Health & Fitness Biz show coming: Product, parties, workshops

With the sixth-annual Health & Fitness Business Expo & Conference just a blink away, SNEWS® decided to take a look at what's happening on the product, workshop, education, oh and party front, to allow attendees to do a little planning -- and non-attendees to wish they were.
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With the sixth-annual Health & Fitness Business Expo & Conference just a blink away, SNEWS® decided to take a look at what's happening on the product, workshop, education, oh and party front, to allow attendees to do a little planning -- and non-attendees to wish they were.

This year's show is slightly later than normal -- Aug. 19-21 -- because of conflicts at the Denver Convention Center. However, so far the 2005 show is planned even later -- Aug. 25-27. But back to this year: Show management says as of early August pre-registered retailers and buyers is the highest it's ever been at about 1,500 total buyers representing more than 500 stores. Total number of brands exhibiting will be about 175. Note the word BRANDS, meaning for example a company like Nautilus would have at least five. Total booths are expected to exceed last year's 134. Among those will be close to 40 or 45 companies which are newcomers to the show (or, as defined, at least weren't there last year), including efi Sports Medicine, the grand rollout of New Balance Fitness Equipment by Fitness Quest (see SNEWS story, July 8, 2004), hip cycling and fitness clothes manufacturer Dew-Rags, plus Bodyblade and Garmin USA.

Conferences, workshops and education
Each of the three mornings educational talks and workshops are scheduled from 8 to 10 a.m. before the exhibit floor opens at 10 a.m. They are free and open to everybody.

On the first morning, Aug. 19, Norby Rudel, a consultant for The Friedman Group, will hold a retail sales training talk about "How to turn more shoppers into buyers." On Friday, Aug. 20, SGB Editor Mark Sullivan will talk about "Fitness in the New Millennium," saying he will cover the state of the modern fitness business, including where it's been, how it's evolved over the past few years and where it's going in the coming decade. On the last morning, Aug. 21, a workshop by USA Today small business columnist Steve Strauss called "Marketing on a Shoestring" promises a fun and educational time. Strauss uses real-life examples and tried-and-true strategies to show small business owners that getting more business does not have to cost a fortune.

In addition to morning conferences, a new demo area on the show floor will have ongoing product demonstrations, discussions and short classes by various exhibitors.

One additional highlight not yet announced is that trekking pole-manufacturer Leki will hold Nordic walking classes both Friday and Saturday mornings, Aug. 20 and 21, from 8 to 9 a.m. Sign up at Leki, booth 1440. Nordic walking is a fitness craze sweeping across Europe that involves, simply put, fitness walking with poles with a distinctive style much like cross-country skiing. It will be worth checking out since health clubs will be jumping on the bandwagon, as will personal trainers, so whether you as a retailer decide to carry poles or not, it would be worth going for a brisk walk and building personal awareness. Handling the demo classes will be Austrian trainer Gottfried (he seems to go by first name only, but do drop in and say, "Guten Tag").

Parties, parties, parties
The Industry Party will be the first night of the show, Thursday, Aug. 19, again at the Wynkoop Brewery, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There might even be a blues band, we hear, rather than just beer (OK, good beer), munchies and billiards. We hear that sponsor SportsArt will have Spike staring at you from various venues.

The real show-stopper (we're biased) will be the first SNEWS®/GearTrends® show floor kegger. No, it won't be like Animal House (management would kick us out), but it'll be yet another first from our team for the fitness show: Free beer on the show floor! And in keeping with the quality for which we are known, we're talking about a GOOD microbrew. Tap opens at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20 and promises to stay open 'til we run dry (or we all get kicked out of the expo). Stop by booth 1236 for some end-of-day fun and to say hello to the entire team. We'd love to put faces to those emails.

Oh, right…suppliers and product
The show won't be lacking in this regard either. Still, a few changes to company locations: Off the show floor will be True Fitness and into a meeting room in the convention center. Into a meeting room after not being officially involved for a few years will be Precor. York Barbell will also be holding court in a meeting room, as will Octane Fitness, in an invite-only room in the Holiday Inn at the last two shows. Dosho Design had intended to launch its multi-weight DoshBell and compatible DoshBench, but has bowed out because of product delays.

