The best fitness industry events

The Best Fitness Industry Events and how to get the most out of them.

The Best Fitness Industry Events and how to get the most out of them. 900 600 Hans Muench

I attend about 25 events per year, visit and follow a dozen markets closely. Events are for me a very efficient way to feel the “pulse” of a market. I usually meet / interact on average with 30-40 persons per event/day. In 2020 at IHRSA (March San Diego, October in Berlin) and FIBO (April) events this number more than doubles, which is why I look forward to and enjoy these three gatherings the most. 

Beyond these, the SIBEC Europe event (2020 in Sardinia), Meet the Top (Mallorca), the Succeed Boutique Convention and Expo (Irvine, CA) the PT Congress of Glucker Kolleg, Gym Factory (Madrid),Forum (Milan) and the Fitnation event (Amsterdam) were particularly enjoyable. 


The Best Events for Fitness Industry Professionals

Whether you’re a gym owner, supplier, personal trainer or fitness professional, events are a fantastic way to get ahead with trends, meet people from the industry and make valuable connections. I recommend the following events for anyone who is looking to advance their professional network and knowledge:


IHRSA: Best event for overall international insights

The IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, International Convention and Trade Show: this four day event attracts over 10.000 operators and suppliers from more than 80 countries, and offers quality networking. At the Canadian Forum I traditionally lead the singing of the national anthem, a fun tradition), There is a huge opening reception, the International Reception, President’s reception, etc. There is a morning networking walk along the harbour in San Diego (which is where I graduated from high school in 1975!) and an early morning workout on the trade show floor, allowing thousands to “practice what they preach” and try out the latest innovations. IHRSA also offers great keynote and breakout education sessions, where I pick up ideas for my own presentations. Here I will meet close to 300 people over five days. 

IHRSA also puts on an annual European Congress, which is more intimate (500-600 attendees and approx. 30  sponsors, which is more education and network-focused. The club tours at the beginning and end of the event are well attended and provide a local flavor to the industry.

In my previous roles with IHRSA (first Director of International Development, based in Boston, from 1994-1999 and Director of Europe from 2007-2016) I have attended over 30 of these IHRSA events, done road shows around the globe with them and acknowledge the global trade association as having a major impact on my career. 

The Myobuddy Booth

March IHRSA San Diego with Amelia Worner and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam and Sam Williams

IHRSA opening session

David Barton, Leila and Hans

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SIBEC & Meet The Top: Targeted event for 1:1 with industry people and operators

Locations: SIBEC Europe 2020: Sardinia, Meet The Top: Mallorca

Dates: SIBEC Europe: November, Meet The Top: March

SIBEC Europe is one of 15 events put on by Questex around the globe in a “speed dating” format (Table top, pre-arranged 20 minute meetings between operators and suppliers. A similar event for the DACH (German-speaking) market is Meet the Top in March, which attracts close to 500 attendees.  

Table top meetings at SIBEC in Malta

Hugo Braam and Thomas Woods of Virtuagym with James Lawrence of Lifestyle Fitness

March Meet the Top meeting Update Fitness’ Michael Ammann with Virtuagym duo Hugo Braam and Oliver Crombach

Meet the Top Raimund Hortmann Urban Sports Club


FIBO: Largest industry event for all disciplines

Location: Cologne

Dates: Begin of March

FIBO in Cologne is the mother of all fitness trade events. With 60.000 trade visitors and 145.000 attendees in total, FIBO boasts over 1100 booths, plenty of evening parties and the European Health & Fitness Forum the day before FIBO that brings over 400 leading operators and suppliers together.

The Virtuagym booth

FIBO Event in Cologne

Deloitte report – Penetration rates and growth

April FIBO Co-founder Volker Ebener and former head of Inline Paul Underberg


PT Kongress/Succeed: Best for PTs and Boutiques

I feel that it is important to “stay close to the product”, which is why I like to take in several trainer events each year. I support the international efforts of the German PT Association and the boutique association (serving on their Advisory Council).

Chuck Leve 15 profit motive

Hans with Augie and Lynne Nieto

Windforce Vizpin booths



How to make most of a fitness industry event

Taking maximum advantage of the events I attend requires rigourous discipline. In my mind, preparation, attendance and follow ups can cover a duration of several weeks. To get the most out of my events, I follow the below routine: 


I reach out to people I expect to meet at the event in advance (Email, Linkedin, Telephone), and post my upcoming trips and events on social media. If I have attended the event before, I review the event summary, contact lists and photos taken, which also helps me remember names and faces on site. 

Onsite execution

The day of the event is here! For me, it’s important to arrive at the event early. I usually attend scheduled morning workouts and special networking events after the show. A top tip is to take notes of the people I met and document key findings. I also keep track of followups which are summarized daily.

Follow Ups

Here comes my favorite part, and a large part of my blog is dedicated to it. I create a “Beyond the top line summary”, in which I prioritize the most important findings, contacts and “to do’s”.  Another recommendation: Complete to-do’s as soon as possible post-event to keep the conversation going.

At many events I also am working for one or more client, either on the exhibitor booth, making introductions or mentoring staff new to the event. I also document meetings via pictures and videos, which are then shared on my blog and with staff back at headquarters. 


Which tips do you follow to make the most of the events you attend? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!


Till next time!