Despite continued industry consolidation, the Club Industry show Oct. 13-16 in Chicago could turn out to be the biggest one in years, with directors anticipating 241 exhibitors in more space at the McCormick Place than since pre-9/11.
But products on the trade show floor aren't the only things happening on the Lake Michigan shoreline expo hall. The show has mornings filled with workshops; evening parties, both official and unofficial; several keynotes, including one lead by Melissa Johnson, executive director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness; and the ubiquitous early-morning workouts that always leave the security guards wondering what's with all these crazy people up so early.
"It's an exciting program," said Show Director Zari Stahl. "We try to focus on offering the right mix in helping with attendees' businesses and entertaining themâ€¦. They're coming to improve their knowledge and take it back and apply it Monday morning, but you have to make it fun while you're there."
So far, the show expects to cover about 93,000 square feet with 930 booth spaces holding about 241 companies. That's 30 booths more than the last two years. Premier sponsors include CheckFree, Matrix, Precor, SportsArt, Spri, Star Trac and Technogym.
The show will kick off this year with an industry party sponsored by SportsArt that will for the first time in years have a live band -- the Rockin' Rivieras, specializing in rhythm and blues and allegedly a top area group. Hot dog! Look for complimentary food and drink at the event (Dim Sum, we hear, not hot dogs) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 13 at McCormick Place so manufacturers doing set-up can drop in at will.
For the second year, Club Industry will have what it calls a "New Product Gallery," which allows products that have not been introduced at previous shows, according to criteria, to have their booths flagged as a new product to help attendees take a better look. In addition, the top five new products, to be presented to the media pre-show on Oct. 14, will be Body-Aline, by Beyond the Curve; Go-U Interlocking Grip Plate, by Troy Barbell; Desmo Treadmill/Force 3 Dynamometer, by Woodway; Aero Abs, by Heavy Hands/Lion Sports; and True's X8 Series ellipticals. The five were selected from more than 40 based on their newness and original design, show managers said.
Although not a lot of news has drifted out about what new products companies may showcase (aside from the ones above), we hear SportsArt has something new in the works but it's hush-hush and Star Trac will introduce newly designed and updated Spinner bikes plus treadmills. Also new will be Aqua Jogger with its aqua workout gear; core pole will be back with its dance-around-the-maypole thing; and Lamar Health Fitness & Sports will be on-hand with its Crocs clogs.
Another first for the show will be an emphasis on apparel, including a fashion show on Oct. 15 from 2 to 3 p.m. at booth 274. The show will include apparel from WalkStyles, FreeMotion Fitness, Sebastian Custom Warmups, Blue Fish Active Wear, Faremom Sportswear, Mak Attack Fitness Wear and Wickid Gear/FRC marketing.
"It's more apparel companies than last year," Stahl said. "We wanted to do something fun."
At the early morning workouts, the company behind the Club Industry show, Primedia, will also debut the new look and format of its magazine, now called Fitness Business Pro. Look for editor John Agoglia and his staff to be handing out free T-shirts to the early birds.
The opening keynote (Oct. 14, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) will be by Lisa Ford, considered an authority on customer service. That will be followed by a presentation of the magazine's lifetime achievement award, this year given posthumously to Joe Gold, founder of Gold's Gym and World Gym. Johnson of the President's Council will chair a panel discussion called "Fattest to Fitttest" discussing how communities are getting involved in getting their residents fit.
For more details on the show, click here.