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The Two Main Themes at IHRSA 2018


Last week, the fitness industry gathered in San Diego, California, for the 2018 IHRSA Trade Show & Convention. Now that the dust has settled, what are attendees saying about their experience? Here’s a quick overview of two main themes from this year’s show.


Outside of equipment, this year’s trade show floor seemed to be dominated by technology, with a lot of first-time exhibitors falling into that category. Nowadays, there is a technology solution for any issue or problem a health club can think of.

But Kevin McHugh, the COO of The Atlantic Club, warned not to let your eyes be bigger than your stomach. “You have to decide how far you want to go with technology, because each piece of technology you invest in requires implementation, execution and training,” he said.

As a result, McHugh explained they left IHRSA with two to three technology solutions to consider, which will be discussed further by The Atlantic Club team before they decide to make a purchase.

Lindsey Rainwater, the founder of the Women in Fitness Association, also noticed a theme at IHRSA surrounding technology. In particular, how normalized wearables have become was a main point of interest. She explained a few years ago, the big question was: What wearable do you have? “Now, we’ve reached a point of saturation with wearables where people just assume you have one,” she said.

Ralph Rajs, the senior vice president of operations for Leisure Sports, echoed this sentiment. “It seemed like the fitness industry has caught up to the electronics world,” he said. “There were quite a few interesting ideas that will change the member experience and how we run our clubs in the near future.”

Rainwater also saw an emphasis on virtual on-demand offerings, such as Wexer, Fitness On Demand, Intelivideo and Les Mills’ virtual solution. “These solutions have been around, but they seemed to be emphasized or more pronounced this year,” she explained.

P.S. Congrats to the technology solution Myzone for being named IHRSA 2018 Associate Member of the Year!

The Energy

Every year, the IHRSA Trade Show & Convention is exciting. However, many club operators felt this year that the energy was even more palatable than usual.

“There was awesome energy on the trade show floor and throughout the IHRSA convention, probably the best I have seen in a few years,” said Rajs.

McHugh agreed. “I thought the show this year had nice energy,” he said. “It just had a very positive energy that transpired throughout the keynotes and the people in attendance. It was a very uplifting couple of days.”

Rainwater added, “It seems the awareness around the opportunity in the industry is very present,” she said. “It was very positive.”

Many attendees and sponsors also expressed their love for the San Diego location, citing the convenience of the expo center to nearby hotels and restaurants. In fact, it’s already been announced IHRSA will be heading back to San Diego next year — same month, same place.  

What trends did you see at the show? Do you agree these were a couple of the main themes, and what would you add to the discussion?


Rachel Zabonick is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com. Stay tuned for more post-IHRSA coverage in the coming weeks. 

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Linda Mitchell March 29, 2018

    Nice article. Agree completely.


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