FIBO Innovation Tour 2016 ‒ New paths for studio operators

What business models can propel studio operators into the future? Does everything come down to pricing, or does the programme matter after all? What ties members to a club? How to reach new target groups? And what role do new technologies play in all that?

Fifteen exhibitors from FIBO, the International Trade Fair for Fitness, Wellness and Health, joined keynote speakers from scientific institutions and associations at the FIBO INNOVATION TOUR to discuss fitness-sector challenges and innovations. Taking place in January and February, this year’s tour stopped in Istanbul, Moscow, Warsaw, Milan and Stockholm. Approximately 500 studio operators attended the exclusive one-day seminars alongside representatives of the national fitness markets. The event series was hosted by FIBO and the European industry association EuropeActive in cooperation with the local fitness associations in the respective countries.

The lectures presented new paths for studio operators, always with an eye to gaining new members while retaining existing ones. Boosting the retention rate is still THE major challenge vexing the industry. Whether its investing in studio equipment or testing new business models – the fitness sector offers lots of possibilities, ideas and products these days for studio operators looking to enhance their positioning in the marketplace. Moreover, this wealth of options shows that low-budget clubs aren’t always the right answer. Depending on the competitive environment, the aim should instead be to win over people with tailored offerings, optimised support and fun ways to exercise.   

The developments and ideas available on the market today were presented by the 15 FIBO exhibitors who participated in the FIBO INNOVATION TOUR to showcase their innovations and share insights into trends and customer preferences. Among them were Absorice, BURG F.W. Lüling, eGym, ELEIKO GROUP, Escape Fitness Limited, FunXtion International, gym80 International, Magicline, Matrix Fitness, miha bodytec, Pavigym, Precor, Piloxing Academy, TECHNOGYM and VirtuaGym.

Competition and opportunities for growth were at the centre of the keynote speech delivered by Ray Algar, the managing director of Oxygen Consulting, a UK-based consultancy for market players in the global fitness and health sector. Titled “What is the role of your fitness business in a world where consumers have more choice?”, his lecture provided an overview of new choices in the market. In today’s environment, he argued, studio operators must content with a multifaceted range of competitors: personal training detached from gyms, open-air choices including running meetups and group fitness programmes taking place at new locations, to name just a few. Some membership models are becoming more flexible, and novel types of clubs are springing up; boutique clubs, for example, are attracting more and more members. Says Ray Algar: “Over the past ten years I have observed the rise of low-cost gym brands with their laser focus on providing just the essential facilities and attracting members who are happy to serve themselves in exchange for very low monthly membership fees which can be as low as €8 per month. More recently we are seeing the emergence in some countries of boutique fitness brands such as SoulCycle that build a deep expertise in a single programme or activity, attract a tribe of loyal customers and as a result command €30 for one 45-minute class. At the same time, many new fitness providers are emerging from outdoor fitness providers to online digital services that are compelling alternatives to joining a fitness club. This is creating a challenging environment for multi-purpose clubs who now need to redefine their brand story.”

Additional lectures were presented by EuropeActive and Deloitte. While the latter analysed the market situation in the countries visited by the FIBO INNOVATION TOUR, EuropeActive’s presentations zeroed in on the industry’s expertise and professionalism. Once again serving as the moderator of the event series was industry veteran, FIBO International Ambassador and EuropeActive Board member Herman Rutgers: “This was the third FIBO INNOVATION TOUR, and it was the best one so far – we’re noticing more and more excitement among manufacturers and operators in the various cities, which we visited for the first or sometimes for the second time already. On tap for next year are our first stops in Vienna, Barcelona and Riga, plus our second visit to Paris and our third one to London.”

Statements on the FIBO Innovation Tour 2016:

“We are very pleased with the first FIBO INNOVATION TOUR in Russia. It was a best-in-class fitness event. From a fitness development perspective, this event is of paramount importance in bringing fresh knowledge, new methodologies and comprehensive innovations into the industry, and we appreciate very much that FIBO and EuropeActive made the top-ranked speakers available to a wide audience in Moscow. It was a great opportunity for us to attend, share ideas and get inspired by their vision on the rapidly changing fitness world and its future. Following the event, we received many calls and messages from people who expressed their gratitude and enthusiasm about the FIBO Innovation Tour. Everybody thinks this FIBO event was very productive and helpful in their daily life.”

Tatiana Polukhina, Vice President, RFAF (Russian Fitness Aerobics Federation)

“This year I took part in the FIBO Innovation Tour 2016 in Warsaw for the first time. During the entire day, different companies presented their services and innovations, which might help us to expand or improve our services. We have to remember how to respond to the needs of the market and the customer experience. Personally, the most interesting and important part was market research and analysis on the local market level. The fitness market in Poland is developing dynamically, and I hope there will be more events like the FIBO Innovation Tour at which we can share our experiences together.”

Karolina Marszałek, Group Product Marketing Manager, Jatomi Fitnness

“The FIBO Innovation Tour is a fantastic platform for the important dialogue centred on our common goal of making people active and healthier. Innovation is a critical component in this endeavour, and the tour enables suppliers and providers to learn about local markets and new developments in each sector of the industry. The Piloxing Academy is honoured to present the developments in the group fitness sector and its programmes.”

Mia B. Smith, Director of Education & Business Development, Piloxing Academy, LLC

“The FIBO Innovation Tour is a very interesting event. At first glance, it is mainly a meeting of FIBO exhibitors displaying their products to club owners, but FIT is also a place to hear about trends, markets, innovations and best practices in the fitness sector. Thanks to those attributes, it’s also an educational event that conveys know-how and inspiration.”

Sebastian Goszcz, Rytm, Łódź

“The FIBO Innovation Tour is a platform to share experiences and obtain a huge amount of information about the European fitness market.” 

Kamila Nowowiejska, better body Studio, Warsaw

“I want to thank Angelo Desidera for inviting me to the FIBO event in Milan. The programme was very well organised and interesting. I hope that we can arrange more days like this during the year.”

Fabio Swich, Upwell – benessere come stile di vita (Wellness as a lifestyle)

“I’ve never been to FIBO, and this time I will go there. I was a little bit hesitant given the distance, but after experiencing the FIBO Innovation Tour, I have no doubts left. It was really interesting to hear the presentation about the exhibition, its pavilions and the many opportunities it can offer. In addition, most of the speakers caught my attention in their presentations – including Stefano Deveteris for Piloxing (talking, among other things, about the discipline we should have in our programme schedule); Ray Algar discussing many small details and suggesting we should not stand still as a club but specialise and be unique; the friends of Technogym, our partners in our fitness club; and Miha Bodytech, whose presentation intrigued me so much. I look forward to expanding our conversation during the next FIBO. Thanks a lot – it was really a beautiful and useful day.

Ivan Albanian, Manager, Centro Fisioterapico Brugherio srl (physiotherapy centre in Brugherio, Italy)