Other companies are being -- what else is new? -- a bit hush-hush about what they'll actually have out on the floor in front of The Big Man and everybody…even though we're only a week or so out. But not everybody's being so close-mouthed or making us hold our tongues about what they've told us. What's below is really a sampler only, with a few highlights. Remember, this is not all-inclusive (especially if you didn't answer requests for information to be included):

Accufitness -- Last year having rolled out its Hydryx workout towel, this year the company is adding sweatbands, armbands and wristbands made of the same highly absorbent and cooling material. Like the towel, the bands come in reusable and resealable bags to keep the bands hydrated while not in use. Also look for a new FatTrack PRO Body Fat system that allows storage of up to 50 individuals and the MyoTape digital tape measure.

Bodycraft -- One of the biggest company rollouts for this show will be cardiovascular equipment from home gym specialist Bodycraft. The company expects to display two models of elliptical cross trainers that should be at retail by Oct. 1. But home gyms are still key, so Bodycraft will also have a new K1 gym to show off and a horizontal-style home gym.

Bodyguard Fitness -- The Canada-based company is launching two new treadmills at the show and will show off the finish of its upgrade it started last year. Its new E350 Elliptical will have two additional inches in stride length.

Fitness Master/Fitnex -- Fitness Master will be introducing a recumbent bike and elliptical for the entry-level home market.

Horizon Fitness -- On a roll with individualized different equipment for different channels, Horizon will show treadmill upgrades to its specialty line, ergonomic enhancements to its bikes, as well as a newly designed elliptical.

Ivanko Barbell -- Look for its custom-engraved urethane plates and dumbbells

Landice -- Its new L760 treadmill (list $3,500) will officially launch at the show. Called a "rehabilitation" treadmill, the machine has extended handrails, speed increments of 0.1 mph, a remote control, and contact heart rate monitoring.

Leki -- Although at the show once before, Leki is now there to show its new Nordic walking poles with a "cross-country" style grip and adjustable/releasable wrist straps. It'll also run Nordic walking demos and morning classes.

LifeSpan by PCE Fitness -- LifeSpan will introduce its Stretch Partner that has a so-called "Flex Smart" pivoting system to better accommodate people of different levels of flexibility and various body types and sizes. Its new Cardio Breeze Ionizer is an integrated component into several new LifeSpan treadmills that provides negative ionization for home air purification. The treadmill supplies the purified air to the treadmill user during a workout.

Nautilus Group -- Swimming in brands, Nautilus will launch its Pro Series cardio line, including a treadmill as well as the final version of the "MyStride" elliptical (shown in prototype last year) that automatically adjusts the stride length without button pushes but based strictly on a user's biomechanics and propulsion. Look for other new things on the show floor too. Promise.

Productive Fitness Products aka "Great" handbooks -- Productive Fitness will add two new books to its lineup of practical, to-the-point instructional small books. Available in October, they will include "The Great Speed Bag Handbook" and "The Great Heavy Bag Handbook."

ProSpot Fitness -- The company will release its new entry-level model, the P-50, with a list of $1,000. The piece uses the same technology as the other ProSpot equipment that allows users to lift weights without spotters and release at any time as needed.

Raw Power Fitness -- Accessories specialist out of Canada, Raw Power has called out its Power Grabs non-slip grips that replaces the need for gloves, straps and wraps and works on all pushing and pulling exercises.

Retail Pro -- With a product for your business security, not your customers, manufacturer Armsys will show a remote video security system. It allows retailers the ability to store and retrieve information easily and provide remote monitoring. Retailers can view synced video and sales information on one screen.

Trixter -- With its X-Bike only 18 months old, it is now offering a retail package with a list of $1,200. The package includes the same club-quality bike for the home user and also includes a home-training package on video or DVD.

Vectra Fitness -- Vectra is bringing more product to the show than it has in years, we are told, including updates (not just cosmetic, they say) of current products and private showings of a yet-to-be-disclosed new product.

Vision Fitness -- A new line of 600 Series fitness bikes and elliptical trainers uses the so-called "Sprint 8" anaerobic programming, so users can easily do intervals for higher conditioning. The equipment will also have new consoles with more programming, as well as c-safe and entertainment plug-ins for units such as Cardio Theater.

As you can see, the show won't be wanting for product (and we've barely scratched the surface!) as well as networking and educational opportunities. Look for SNEWS' series of category updates in the weeks post-show as well as other stories about all the talks and classes.

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