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Last week, IHRSA’s 36th annual convention and trade show came to end. On Friday and Saturday thousands of fitness professionals from around the U.S. returned to their home bases to implement the things they learned and reveal the products they purchased on the trade show floor.
Now that we’ve had some time to reflect on the past week, what were some of the common trends witnessed at the show? According to Jon Brady, the COO of Midtown Athletic Clubs, the trend of “experiences” was a profound one.
“I think the focus is really on experiences,” said Brady. “People are now looking for more and more from their clubs. I think this has been sort of the boutique trend over the past few years, anyway. Really it brought home that people are looking for an experience — they want to walk in and walk away feeling like they’ve done something that is valuable to their time.”
According to Brady, an important aspect to creating a great experience for members is ensuring you have good people. “Do we have good people? People who are in it for the right reasons? People who are motivated to go above and beyond? Motivated to help people and useful to the members?” asked Brady. “I think that was one of the interesting things that I saw just from listening and talking people at the show.”
Brady also noticed that this year, there weren’t as many new products launched as in year’s past. Even with the manufacturers he saw, the focus was on improving the experience for the user, versus innovating a new product.
“I think the focus really is coming back to — even for the manufacturers — what’s the experience like for the user? How do we support, how do we help and transform the user experience with the operator?” said Brady. “We’re seeing that in the conversations we’re having with manufacturers. They’re coming to us and saying, ‘OK, how do we help you with your retention? How do we help you engage your members. How do we help you service your membership better?’”
Although there weren’t necessarily never-before-seen products at the show, Brady did say aqua fit boards like Glide Fit and BOGA caught his eye, in addition to Strong by Zumba.
Ultimately, Brady explained experiences were the top theme. “I do wonder if we’ve tapped out how many different ways you can move on a piece of equipment,” he said.