2023 IHRSA European Congress Is a Smash Hit for Fitness Industry

    Check out photos and key highlights from the 2023 IHRSA European Congress in Lisbon!

    The IHRSA European Congress’s 20th Anniversary was a smashing success. From 17-19 October, industry professionals gained what we lost during the pandemic—connecting face to face, sharing and learning together, and enjoying experiences as a group. More than 350 attendees, representing 33 countries gathered in Portugal’s stunning capital city, Lisbon.

    “Portugal’s place in history was earned by some of the greatest seafarers and explorers. They helped establish trade routes and partners, built connections, shared language and culture, established influence and led development, education, and communication around the globe,” IHRSA President & CEO Liz Clark noted during the Welcome Address. “Lisbon is an ideal backdrop for us to make memories, share experiences, ideas, and knowledge, forge deeper connections, and foster new relationships.”

    She offered inspiring words, an update on IHRSA’s current priorities, and highlighted the active role that every IHRSA member, partner, and supporter plays in informing and guiding the association’s efforts.

    “IHRSA is larger than one country, one leader, one partner, or one member—IHRSA’s strength comes from the diversity and innovation of each individual location, employee, operator, and supplier,” she said. “I’m proud to serve this industry, and our IHRSA team is proud to work with you every day to support you here in Portugal, throughout Europe, and throughout the world.”

    IHRSA is grateful for the support of our event partners, Portugal Activo and the City of Lisbon. Here’s a glimpse of what we accomplished at the Congress.

    The Long-awaited Return With Open Arms

    After four long years, the return of the IHRSA European Congress brought smiles to the faces of many eager attendees. Hugs and warm welcomes were abundant throughout the three-day event.

    Lisbon Health Club Tours

    The always popular Health Club Tours didn’t disappoint. Delegates saw four spectacular facilities—GO fit, Holmes Place, Joaquim Chaves Fitness, and The Code—all of which gave them ideas to improve their own spaces and offerings.

    Generative AI in the Health & Fitness Industry

    The difference between science fiction and non-fiction is just a matter of time. A hot featured session, Generative AI: The Potential of ChatGPT in Sports, gave attendees a practical demonstration on how ChatGPT can—and should—be used in the health and fitness industry. Presented by Microsoft Board member and national technology officer, Manuel Dias, he warned that AI won’t take your job, but someone using AI will!

    Congress Attendees Unlock Their True Potential

    Don’t be surprised to see Congress attendees advance From Good to Great to Exceptional after Pete Cohen’s keynote, sponsored by Perfect Gym. A performance coach and human behavior expert who personally worked with some top performers in the industry, Pete shared the secrets of how they unlocked their true potential. Attendees were drawn to Pete’s sincerity and storytelling.

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    Data & Insights on the European Market

    Moderator Dag Lee, Board member of Armah Sports Company and Aktiv 365 / Family Sports Club, led a brilliant conversation, Around Europe in 60 Minutes: European Trends and Opportunities. Sponsored by Freemotion Fitness, the fireside chat showcased perspectives from Germany, Norway, Portugal, and Ireland from the panelists, respectively:

    • Henrik Gockel, Founder & Managing Director, PRIME TIME fitness

    • Morten Hellevang, CEO, Evo

    • Catia Velez, Owner & Manager, 100%Fitclub

    • Barry Walsh, CEO, Iconic Health Clubs

    A Last-minute Hurrah

    We can’t thank Alan Leach, CEO of West Wood Clubs, enough for stepping in last-minute to cover Michelle King’s keynote, who was unexpectedly unable to attend. As a long-time IHRSA member, Alan showed his unwavering dedication and support for the association and our industry. In a session sponsored by Lacertosus, he led an informative discussion on the science behind increasing prices. Spoiler alert: price increases don’t mean you’ll lose members, it’s often the opposite.

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    Sponsor Marketplace

    The Sponsor Marketplace was buzzing throughout the event with several suppliers showcasing their latest fitness equipment, technology, products, and services. Attendees were given the opportunity to learn, network, and purchase from the best brands in the industry. Thank you to our incredible group of sponsors for their support!

    Meet Us at IHRSA 2024

    Now that the European Congress has come to a close, IHRSA is swiftly pivoting to IHRSA 2024. Join thousands of your health and fitness industry colleagues in Los Angeles, March 6-8, 2024, to build your network, cut deals with the industry’s top suppliers, learn from successful entrepreneurs, and so much more. Don’t miss out on witnessing a special unveiling happening at the event!

    Author avatar

    Sami Smith

    Sami Smith is IHRSA's Senior Manager of Digital Communications, working to shape the organization's image on various digital platforms. On a typical day, she creates content, delivers impactful communications, and executes targeted marketing efforts to keep IHRSA at the forefront of the industry. Outside of the office, you can find her exploring new destinations, indulging in food, or participating in just about any sport.