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2012 Conference Recap

There is a new destination for independent fitness club owners. The inaugural iClubs Conference wrapped up in December capping an exciting three days of educational seminars, networking receptions, and the second largest trade show in the fitness industry.

“The iClubs Conference was a very positive experience for everyone involved,” said Art Curtis, CEO of Curtis Club Advisors, and a speaker at the event. “In our first year we wanted to establish that this was a unique conference that really responds to the demands of independent club owners and how they can be successful in today’s business climate.”

The iClubs Conference was held in conjunction with the 31st annual Athletic Business Conference and Expo in New Orleans. Events began Wednesday evening with a networking reception bringing together conference attendees, speakers, and staff.

“I feel very fortunate to have attended the first iClubs event,” said Amanda Bender, owner of Bender’s Gym in Alabama. “The speakers were inspiring, relevant, and among the industry’s top talent.”

“We wanted to bring everyone together and give them a chance to openly discuss the challenges their club may be facing but also the areas where they are finding success,” said Peter Brown, President of Athletic Business Media and founder of the iClubs Conference. “This is a very niche group so they can relate well with each other’s situations.”

Curtis agrees. He says the networking opportunities at iClubs were invaluable.

“The biggest education opportunity that’s offered to [attendees] at these type of programs is the ability to meet other club operators and network with other people that are not necessarily competitors in their markets,” Curtis said.

With attendees from nearly 20 states and three countries, the iClubs Conference brought together a diverse group of club owners and executives with one goal in mind: learn how to remain profitable and stay ahead of the competition.

“The independent club owner today is facing competition from all sides,” Curtis said. “They have to find their areas of strength among the giant health clubs but also fight off the discount chains as well.”

Fortunately, iClubs’ educational programming helped attendees address all areas of need. With all of the speakers having personal club experience, their messages really hit home.

“I left the event feeling empowered to drive positive change for my members, staff, and personal professional success,” Bender said.

“We had a group of speakers mostly that are independent club operators themselves,” Curtis said. “We spent the last two days sharing ideas from independent club operators to other independent club operators to try to help them improve the operation of their businesses.”

When attendees weren’t learning from some of the best in the business, the iClubs Conference afforded them plenty of other opportunities. All attendees were granted free access to the Athletic Business Conference and Expo trade show, which is the industry’s largest trade show in the fall. Meanwhile, outside of the convention center, New Orleans’ entertaining culture and delicious restaurants provided the perfect setting for a fun and productive three days.

With one year in the books, it’s safe to say independent club owners around the country will be marking their calendars for the 2013 iClubs Conference in sunny San Diego. In fact, in a survey following the Conference, 100% of respondents said they would attend iClubs again in the future. Join the fun and find out how you can keep your club one step ahead of the competition.

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