Welcome to the Inaugural SMART Summit

The IHRSA SMART Summit brings a new concept to fitness industry conferences.

When the world changes, sometimes businesses are slow to catch up. After the unprecedented events of the last two years, the fitness industry can no longer wait for trends to come to them—they have to set the agenda. That means embracing new technologies and cutting-edge ideas—in a sense, futurecasting.

This is the concept behind the IHRSA SMART Summit in Munich on November 17–19. Held in partnership with German-based FitnessConnected, part of the ISPO-Network, the conference will gather some of the top minds in and outside the industry to focus on creative problem-solving and anticipating where trends and markets are moving. Think of the SMART Summit as an incubator of innovation—an intensive workshop in the possibilities of the future.

The conference was the brainchild of Jay Ablondi, IHRSA executive vice president, and Ralph Scholz, CEO of FitnessConnected.

“I have known Ralph Scholz personally for many years and hold him in the highest regard,” said Ablondi. “We both strongly believe that bringing together our respective organization’s expertise and continuously demonstrated commitment to the European fitness industry will provide outstanding value to all show attendees.”

Said Scholz, who was the event director of FIBO from 2013–2017: “I am particularly proud about this great partnership with IHRSA. It brings us one important step closer to our goal of being the central European platform for the fitness industry.”

CBI SMART Summit Munich Germany Unsplash Column

It’s also an opportunity for international IHRSA members to meet new CEO Liz Clark, who will be on hand to open the proceedings. Also leading discussions will be Alan Leach, IHRSA board chair and the CEO and marketing director of Dublin-based West Wood Club. Leach will helm a session on digital marketing.

Here’s what else is on the agenda in Munich.

A SMART Lineup of Proven Leaders

The “smart” in SMART Summit is an acronym for sales, marketing, analysis (markets), retention, and technology. Below are examples of session speakers who will address each category.

Sales: Henrik Gockel, founder and managing director of PRIME TIME Fitness (and current CBI cover subject)

Marketing: Alexander Thiel, of McKinsey & Co.

Analysis (market): Gonzalo Artiach chairman, DeciDATA

Retention: José Teixeira, head of customer experience, SC Fitness

Technology: Guy Griffiths, director, GGFit, Ltd.

Keynotes include:

  • Cate Trotter, founder of Insider Trends, an agency that helps brands navigate emerging trends and innovations. Trotter is ranked among the 100 most influential retail experts in the world. Her topic will be “Innovation and New Revenue Streams for Fitness Businesses.”

  • Bryan O’Rourke, managing director, Fitness24Seven Thailand and CEO, Vedere Ventures. O’Rourke is a well-known technology expert and an IHRSA board member. His topic will be “Accelerating into the Future of Fitness.”

  • Thierry Malleret, co-founder and principal author of “Monthly Barometer,” an analytical and predictive newsletter on macro issues for high-level decisionmakers. His topic is “The Great Reset for the Fitness Industry.”

Another highlight is the CEO panel discussion on November 17. Moderated by Emma Barry of Good Soul Hunting, the panel will include:

  • Juan del Río Nieto, VivaGym Group, Spain;

  • Sophie Lawler, Total Fitness, United Kingdom;

  • David Mazerot, Appart Fitness, France; and

  • Martin Seibold, Life Fit Group, Germany.

Leadership Henrik Gockel Prime Time Fitness Germany column

Henrik Gockel, founder and manager of PRIME TIME Fitness in Germany, will be speaking at the SMART Summit November 17-19, 2021.

As you may have noticed from the names listed above, successful brands from a range of countries are represented. As in the United States, the European fitness industry is dedicated to uniting to protect and grow their businesses, and sharing ideas and experiences benefits all.

Owing to the international presence of the conference, discussions will be available in multiple languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

This is just the beginning. Unfortunately, travel is still difficult these days, and many people who would have liked to attend can’t make it to Munich this month. So, why are we giving you this rundown of events? Because this event will return next year, and you’ll want to make plans early to attend and get the most out of this unique conference next year.

Take a Global Tour of Top Health Clubs from Your Home

Can’t make it to Munich for the SMART Summit? No problem. You can explore the international fitness community without leaving your home.

Right now, you can view some of the best health clubs in the world at ihrsa.org. The Global Health Club Virtual Tour was offered to those who registered for the virtual presentation of IHRSA 2021 in Dallas last month, but whether or not you registered for the virtual trade show and convention, you can still have access to the global tour by visiting hub.ihrsa.org/ihrsa-2021-virtual-club-tours.

The tour includes:

  • Bodytech, Columbia

  • Catic Wellness, China

  • Encore Fitness, Russia

  • Fitness First, Australia

  • The Los Angeles Athletic Club, USA

  • PURE Fitness, Hong Kong

  • Replay Academia, Brazil

  • Tikhvin Wellness, Russia

  • Third Space, England

  • West Wood Club, Ireland

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This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.