Sunday, March 15, 2015

IHRSA 2015 Review

In life you learn a lot by reflecting on your past experiences. Our past experiences not only help to shape what we become, but they also give us clarity about our possible future experiences. After attending IHRSA for the past three years in a row, it is refreshing to know the trend of building a positive culture in fitness is continuing to grow. This year's IHRSA was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center which is in downtown LA. While I am not a huge fan of LA, I was happy to attend another IHRSA conference to see how the fitness industry was continuing to grow and change. 

When I first walked into the LA convention center I was struck by a gigantic banner that said "It's not the machines, stupid. Its the people." Nothing could have summed up my philosophy about working in the fitness industry better. I am a firm believer that the focus has to be on people when working with people. Seems like a simple concept, but so often we get swept up by shiny new material things. Nothing is more of an example of this than with fitness equipment. While IHRSA continues to be a very important platform for equipment manufacturers to showcase new products, I got the sense that the industry is working hard to shift that focus. There will always be a need for equipment in fitness, but there's certainly a bigger need for what makes people tick and how we can get them to incorporate fitness regularly into their lives. 

Speaking of equipment, I entered the IHRSA Trade Show Floor a little after 10am on Thursday, March 12th and as usual I was impressed by the scope and magnitude of the trade show floor. Every large and small equipment company was in attendance with their newest products. Unlike past IHRSA's where I did not have a real plan for exploring the trade show floor, this year our team (myself and our Assistant Manager at Club Ridges, Brooke Pizzo) had a definitive plan. We were going to primarily explore the recovery based products to see what we could add to our ever evolving wellness club at Club Ridges in Las Vegas. We immediately moved to the back ends of the gigantic trade show floor where smaller vendors were set up. We spend time getting some new trinkets for our stretch therapy program and discussing options for our club for rowing machines. 

And of course, we couldn't help ourselves...we participated in a few fitness challenges such as the 60 Second Power Challenge. Last year we did the Woodway Curve Challenge and that was definitely one of the most painful things I have ever done, which means I loved it! Brooke and I just can't help ourselves with these challenges. They really create a fun environment for competition while also testing out new products. Plus, the possibility of winning big prizes is fun too. IHRSA is always a great platform for stuff like that. While we didn't win the Power Challenge, I am proud to say we finished top five in both the men's and women's categories! 

After finishing our three hours on the trade show floor, we moved on to a lecture by Bruce Carter about designing the Health Clubs of the Future. This was of particular interest to me as the General Manager of a quickly growing residential fitness facility. Mr. Carter's talk confirmed to both Brooke and I the type of club expansion or addition that we need to have in the future. Mr. Carter emphasized that gyms of the future need to have lots of space that are beautifully designed with the mindset of offering fee based programs. His focus on maximizing fee based programs for maximum profit made lots of sense to me, but in our environment that money is essentially a symbol of the value of our residents using the facility. Residential fitness facilities are almost primarily amenities for selling homes so the focus is on value versus bottom line profit. Still, the concept can work in our environment as well. 

Our next day at IHRSA we decided to spend to do the morning workout on the trade show floor. Last year we did Todd Durkin's class, but this year we wanted to focus on doing our own workout on the trade show floor. At 6:30am in the morning Brooke and I entered the trade show floor and we were on a mission. This time it wasn't to explore a new product, but to workout very hard doing a form of exercise that I believed not many people were going to do. And boy was I right! Before we started we noticed that every single person was on either a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical, etc at one of the hundreds of equipment manufacturers on the floor. Just seemed strange to me that no one wanted to take advantage of all of the open red hallway space surrounding all the equipment. Brooke and I took to the hallways in the center of the floor and proceeded to to a track and field active warm up followed by sprint relays. It was funny watching all the people watch our work out and wonder what we were doing. And the shocking part...these are all fitness professionals!! Just got me thinking that innovation is sometimes most apparent when you are the only one willing to drift away from the pack. 

This was further emphasized in the State of the Fitness Industry talk the previous day by Joe Moore. What was the take away point? Sameness is not innovation. Don't be like everyone else. So much of what we see in fitness is just a copy cat of another thing. The truly innovative companies and businesses are willing to step out on a leap of faith to create something new and amazing. This was so evident during that morning workout session. Too much sameness, not enough innovation from people working out on that floor. Even so, it was good to see so many professionals in the same place being active. 

After getting some breakfast and enjoying some reflection about the conference, Brooke and I headed to Adam Bryant's lecture titled "Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEO's on How to Create a Culture of Innovation." To say that the lecture was excellent would be a gross understatement. Mr. Bryant's breakdown of how to create an amazing work culture was game changing. It was full of information, appropriate moments of humor and hope that more and more people are focusing on creating incredible work cultures. 

Probably the biggest takeaway for me about Mr. Bryant's lecture was that hiring great people often takes care of creating a great work culture. Brooke and I looked at each other after hearing that statement and it just reinforced how awesome our environment is at Club Ridges. We have worked very hard to create a place that people want to spend time at even when they are not on the clock. There's so much love, respect and hard work that happens at our club. Its made us a hugely successful club in our companies portfolio. I couldn't help but be very happy that we are moving in the right direction of the culture movement. More and more companies are starting to realize that employees who feel loved, cared for and respected will produce better outcomes for those companies. The fact that IHRSA had a lecture like that as one of their keynote lectures made me love the organization even more. 

Treat people well and watch then flourish!

Until next time...

Dr. D
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