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(Good) Soul encounters of the conference kind – IHRSA 2022 in Miami

Good Soul Hunting was present for cocktails and catch-ups at the recent IHRSA Trade Show and Conference in Miami. As the dust settles on the whirlwind week, we reflect on highlights from South Beach.

Of course, it was great to get a pulse on the evolving health and fitness industry and connect face-to-face with potential and existing clients and candidates invested in scaling their teams, alongside learning from legends of the industry, podcasting and joining the many accompanied events over dinner and drinks.

The hybrid life

For the second year running, the convention and trade show was delivered as a hybrid event, offering an abbreviated agenda for those opting for at-home learning as well as those who took it toe to toe. At IHRSA’s 41st convention there were 125 industry pros, presenters and thought leaders guiding delegates to the new age of health and fitness.

A launch so soft we didn’t hear it land

There has been a lot of hype about a big IHRSA rebrand since December 2021, when CEO Liz Clark first revealed the plans and a “full reveal” was intimated by the association in the ramp-up to the event. We even chatted with Liz earlier in the year at the Connected Health and Fitness Summit in LA as part of the Escape Your Limits Podcast. Too many mojitos or did we miss it?

Deloitte’s golden touch of advocacy

Those in Miami were also given first sight of a new advocacy report by Deloitte, outlining the social and economic value of the global health and fitness industry. A necessary step on the road to making fitness matter.

Described as a “first-of-its-kind” the Economic health and societal wellbeing is designed to help the fitness industry influence governments and policymakers to make “preferable decisions” related to health and wellbeing. Commissioned by IHRSA and the Global Health & Fitness Alliance (GHFA) it positively frames the industry’s economic impact. A worthwhile read outlining an optimistic future for global fitness. The main take is that the industry is a major contributor to GDP and employment globally - identifying a total impact of up to US$91.22bn per annum.

Poster child for preventative health

In addition to the tech pivot, the fitness pie is mid-expansion towards becoming a powerful prevention provider to the greater healthcare industry. Fitness and gyms are no longer exclusively about muscle gain and peak cardio. The mood music is now tuned towards exercise and all its ancillary partners to promote physical, mental and social health. The gyms themselves are becoming hybrid - delivering cross-contextual content and creating additional value at-home and outdoors in addition to the facility.

The pandemic has provided the perfect storm whereby massive top-down efforts have been made from industry associations like IHRSA, EuropeActive and ukactive, our members, have become aware of how critical holistic health is at the same time as individual operators and brands have been asked to deliver more comprehensively to that end.

Tech turmoil

Like other industries, the global fitness, wellness and health sectors are at the turnstile of a tech revolution and reorganization, spurred on by the pandemic. The growing power of software was on display by heavyweights like trophy booth - ABC, consolidation rife across a number of brands, happy smiley business-as-usual faces on the TRX booth despite their recent announcement filing for Chapter 11 and Precor up for sale again as Peloton continues to manage itself out of its pandemic overreach.

Show standouts

Worthy trade-show booths stepped up to new member expectations as products and services moved away from ‘one-size-fits-all’ and towards more tech-enabled personalized solutions. These included AI-driven personal training platforms, an exercise-agnostic tracking system that corrects form like AI Personal Trainers and consumer-facing products like Altis.

Other highlights:

• Upgraded feature sets, like Evolt 360 - the intelligent body composition scanner which boasts a 40-point body, FDA-approved wellness index in 60 seconds.

• Les Mills now delivers it full-spectrum Ultimate Group Fitness Solution from live to on-demand to BODYCOMBAT-VR on Meta Quest.

• The Covery Wellness Spa - a recovery boutique offering IV infusions, cryo, red light therapy and other services marking the new era in optimal health representing a high ROI opportunity that capitalizes on the flipside of the fitness coin.

• Fitness gamification is taking a huge step up and one of the pioneers is Blue Goji, which offers interactive fitness games users play while working out on cardio equipment. The goal? To make exercise fun, easy, and rewarding to those who might usually be stuck infront of screens and gaming consoles.

