BOSTON, MA—October 24, 2023—IHRSA—the Health & Fitness Association, a global community of health and fitness industry leaders—concluded its 2023 IHRSA European Congress last week at the Lisbon Congress Centre in Lisbon, Portugal.
“The Congress not only offers educational and networking opportunities, but it’s also a great place for business meetings and dealmaking between our 15 sponsors and the 335 health and fitness executives who attended, representing 33 countries,” said IHRSA President & CEO Liz Clark.
This year’s event was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the European Congress as well as the return of the event, which had not been held since 2019.
“Portugal was the perfect choice for the return of the Congress and the celebration of our milestone anniversary,” Liz said. “Everyone was excited to be back in Portugal, and much of the event’s success was due to our partner, Portugal Activo, who collaborated with us to ensure the education sessions were relevant to European operators, particularly on issues such as the value-added tax, ChatGPT, and fitness trends in Europe. We thank them for all of their efforts.”
“We enjoyed working with IHRSA on creating an event that offered not only perspectives from inside the fitness industry but also from outside of it,” said Jose Reis, president of Portugal Activo. “That outside perspective was important to have at this year’s event, especially those related to technology as artificial intelligence is playing a larger role in health club and studio operations.”
In a keynote sponsored by Perfect Gym, performance coach and author, Pete Cohen with Mi365 shared how people can make themselves into a number of things regardless of their innate talents—even rising to the level of great or exceptional. He said, “The greatest thing you’ll ever do is being who you are.”
One of the event keynote speakers, Michelle King, was unable to attend. At the last minute, a reliable and always supportive IHRSA member stepped up to the plate with a knockout presentation. West Wood Clubs CEO Alan Leach described in his keynote, sponsored by Lacertosus, what research tells the industry about pricing and why the fitness industry can and should charge more.
Iconic Health Clubs Founder and CEO Barry Walsh welcomed the much-anticipated return of the Congress.
“One of the best decisions I ever made as a club owner was to join IHRSA, and the European Congress is one of the best experiences for me with quality education, networking opportunities, and the ability to talk with sponsors in a quieter setting,” said Barry, who participated on a panel sponsored by Freemotion about trends in the European fitness market.