EuropeActive hosted its 10th annual European Health and Fitness Forum (EHFF) on Wednesday, 12th April in Cologne, Germany, in front of an audience of over 580 industry representatives and stakeholders. This year’s theme ‘Transformational leadership in the fitness & physical activity sector’ took delegates through key topics such as pricing strategies, digital transformation or entrepreneurial leadership to help them prepare for the challenges ahead. 
The forum began with EuropeActive President and EHFF moderator David Stalker welcoming the audience together with RX Austria & Germany CEO Benedikt Binder-Krieglstei and World Active Chair CEO Barrie Elvish. David introduced the 'Rainer Schaller Entrepreneurship Award', which aims to promote and foster entrepreneurial spirit in the European fitness ecosystem as well as recognising Rainer's outstanding career trajectory in the sector. He also congratulated David Lloyd Clubs for becoming the first clubs to be awarded the new FITcert level 4 certification for operational and health safety excellence. "Many other leading operators are following David Lloyd’s example by signing-up to FITcert. It is unquestionably the best way we can prove that we are professional and responsible industry", he said.
Opening remarks continued with Oleksandra Boliak taking the audience through UkraineActive's experience in running the 2022 #BEACTIVE DAY campaign under exceptionally difficult circumstances and encouraging everyone's participation in this year's campaign. "Physical activity is necessary for people in any conditions, it helps to cope with difficulties and maintain mental health. Furthermore, experience has shown that the support of international partners is extremely important, especially the support of the European Community. We are looking forward to #BEACTIVE DAY 2023 in Ukraine, and we are thankful for the fundraising that has been launched today. Believe us - any support matters."
Taking the lead for the first session was EuropeActive Ambassador Herman Rutgers and Karsten Hollasch from Deloitte sharing the key findings from the 2023 EuropeActive consumer research study, an extensive consumer market survey among almost 11,000 respondents in 19 European countries in January 2023: “The results revealed that, next to an increase in overall fitness frequency levels and a strong return to fitness clubs, hybrid fitness training habits, such us the integration of multiple fitness settings into one’s workout routine, are here to stay", they said.
Rutgers and Hollasch also elaborated on the usage of digital tools as well as the impact of current inflationary concerns affecting consumer behaviour. They also reminded the audience that the European Health & Fitness Market Report 2023 will be officially presented in a webinar on May 16th. 
Utku Toprakseven of 4global went on to engage in discussion with Prof. Alfonso Jimenez (THiNK Active) and Olga Ostromecka (McKinsey & Co.) about the preliminary results of the socio-economic impact of our industry. Focusing on the European DataHub value, scale and impact for the sector, Toprakseven said that “the European DataHub is already playing an important role in supporting operators with data-driven decision making while generating actionable insights at the sector level to evidence impact and attract investment”. Jimenez also indicated that over "last 18 months we have developed a unique data infrastructure to collect high-quality robust data on business performance, market penetration, consumer behaviour, economic impact, and social value from our industry. The European DataHub project, developed in partnership with 4Global, is the instrumental tool to make it happen".
Pricing strategies, digital transformation and entrepreneurial leadership
The day continued with Jos Eeland from Simon-Kucher & Partners and his keynote presentation on how to best approach pricing strategies in a volatile market. His presentation focused on determining the importance of value drivers for willingness to pay and proposition architectures.
Self Esteem Brands CEO Chuck Runyon took the audience through the importance of understanding key metrics to meet the changing consumer demands: “This industry has long competed on a few metrics – locations, members and revenues. Looking ahead, we are looking at metrics that go beyond those standards, measures of health, happiness and industry transformation that helps people live their best lives. This is a transformational period for the fitness industry. We are an essential part of the equation when it comes to the health and wellness of people worldwide, and we are thrilled to be with other industry thought leaders at this year’s EHFF”, he said.
The morning concluded with the FIBO Innovation & Trend Awards 2023. Seven winners were announced in a total of six categories: Ecology and Sustainability, Health & Prevention, Lifestyle, Life-Balance & Wellness, Nutrition, Start-Up and Performance. More information can be found here.
Afternoon sessions began with Prof. Evgeny Kaganer from IESE Business School sharing his expertise on digital transformation and the need for a long-term strategy to make the process of digitalisation successful: “Digital continues to generate a lot of hype. Whether large or small, firms need to take a longer-term view and give a clear answer to the question of why to embark on digital transformation, before diving head-first into what to do. When it comes to digital, most companies have plenty of war stories to tell. The challenge, however, is how to scale. And that requires investment in both people and technology capabilities.
Beyond Resilience Founder & CEO Angela Pernsteiner took central stage to underpin the role nutrition and an active lifestyle play in “becoming unbreakable and in training the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual components of resilience. When we constantly recycle pain into energy, we can see a series of gradual changes of the physiological and cognitive mechanisms in our body that allow the observable performance to show improvements. Every subsequent state will differ again in a higher level of strength, endurance, speed and complexity of the situation”, she said. 
Twinxter founder Alize Hofmeester underscored during her presentation the need for "purpose driven leaders who are able to create flow and agility”. She also indicated that “this is not something you can simply ‘manage' between 9-to-5. It asks for dedication, hospitality, creativity and commitment. And above all, its asks for your love for people and purpose, every minute of the day”.
The last keynote speaker of the day Jacob Fatih (Crealize) placed the focus on how to successfully build an inclusive fitness business: "Being thankful for everything is a core value for me. As my father used to say, do something good every day, and you´ll definitely get it better. We realised we want to empower people to become entrepreneurs and build success together. Let´s make this world healthier!"
Transformational Leadership in the fitness and physical activity sector
The new EuropeActive's book ‘Transformational Leadership in the fitness and physical activity sector’ was officially launched in a presentation given by Technogym Founder & President Nerio Alessandri and BlackBox Publishers CEO Kelby Jongen, who also announced the revamp of EuropeActive’s Knowledge Centre, a central platform packed with relevant publications covering key areas such as market research, acquisition & retention, European standards, personal training and much more. The 2023 EuropeActive publication includes relevant chapters on digital transformation, improved customer experience, transformational pricing strategies, green transition as well as the role of fitness in active aging. 
The day concluded with EuropeActive CEO Andreas Paulsen and Founder & Executive Director at Les Mills International Phillip Mills wrapping-up the event by encouraging people to get involved in the 2023 #BEACTIVE DAY campaign. 
Phillip Mills, Executive Director of Les Mills, said: “we are thrilled to support #BEACTIVE DAY 2023 and help people across Europe to celebrate the fun and importance of physical activity for our physical, mental and social wellbeing. Our mission at Les Mills is to create a fitter planet and #BEACTIVE DAY is a marquee moment to spotlight physical activity and the benefits it brings to every aspect of society, across all ages. There’s nothing like a thrilling live fitness experience and we’re looking forward to working with EuropeActive and our partners across the continent to bring #BEACTIVE DAY to life by reaching new audiences through an exciting array of activations.
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Apr 21, 2023 By Anna Miskovicova