Fitness industry collaboration effort moves forward after first meeting

A small group of fitness industry professionals met March 6 to talk about what the industry could or should do to start the ball rolling on some kind of movement to collaborate and communicate.
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A small group of fitness industry professionals met March 6 to talk about what the industry could or should do to start the ball rolling on some kind of movement to collaborate and communicate.

Initially intended to be a casual sit-down between SNEWS® editor-in-chief Therese Iknoian and Diamondback President Steve Lindenau to brainstorm possibilities as well as to ponder how SNEWS® could help, interest and enthusiasm gathered steam after an editorial and follow-up story ran in SNEWS® Feb. 10 and Feb. 19. The meeting -- held before the IHRSA show began in San Diego -- was attended by 17 people representing manufacturers, consultants, retailers, shows and others, but was attended "virtually" by many more who had emailed SNEWS® expressing keen interest but inability to attend.

From many different sides of the industry, the message was strong: It's time to do something, even if it's just one or two small steps.

"It's been an extremely frustrating business year. Very few can say it's been a banner year for the industry," said Lindenau to kick off the meeting. He added that instead of continuing to criticize, it was time to offer solutions. He also speculated that the reason this effort is catching momentum now is that because times have been down. "People need to be healthy. People need good quality equipment. Manufacturers are down. Retailers are down. Yet the need is still there."

Some at the meeting with long-standing industry experience noted how they have sat in on meetings like this, but nothing ever seemed to materialize. Those in attendance concurred that it would be important to find small action items and get them done rather than be frozen by big ideas and plans.

"Something like this has to be a guerrilla movement," said Marc Onigman, co-founder of Stone Hearth Fitness, founder of the former Club Industry magazine and a past show organizer. "It has to move fast and DO something."

Lots of ideas were tossed around, most of which focused on suggestions that included grassroots campaigns, retailer-based events, informational consumer handouts that retailers could give to customers, turn-key programming for retailers, community involvement, collaborative opportunities for non-retail fitness groups and stores, and grassroots PR efforts.

"What is the underlying value of being here?" asked Joe Marcoux, Just Do It sales and motivational trainer. "Sure, we all want to sell stuff, but are we in business just to sell stuff or to help people build a better, healthier lifestyle?"

In addition, attendees suggested that allowing consumers into the Health & Fitness Business show, as European shows do and as Can-Fit-Pro Vice President Rod MacDonald told the group his event started doing three years ago, would be a good start. Rich Kelly, marketing director for the Health & Fitness Business show in Denver who also attended, said he'd see if that were still possible this year since the event was only four months away.

If you attended or if you emailed or spoke with us about the meeting even though you could not attend, you will receive meeting minutes. If you did not but are interested in being kept in the loop, let us know by emailing IWantIn@snewsnet.com.

If you'd like to catch up on what has happened and the discussion in the SNEWS® Chat area, click here to see the first editorial and read the attached forum discussion. You can also click into that Chat and add additional comments.

Mark your calendars

>> The topic of the fourth annual SNEWS® Fitness Forum at the Denver show will be Industry Collaboration with panel members from inside and outside the industry who have knowledge and experience with associations. Don't miss it: Friday, July 18, 9 to 10:30 a.m., on the show floor before the trade show opens at 10 a.m. and after Early Morning Workout (7 to 8 a.m.).

>> There will also be a second meeting at the show (July 17-18), time and place still to be announced. All will be welcome.

SNEWS® View: We look forward to helping the industry further this conversation. Good suggestions were discussed, with the top picks noted by the group. Action is now being taken to make something a reality soon. Stay tuned to SNEWS® to find out what direction the movement is going, what will take place to keep the forward mo', and what you can do. Please feel free to also share any suggestions you have for the effort.

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