Europe’s FIBO fitness show larger than ever

As one of the most important fitness shows in Europe, FIBO closed its run in Essen, Germany, last week having hosted 52,000 visitors, both trade and consumer, from 28 countries, who perused booths by 427 exhibitors from 20 countries -- the largest yet for FIBO.

As one of the most important fitness shows in Europe, FIBO closed its run in Essen, Germany, last week having hosted 52,000 visitors, both trade and consumer, from 28 countries, who perused booths by 427 exhibitors from 20 countries -- the largest yet for FIBO, show organizers said.

From sports nutrition to fashion, from treadmills to barbells, the 24th annual show that ran this year from May 1-4 spread itself out in a maze of halls that were “festive” in their atmosphere, said Buzz Truitt, vice president of marketing for The Nautilus Group, which had unified all of its brands under one company banner for the first time on the European continent at this show.

What's different about the show from the U.S. perspective is that it allows only trade visitors the first two days but then admits consumers the last two days -- consumers that travel from many miles away to peek at what's new and what's coming, and to snap up deals in fitness, wellness and fashion.

That also allows organizers and exhibitors to educate the consumers and to help broaden their brand awareness.

“I think it's a missed opportunity here,” Truitt said, to not consider allowing consumers into shows in some way.

Life Fitness used the 77,000-square-meter show (829,000 square feet) show to formally unveil some new products.

“It gave us a great platform to launch our new treadmills and new strength products. Mission accomplished,” said Life Fitness President Kevin Grodzki, who said the show was also key to the company as really the only central European one.

“Everybody was there,” he added.

Everybody also included the likes of Body Solid, Bodyguard, Body Bike, efi Sports Medicine/Total Gym, Ivanko, Johnson Health Tech, Keiser, Matrix, Nike, Paramount, Phoenix, Polar, Power Plate, Precor, Reebok, Scifit, Sigmasport, SportsArt, Star Trac, Tanita, Technogym, Thera-Band and Vision.

Matrix Fitness was there for the second year, this time represented in two booths, President Ken Lucas said -- one that was Matrix only, and one that combined Matrix with Vision Fitness and Johnson Health Tech.

“We had a very good show,” Lucas said. “We now have a Matrix office in Germany, England and soon also in France. Our German general manager reported taking a surprising number of orders at the event.”

According to FIBO management, more than 90 percent of attendees gave the show a rating of very good or good, and some two-thirds of exhibitors already booked their space for next year (April 22-25, 2004) during this year's show.

In addition, a third of trade visitors said they will spend up to about 40 percent of their year's budget at the show. Intended purchases included apparel, 26.8 percent; nutrition, 24.8 percent; wellness, 24.4 percent; and fitness equipment, 20.7 percent.

“Fibo works a bit like a business energizer,” said Sandra Orth, show director. For more information, go to

SNEWS View: The FIBO show is a rather strange mix that seems relatively immature and a bit like a circus -- to some U.S. eyes (something about schnaps sales in the halls and chain smokers standing next to booths with ellipticals). But that's not to say the concept is wrong. If it has energy and attracts a crowd, both buyers and consumers, what could be so bad? And although the concept of allowing consumers on the floor during a so-called trade show seems odd, there is something to that thought that perhaps such an idea would expose them to brands and allow them to be educated about quality and features.


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