Wednesday, March 19, 2014

IHRSA 2014 Trade Show Review

Each year the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) holds its Convention and Trade Show. This fitness based event is one of a kind. I consider it the king of all conference experiences and therefore a must attend as a fitness professional if you can on a yearly basis. While I have attended other IHRSA conventions and focused on the educational sessions, I felt it would be good to solely focus on the trade show aspect of the convention. The IHRSA trade show is something of a fitness playground for fitness professionals. And this was exemplified by the massive size of the floor this year. There were at least 370 exhibitors taking up over 180,000 square feet of space! And let me tell felt that large as it almost felt like you couldn't cover all of the space allotted for the show. Luckily, my team and I scoured every inch of the trade show floor and had some awesome experiences.

Before I get to the main review of the floor, me and two of my personal training staff members at Club Ridges, decided to test our fitness levels at Todd Durkin's I.M.P.A.C.T class featuring the new Underamour 39 fitness monitoring system. Not only does the system track heart rate, intensity and calories burned, it also tracks Will Power. Now you might be asking, how does a system track Will Power? Well, apparently through an exclusive algorithm that measures your Will Power from 1-10. Our group showed up first to the 6:30am workout and got our monitor straps on. These straps are really cool. They make you feel like you are Iron Man due to the nodule placed on the circle on the middle of the strap lighting up like Iron Man's chest reactor. Once powered on, my two training staff members, Brooke and Angela, persuaded me to set my Will Power setting to 10 to see if it could be accomplished. The staff at IHRSA gave each of us a phone with an app that monitors your heart rate, intensity, calories burned and Will Power.

Once everyone showed up for the workout (must of been 60-80 people there) Todd Durkin began to take us through the workout. Todd was energetic, fun and described how to do each exercise very well. I enjoyed the workout, but came to the realization that if I wanted to hit the 10 on Will Power that I was going to have to double time every exercise and really see what I could do. The majority of the workout was plyometric, body weight and small equipment based exercises (bands, med balls, etc.). As we were going through the workout I noticed that a large portion of the people doing the workout certainly don't do those types of workouts or at least they don't bring the intensity to them. I saw people gasping for air during the warm up which wasn't a good sign for many of the attendees. Still, I was happy to see so many people working hard and pushing themselves. When the workout was done Todd asked to see everyone's phone and he would give away an Under Armour 39 system to the person with the highest Will Power on their phone. I walked to my phone and looked at it and couldn't believe said 10! I walked over to Todd and showed him the number and he was astonished. He then told me, "I've never seen anyone score a 10!" Well, of course that made me feel good as I felt I accomplished something, but also I won the system, which was cool. Additionally, Angela won a new system for the most intense female and Brooke won a shirt from one of the raffles so all in all our Club Ridges Team cleaned up in the morning workout.

After cleaning up and getting breakfast, we headed back to the San Diego Convention center to wait for the doors to open for the trade show. After a little bit of waiting we walked through the doors to the show and immediately we were overwhelmed by all the action that was going on. Platforms and platforms of machines, people and exercise was going on. Lights and videos were streaming all over the place and there was a buzz of anticipation in the air. As we walked down the main "street" of the show floor I ran into several colleagues so I spent a good portion of the first hour talking to them and spending some time with our equipment reps for Club Ridges. After that, my team and I traversed every single inch of the show floor. We tried out the new Unity Treadmills screens from Technogym and a funky functional training unit as well from Technogym. Angela had quite the fun time swinging on one of the pieces. While I am sure it was not meant for that we had fun anyways!!

We then moved on and walked for a little bit until we came upon the Woodway Treadmills. At last year's IHRSA I watched several teams participate in the Woodway Curve Challenge which could win you $600 if your team won first place in miles accomplished in 20 minutes on the Woodway. I wanted to do the challenge last year, but I was only there by myself so I could not do the challenge without two other team members. Luckly, I had two awesome staff members with me and we gave the Curve Challenge a go! It was one of the more painful exercise experiences I have had in a while. The Woodway Treadmill is a non-motorized machine so all effort is magnified when you are on the machine. Every 20 seconds you switch off and on the treadmill with your teammates and believe me you are hard pressed to do more than 20 seconds a piece for intervals. While we did not win the challenge we felt good about doing the challenge. After all being challenged was a big part of this year's IHRSA for us.

Now mind you, we had exercised now for a good portion of the morning and were pretty spent, but it seemed like every time we passed a platform someone was offering a fitness based contest. And our course we could not say no. We next felt compelled to do the TRX Wheel Contest. The idea was that you spun the wheel and did a certain TRX based exercise and if you did at least 25 of any exercise you received dog tags and aviator glasses. Well...that was all I needed to hear. I spun the wheel and landed on suspension push up. I proceed to knock out 50 push ups and receive an awesome yellow TRX T-shirt that says "Make Your Body the Machine." Brooke went on to spin Hip Ups and she knocked out a bunch of those and received a shirt as well.

By that time we were certainly tired and we then headed towards the very far back on one side and tried out a crazy rolling massage machine that provided...shall I say...some very positive results for all of us. Let's just say we all felt like we had experienced something on another plane because that infrared massage machine was like magic! We moved on to the rolling pin area for some more self massage while also checking out the Grip Trainer Foam Rollers booth which was extremely bright and colorful. That lead us into one of our next fun adventures....

We had the awesome opportunity to try out the Real Ryder Indoor Cycle Bikes. I really like to spin, but I have never spun on anything like this. The Real Ryder bikes mimic the real movement of bikes by actually turning when you turn. It was a strange feeling on a bike, but one that I really enjoyed. I honestly thought that this was a enhanced experience for a spin bike. The instructor who was teaching the spin demo class was really nice and he gave us a short demo of the bikes. While we normally would be good with a full on class, but we were spent by this time during the day after all that exercise! Still, it was an awesome experience to try out such a unique piece of equipment.

After the Real Ryder we spent more time walking the floor and checking out some other unique booths. Another one we really liked was the Surf Yoga booth. Another really cool and unique idea. At this point I was completely toast from all the exercise, but Brooke was eager to try this cool exercise opportunity. It was fun to watch her to Warrior's pose on the surf board and a variety of other increasingly difficult moves. One thing I can tell you is that fitness is evolving to so many different forms of activities. What I find the most interesting about fitness is that there is a place for everyone. And certainly there is a tremendous amount of options for everyone who wants to participate in fitness. IHRSA showed that times 10!!!

At this point it was roughly 5pm...Angela had to leave San Diego to catch a flight and Brooke and I were just plain dog tired. However, we were tired and happy because we got to experience such a fun and informative event. From 6:30am until 5:00pm we pushed ourselves, inquired about new products, met some new people and chatted with some old friends. All in was a wonderful time and an experience that I would highly recommend for all fitness professionals to attend.

Thanks everyone for checking out my IHRSA Trade Show Floor Review. I will leave you with some more pics from our experience....

Dr. D
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