IHRSA 2013 Wrap Up: The Trade Show and Random Happenings

As my final wrap up of the 2013 IHRSA Convention, I wanted to share some of the great photos from the trade show, plus a few random stories from my visit to Las Vegas.

I don’t think that I mentioned that I drove alone, because my husband couldn’t make it and my coworker was driving up the day before. It’s a long drive, over four hours, and I chose to take what we call the long way, as opposed to the back way, which cuts through the desert, but is a lot more isolated. It takes about a half hour longer, but since it is up Interstate 15 it is a lot safer for a solo driver. Not to mention the Starbucks in Barstow and the rest stop about an hour outside of Vegas.

After checking in to my hotel, I needed to get to the Mandalay Bay before 6:00, because that is when registration would close for the day. Since I planned on attending the opening reception at 7:00, I needed to have my pass first. I took the time to unpack, then left about 5:15 to drive the two and a half miles. I actually used my GPS, even though I knew where I was going, and it insisted that I take Las Vegas Blvd., the Strip. My instinct was to avoid it, but I soon found that all roads were packed with bumper to bumper rush hour traffic, and the Strip was as good as any.


My only time on the Strip was spent in my car.

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Ah, Vegas

It took me a half hour to navigate that short distance. Once there, parking was easy, though it was a long walk from the parking garage to the convention center (I estimated about a half mile, based on it taking me about 10 minutes, walking briskly).

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The only gambling I did was while waiting to meet my coworker on Tuesday evening. I lost $5.

Fast forward to Wednesday evening. I had invitations to two dinners. As I wrote in a previous post, my company, WTS International, was hosting a dinner at the Yard House, which is about a mile south of the Mandalay Bay. At the same time, FitFluential, for which I am an Ambassador, was hosting a dinner at the Mandalay Bay. I felt obligated for the company dinner, but I really, really wanted to meet some of my fellow Ambassadors. I had what I thought was a great idea.

I would leave my hotel early enough (the last session was finished by 3:00, so I had time to go back and change), drive to the Mandalay Bay, pop up and meet some FitFluential peeps, then dash off and drive the one mile or so to my company dinner. Great plan. But you know what they say about best laid plans.

My plan started to go awry as soon as I started my drive from my hotel. I planned to take a half hour, as it had the night before. I planned to take the Strip, since that was the best choice from the day before. So much for plans. After driving for 20 minutes, I found myself less than a mile from my hotel. I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and I could finally see ahead of me that all the southbound lanes of Las Vegas Blvd. (my side) were closed. It looked like there was some kind of protest in progress (I found out later it was the culinary workers on strike). They were making all the southbound traffic U-turn and head back the way we came. So, after 35 minutes on the road I was right back at my hotel. Not good.

By the time I maneuvered through some side streets and made it to the Mandalay Bay, it was already 6:00, so I decided I had to skip my FitFluential meet-up. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time with co-workers, but I was disappointed that I missed out meeting some bloggers that I admire.

Enough talking about Las Vegas traffic. Let’s get to the fun. The trade show started on Wednesday. As I’ve written before, it is always an amazing experience. Just imaging this huge room, filled with every kind of fitness toy that you can imagine (and some you’d never imagine). All the big equipment manufacturers, the supply companies, anything you could possibly need to manage a health club or fitness center. Treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, weights, functional exercise equipment, software, locker room supplies, saunas and steam rooms, Zumba, Les Mills, Anti-Gravity Yoga, Spinning, Kettlebells, TRX, and much, much more. It’s like a toy store for fitness people. Plus the place is crowded with people, music playing, classes going on all around. Here are some pictures so you can imagine you’re there.

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Before we even entered the trade show. A sample of what was to come.

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The Matrix booth. Some of the companies had floor space larger than the fitness center that I manage.

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Lots of people!

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So much has changed in a few years. This type of frame, used to attach TRX and other functional exercise aids were rare four years ago, common now.

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Big Ass Fans

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More frames and functional equipment

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This was the Balanced Body booth. I loved this piece of equipment (and it’s inventor). Simple, elegant, functional.

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Life Fitness, with more functional equipment.

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I did finally get to meet fellow FitFluential Ambassador Lindsay, of Lindsay’s List. She was working the Technogym booth.

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The very cute Exercise Lab girls.

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Ready for spin class?

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Yet more functional equipment. I love the bright colors!

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More indoor cycling.

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In this spin class you can imagine you’re outside climbing steep mountains.

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My husband Alan used to surf with Laird Hamilton’s dad. I told Laird this, but he didn’t seem impressed.

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If you’ve ever used the eSpinner, you will recognize master trainer Josh.

