Boutique fitness. Technology. Functional training systems.
Those three trends in the fitness industry were my biggest takeaways from the 2016 IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show show last week in Orlando, Florida.
It is clear the boutique fitness studio trend is on the minds of many multipurpose club owners and operators as we settle into 2016. I attended two sessions on boutique studios and programming: one led by Club Intel co-founders Stephen Tharrett and Mark Williamson, and another led by Tara Sampson, Vida Fitness director of marketing. The biggest message in those sessions is that your business – and even businesses outside of the fitness industry – should start thinking about millennials as a psychographic rather than a demographic. The speakers offered insights into the consumer behaviors of millennials and explained how those behaviors are beginning to expand outside of the traditional 18- to 34-year-old millennial demographic. You'll hear more about those sessions in an upcoming story on ClubIndustry.com.
Here is the question that naturally followed those sessions: how does a traditional fitness club tap into the boutique consumer mindset? Is it programming? Is it technology?
The show floor may have offered some answers to those questions.
At the booth for Mio Global, the wearable technology manufacturer behind Orangetheory Fitness' new heart rate monitor, a handful of cyclists demonstrated how the wrist-based Mio functions in a group exercise setting. Essentially, a single screen showed a variety of real-time data points for every cyclist. It's easy to envision this product in clubs looking to add a level of sophistication to group cycle classes.
Power Plate, a Performance Health Systems brand, showcased its Power Plate pro model in a variety of group exercise settings. I was on hand for the barre class demonstration and also had the chance to look at the new Personal Power Plate, which has a smaller footprint at a lower price point.
I enjoyed watching the Stages Cycling group exercise demo. It was visually appealing with a series of dashboards tracking individuals' performances over a TV-style Tour de France race. The performance on the Stages indoor bikes were tracked by the generation 2 Stages Power meter, a high-end carbon device that measures power.
One of the more unique group exercise demos I saw was from bellicon, makers of a mini trampoline that the company says became more popular when Chicago Bulls player Joakim Noah started training with it in 2013. At IHRSA, bellicon had about two dozen of its mini trampolines in use as an instructor guided the class through various exercises on the product. Earlier this month, bellicon announced its launch of the bellicon Academy, which trains bellicon users and future instructors in total body fitness offerings.
On the functional fitness front, Precor's Queenax was on display as well as Aktiv Solutions' GYM RAX. TRX debuted its new TRX Training Zone on the show floor.
I had the chance to talk with TRX CEO Randy Hetrick and TRX president Paul Zadoff about the brand's latest products, which included a redesign of the TRX Suspension Trainer and the release of the TRX For Yoga digital education course.
As we were talking, Hetrick pulled out his phone and showed a photo of himself at IHRSA in the mid-2000s when TRX had what appeared to be a much smaller booth.
"We were functional training before it was a category," Hetrick said.
Fast forward to IHRSA 2016, and the TRX Training Zone ecosystem was large enough for a few dozen people to walk under it. A smaller version of the Training Zone designed for tight club spaces was displayed in a corner.
The large Training Zone featured a storage system to hold TRX products when not in use. The rubber floor had a variety of graphics printed on it to encourage independent circuit training designed for the lone user unfamiliar with a TRX workout. The customizable, modular systems are built for commercial facilities intent on delivering a more robust functional training experience. In addition to clubs, the TRX Training Zone is expected to become part of some recreation centers, corporations and hotel fitness centers.
"It is circuit training at half the cost, and it is scalable," Zadoff said. "The idea was to optimize space, optimize the tools and optimize the education for multiple spaces."
What was your big takeaway from IHRSA 2016? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.