The biggest events conference in the world is a marathon in itself with participants reporting that they recorded 10,000, 20,000 or more steps walking the floor and hoofing it to after-parties. But a growing attendee segment at IMEX America in Las Vegas was looking for a more intentionally healthy experience.

That fitness mindset was evident in the popularity of VOQIN-developed IMEXrun 5K on The Strip at dawn on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Others participated in morning yoga and Orangetheory HIIT workouts in Mandalay Bay Convention Center. And Two-minute Moves held between sessions in the Inspiration Hub turned attendees into action figures. The Be Well Lounge offered meditation and mindfulness from Leadership Solutions International and deep relaxation from In House Physicians.

Maritz Global Events Wellbeing Leader Rachael Riggs reported that the sustainability challenge executed in partnership with Heka Health from IMEX Frankfurt was back on and very popular. Participants tracked steps and earned points for eating plant-based food or taking a walking tour using an app.

Smart Meetings talked to some attendees who made careful plans to ensure they could stick to their goals and found welcome partners in the quest.

The Long Game

For some, nothing could stand in the way of their training goals. Sophie Garneau, senior sales manager at Four Seasons Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, was in the midst of training for the New York City Marathon, scheduled for three short weeks after the closing session. She has been actively working with a trainer for her second full marathon and asked her to develop some manageable workouts that could squeeze between client dinners and meetings on the show floor.

Garneau called the experience “dry IMEX,” but found that she was not alone in passing on the champagne. Bartenders often had non-alcoholic, functional juice-based beverages available. When it came time for dinner, she found that most Las Vegas restaurants have options for everyone, so it wasn’t a challenge to find healthy meals if you looked hard enough even at buffet receptions where people could make their own choices—good and bad. She did warn about the portion sizes, however, saying plates were often enough for two people.

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“Overall, people are trying to be more health-conscience,” Garneu said. “It is easier now than was five years ago.” Then she added with a laugh, “I did indulge in dessert a few times, but that is OK, too.”

Garneau participated in the Destination Vancouver-sponsored run with colleagues who supported her commitment. Short, interval run programs for the treadmill were the same effort if not more than a long run and fit into the limited time available. Her trainer kept her accountable, even at a distance.

In the past, Garneau has hosted spin classes at a local Soul Cycle with clients. “At the end of the week, they are tired of drinking and eating. It is energizing,” she reported.

Plan Ahead

Another meetings veteran who took healthy IMEX seriously is David T. Stevens, PMED, new director of field marketing and global events with and leader of the Wellbeing Campfire “Increase ROI by Increasing Wellness.” Stevens is a four-time winner of Fittest male #Eventrprof and earned a Delos Wellness for Meetings and Events certificate. But he still plans carefully when attending a major conference to ensure he can maintain his goals.

He practices intermittent fasting to reduce overall calorie intake and travels with protein powder, shakes and bars so he doesn’t have to pay a “protein premium” for food on the show floor. “Finding food on the floor is often the hardest thing,” he said.

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IMEX heard the message at previous shows and offered a range of vegan and vegetarian options in the cafe on the show floor along with a misfit smoothie and juice bar.

Stevens also participated in the run on Wednesday and hosted a Body Weight Bootcamp on Thursday morning to help people get their blood flowing and benefit from a dose of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) to help them remember more throughout the day. He also checked in at the gym at Delano Las Vegas and found it packed at 6:30 a.m. “Hotels are going to have to start building larger gyms,” he said.

The other shift Stevens found refreshing: a commitment to getting enough sleep. “No longer is it a badge of honor to go to all the parties and stay up all night,” he said. He made a point of being back in his room by 10 p.m. so he could start the next day fresh and found many others doing the same. “It is great to see people being protective of their own objectives.”