Club Industry plans for the year ahead following a good show in Chicago

After successful homecoming, Club Industry sets sights on next year
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There’s nothing like making a comeback.

After Club Industry's brief fling with Las Vegas in 2012, its move back home proved successful. The show saw an uptick in exhibitors and a return of some of the missing players from last year, such as Matrix Fitness.

“We had most of the major equipment manufacturers there,” said Erica Stone, managing director of Club Industry, which took place Oct. 23-25. Plus, she said, there were quite a few first-time exhibitors and about 4,000 attendees.

“It’s nice when you’re missed, to come home again,” said Pam Kufahl, editor-in-chief of Club Industry Magazine.

The reason for the success of this year’s show, Kufahl said, is that people always expected the show to take place in Chicago. When it relocated, it lost some of its core Midwest and East Coast attendees.

This year, she said, “They were all back.”

Some of the trends Kufahl and Stone spotted on the floor were the focus on accessories in small group functional training classes and the use of technology on cardio equipment. SNEWS recently reported on the latter trend, which we also spotted at the Health and Fitness Business Expo.

For next year, show organizers are focused on increasing the educational offerings and potentially breaking out the CEO summit into two separate tracks.

Plus, Stone said, she wants to expand the Club Live offerings. Club Live is a section of the show floor that has a variety of demonstrations going on for the duration of the show.

“It adds an element of excitement,” Stone said.

Club Industry is a show good for specialty retailers that deal in light commercial equipment, Stone said. Because the show isn’t geared toward any specific type of club owner, it attracts a variety of attendees and manufacturers so the opportunity for networking is vast.

“We allow the commercial club operator to mingle with the YMCA or JCC director or university rec center director,” Kufahl said.

“The networking opportunities — being able to share one-on-one experiences and be with your peer group — is certainly important,” Stone echoed.

Plus, the industry is shifting and the different areas are bleeding into one another (light commercial and retail, for example) so manufacturers are offering things they hadn’t offered in the past. Commercial shows are a great way for retailers to check out what that equipment is.

The stage has been set for next year: The show will again be at McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, this time from Oct. 22-24, 2014. Exhibitors can purchase space now but registration for attendees opens up in mid-January 2014.

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