EuropeActive hosted the 6th edition of its European Health and Fitness Forum (EHFF) on Wednesday, April 3rd 2019 in Cologne at the Congress Centre Nord. It had it’s focus on Marketing and Sales, key issues to the fitness market in the last decade, with the sector growing from 36 to an impressive 60 million members – a remarkable 67% growth between 2007 and 2017.

WIFA Board Member Emma Barry opened the days conference together with the EuropeActive CEO. Emma highlighted WIFA’s work on “unifying women globally, forming key alliance across different sectors and becoming the go-to organisation for Women in Fitness representation”, as sounds of unity and diversion were heard all around the globe.

EuropeActive Board Member and EHFF Moderator Herman Rutgers took over by asking the audience to name a company and a person famous worldwide for great Marketing and Sales. He pointed to Steve Jobs and Apple as an inspiration to reinforce that “in Marketing and Sales we must put the customer first in delivering benefits”.

Keynote speakers in the spotlight

EHFF was divided in two, with the morning sessions and early-afternoon making way for five high profile keynote speakers:

  • Karsten Hollasch, partner at Deloitte, took delegates through the research outcome of our “European Market in 2018” study, emphasizing that club memberships grew by 3.5% to 62.2 million in 2018, strengthening fitness as the #1 sports activity in Europe.
  • CEO and Co-Founder Orangetheory Fitness David Long gave valuable insights on how science, coaching and technology are changing the member experience. He stated: “Fitness is my passion, it was meant to be".
  • Holmes Place Groups CEO Jonathan Fisher spread his philosophy of ‘opening up the industry’ to make it more accessible to clients in the Digital Age.
  • David Greenfield (Global Head of Consumer Obsession, Philips) provided a look into Value based customer segmentation: “it is key to place consumer at the centre of activities”. 
  • The morning concluded in the main room with David Patchell Evans (Founder and CEO Goodlife) focusing on how ‘Patch’ and GoodLife Fitness evolved and turned into the largest fitness club chain in Canada.

After keynote speakers’ sessions, the FIBO Innovation Awards unveiled the winners for the 2019 edition in the following categories: Digital Fitness: Faceforce, Health & Prevention: BALLance Concepts, Lifestyle, Life-Balance & Wellness: Charles Simmons Music & Fitness, Performance: Neuron Academy International, Start Up: Sphery.

Innovative Break-out session format

A new format was introduced in the late afternoon, where delegates had the chance to choose their own programme by attending the sessions that were of the greatest interest to them. Co-founder of ClubIntel Stephen Tharrett hosted two break-out sessions about pricing strategies and the fourth Industrial Revolution. DSM Nutritional Products Head of Personalised Nutrition for EMEA Catia Pimenta de Sousa provided valuable insights stating to go and think “beyond just food”.

A break-out session followed in which Nuffield Health's Head of Marketing Kirsty Angove, SATS’ Nordic Head of Marketing Marianne Orderud and Fit for Free | SportCity Head of Sales and Marketing Jos Traa spread their knowledge on three different marketing case studies.

After the breakout sessions, three young entrepreneurs introduced their new club concepts:

  • Brand Owner at TIMA and CEO at Fitness Track Co. Fatima Batook shared her expertise in empowering young Saudi female instructors to achieve a healthier body and mind by using a holistic approach of fitness tips and tools.
  • Saints & Stars owner Tom Moos spread his philosophy of uniqueness and exclusivity as key attributes that place his boutique gym to be considered one of the most luxurious fitness centres in Amsterdam.
  • Nienke Thomas, Fit20 Group Marketing Manager explained the success behind Fit20 Personal Training, an innovative and unique fitness method based on a 20-minute training a week.

A new book: “Marketing and Sales in the Fitness Sector”

The day culminated with the launch of “Marketing and Sales in the Fitness Sector”, EuropeActive’s new publication with plenty of thought-provoking ideas and practical tips for operators. The 2019 edition is an essential tool of growing your business in an increasingly competitive market. It includes different chapters for online and offline communication, pricing and location selection, sales management and case studies from world experts with an insight in to the fitness sector.

EuropeActive Board Member and Moderator of the event Herman Rutgers said in his concluding remarks: “The sector has reinvented itself several times, going from a focus on bodybuilding, to aerobics, to fitness and wellness and now into healthy living”. Mr. Rutgers summed up by mentioning his proposal for a plan of action for our industry: “Increase Diversity in management and staff of our sector, improve market(ing) research, make marketing more strategic and invest in innovation”.