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IHRSA does Dallas – here's your 5+5 for the week!

IHRSA heads to Dallas this week, for the first major, face-to-face event since...well, since San Diego!

For those heading to the Big D, we’ve put together a little something for you. Here are five things you didn’t know about D-Town and five things you DEFINITELY want to know regarding the fitness sector and what’s going on.

So whether you’re waiting for an Uber or hanging in the hotel lobby, here’s your Good Soul 5+5 to add to your small talk game.


Dallas has the largest arts district in the US

Yup, even including the creative heavyweights of New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami, it is Dallas where it is at for genuine culture vultures. The amazing Dallas Arts District consists of 19 blocks (118 acres) filled with museums, performing arts venues and galleries. The iconic neighborhood also has more buildings designed by Pritzker award-winning architects than any location in the world.

So do yourself a favor – and go beyond the trade show floor while you’re here – for more info, click HERE.

Dallas has more food than NY, more wind than Chicago and more shops than...anywhere

Fun fact: official statistics show wind speeds in Dallas actually blow out the “Windy City” of Chicago. How’s that for a useless bit of hot air you can share at the bar!

More importantly, Dallas is home to more food than NYC - inhale all the street fare from BBQs, steakhouses, Korean and Tex Mex to fine dining and Italian, it’s all here – eateries of all descriptions and cuisines. For that super-special evening to cap off the day you sign that $$$$ contract, head over to The Monarch, run by two-Michelin star chef Danny Grant (1401 Elm St).

Dallas also boasts more places to shop per capita than anywhere else in the world! So if you’re into retail therapy, you’re in the right place – the unofficial Shopping Capital of the World.

Everything is bigger in Texas.

There’s a JFK Museum next to the spot he was gunned down

Whether you believe John F. Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald or he was killed by a conspiracy, you might want to visit the infamous Daley Plaza in downtown – the spot where JFK was shot. The official story is that the lone gunman took aim from a sixth-floor window at the Texas School Book Depository. There is now a museum on that sixth floor – which is definitely worth a visit.

The birthplace of the Margarita

Let’s be honest – no one knows 100% who invented the margarita and where, but one of the most widely-accepted origin stories is that it was Dallas socialite Margaret “Margarita” Sames who was the first to come up with the popular concoction in 1948.

According to legend, Sames was looking for a drink to serve at her holiday party which would both entertain and get her guests inebriated. One thing is for sure, however – it was Mariano Martinez of Dallas-based restaurant Mariano’s Hacienda who invented the very first frozen margarita machine in 1971.

In any case, the Dallas tourism officials are all over the Margarita stories and there is now a National Margarita Day and a Margarita Mile - enjoy!

Dallas used to be in Mexico – si, really!

Between 1821 and 1836 – North Texas was under Mexican rule. During that time, present-day Dallas was located in the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas. The state combined the sparsely populated Spanish provinces of Texas and Coahuila and at the time was the poorest state in the Mexican federation. Ironic, when you think how much oil there was beneath the ground.

Then, in 1836, “Texians”, with a majority of Anglo-American settlers, gained independence from Mexico and formed the Republic of Texas. Three years later, along came John Neely Bryan with his dog and a Cherokee called Ned and the rest is history.


Life Time is the latest group to go public

Life Time Group, operator of 150 fitnes resorts across the US and Canada, is now a public company. Following its listing on the New York Stock Exchange, it’s now valued at a cool US$3.6bn.

Going public is becoming a bit of a trend for 2021, as Life Time followed in the wake of Xponential Fitness, F45 Training and Beachbody in undertaking IPOs. Having said that, another fitness behemoth, iFIT – the parent company of NordicTrack, Freemotion, ProForm, Sweat, 29029 and Weider – cancelled its IPO a day before Life Time completed its. So what works for one, might not for another.

GHFA now has a A-list leadership roster

The Global Health & Fitness Alliance (GHFA), set up by IHRSA to establish the health and fitness sector as an essential service following the pandemic, now has a nine-member advisory council. The council is packed with fitness A-listers – from Greg Oliver to Justin Musgrove.

Expect the GHFA to get plenty of mentions during this week’s IHRSA conference!

Will Smith and Stephen Fry – your new workout buddies

Apple Fitness Plus and Fitbit Premium are the latest to have added celebrity stardust to their workouts. Fitbit has gone with Will Smith, who will lead a new set of intense workouts. StrongWill is designed as a no-kit-needed programme, mixing bodyweight strength training, HIIT, yoga, and cardio training.

Meanwhile, Apple has picked Stephen Fry to head up its new “Time to Walk” broadcast. A rather more relaxed experience, Fry presents facts and nuggets of knowledge while the users notch up the miles on their Apple Watches.

Interactive fitness - the next pivot

Ok, we’re blowing our own trumpet here. But only because we think you genuinely need to know this. See, we’ve identified a trend you definitely want to keep an eye out for – the rise of interactive coaching on digital fitness platforms.

Until now, having an on-demand library of workouts and the occasional live class has been sufficient. But we predict that 2022 will see a move from the broadcast-only platforms to two-way coaching models. We’re pretty sure you’ll be hearing about this during IHRSA too. And you can read more HERE.

As the market gets saturated, fit tech brands will need to be clever about data

Digital health, wellness and fitness ecosystems were among the fastest growing markets at CES 2021 – and there is no sign of slowing down. Thousands of startups have sprung up since the pandemic landed and they are now all competing in the same space against huge tech brands such as Apple, Google and Amazon.

So how to survive in a market that is becoming saturated? Well, brands need to make sure they utilise the data available to them and ensure they deliver a personalised, connected experience. It’s what retail is already doing. And it’s what the giants are already doing.

Expect the optimising of data – alongside the increased interactivity – being mentioned at IHRSA too, when it comes to the fit tech conversations.

So there! Hope that was useful. Now go and network, secure deals and have an awesome IHRSA. We’ll see you at the bar!

Image by David Mark from Pixabay



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