IHRSA 2017 LA Convention Center

Like a lot of you, I’m excited to attend IHRSA 2017.

In Los Angeles, the weather is amazing March. The restaurants are fantastic. The people are inspiring and I get to reconnect with old friends and meet new amazing leaders that are working to revolutionize the fitness industry. If you haven’t seen IHRSA Live Host extraordinaire Shabnam Islam knockout hundreds of interviews take a moment to watch a pro tell a story and educate an audience.

The trade show floor is buzzing. There are hundreds of exhibitors like RealRyder, SportsArt, and, of course, Motionsoft – our booth is #2201 which is just to the right of the trade show floor entrance.

This year, I’m looking forward to something else.

This year the one aspect of #IHRSA2017 that I’m looking forward to more than anything else is IHRSA’s new Innovation & Technology Advisory Council.  Why?  IHRSA Chairperson Rasmus Ingerslev for starters.  His mission to educate club professional about the value of technology in the fitness industry is the kind of leadership our industry so desperately needs.

The objectives of the Council include:

  • Aligning the industry with vetted technology oriented companies, organizations, and key influencers to leverage information and experience.
  • Capturing and interpreting the articulated and unarticulated needs of the industry’s current and future customers relating to technology and innovation.
  • Educating IHRSA members on the current innovation and technology landscape to aid them in making sound innovation and technology decisions.
  • Establishing IHRSA as a credible source of knowledge on the future of technology in—and relating to—the health and fitness industry.
  • Helping IHRSA and IHRSA members improve, expand, and enhance their current products and service offerings.
  • Exploring visionary strategic partnership opportunities for IHRSA.

IHRSA will be announcing the member of the Council prior to IHRSA 2017.

Overall, I think IHRSA’s on the right track even if I’m not a big fan of attempting to vet vendors.  It’s an enormous task and the needs set of each club is likely to vary greatly thereby making a list’s value limited to specific business models.  Instead, I hope IHRSA will develop vendor assessment guides by channel (SEO, SEM, mobile, wearables, content management solutions), service (club management software, sales automation, CRM, applications, content management solutions, virtual video training, nutrition, loyalty programs), and equipment.

To support IHRSA’s vendor initiative, my hope is vendors in various categories will come together to develop proposed assessment guides that IHRSA and the industry can comment on, modify, and eventually adopt.  At a minimum, I hope IHRSA publishes the vetting criteria they’ve chosen to use.

I’m also interested in hearing more about the larger educational challenge IHRSA will face.

As a digital marketer who’s been in the media buying and digital marketing space since 1996, I believe the fitness industry has an enormous digital gap to overcome.  I’m not talking about a level of expertise or an understanding of technical SEO issues that will derail a website’s visibility across search engines or even why using Facebook commenting plugins limits content findability.  The digital IQ gap I’m referring to is the inability of club professional to grasp the value of technology in fitness.

Part of the digital IQ gap challenge from my perspective isn’t educating the health, wellness, and fitness industry professionals on current technology innovations but rather how to create a shared digital understanding of the value of core technologies club professionals need to be aware of now so that they understand and appreciate the business value of future technology innovations.

Bootcamps are great but the real onus to improve our industry’s digital IQ will be on individual club professional’s to take advantage of IHRSA’s education endeavor while changing their own behavior.  The 5-Hour Rule is certainly one approach but I’m interested in hearing from you.  How do we make the most of IHRSA’s new Innovation & Technology Advisory Council?