On 10th May I visited ExCel in London to once again pace the walkways of Elevate . The lead Expo to showcase the innovation and creativity that supports the trends in the Industry we call fitness .
As normal I look at these shows as what to expect in the gym and what changes I will see coming to influence patterns and training in the gym.
The highlights of the show were few and far between, the you know – the WoW oh my Gawd this is just want the industry needs knock you off your feet moment. No, sadly these aspects are saved for the what next mundane and socially acceptable routine – The Zumbaesque impact.
I did see a few Bounce Activities which is some sort of class which involves bouncing on a small trampoline to some sort of dance aerobic class. It looked fun and tbh just frankly disappointed me to think this is where the industry is heading.
I have walked these pathways before, looking at the colourful stands and image friendly inviting portals to the next must buy unit at your gym, but there is a degree of , seen it all before and if Im honest it hasn’t changed since the early days of LIW.
I did enjoy seeing the rise of Woodway, a treadmill that caught my eye many years ago. It is now one of the big players in treadmill design and a must have unit for your gym. I noticed at the same time that Technogym and Life Fitness were not present, which did make me think why not ? The traditional rock solid Wattbike and Concept 2 were there and nothing has really changed for my love for these two pieces of kit.
So what was there that caught my eye ? And all I could see was a slight momentum to the word performance – you could see there was an inkling and a nod to see a world that is unfurling in front of the industry that is now playing catch up to CrossFit who have this market cornered and where the blinkered tired and looking for a quick buck industry which has lolled around and watched something that grew up under their noses and they decided not to act, but think that they were being innovative with their insight into what catches the attention of gym members .
All I can really say , is that the likes of what I use in the gym has not really changed in the last ten years. The gym model is so stale and boring that its almost an embarrassment to anybody who want to take seriously there fitness , something to which the impact of running Sport Relief Challenge at the gym I train at this year told me more about the Industry as it is now then any Expo that I attend. You see I asked members to put their performance to the test at the gym they train at – baring in mind they have been training for many months or years in some cases, and the response in the overriding majority is that were just not interested – a casual glance and then a swift shake of the head and a move away in haste so as not to actually get pressured into taking part . As I walked the pathways of Elevate I could only relate to my experience of what impact all of what I was seeing today would actually make a change to the future of training in a gym, and I was reminded about the Bounce routines that I witnessed and the look of terror as I asked members of the gym I train at to take part in Sport Relief Challenge.
My experiences with those who I have asked about the current situation in gyms does not paint a picture that is particulary complimentary – a business model that is aiming towards performance , yet has no evidence to suggest performance is something that the gym takes seriously enough.
What is even more damaging to the industry is that the current member does not really know how to train for anything other Body Building or muscular aesthetic appeal which caters for the image of how one person should look to be socially acceptable, all of which the industry was trying to avoid and shy away from after several disastrous advertising campaigns.
It seems we are now looking towards CrossFit to lead the way in performance related market that is backed up by those who attend CF classes and for those that enter events, because the very thought of something similar happening in gyms is still as far placed as the moon is to kick it as a football. Because that is what I took away from Elevate, what is a tired and lack lustre fitness industry for the member is a lucrative healthy balance sheet and somewhere along that equation with rising health issues nationally is a question that is not yet be asked – what exactly has the industry done in the last ten years , what is it aims for the next ten years and how on earth do we get that spark back into it for the member?