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I did want to share a picture of my co-worker. I hope she agrees that this is a great photo!

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In case you forgot, I got do experience the Anti Gravity Yoga too.

Altogether a pretty amazing experience. I can’t wait until next year. IHRSA 2014 in San Diego!

I hope you enjoyed my recap. If you missed any of the previous IHRSA posts, here they are:

Back from IHRSA: The Teaser Post

Weekly Training Recap: Includes Vegas Workouts!

Vegan in Vegas: IHRSA 2013 Dining Options

IHRSA 2013: The Sessions, Part 1

IHRSA 2013: The Sessions, Part 2

Now that you’ve read all that, wouldn’t you like to come visit me next year and attend IHRSA 2014? Hope to see you there!

Back from IHRSA: The Teaser Post

I arrived home (after my four and a half hour drive) about an hour ago. After greeting my dogs (my husband is at his track team practice–that greeting will be a little later), a bite to eat,  and a bit of a stretch, I’ve begun the process of transferring pictures from my camera and phone to my computer, and I’m getting ready to write about my amazing IHRSA experience. The problem is, I’m a little pooped (did I mention a 4.5 hour drive?), so this post will be just a teaser of some of the things I want to write about my adventure in Las Vegas over the last four days.

For those of you who missed my last post, IHRSA stands for the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association. It is the trade association representing health and fitness club industry. I promise a full recap of the convention, trade show, vegan food, meet-ups, and more. In the meantime, here is a photographic taste of my week.

Vegan Food


Stocking up at Whole Foods


Slice of Vegas @ Mandalay Bay




The Border Grill @ Mandalay Bay


The Bar & Bistro at the Art Factory


The Bar & Bistro at the Art Factory

The IHRSA Trade Show









My new buddy Laird Hamilton



I got to meet fellow FitFluential Ambassador Lindsay of Lindsay’s List!



This is Josh, the star trainer from the Espinner training video.



My one run- on a treadmill.


My huge room had lots of room to lay down my yoga mat (and I actually used it!)


I am in love with Anti Gravity Yoga. It was amazing!


I felt an inch taller after this class!



My huge hotel room.


I didn’t spend much time on the strip (except when I was stuck in traffic).


More traffic time.


I did enjoy a drink or two during the week.


Loved this light fixture at the Bar & Bistro

I had a great time in Vegas (even though three nights is a long, long time to be there). I met some great people, went to some really good educational sessions, and ate some great vegan food. Stay tuned for the entire IHRSA 2013 adventure.

How was your week? Any adventures?


I am so excited that I am headed to the IHRSA Convention this week. IHRSA stands for the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association. It is the trade association representing health and fitness club industry. I’ve been to the convention several times (twice since I started blogging–read about 2010 here and here (this one tells the amazing story of Kristina Ripatti, the LAPD police officer shot in the line of duty, left a T2 paraplegic..so compelling and inspiring.), and 2012 here, here, here, and here (yes there was that much to write about). This year, the convention is at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

IHRSA always has some excellent speakers. This year, they include Chip Conley, author and founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels; Bert Jacobs, co-founder and Chief Executive Optimist of Life is good!; and Peter Sheahan, author and Founder and CEO of Change Labs Australia. There are also some great sessions, which focus on all aspects of the fitness business. Some of the sessions that I have marked to attend are “Create a Successful Personal Training Team,” “Personal Training Management: Building a Foundation for Success,” “A New Medical Model: Integrating the Health Club Professional with the Health Care Team,” “Physical Therapy in the Health Club Setting,” “Manage by Example: Creating a Culture of Service Excellence,” and several others. I still working on my agenda. I’ll miss most of Tuesday’s sessions because I can’t leave the desert until Tuesday mid-morning, but I will make to Vegas in time for the Opening Welcome Reception.

One of the most interesting parts of the IHRSA Convention is the Trade Show. Here is my post about it from 2012.  This is what I wrote about it last year, and it is still appropriate:

Just imagine a whole convention center floor filled with all the latest equipment, technology, accessories, clothing, then add hundreds of fit and fabulous exhibitors, demonstrating, exercising, motivating, talking and teaching. To that mix add thousands of spectator/participants testing out the equipment, taking the exercise classes, measuring, planning, dreaming about how it would all fit in their perfect fitness center. Lot’s of color, music, noise, it’s all there, and it all adds up to quite an experience.

















The photos are all from IHRSA 2012 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

There are a few other things going on during IHRSA week. The company that I work for, WTS International will be hosting a dinner for the staff that are coming to the convention. WTS is a leisure management company that offers services that include conceptual and strategic planning, needs assessment, design consultation, operational consulting, and spa, fitness, and activity management. We operate worldwide, so it will be fun to get together with old friends and meet new ones.

