Germany’s FIBO fitness show boasts attendance gains, emphasizes health market

The international fitness show FIBO in Germany has been turning more of a focus to the importance of the health and medical market to fitness – and saw this year a definitive jump in attendance from those in that area. SNEWS checks out how it went and takes a peak at product innovation winners.
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A year after the FIBO show suffered massive headaches when a volcano in Iceland had an ill-timed eruption, show management has boasted huge attendance gains, partly thanks to its new emphasis on the health market.

Physical therapists, physicians and other more medically oriented businesses came to FIBO for the new push by the Germany-based show that has said it sees a convergence of the health and fitness markets. This year, it said a survey done at and by the show revealed that one in five attendees were members of the health profession and working in a physical therapy practice, at a rehabilitation clinic, or as physicians in private practice.

For most exhibitors who made the trek to the sprawling fairgrounds in Essen for the April 14-17 show, life still focuses mostly in one of eight halls where commercial fitness holds court – fitness is only part of the show with its inclusion of segments such as nutrition, body-building, apparel, beauty and wellness. As one attendee put it, he still saw plenty of “pharmaceutically enhanced giants” in the aisles with gym owners and instructors.

“The FIBO Show was outstanding this year and similar to IHRSA,” said Randy Bergstedt, executive vice president of Total Gym. “It seems as if the market is rebounding nicely after a couple of tough years for the equipment industry.”

For many who come from North America, the show can be less about getting traffic in the booth as it is about having a convenient place to meet with distributors and dealers in the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

“Overall it was a good show,” said Lance Goodemann, sales manager for long-time FIBO exhibitor PowerBlock. “We always win when it comes to FIBO since we get to meet our international dealers and personally thank them as well as discuss any issues or needs.”

And some use it as a platform to introduce new technology or products. For example, MyZone, which debuted at IHRSA in March although its movement-monitoring software and equipment won’t be out till summer, was also on the floor. With a tagline of “Making Movement Measurable,” the company launched its website mid-April (www.myzonemoves.com).

“MyZone continued to promote its new heart-rate based product in advance of the summer release,” said COO Mike Leveque. “There was a steady base of activity in and around the booth at all times.”

Numbers and awards

Of course everybody wants to know how the foot traffic at a show was as one way to take the pulse of an industry, just as show management wants to tout high numbers. For FIBO, the numbers didn’t disappoint. Attendance was up 9.2 percent (58,100). This includes both trade and consumer since the show has traditionally opened the last two days to the public. Plus remember this count is not individuals but “visits;” in Europe, shows count “one” attendee each day he or she comes to the show, so one person who came three days would count as three.

Exhibitor numbers too were up -- 3.7 percent. The halls were sold out to every last centimeter of 75,000 square meters (807,000 square feet). Gaining needed space is one reason the show is moving to Cologne as of 2013. There were also 581 exhibitors this year, up 21 from last year’s 560 (when a few couldn’t make it due to Icelandic volcanic ashes).

As usual the show’s innovation awards drew interest since products can be unusual – and sometimes unknown or unseen in North America. The top three – one each in the training equipment, health promotion and design categories – were named from among the 11 finalists (click here to see an April 13, 2011, SNEWS® story about the finalists). And, yes, they didn’t disappoint.

The winner of the Design category was a new stationary bike out of Italy called Ciclotte with one large wheel that IS the bike. We went to the website (www.ciclotte.com) and personalized one with a purple wheel and a carbon seat (no padding), but the euro 8,300 price tag forced us to abandon our cart (photo, above left). We didn’t think SNEWS would let us expense that in the name of product testing (a little over $12,000 based on current exchange rates), but it was fun while it lasted.

CraftWerkWOW_Fibo_SM.jpg

The product manager told an attendee, “It is for a very special customer.” Well, no kidding.

In the Training Equipment category, the winner was Germany’s Cube Sports (www.cubesports.de) with its Adventure Playground training equipment for gymnasts as well as for training and fitness in schools. Instead of high bars or parallel bars, there are modules that can be changed as needed.

The top product in the Health Promotion category was from Italy’s Technogym with its MyWellnessKey (www.technogym.com), a portable fitness and activity tracker for both indoor and outdoor activities to monitor what and how much is done.

A couple of other new products seen:

• Craftwerk (www.craftwerk-gmbh.de) had a show-stopping home gym design in a product it calls Loop. Its tagline (loosely translated from the German since the site is all in German): Advancement based on passion (photo, above right).

• Power Plate, which told SNEWS it was going to introduce a vibrating indoor cycle in the United States later this year, showed it at FIBO. Indeed, the powerBIKE looks much like a regular indoor cycle in size and shape (photo, left).

The 2012 FIBO (www.fibo.de) will be April 19-22 in Essen.

--Therese Iknoian

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