital, an "advanced amino acid sports supplement ... for greater fitness and higher performance." The staff at this booth was the best at tackling passers-by in the aisle with a smile and a kindly bow: Please fill out the information form and get a free water bottle (yippee...). Popular in Japan, the drink is said to help with the building of muscles since amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Hmmm...

Seemingly more legitimate on the sports nutrition front was a drink called Motion Potion, with headquarters in Reno itself -- the drink has 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate, which research does show to help with joint and bone health, although it tastes a bit artificial because of the added sucralose.

In the snake oil category was a product called a Deep Muscle Stimulator -- the chiropractor who developed this massage-like thing was busily talking people up onto his massage table so he could poke the vibrating end (no, really) of the "stimulator" (no, really) into your back, shoulders and butt. It looks a bit like a drill or hair dryer in shape, but instead of drilling (yikes!), the stubby end vibrates to allegedly release deep muscles and promote blood flow. OK, SNEWS had to try it, despite watching beefy, muscled trainers of both genders writhing in pain on the table. We think Dr. Stimulator was put off by our questions and smart-aleck comments so our session was a bit short. Not sure how many he sold -- with a price tag of $2,595 and a roomful of poor personal trainers. He did have some really pretty bar graphs and charts, although we're not really sure what they meant. The squiggles and lines might have been the casino earnings that day for all we could tell.

Others on site included Met-Rx sports nutrition, Thera-Band accessories and YogaFit Training Systems, as well as Human Kinetics Publishers.

SNEWS View: It's a small show with limited hours, but these trainers are eager for ways to help their income -- any company that can come up with a commission sales/referral program can help both the trainers and the company. And this is probably the show to reach many of these folks. And no company should forget the influence these trainers and instructors have over their students and clients -- most clients just ask for a recommendation and go buy it, no questions asked.

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