IHRSA trade show hits the ground running with full slate of seminars, exhibits

Looking forward to ticking off its 24th annual international convention and trade show, IHRSA returns to San Francisco this year with a full-house of exhibitors and enough high-level keynotes, workshops and the requisite parties and meetings to keep anybody scampering for four days.

Looking forward to ticking off its 24th annual international convention and trade show, IHRSA returns to San Francisco this year with a full-house of exhibitors and enough high-level keynotes, workshops and the requisite parties and meetings to keep anybody scampering for four days.

A full exhibit hall runs March 17-19, with the standard fare of early morning workouts and classes from 6:30 to 8:30 each morning. The show (www.ihrsa.org/meetings) kicks off on March 16 with workshops, seminars and speeches.

A few companies say they'll have new gear and equipment for attendees to take a look at, but not all are willing to let us divulge that information yet. A few to tempt you:

Technogym will launch its new Kinesis product and program -- called "sleek" by insiders and "The Movement Revolution" by the company -- in a series of special seminars and early workouts. "Kinesis moves the mind and the body," the promo states. Star Trac will embrace Flex Fitness products into its booth for the first time after the acquisition last fall. SportsArt will officially launch its new X-Trainer product with Heather Hawk leading morning workouts and show demos. The company calls the product an "all-new category" of dual-action trainer. Think of a cross between a recumbent bike and elliptical. Sign up in advance to get yourself a sweatshirt. FreeMotion Fitness will highlight its Dual Cable Cross, which it showed at last fall's Club Industry show. At that show, the machine, with two stacks and individually articulating arms, caught a lot of show buzz.

Nautilus says its "headline" for the conference is "Nautilus Goes Cardio," with the strong step into ellipticals, treadmills and a demo model of the commercial TreadClimber on-hand before its move to the market in the second quarter. The company will also launch its new "Nautilus Institute" that will commit money to research and promote lifetime fitness. Details to come. Peter Hamilton, Life Fitness' new president, replacing Kevin Grodzki who moved on to a different Brunswick division last month, will pop into IHRSA for only a short time. So no pressing-the-flesh this time around, it seems. Matrix Fitness, settling into its new digs in Madison, Wis., from its Albuquerque, N.M., home, tells SNEWS® it's introducing "all new products." The so-called Vx cardio line has new colors and tweaks and, as a promo for its T3 treadmill, the company will hold treadmill demo classes. Strength won't be ignored; look for a new G2 line, with show-time demos, of course.

Small companies aren't to be left out. One recent word we got is about Body Bar's new product called Body Bar Flex targeted at flexibility, strength and balance-training for less conditioned participants. It comes in 3- and 4-foot lengths, weighs about a pound and can be used straight or bent. Also in the booth will be Smart Bells, what SNEWS® thinks looks like a pretty cool disc-like, curved hand weight.

And although not totally new, there will be a few companies with an additional emphasis on what is now being dubbed "exergaming," or exercise equipment that includes or incorporates games OR, vice versa, video-type gaming that is done while moving or exercising in some way (think of madly updated versions of the Tectrix VR-Bike of yore). New company, Expresso Fitness, will debut is first product, a fully integrated, virtual reality enhanced stationary cycling "system," as the company calls it. Also, Broadcast Vision will show how a gym can integrate exergame items and its Dance Dance Revolution to develop exergame centers in a club.

Note the always rather unusual show hours: Thursday, March 17, 1 to 6 p.m.; Friday, March 18, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, March 19, 8:30 a.m. to noon. Early morning workouts are Friday and Saturday, 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. As always, don't forget to take a look along the walls and back corners where one can always find new and cool stuff.

Among awards to be presented at the show: Joe Cirulli, founder of the Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers, will receive the "Industry Visionary of the Year" award from IHRSA. "In 1976, Joe had a simple vision for a club that would develop long-term, satisfied members by striving to exceed customer expectations every day. His efforts have resulted in one of our industry's most admired businesses," commented John McCarthy, IHRSA's executive director. "Through community-based health promotion programs, Joe has improved the quality of life for literally tens-of-thousands of citizens in Northern Florida. It is for these efforts, and for his many contributions to our industry, that IHRSA is recognizing Joe Cirulli with this prestigious award."

Among speakers: Dean Ornish, guru of lifestyle change, March 16, 1 p.m.; General Tommy Franks, leadership and management, March 17, 8:45 a.m.; and Joe Theismann, March 19, 1 p.m., taking on the topic (what else?) "Managing to Win." The entire industry grieves Christopher Reeve's passing; he had been slated to speak March 18 and was replaced by Phil Jackson, former NBA coach, at 9 a.m.

In addition on the program, IHRSA will hold its European Market Report session. The result of a research partnership between IHRSA and Deloitte & Touche, a briefing on the report will be given Thursday afternoon, March 17, from 4 to 5 p.m., Room 305, in Moscone Center South, about the size and scope of the European club industry, including the 10 newest members of the European Union.

The association will also hold its 9th annual Financial Analysts Forum, hosted by Rick Caro, also on March 17, from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m. in Yerba Buena Salon 7, following Life Fitness' Global Industry Summit. Analysts featured in this year's program include: Bob Hellman, managing director of McCown DeLeeuw; Paul Hindsley, senior investment banker at William Blair & Company; Bill Getz, managing director of RBC Capital Markets; and Paul Lejuez, senior analyst for Credit Suisse First Boston.


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