Navigate IHRSA 2019 Like a Pro With 7 Expert Tips

    IHRSA 2019 can be a game-changer for your fitness business. Make the most of it with expert tips from industry veterans.

    At last year’s IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show, nearly 12,000 industry professionals and more than 400 Trade Show exhibitors filled the San Diego Convention Center. As we prepare to return to San Diego for IHRSA 2019, the scope stands to be even bigger.

    With four keynote presentations and over 100 education sessions, the four-day event presents countless learning opportunities, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, long-time attendees have developed strategies to soak up everything the convention has to offer.

    To help you get the most out of IHRSA 2019, we’ve curated a list of eight tips from industry veterans that will guarantee you to get the most out of your experience.

    1. Come with a Plan and a Schedule

    The convention can be overwhelming—especially for first-timers. You can utilize the IHRSA 2019 app to map out your plan of attack before you even arrive at the show. On the app, you can view session details, add items to your schedule, network with attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors, and stay informed on the live activity feed.

    "Come with a plan and schedule and you will capitalize on this great experience," says Jason Reinhardt, owner and founder of Go M.A.D. Fitness.

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    2. Ask More Questions than You Answer

    Remember that you are there to learn—even while networking. Asking a question is a great way to break the ice when trying to meet new people. It can also foster discussions that might not happen otherwise. Never be afraid to ask a question.

    Jim Worthington, owner of Newtown Athletic Club, says, “My rule of thumb is to be asking more questions than I answer since I am there to learn.”

    3. Go Out of Your Way to Meet New People

    It is so easy to stay within your comfort zone when you are traveling with a group of people that you work with or see on a regular basis, but doing so will limit your experience. Instead, strike up a conversation in the registration area with a question as simple as, “What session are you most looking forward to attending?” There are so many opportunities to meet new people in addition to the receptions designated for networking. Seize the opportunity to meet someone new!

    “Stepping out of your comfort zone may feel a little intimidating, but could be the catalyst for personal and professional progress," says Chris Craytor, vice president of development at acac Fitness and Wellness Centers.

    Remember, connections you make now could pay off dividends for your business down the line.

    “As a fitness operator or a club manager we are very often facing problems that neither staff, investors, or marketing partners can help us with,” says Anastasia Yusina, president of Fitness Development, LLC. “And [in this] moment, you [will] need a telephone number of the colleague and friend that you met at IHRSA” to reach out for guidance.

    4. Make Time to Enjoy the Trade Show

    The Trade Show is a fantastic place to network and test out the latest fitness equipment and technology. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and flexible clothing so you can try out some of the equipment on display. If you want to see the whole floor, allow yourself at least two hours to make your way around all of the booths.

    More than 400 exhibitors from around the globe will be showcasing their products and services on March 14 and 15. Attendees can also partake in morning exercise programming that takes place on the Trade Show floor.

    "Give yourself a few hours to enjoy the Trade Show. Wear shorts and T-shirts,” says Alan Leach, chief executive of West Wood Club.

    5. Attend Different Education Formats to Hear New Perspectives

    One of the most incredible things about IHRSA 2019 is the people attending from all walks of life and from all over the world. Take advantage of sessions where you can learn from multiple people and perspectives, such as networking roundtables, IGNITE!, and workshops. For attendees visiting from outside of the U.S., attending a regional forum, like the Latin American Forum, Canadian Forum, or the Australia & New Zealand Forum, is a great way to make connections as well.

    “Forums and roundtables are my favorite educational sessions,” says Monica Marques, director and owner of Companhia Athletica in Brazil. “You share and learn from diversity.”

    6. Embrace Your Inner Child

    IHRSA 2019 is designed to give health and fitness professionals the tools they need to grow their business...but it’s also pretty fun. Industry veterans strongly suggest you embrace your inner child and enjoy yourself!

    “Every year, I still feel like a kid in a candy store getting to see and test out all of the newest equipment, technology, nutrition, and education,” says Derek Gallup, executive vice president of fitness of New Evolution Ventures.

    Carve out time in each day to participate in an exercise class or attend a networking reception. Don’t miss the MINDBODY-sponsored Opening Reception on Wednesday, March 13. See the full agenda on our website or on the IHRSA 2019 app to view the full list of networking events.

    “Every year, I still feel like a kid in a candy store getting to see and test out all of the newest equipment, technology, nutrition, and education.”

    Derek Gallup, Executive Vice President of Fitness

    New Evolution Ventures - Lafayette, CA

    7. Review Your Notes Before You Head Home

    “Before you arrive home, go through all of your notes and make a list of all the great ideas and initiatives you would like to implement, and then pick two or three and give them a deadline,” says Michele Melkerson-Granryd, general manager of Castle Hill Fitness 360. ”You will come back with a ton of good ideas, but it can be overwhelming to try and make all of them happen at once...if you don’t plan, none of them will happen.”

    It is just as important to go in with a plan as it is to leave with one. Make a list of people you would like to follow up with as well as ideas. If you leave with specific goals and a plan in mind when you return to work, it will feel less daunting to make it all happen.

    Author avatar

    Emily Gluck

    Emily Gluck is IHRSA's Executive Assistant. On average her job consists of scheduling, supporting the executive team, and planning events, while the best part of her job is getting to work with a great team on a daily basis. If Emily is out of the office you can typically find her kayaking, hiking in a national park, or rafting on a remote river (ideally she likes to get out of cell phone range).