LIW 2016 Tuesday 20th September 2016
It was a shame that due to heavy traffic, myself and Richard Playfair from Sweatlife Films, missed a sizable chunk of the morning activities and were there for the best part of the afternoon only.
Attending LIW is a must for those in the Fitness Industry. It is a tradeshow that displays the latest equipment, shows trends and brands that are emerging through the mist of a changing face in gyms. The message out there now is to get Active, so as I saw it and the overall feeling I took away from the show was this, the industry is changing and you better adapt.
Firstly the negatives - although we arrived late, it seemed the show was not hugely attended. In terms of success, this is a bit of a disaster for any Tradeshow, you need a significant footfall to roll on through the doors, especially at premium space like the NEC. Whilst we were there only on the Tuesday (Wednesday may be more popular?) we saw heavy numbers in orgainsers and display teams, but not so many it seemed in passing customers.
The flow of traffic around the smaller stands was dormant, The webs had been made, it was now time to draw in the passing customer and convert to sales . Sadly, activity and curiosity just didn't seem to grab anybodys eye and much of the display, converse. and sell web tactic was idle. The spiders it seemed would not be well fed today.
Who to look out for ?
The bigger stands were impressive. Dominating the Tradeshow and fighting for the brand to be the pinnacle of the event, the big hitters were there to display what they have and show it in its best light. The display teams did well to showcase the latest equipment and engage with those who walked by, it was , to those who were there a very well thought out presentation which kept on rolling throughout the day.
What I didn't see really was particpation and engagement from the public . A few flips of the tyre a jump here and there but the public today seemed to be browsing and not engaging. And it seemed the numbers were low on public attendedence.
Where were the big boys ?
What I did not notice, or not see which may have been the case, was that the big Boys were not there this year. Life Fitness, Precor, Matrix , Technogym were absent (Or at least I didn't see them) - Star Trac were there , but it seemed on a much smaller scale then previous years. These are the guys that have been supplying treadmills, bikes , X Trainers to gyms for years. Now I'm not too sure why this may be, but one suggestion is that reduction on purchasing expensive items in gyms is in decline, when bodyweight exercises and more cheaper options and premium floor space seem the better and cheaper option and tend not to go wrong and miss the maintenance fee altogether .The expensive dominating machines of the past may well be a dwindling market and if that is the case, then it was evident at LIW. The more specialised bikes, such as Wattbike and Woodway Treadmills seem to be what people are adjusting to, or at least that is my interpretation of it.
Weights is the future ?
It was evident that throughout the whole show, that more was on focus on weights and the more expensive equipment seemed to be yesterday product. This was more about trend setting and brand awareness. And those that are supplying to the industry were here to take over from the Industry of old and move forward with the changing pace of the industry of new.
Where old meets new - Total Gym
Pacing up and down the walkways at LIW is like looking at the changing face of the Industry through time. I remember being in Selfridges in the 80s and looking at Chuck Norris Total Gym System. A bench that would cleverly allow it to be adjusted to various inclines so that cables would allow you to pull yourself at different levels - it seems that a good idea will always be a good idea and it looks like total gym has stood the pace of time
Looking to how this will affect me in the gym?
Now this is where it gets interesting. There were key note speakers throughout the day which presented very well. In fact it was a shame because some of the presentations meant that by listening to them we could not engage with the suppliers on the scale that I wanted to as time was premium. But certain messages I took away from some of the Key Note speeches were that a gym is a gold mine and that customers are a source of income, treat them badly, ignore them and don't listen to their concerns at your peril, there will be a gym opening up near you soon. That is the message. When I left my previous gym it would be fair to say that the club really did not care - well good , I've moved on to another club now and tbh that new club cares about as much as the last club. What this means is that if another club opens up in the near vicinity of where I live, that will be the option open to me. I will leave because that is what I have learned. The only way you can show what you really think of a club, is to leave, there is no greater message.
The final say ..
The industry is changing. Activity is changing. It seems that we are becoming less active as we get older and younger generations are in mortal danger of dieing even before their parents, due to their lifestyles. Its a scary world that is dominated by bad food choices and lack of exercise. Fortunately there are those in the UK that are at the forefront to take on this issue. Many of these companies will be found at LIW in successive years.
Yes it does cost to be healthy and fit by using the equipment on offer here, but alternatively it is free too. Exercise is free by definition. Its choice that is the deciding factor, you can choose the free way or the Hardway but either way the answers will be met by those who listen and adapt. If you do not change your lifestyle you will be a statistic of failing health in later years.
The need for LIW is essential, the changing face of the health of the nation means we all face a dilemma of sorts. Too much time is focused currently in the industry as who thinks they are right in terms of how to exercise effectively and just go on to any Fitness thread on Facebook and see the arguments that break out, no wonder the public is confused if fitness professionals can't agree!
The world is changing at a faster pace then we can keep up, but the human body has changed little, the thought process to know what is right and what is wrong is not so much decided at school where much of the attention seems to be heading, but later on in life. I can remember the Bull Press Advert as a child where a young man gets sand kicked in his face at the beach and decides to beef up (pre Arnold this was Charles Atlas) It was the days of change from childhood to adulthood that was targeted and so much more effective. Nowadays it targets schools. But with school you dont have a choice - only later on life does that become an option.
In a changing world we all face the issues and we want to help and collectively somewhere in the middle is you, left with that choice. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. At LIW is where you will find a big chunk of the solution for those that are active and go to gyms.