FitNation 2021 - Highlights and Key Learnings

By Nan de Bruin

Published 26 November 2021

At the third edition of the annual B2B fitness event, FitNation 2021, fitness entrepreneurs, operators, and trainers came together to listen to peers, worldwide brands and influencers. The goal is to get inspired and learn from each other to build a stronger and more innovative fitness industry. This year’s edition was hosted from the state-of-the-art studio in Amsterdam for attendees from 31 countries worldwide.

“It’s vital to keep learning and keep going.”
– Hugo Braam, CEO Virtuagym

The FitNation line-up had a host of leading industry brands including CLMBR, Active Wellness, ClassPass, Workout Anytime, WIFA and Prime Time Fitness and of course Virtuagym. It also welcomed prominent fitness influencers such as Emma Barry, Matthew Januszek and Stephanie Elswood

Attendees of FitNation have received the recording of all the sessions. In this blog, we will take a look at the highlights and key learnings from the event.

Key learnings from global fitness brands and influencers

We heard many different perspectives at FitNation, from data utilization to the power of technology and the importance of personalization. These recurring themes are central to the continued growth and development of the fitness industry worldwide. Let’s take a look at a few highlights from the speakers at FitNation 2021.

Fit Tech for the Future

The importance of fitness technology endures, although its position within the hybrid model is changing. Spurred on by the pandemic and lockdowns, online fitness initially took center stage. Now that gyms have reopened, the role of technology has shifted, but not become any less important.

The future of fitness is about bringing together physical and digital into one seamless experience. Customers have grown accustomed to the freedom and flexibility digital fitness offers them at home and outside. But they do still put importance on the social aspects of in-facility fitness and a sense of community.

“Home fitness does not replace in-club fitness in the same way restaurants are not replaced by take-out.”
 – Henrik Gockel, Prime Time Fitness

Fitness technology will not replace physical, in-facility experiences, but will serve to enrich the clients’ overall fitness journey. In this presentation, Man vs Tech: What’s Next in a Changing World?, Bryan O’Rourke walked his audience through the different aspects of tech that have been, are, and will impact the fitness industry.

He argues that one of the factors of change in fit tech is the global age shift, as the aging population not only more to spend financially and more time, but also has a growing need for health and fitness solutions.

“Great technology amplifies the value of what is human.”

 – Brian O’Rourke

Personalization & Localization

In a globalized world, personalization and localization are more important than ever before. Customers are looking for authentic experiences that fit their wants, needs and lifestyle. Han Walet of Snap Fitness spoke about the pillars of success for localizing a global brand. Central to this is not only differentiating per country, but per region, and even city.

For this highly localized and community-driven approach, you need to research and understand your market. And ultimately, it’s key to offer what the market wants at a price point that fits. Whether it’s about group lessons, circuit training, spinning or outdoor boot camps, homework-outs, you name it.

It is critical not to get stuck on stereotypes of what fitness should be.

“All fitness is valid fitness.”

– Han Walet, Snap Fitness

And whether you are focussing on online or in-facility fitness, Fitness Influencer Stephanie Elswood shared how important it is to build and maintain your online community. It is one of the many ways that technology can support and expand the personalized approach that the modern fitness consumer is looking for.

The Power of Data

After a period of supercharged digitization, as we have seen in the fitness industry, it might not come as a surprise there is room for improvement in how we utilize the data that is aggregated. Through wearables, apps and smart fitness equipment, trainers have unprecedented access to the details of a client’s workout and health.

Wearables are becoming almost as ubiquitous in fitness and the treadmill is in the gym. Greg Maurer, Vice President of Fitness and Education at Workout Anytime sees fitness trackers as pivotal in enabling fitness trainers to make the best fitting personalized plans for their customers.

Data is the new currency — the more you have, the more you can specialize, personalize and optimize your business and the experiences that you offer. However, as Henrik Gockel, Patrick Baumann and Serge Reit of Prime Time Fitness pointed out, on average, companies only use 12% of all data aggregated to support their business decision-making.

In their panel discussion, they underpinned how important data connectivity is to build the best possible customer journey. This goes to show how much there is still to win for the whole fitness industry when it comes to optimally utilizing data. As Bryan O’Rourke said:

“The future looks bright, but it’s going to change.”

Join us at FitNation Next Time

Ready to keep learning? Sign up now and be the first in the know about the next edition of FitNation 2022.

Does that still feel too far away? Join the bi-weekly live podcast and learn from top fitness operators and entrepreneurs who share their invaluable insights. FitNation is a platform for fitness professionals – gym & studio owners, personal trainers and entrepreneurs. Learn more here!

Nan de Bruin

Visual storyteller and winter sports enthusiast


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