FIBO 2018 - a review from Sue

I’ve been to at least 10 FIBO conventions in the past 20 years.

What started primarily as a German trade show has grown into a huge convention that now rivals IHRSA (the US show in California each March) for its place as the preeminent global fitness show.

Many of the leading fitness equipment manufacturers have recognised how much more affordable it is to take customers to Cologne for a couple of days, rather than flying them to Vegas or San Francisco for a week. It seems that the tipping point has been reached in the last couple of years – there must have been over 500 UK delegates in Cologne last week.

UKACTIVE

Ukactive have helped to make FIBO a destination for the UK fitness sector. Whilst they don’t organise a formal ‘ukactive trip’ as they did to IHRSA for many years, their dinner on the Thursday night has grown to be a real highlight of the event and helps to unite UK delegates at this vast show. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the dinner since it was a small gathering for 30 UK delegates, to this year’s event which played host to over 200 of the key players in our sector.

I attended this year with Nas, our MD, who was returning for her second show and Leandra and Tom who were visiting FIBO for the first time. As I walked the entire show again this year it was interesting to see some of the changes that reflect changes in the industry.

GROUP EXERCISE

The group exercise hall felt less impactful this year – perhaps missing some of the bigger, noisier brands with their own stages in the past such as Zumba and Piloxing. The ‘Jump Fitness’ category seems as popular as ever; we counted at least 6 big stands with variations of rebounding / kanga boot classes. The popularity of shows like Ninja Warrior seem to have made an impact with free areas promoting assault course like challenges. Similarly, the growth in MMA was reflected in a dedicated area which we’d not seen before. ‘Functional balancing’ be it on slack wires, paddle boards or balance boards was popular and something that we also saw in the other halls.

A class that stands out in its simplicity, but seems very popular with attendees, is POUND. It was also very professionally marketed last year so I’m a little surprised it’s not really taken off in the UK.

NUTRITION

Nutritionally across the show there were more vegan and healthy eating brands on display this year, but the power halls were still dominated by massive protein and supplements stands. How they manage to distinguish themselves in a room full of companies selling the same products is hard to tell. The use of extraordinary male and female bodybuilders to attract customers continues and always makes Hall 10 an eye-opening experience.

CARDIO, STRENGTH AND FUNCTIONAL

It felt like we spent most of our time walking between Halls 6 and 9 where the majority of our clients, new business and media meetings took place. It was great to introduce so many of the UK trade media to our new clients Dyaco, who were previewing products from Johnny G, UFC and Spirit. Johnny G himself was at the show, launching his first bike in xxx years and talking about the exciting plans with Dyaco in the months ahead.

We lost count of the number of group cycling sessions we saw taking place on stands in Halls 6, 7 and 9, with many new products and brands being launched. Clearly group cycling as an exercise format continues to thrive and develop.

The whole area of functional fitness keeps growing too. It was wonderful to catch up with our friends at TRX and meet distributors from across the world who had travelled to FIBO to learn more about the brand’s exciting plans for the future.

It was evident as you walked the show that every manufacturer now offers some kind of ‘rig’ for suspension training, whether it’s something they have made or a brand they have acquired.

For the big names in fitness, it’s no longer about traditional CV and resistance equipment – most were shouting about functional kit and programming to keep up with consumer demand. Where Woodway led the way with The Curve, it seems everyone now boasts a ‘non-motorised’ treadmill controlled by the user’s pace to meet the requirements of the CrossFit and HIIT communities.

TECHNOLOGY

As you would imagine, there was plenty of tech on display at the show. Apps and websites for consumers to access home workouts were plentiful, with many new companies offering analysis of body composition and using technology to analyse form during exercise and or to motivate and engage through competitions and gamification.

One of our favourites was the D Wall line from Technobody.

It was surprising to see some of the major fitness companies still launching and pushing their own dedicated technologies for clubs and users rather than using open systems or linking into already hugely powerful and successful fitness apps and social technologies.

RETAIL

As always there was a vast amount of fitness clothing and footwear on display with a great runway staging some very impressive catwalks with many major brands. We were proudly sporting our new Tikiboo leggings and generated lots of positive comments.

NEW PRODUCTS

FIBO is a great place to launch new products – a captive audience of enthusiastic fitness fans and operators keen to be the first to know what’s coming later in the year.

One of our absolute favourite products was Theragun… in fact we all loved it so much we’ve brought one home to use in the Promote PR office.

My colleagues Tom and Leandra

“Our first experience of FIBO was incredibly memorable. The scale of the event was amazing to see – so much that we managed to clock up over 25km of walking distance across the two days that we were there.

While it is difficult for brands to continue to innovate in the fitness space, what really caught our eye was the amount of ‘smart’ gym flooring that was on show. With gym users continually looking for an interactive and personalised fitness experience, this is something we expect to see rise in popularity. We particularly liked Reaxing Reax Lights and Prama Gym Flooring Solutions

We were also impressed with the body mapping mirrors and technology - Solos Mirrors, an interactive mirror for sports guides you via the built in camera and pinpoints and maps your exact frame to highlight where you need to adjust and keep in line. Working out on your own can often be a daunting task but Solos Mirrors makes physically activity much more accessible to everyone.

When we arrived at the show we decided our first port of call should be the Power section in Hall 10. It was incredibly busy but had a fantastic atmosphere with music, show stopping bodybuilders and hundreds of nutrition brands to sample.

Some of the stand out products included fluffy egg whites Pumperlgsund and Nocco who had top influencer Sophie Aris on the stand meeting fans and attendees at the show.

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