The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



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IHRSA 2013 is a chance to make connections

VJ Thakkas of India, left, gets to know Ayman Mohamed and Abdul Rahman, both of Qatar.Coming to the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. There is trying to find the right room for an education session, knowing what time your country or region is having a reception, and remembering how to get back to your room in a exhausted state after a busy day. 

Thankfully, before all of that, there is Making Connections Orientation. Run by the IHRSA staff, the 90-minute session gave first-time attendees a quick rundown of what to expect, what they need to get around and some highlights of the four-day event that is running March 19-22 in Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. 

One of the important points Nicole Johnson, senior Sales manager, and Chris Thomae, Membership account manager, was sure to get across was that in addition to the obvious – attending education sessions and general sessions – is networking with the thousands of industry colleagues. 

“Networking, that is why you are here,” Johnson said. 

In order to help break the ice there were a couple exercises where the newbies had to get up and introduce themselves to others in the room. There were plenty of business card exchanges, realization of connections and plans for meeting up later in the week. 

With 60 people in attendance from Dubai, India, Finland, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and US cities Boston, Charlotte, Spokane, Chicago, among others, there was certainly plenty of interesting conversation. 

Jerry Madison of Nebraska, left, and Brian Proctor of Oregon, talk during the Making Connections Orientation.One of the exercises asked the group to find out what others hoped to get out of their first convention. 

“I am going to be like a sponge,” said VJ Thakker, from India. “I am going to learn as much as possible.” 

Radka Willson, who is receiving the Julie Main Women Leader Scholarship from IHRSA, said this is a great chance to network with others who have similar programs to her Cancer Well-Fit Program.

Others, like Darryl Buhler, hope to dip his toes in a variety of areas. 

“I hope to learn better retention techniques, improve our personal training department and become a better manager,” said Buhler, from Apollo Athletic Club in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.



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