What to Expect from the 2018 IHRSA European Congress

    Find out what’s in store for this year’s European Congress, which will bring together 650 business leaders and professionals of the pan-European health club industry.

    Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Marseille, Seville, and London—all prior sites of the annual IHRSA European Congress.

    This year, the 18th Annual IHRSA European Congress will take place in Portugal’s capital city October 15-18, bringing together more than 650 leaders of the pan-European club industry from some 40 countries.

    “We’re honored to return to Lisbon after having last been here 10 years ago,” says Florian Cartoux, IHRSA Europe director. “It’s one of the oldest and most historic cities in Europe. For many of our attendees, it will be a place to regroup before winter sets in, and hear some of the most compelling industry speakers from both sides of the Atlantic.”

    European Congress Lisbon Gateway Column

    During the four activity-intense days, the attendees—club owners, operators, fitness professionals, industry suppliers, and others—will learn from experts from both within and outside the industry, as well as from one another; relax at social and networking events; and savor some of the countless pleasures of Lisbon.

    The event will be hosted by AGAP (Association of Companies of Gymnasiums and Academies of Portugal), a long-time IHRSA partner.

    José Carlos Reis, the president of AGAP, and Joe Moore, the president and CEO of IHRSA, will open the proceedings. To provide participants with metric-rich context, they’ll be followed by Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s vice president of global products, and Jeroen van Liempd, the managing director of IHRSA Europe, who will describe the “State of the European Industry.”

    The educational components at the Congress may be one of the most important benefits, but hardly its sole attraction. The seminars, keynote addresses, and group discussions will touch upon every conceivable topic: e.g., club design, sales and marketing, customer service, technology, inclusive fitness, and leadership. Simultaneous interpretation will be offered in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

    The eclectic, wide-ranging proceedings will be anchored by two inspiring and thought-provoking keynote speakers. Lucy Adams, the CEO of Disruptive HR, a consulting firm based in London, and the former HR director for the BBC, will discuss “Leading in a Disruptive World.” Chris Roebuck, a British economist and the Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership at the Cass Business School, also in London, will speak on “Change Management: Improving Performance Every Day.”

    Their expertise and insights will be complemented by presenters at a series of educational sessions and panels. Prominent among the star-studded lineup: David Barton, the founder and designer of TMPL Gym in New York City; and tech guru Bryan O’Rourke, a club owner, CEO of Integerus, LLC, a business and technology development firm based in Covington, LA, and an IHRSA board member.

    Other industry thought-leaders will take on timely subjects, such as “The Leadership Shift,” “Solution-Based Selling,” “Low-Cost Fitness as a Change Agent,” and “Customer Journey and Membership Lifetime.”

    Kilian Fisher, IHRSA’s international policy advisor and UFIT global industry lead, will moderate a panel on “Inclusive Fitness ... How Will This Really Benefit YOUR Business?” And Dag Lee, the non-executive director of Fitness World in the U.K. and Norway, will tap the minds of a group of CEOs during a second panel discussion.

    One of the perennial highlights of the Congress is the presentation of the European Club Leadership Award, which honors an IHRSA member whose strong leadership and outstanding professional performance have profited their company and the industry. Another is the Sponsor Showcase, which allows attendees to meet and talk with some of the world’s finest suppliers of fitness equipment and services. The showcase will be held three times a day during 45-minute program breaks.

    “For a large gathering, the IHRSA European Congress always has a surprisingly intimate feel, where long-term relationships are rekindled, new friendships are made, lessons are learned, and deals are consummated,” says Moore. “This Congress is not to be missed.”

    Author avatar

    IHRSA Staff @IHRSA

    This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.