There is another meet-up planned. As you may know, I am a FitFluential Ambassador. Since many of us are in the fitness business, there will be several other Ambassadors attending IHRSA, plus the CEO of FitFluential, Kelly Olexa will be there too. Unfortunately, the get together is scheduled for the same time as my WTS dinner. I hope to scoot in either before or after because I really look forward to meeting Kelly and other blogging friends.

Since I will be in week nine of my La Jolla Half Marathon training program, I will have a couple runs scheduled during the week. A run in Las Vegas, especially on the strip, can be very, um, interesting. Check out my video from my last visit to Vegas:

I’m also bringing my yoga mat (my iphone is loaded with lots of YogaDownload.com classes), plus there are some great workouts offered at the convention.

So a busy week ahead. My blogging may be spotty, but I will have my computer and will be reporting in. Plus, you can check out #IHRSA2013 on Twitter to get updates on all the goings-on. And of course, I will follow up with reports on everything. And pictures. Lots of pictures.

What does your upcoming week look like? Fitness people..anyone going to the IHRSA Convention?


Disclosure: I received a full registration to the IHRSA convention as a member of the media. Plus I am an affiliate for Yoga Download and earn a few cents if you purchase using the link.

My Gluten Free Adventure: An Update, a Fail, and Vegas

I’ll call it a “Learning Opportunity.” Ironically, it happened within minutes of my telling my husband, “thinking about gluten free eating is challenging for me right now. I know what is vegan, what to look for, what I can eat, but gluten free does not come naturally at all.” I’m told that it gets better. Even the Gluten-Free Vegan which my sweet son and daughter-in-law gave me for my birthday, described me perfectly, standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open, just looking inside. But, I digress.

In the week since I’ve started my Gluten Free Experiment, I’ve actually done pretty well. I’ve tried zucchini pasta, I had a tempeh burger on gluten free bread, I eliminated the tortillas for my tofu burrito (I also tried rice tortillas when I made the leftovers). I’ve eaten more vegetables, skipped bread, except an occasional slice of gluten free toast. I’ve skipped my morning cereal, replacing it with a healthy smoothie.

But then we went on the road. We traveled to Las Vegas where Alan announced the Really Big Free Marathon on Saturday. We stayed in Lake Las Vegas, which is about a half hour from Vegas, and at least 10 miles from most restaurants, though there is a small village with a variety of cuisines surrounding the hotel. None were vegan or vegetarian.

I did quite well the first day. I brought snacks, including that burrito. For dinner we didn’t want to drive all the way in to Las Vegas, so we found a PF Changs, which clearly marks their menus where they are vegetarian and gluten free (most of their vegetarian food is vegan). We also found a Whole Foods and picked up some food for the next morning, including peanut butter, fruit, and smoothies. The problem was, it wasn’t enough.

After a very long morning on the day of the race (arrived at 5 am, the last runner came across the finish at about 2:30 pm), Alan and I had finished off all of our snacks and were tired and hungry. It was close to 4:00 when we finally found the Subway (yeah, but it was a no-brainer and that’s what we needed). I had a pretty good spinach salad, so I was full and still gluten free.

As dinner approached, Alan and I agreed that we were too tired to follow the original plan, which was to go to the Mint Bistro in Las Vegas. The drive was at least 30 minutes in each direction, plus traffic and that just didn’t sound appealing. In fact, driving anywhere didn’t sound appealing. Instead, we decided to take a stroll around the village by our hotel, read menus and see what we could find.

It was on this walk that I said to Alan the words in the opening paragraph. We walked, we looked at a few menus, then finally, passing a little pizza joint, I said, let’s just go here. We can order a veggie pizza without cheese. It’s easy, we can take it back to our room. Fine.

Then, as I sat waiting for my pizza, a little light bulb went on over my head. Um, pizza crust=wheat=gluten. Oops. Like I said, my brain is just not attuned to this yet.

If you are wondering, yes, I ate the pizza, yes, it was delicious, yes, I felt just a little bit guilty. I did not, however, have the leftover piece for breakfast the next morning. I decided to get back on track.

So, that’s the latest update on my gluten free experiment. I’m pretty happy about where I am with it right now. I think I still need to add more veggies (big salad for dinner tonight). I still feel hungry a lot of the time because I don’t have a go-to snack or small meal.

On a brighter note, Alan and I spent two nights in Lake Las Vegas at the Aston Montelago Village Resort. While it is about 20 miles outside of Las Vegas, it was a lovely place to stay. We had a great one bedroom suite at a fraction of the cost of a similar room in Vegas, plus it was quite and relaxing and, well, just nice. That may not be what you’re looking for when you go to Las Vegas, but it was perfect for us.

