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 2014 highlights are never-ending

There will be plenty time for networking at IHRSA 2014.OK, quick, what is your favorite part of the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show? 

I know, there is so much to choose from it is nearly impossible to answer that question quickly, or with only one thing.

Really, at the very least, you need to separate the event - this year running March 12-15 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif. - into different categories. There are educational sessions, general session speakers, the two-day trade show, roundtables, networking events, exercise classes and even special events. Then, maybe it might be possible to pick a favorite from each category.

Wow, are you tired just thinking about how much you need to see and do in only four days? Don’t worry, you still have four weeks to scour the schedule, reach out to old colleagues as well as new ones you want to meet, and formulate each one of your days.

“I think (the Convention & Trade Show) is the most comprehensive, informative fitness event for anyone wanted to learn about the industry as a whole and grow their network,” said Karen Jashinsky, owner and CEO of O2 Max Fitness, who has attended every year since 2006. “I love being able to reconnect with people each year in person and also meeting new ones.”

To help you out, here are a handful of the event highlights that are always attendee favorites. Read on to make sure you don't miss anything.

General Sessions
Each year IHRSA thinks long and hard about four speakers who will make attendees think about their job, club, business and, oftentimes, their life. Among the scores of those on stage there have been professional athletes, Harvard University professors, owners of large and small companies, and professional speakers.

Bert Jacobs, co-founder of Life is good, was a general session speaker in 2013.This year is no different with Sally Hogshead, Dan Heath, Gary Vaynerchuk and Luke Williams. Hogshead will discuss how her research can help with personal branding. Heath, whose brother, Chip, has spoken at IHRSA before, has co-written two books with his brother. He will certainly talk about the latest, Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work. Vaynerchuk is considered a social media and marketing maven and he will give tips and provide examples of how using this medium can help clubs. Finally, Williams will talk about how the industry may be able to benefit from “disruptive innovation” – bold and risky changes.

The 5th Annual Women’s Leadership Summit
Facilitated discussions and networking designed to help women club professionals learn from one another. Debra Siena, president of Midtown Health, will kick off the Leadership Summit by interviewing Amy Morin, LCSW, on the topic of her Internet article sensation, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. 

Every year the event has grown and the discussions are a must-do for all women.

“The growth of the women's leadership from year to year has been astounding and exciting,” Jashinsky said. 

Obviously anyone can meet for coffee, lunch or at a quiet spot somewhere in the Convention Center to discuss the fitness industry with a fellow attendee. 


A little more fun, with much less rushing to get it done, are the evening events. On the first night the Opening Welcome Reception, sponsored by ABC Financial, is open to all attendees. On Thursday a few of the International groups will be having its own networking event, followed by Planet IHRSA, a reception for all International attendees.

For members of IHRSA-affiliated US regional associations there is the IHRSA Regional Association Reception.

Educational Sessions Alternatives
For those looking for a different format from the numerous and various educational sessions there is IGNITE, educational tutorials and roundtables. 

Roundtables, which has a moderator, typically take the direction of the group. The questions asked, input from colleagues and answers from the moderator can keep the conversation on one subject or transition to another. Among those being offered are: Increase Retention by Exceeding Expectations; Training for Success: Building a Lucrative Personal Training Business; and The Role of Health Clubs in the Era of Health Care Reform.

IGNITE is a fast-paced, one-hour event where speakers can share their personal and professional insights on a host of wide-ranging topics. They have five minutes and no more than 20 slides to talk about anything they like. The audience get to ask questions after all of the speakers.

The tutorial program is designed to bring smaller groups of attendees together who are facing the same challenges and obstacles in day-to-day operations with a business executive or industry professional who will facilitate practical solution discovery.

Trade Show
Two days, more than 350 booths, thousands of people, countless products and services, and often celebrities. It is the biggest trade show in the health and fitness industry.

There are new and tried-and-true products at the trade show.You would be hard-pressed to think of a health- and fitness-related item or service that will not be on the ¼-mile long trade show floor.

“We bring home a lot from each year’s event resulting in implementation of new programs, systems, projects and purchases of new equipment,” said Faron McNeal, Fitness Training director at Woodside Health & Tennis Club in Westwood, Kans. 

“I believe most attendees enjoy the time with their fellow employees and especially look forward to the trade show.”

The show event will prove to out-do last year’s extremely successful and popular show.

"I honestly would expect no less from an organization like IHRSA and it’s leadership!” said McNeal. “They do a great job keeping new ideas and topics coming year over year.”

For more on IHRSA 2014, visit And, be sure to download the free IHRSA App and follow on Twitter at #IHRSA2014.


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