• Connected Fitness concepts: CLMBR and Speede were two of the main attractions with Speede drawing a crowd with strength tests and training performance by UFC fighter Michael Chandler. Furthermore, Hyperice and Speede partnered in a ‘train and recover’ campaign to flex the new age of full circle training.

Check out these stories, and more in the Escape your Limit Podcast co-hosted by Matthew Januszek and Good’s Soul Hunting’s Emma Barry.

From at-home boom to in-gym boomerang

Another trend we picked up on was the emergence of a boomerang effect on the at-home fitness boom. During the pandemic, everyone got used to training at home and in the process, new exercise habits were adopted and have stayed. Digital options are now firmly embedded across group fitness options as well as personal training. Which means that they are now on their way back into clubs.

Of the many examples of “The Boomerang” on show in Miami, the best was literally setting up an at-home equivalent in clubs. FitnessOnDemand’s new SO1O (or “Solo”) is a new interface targeting clubs. The 43-inch, zero-bezel, sleek and mirrored panel can be hung anywhere in a facility without specialized, time-consuming or expensive installation. It brings premium content, short-form workouts and instructor-led sessions to any open space. “We listen to club operators across the industry in designing products and understand that not every facility has the space or installation resources required for an in-studio virtual fitness solution,” says Uday Anumalachetty, divisional vice president, FitnessOnDemand

But don’t think that live fitness is going away. With the launch of HCM’s 2022 Handbook Basic-Fit reports an 18% lift in membership growth in the first quarter of 2022 and Les Mills highlights the ‘Live Revival’ as members flock back to class with the majority of members favoring a 60:40, live to at-home, time split.

If you want to know more, Good Soul Hunting’s Emma Barry contributes in the HCM Handbook’s p42 with an opinion piece on what happens next in fitness titled The Good, The Bad and the Meta.

Key Notes from Keynotes

There was a decent mix of content in 2022.

Liz Bohanno, author and founder/CEO of Sseko Designs outlined the Roadmap to Success in Highly Uncertain Times.

“A step in any direction is infinitely better than standing in this analysis paralysis, wondering if our dreams are good enough or big enough.”

“Your curiosity quotient is more important to success than your IQ,”

Daymond John, CEO of FUBU – and shark from ABC's Shark Tank – pitched his hustle for success against a Hip Hop musical score whilst humorously throwing his fellow sharks under the bus for effect.

"Set a goal, do your homework and love what you do."

Sarah Marion (Ph.D. in cultural anthropology) and Director of Syndicated Research at Murphy Research – opened the kimono on insights around how Gen Z are shaping what happens next in fitness.

“Gen Z are engaged in multiple dimensions of health, 38% are engaged with fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness. They have a holistic approach to health and do more activities and spend more across fitness and nutrition categories.”

Katie Gutierrez, Designer & Co-founder, Errez Design.

“The more personalized an experience a customer can have, the more likely they are to stay with you over the long-term.”

Chris Stevenson, founder of the Empower Group.

“People invest in a company when they understand the mission, vision and values. The more that employees buy into a company’s culture and brand, the better outcome overall.”

After dark

The IHRSA party provided the opportunity to speed date the remainder of the global contacts you missed colliding with while in the corridors and on the tradeshow floor.

MyZone hosted its infamous hot breakfast for friends and family of the brand with the launch of its extended range of Hall Of Famer badges honoring movement streaks through the years.

Sweatworks celebrated its 10-Year Anniversary and impact it has had on up-leveling fitness experiences with a who’s who of fitness, backlit by pink Miami vibes.

FitTech Company - hosted its inaugural US FitTech Club Member and Special Guest event at the secret garden at Broken Shaker with health, wellness, fitness and technology brands converging in deep cocktail-fueled conversation.

We look forward to seeing you all in San Diego March 22-23 2023!



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