By Dave Alstead, Head of Member Experience, ukactive

This year saw my sixth visit to the FIBO trade show in Cologne, but my first as part of Team ukactive – in my new role as Head of Member Experience. One of my key focus areas is to work closely with the team to improve the value seen by each and every member of ukactive.

I want to take every chance to understand the challenges faced by – and successes seen from – our members across the sector. FIBO 2019 presented a great opportunity to engage with many of our current partners and from both an operator’s and supplier’s perspective.

The trip very nearly didn’t happen for me – flying from Manchester Airport, I had to contest with a lorry in flames on the M60, a broken ANPR at the airport carpark then the school half-term rush through security, but just managed to board with a few minutes to spare. Thankfully the journey managed to bag me a few MEPs!

Our goal at ukactive is to support the growth of the sector, at the same time raising the value of physical activity and ensuring that tackling inactivity is seen as a key priority to improve the health of the nation.

One way we are addressing this challenge is by seeking out innovation that supports our collective goal to improve the health of the nation by encouraging more people to be more active, more often.

For me, this year ranks highest in terms of innovation in the sector. It’s such an exciting time to be involved in this industry.

FIBO showcased the development and integration of VR and AR; 3D body scanning and measuring of key metrics to provide users not only with greater awareness of health indicators but the motivation and virtual coaching to increase activity levels; suppliers using tech to increase the inclusivity and accessibility of physical activity; and the total escapism of fully immersive VR that allows you to row across the Atlantic or trek through the rainforest.  

My top 5 FIBO highlights

  1. miha bodytec ems
    I had a 12-minute session led by an EMS specialist personal trainer – the feeling during was different, although my workout was predominantly isometric, I certainly felt as though I had worked out! And definitely felt it on days two and three!
  2. Myzone 
    What I find really exciting for the industry is the number of collaborations, with the key objective to improve member/consumer experience. Along with collecting some serious MEPs (and covering 26km on foot) during the show, it was great to see how many other suppliers have integrated MyZone or supported the inclusion of this solution within their recommendations.
  3. Shapewatch
    As a member of the new ActiveLab 2019 cohort, it was exciting to see the level of interest in the Shapewatch 3D body scanning is a great way to monitor and measure progress towards your goals. The quick, non-invasive 360-degree body scanning makes it super accessible and the integration of AI technology meant I was later able to take a photo of my avatar on the steps of Cologne cathedral!
  4. BlazePod
    Another member of the ActiveLab cohort, I’m confident that BlazePod is set to gain some serious traction in the UK market this year. I caught up with the team on the stand and there has already been real interest and trials across some major UK operators. BlazePod’s uniquely designed lighting pods create visual cues and prompts to enhance your workouts, challenge your speed, agility, reaction times and other fitness elements. As the devices are portable, I can foresee some imaginative ways of fitness professionals utilizing this as a solution both in clubs and as part of outdoor activities.
  5. Les Mills
    Now a part of FIBO tradition for me, I was lucky enough to attend this year’s Fit Business Live, opened by Bryce Hastings, Head of Research for Les Mills International, followed by a keynote from new CEO Clive Ormerod.These sessions always provide some fresh insight into the industry, and the power of Group Exercise on member acquisition and retention in any fitness business.

The ukactive team also had the pleasure of welcoming more than 230 members and guests to the ukactive FIBO Dinner – this year featuring a boat cruise aboard MS Loreley on the Rhine.

The cruise provided a relaxed environment to network and reflect on the experiences of the day (a huge well done to Georgie Poole and Isabelle Wolridge for delivering such a memorable event).

As we move forward, we’re looking to capture details of the value that our members see from us and any areas where we can increase our engagement across the sector.

As such, we will be reaching out to all members with a comprehensive survey that we hope will capture the insight necessary to further develop our membership offer.

We hope to share the results of the members’ survey and speak about the latest developments with you all at Active Uprising, which for the second year running, will be held in my home city, Manchester, on 6 June.

I hope to see you there as we aim to continue our mission to unite the movement of an active nation. For more information on Active Uprising and the ukactive Awards click here.