As befits Las Vegas, Lake Las Vegas is a strange combination of Mediterranean architecture and desert landscaping.

We finish with a Whole Foods fail. On the way out of town, we decided to skip Vegas altogether so that we could get on the road for our four hour drive. Instead we opted to stop at Whole Foods again, pick up some lunch and snacks for the drive, then head on home.

Alan laughs at me when I get excited about going to Whole Foods. It is kind of like vegan grocery heaven and since we don’t have one in the desert, it is a rare opportunity for me. As we wandered around the prepared food section, I studied all the options, checking out the vegan and gluten free choices.

I finally decided on ordering the Tofu Scramble. I had a choice of four veggies and I chose onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and spinach, along with vegan cheese. When we ordered I was asked if I wanted turmeric. I said yes, thinking that a dash of the spice improves both the flavor and the color of the tofu scramble. We were told our order would be ready in 10 minutes.

After 30 minutes, our order was finally ready. There was no charge for either order, because of the ridiculously long wait. Even so, I was tempted to return my scramble because someone had a heavy hand with the turmeric. A very heavy hand.

So much that I couldn’t even eat it. I was too tired to deal with taking it back, so I went back to the salad bar to search for a few vegan, gluten free selections. A rare Whole Foods fail. This almost made up for it all, though:

So, I’ve rambled on long enough. All in all, a fun weekend. One goof up on the gluten free trail, but I got right back on track. Next weekend we’re traveling to Malibu where Alan is announcing the Malibu Marathon. I know that I need a better plan before we go. Something to work on.

How was your weekend? Any events, travel or generally fun stuff you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it!

The Really Big Free Marathon

If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Twitter today, you know that Alan and I are in Las Vegas for the Really Big Free Marathon and Half Marathon. It is actually in the Lake Mead National Recreation area, and it is truly one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen.


To answer the question that I know you must have, yes it really was free. As unbelievable as that sounds, the great people at IO Events managed to pull it off with style, awesome sponsors, and a little blood sweat and tears. They got a lot of flak on their Facebook page from people saying that it couldn’t be done and that it was a scam (runners paid a “commitment fee,” of $50 which was refunded to them.)

Well, about 2,200 runners and I are here to tell you that it could be done and done well. Yes, there were a few glitches, but this was the first event of it’s kind, and even races that charge $160 have glitches.

Alan was the announcer, so we were out here early after spending the night in our awesome one bedroom suite at the host hotel, the Aston Montelago Village Resort at Lake Las Vegas.

The marathon was scheduled to start at 6:00, but was delayed about 25 minutes until it was light enough to see (not a lot of ambient light out here at Lake Mead). The half marathon was also delayed because of runners having difficulty parking. That was one of the glitches that the race directors will address before the next Really Big Free race in the series, which is on May 18, 2013 in Carlsbad (half marathon only).

As for me, I’m not in half marathon shape, so, after the races started I took a six mile run out along the course. Did I say this is one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen?

It is now 6:45 into the marathon, and I’m writing this on my phone while I wait for Alan to greet the last few runners out there. I would like to say that while running a sub-3 hour marathon is an amazing accomplishment, the guts and determination that it takes to spend close to seven hours out there grinding out 26.2 miles is just as amazing.

As I mentioned, the Really Big Free Marathon is the first of it’s kind. In a time when marathon prices are climbing toward $200 (and I’m part of a couple, people!), I’m hoping that the powers that be in the marathon world take a look, see that it can be done, and react accordingly.

I am interested in your thoughts on the topic. What do you think about race prices? Are they too high? What’s important to you when you pay big money for a race? Would you be happy with a little less if you could run a free marathon (or half)? I would like to note that all runners received a t shirt, finisher’s medal, and there were awards for the first three finishers in each race plus race souvenirs for age group awards.

Let’s hear you thoughts!

Finding Vegan Eats: Las Vegas to San Diego

I’ve been on the road a lot in the last week. For me, anyway. In Las Vegas midweek (if you missed it, check out my Las Vegas Strip Workout), and in San Diego for the weekend. All work related, meetings for me in Vegas, an announcing gig for Alan today.

What this means, aside from the spotty blogging (most of it done on my phone), is a whole lot of meals in restaurants. Not a problem, generally speaking, not taking the health aspects into account, but potentially a challenge to find three vegan meals a day on the road. So what’s a plant based athlete to do?

