EHFF 2016 addresses current and future challenges faced by the European fitness sector

EHFF 2016 addresses current and future challenges faced by the European fitness sector

The 3rd annual event brought together top experts and almost 400 delegates from 31 countries to discuss the growth of the fitness sector through innovation.

The European Health and Fitness Forum, the leading conference for the European fitness sector, concluded on Wednesday in the Congress Center Nord at the exhibition centre in Cologne.

Throughout the hugely successful day sessions and debate focused on innovation and the current and future challenges and opportunities faced by the European fitness sector. A record number of almost 400 delegates from 31 countries experienced keynotes, roundtable discussions and seminars hosted by some of the leading experts in the fields of marketing, business, policy and technology.

Market Study

The sold-out event opened with the release of the latest comprehensive study on the European fitness sector, “EuropeActive Health & Fitness Market Report 2016”. The report contains the most current information on the main European markets, as well as a snapshot of the leading equipment manufacturers worldwide.

Karsten Hollasch, who works as the corporate finance partner at Deloitte, presented the report. He commented: “This is the latest research published by EuropeActive in cooperation with Deloitte. Besides key numbers and detailed profiles of the leading European fitness club operators, the report includes profiles of the 18 largest national markets, in-depth analyses on merger and acquisition activities, EU policy implications, technological trends and the global equipment market analyses, as well as interviews with selected market experts and leaders.”

At the presentation of the report, Hollasch said: "There's a huge impact from digitalisation. Technological development is one of the main forces shaping the health and fitness industry in the future."

Keynotes and discussions

During the day, experts from the active leisure sector, politics, health care and associated industries shared helpful input and practical examples on how change and innovation can be implemented successfully.

One of the experts at this year’s Forum was Tony Davila, who discussed the type of environments most conducive to human creativity and showed how this creativity can be translated into measurable corporate success. The Professor of Entrepreneurship and Accounting at the IESE Business School in Barcelona said: “The Forum is the perfect place to discuss innovation. Health and fitness is a very dynamic industry, with a lot of new ideas floating around. Attending EHFF exposes you to all those new concepts and allows you to rethink the way your company currently operates.”

During his presentation, Davila added: "Innovation is a process, a team sport and it's everywhere. Change will only accelerate."

In the context of gym members, Carl Rohde, Professor of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands and China, said in his presentation on Future Forecasting & Fitness Innovations: "People pay for a memorable experience and want to be involved distinctively."

Answering the question of how customer data can be used to drive sales, marketer Stephen Powell of Atreemo, said: "Data growth is set to continue, but data on its own is not inherently valuable. The real value comes from connecting it."

Roundtable discussions covered the topics “Digital Developments: Threat or opportunity for the fitness sector” and “How to create an innovative embracing mentality in your company.”

During the first debate, Rob Barker, president of Precor, said: "Digital development is an accelerator of both strengths and weaknesses." In the second debate on creating an innovation embracing mentality in businesses, Jonathan Fisher, CEO of Holmes Palace, said: "It's important to understand the human factor in your target market, to define it's hidden needs and wants.” Chris Clawson, President of Life Fitness, added: "If we keep fishing where the fish are, we're going to get the same results."

European Commissioner and the new book by EuropeActive

The day culminated with the release of a new industry outlook study “Growing the Fitness Sector through Innovation.” The book was presented to the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, who also spoke on the importance of events like EHFF in promoting a more physically active lifestyle. Navracsics is the first EU Commissioner to attend the Forum.

About the European Health and Fitness Forum

Organised by EuropeActive, the European Health & Fitness Forum (EHFF) is the opening event of FIBO, which is the largest international trade show for fitness, wellness and health. An expected 120,000 people will attend the FIBO tradeshow in the coming three days. 


Following on the success of the two previous editions of EHFF, top speakers came together to present lectures and discussions on the state of the fitness sector and the issues concerning the industry. Experts from the active leisure sector, politics, health care and associated industries shared helpful input and practical examples on how change and innovation can be successfully implemented. The presentations were accompanied by roundtable debate with representatives from leading suppliers and operators. 


The theme of this year’s edition was “innovation”. Changes are needed in all areas - experts from the industry, government, and healthcare explained how to do it in practice. The forum also saw the official launch of the new industry outlook study “Growing the Fitness Sector through Innovation”.