Lesson from LA – 8 takeaways from the fitness industry’s largest gathering of leaders

Last week the fitness industry’s top conference (http://www.ihrsa.org) and trade show took place in LA. (first visit to LA – it sure is a busy place!).

As part of our work at STAK Fitness, and because we work with so many different folks offering fitness services , it is critical that we get a glimpse of how the industry is changing/not changing, and perhaps be able to transfer some best practices for the benefit of many.

Here are the top 8 takeaways from this conference.

        1. Small group training will continue to evolve and grow as part of fitness offerings.  More affordable with guaranteed results for paying customers is a great win win for a business offering fitness.  Best practices are being developed, and companies like TRXTraining and Total Gym (more info at http://stakfitness.com) are leading the way.

        2.  More and more fitness offerings are including core activation focus. From large equipment to smaller training tools, those offering fitness can count on the current wave of fitness equipment and tools to engage our core regardless of the motion

        3. The industry,   is on an upswing. After some smaller than usual attendance over the last couple of years,  this years attendance and traffic appeared more robust and healthier.  The supplier investment for one seemed closer to the levels of 4-5 years ago.  Regardless of how long it will last, this year anyway appears to be a good sign that fitness is continuing to  grow in our business landscape

       4.  Innovation rules.  Many companies introduced new fitness tools and equipment for their offerings. Many were recycled versions of the old thing.  Precor made a great impression with the introduction of their new Adaptive Motion Trainer (www.amtfitness.com) , added features to their networked fitness offering as well as improvements to their strength training equipment.    The benefit of the new AMT should translate to immediate benefits for the people you serve. Have a look.

      5.  Still a disconnect between supply side and fitness offering side.  Let me explain, The HOW seems to continue to be elusive to many commercial fitness equipment suppliers.  Most on the supply side do not address HOW their offering can specifically serve more people better (help with retention, appeal and differentiation and increase in bottom line etc.)   Specific fitness implementation recipes and best practices that the supply side see, need to be shared with the offering side as part of any supplier/customer partnership.

Example:  One manufacturer, who was very keen on getting STAK Fitness to represent them, had little in place to this end. They had great hardgoods. Great tools for trainers and fitness leaders to get results for their customers,  however little in the form of best practices. How the trainers  could be educated on effective use of the equipment was not in place at all.  How the facilities that used this equipment could educate their staff on empowering members – nothing. That affects our interest in taking on a new supplier…because then STAK and it’s leadership team have to develop these programs.

At STAK Fitness, our mandate is to guarantee a great return on investment with a “how to” recipe, anyone who acquires fitness equipment for their offering must have access to these recipes.

      6.  Canadians love this conference. Our team alone had 25 appointments over 2 days, with many wanting more information and details on how  to improve their offering.  Many of my US friends are always surprised at how many Canadians attend the conference.   The fact that the weather was cooler in in LA than back home was a cruel irony however!!

       7. “Serve those who believe in what you believe in; serve those who serve you.” Simon Sinek’s keynote session was very empowering from the standpoint of fitness leadership. It is long my belief that no one successful in fitness,  is there without passion for helping others.  Not many industries/businesses can say that – a truly inspiring message to fitness leaders. Here is more info on his talk and others  http://www.ihrsa.org/live/2012/3/15/figure-out-what-you-believe-in-and-dont-stray.html

8. Well organized and put together, from speakers to information on getting to the sessions. The organization committee did a great job in making sure people were on hand to help find rooms, help access some nutrition, and generally be of service.  Well done IHRSA group and the convention organizers!  Having attended many trade shows over 20 years, I can tell you they are not all run this way! Well done!

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