Here is how I’ve managed:

Before leaving home, I stocked up on various fruits, nuts, bars, and other snacks so that no matter what, I wouldn’t go hungry. Next, I pulled out my Happy Cow app to plan ahead and locate vegan and vegan friendly restaurants. Finally, once at my location, I asked a local (fortunately, meeting with other fitness people almost guarantees that someone will have a suggestion.

So, here is where I’ve eaten in the past few days.

First of all, I have had oatmeal at Starbucks four days this week. I’m sure that doubles my all time Starbucks breakfasts, but, you know what? It works. Coffee, oatmeal, and half a multigrain bagel and I’m good for several hours.

I’ve also enjoyed the Veggie Delight at Subway a couple times. Not my favorite, but again, it works. Fortunately, lunch was provided at my Vegas meetings, and the coordinators went out of their way to accommodate me, though for a change I was not the only person eating plants. One vegetarian, plus my coworker on a cleanse, eating mostly vegan. There is power in numbers!

I arrived in Vegas on Tuesday. After a massage, check-in, etc. it was 9:00 by the time we arrived at Red 8, an Asian restaurant at the Wynn. I was also getting a headache, but I’ve already whined about that here.

Red 8, as all the Wynn and Encore restaurants do, has a vegan menu with some delicious options (thanks Steve Wynn for changing your lifestyle!). I had the Tofu Shitake, crispy tofu stir fried with vegetables and Shitake mushrooms, served over brown rice. It was vey good, with just the right amount of spiciness.

Red 8

Lunch at my meeting on Wednesday was a grilled veggie wrap served with sweet potato fries. I had to make a few changes to make it vegan (add hummus, skip the aioli and feta), and I didn’t take a picture, but it was excellent. Thanks, (fellow Fitfluential
Ambassador) Dr. Darian Parker!

It was this group that I asked for dinner recommendations. They suggested the Bar+Bistro at the Arts Factory, near downtown. They said the food was great and there was a whole vegan section in the menu. After confirming with Happy Cow, we decided the Bar+Bistro would be perfect.


And it was. The eclectic atmosphere, Latin fusion menu, and gracious service combined to create an enchanting evening. How exciting to find a vegan menu in a non-vegan restaurant filled with creative, original items. Ironically, both my dinner companion, Amy, and I ordered pizza. She because she’d never tried the vegan cheese. I because the Wild Hongos pizza with its very thin crust, wild mushrooms, herbs, and leeks sounded delicious.

We shared an appetizer to start, called Tempura Alcochofa, described as tempura fried long stemmed artichoke hearts. When they were placed before us I double checked with our server to make sure they were vegan. They looked like fried shrimp. My God, they were so good! I could have eaten a dozen. Fried lightly and dipped in a chili sauce, I will certainly recommend this dish.


The pizzas were also delicious. The crust was thin and crispy, the cheese hot and melty, the mushrooms savory. Amy had the Margherita, with tomato and Thai basil. I’m excited to report she loved the vegan cheese! Told you so!



And we ordered dessert! We shared a piece of chocolate cake, which was moist, chocolatey, and not too sweet. Perfect!


Lunch at our meeting the next day was again an imaginative treat thanks to a creative chef. We were at a different club, but again the staff went above and beyond. We enjoyed a pasta salad, hummus, watermelon salad, and grilled vegetables, made all the more special because the chef just found out about our dietary needs at about 5:00 the previous afternoon!

Southern Highlands

That takes care of the Las Vegas trip. I was home for one day, then Alan and I were off to Chula Vista, which is a few miles south of San Diego. We had dinner at our go-to travel restaurant, PF Changs, and had our go-to dishes, Veggie Lettuce Wraps and Coconut Curry Tofu and Vegetables. PF Changs is our go to for a reason, and everything was very good.

PF Changs

Finally, today, after another Starbucks oatmeal, when Alan was done working, we headed up the coast to Cardiff by the Sea and Ki’s, which also has a vegan menu. Today I had the Marinated Tempeh Sandwich, which had grilled onions and avocado and was served on a multi-grain baguette. I also had a virgin Mary. Both were very good, although the service left something to be desired.



I’m finally home and looking forward to cooking my own food tonight. Nothing like a week on the road to make you appreciate home cooking, even if you have to prepare it yourself.

Do you have any dietary needs? How do you handle them while traveling? Do you generally find, as I do, that most people will go out of their way if you ask nicely?

And finally, I leave you with this. As you may know, Alan cares for some feral cats in our neighborhood. One of them, Fernando, tends to hang out up the street during the day and has gotten used to Alan walking up and carrying him home. Recently, due to the extreme heat and humidity, plus a lung infection, Alan had taken to driving up to get Fernando, who at first was very scared of the car.



I’d say he’s gotten used to the car, wouldn’t you?