Today the Treadmill Sensei stumbles out of the DOJO to talk about the recent IHRSA commercial fitness trade show that went on up in San Francisco. IHRSA, for those of you who aren’t “in the know,” is the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association and they sponsor a couple of fitness industry trade shows each year. This year IHRSA 2007 was held on March 28-31 at the Moscone Center in lovely downtown San Francisco.
Our purpose at this year’s show was to wander around and get some face time as the Treadmill Sensei. In the past I’ve always attended as a service/repair tech. At the shows no one really cares about repair guys so it was nice to be there in a capacity where the larger fitness companies recognized me and we’re actually excited to see me. I felt like a mini celebrity — more like Dan Swayze than Patrick Swayze, but it was still a blast.
The first thing I want to mention is just how darn huge the convention was. It took up the north and south halls of the Moscone and the two days we were there were easily the most walking I’ve done in 10 years or more. I was sore and exhausted when I got back home on Friday night.
To start off, there was a lot of cool new equipment on display. Precor, Matrix, Life Fitness and Star Trac all had spiffy new machines. The most interesting new units were the Precor AMT 100i and the Matrix Ascent trainer, Star Trac also had some interesting new light commercial units which were on display in the back of their booth.
Something that happened more times than I could have imagined were exhibitors and attendees noticing our badges and stopping to compliment us on the website and reviews. A couple of retailers stopped to challenge us on reviews which may have cost them sales because we told the truth, but all in all people were very positive.
Walking through the booths we were able to meet with a lot of the manufacturers of the treadmills and ellipticals we review. We spoke with the fine folks at Matrix, Star Trac, BladeZ/BH, HogganSprint, Quantum, Motus (we love the Motus Girls) and SportsArt. Interestingly enough, we couldn’t get anyone to talk to us at Octane, SciFit, Free Motion or Brudden. Our experience at those 4 booths seemed to be that the sales reps were more interested in talking amongst themselves than in showing off their equipment even when their booths were empty. The Brudden guys only came over because someone knocked down one of their signs and they disappeared once it had been set back up. My recommendation to those companies — don’t ignore your potential customers…it’s bad for business.
Now, one of the questions we were asked quite a few times by manufacturers was “do you take product samples for review.” What that means is “can we send you a treadmill or elliptical to get reviewed quicker.” Actually, what it really means is “if we send you equipment will it get us a good review.” Up until now, the Treadmill Sensei hasn’t taken any equipment from a manufacturer. All the reviews have been done on units that have come through the DOJO for either set up or service. Unfortunately, what this means is that a lot of equipment hasn’t been reviewed because we haven’t had access to it. Going to conventions like the IHRSA show allows me to get on equipment that is new or I haven’t had a chance to work on in the shop yet.
However, I’ve spent the past few days thinking it over. What I want to say to manufacturers is this: if you want to send the Sensei equipment for review, I will take a look at it. BUT, it’s not going to guarantee you a good review. Moreover, I’ll hold equipment submitted that way to a very high standard and will do some pretty extensive testing before I post a review on it. In other words: if you’ve got good equipment, it’ll shine…but, if there are problems with a piece, we’re going to find it and tell the public about it. Also, any reviews that come from a submitted piece of equipment will be announced as such on the website. That’s the honest and fair way to do things.
Anyway, that is it for right now. I’ll be posting some pictures from the show later on today. Tomorrow the reviews will start again and I’m hoping to keep up to at least 3-4 per week.
-The Treadmill Sensei