Ellen's Blog

Takeaways from the World’s Largest Fitness Forum

Last month I joined more than 10,000 of my colleagues in the fitness industry at IHRSA’s 35th Annual International Convention & Trade Show in Orlando, Fla. It’s a fast-paced, mind-stretching week packed with inspiring speakers, industry news, amazing products and friendships developed over a lifetime in this business.

So what’s new? Here are my top 7 takeaways from IHRSA 2016.

  1. The fitness industry is BIGGER than ever. It’s a booming business. There’s something for everyone – from low cost gyms, for people looking for a room full of equipment, to boutique studios offering specialized workouts – yoga for flexibility, Pilates for postural muscle strength and, of course, Orangetheory Fitness for metabolic, fat-burning work.
  2. Technology is king. Technology is changing the way we work out. When it comes to heart rate training, Orangetheory Fitness is the leader, and has been for the past six years.
  3. Results-based Fitness. We live in an over-scheduled, over-stimulated world. People want results in the shortest period of time. That means specialized workouts
  4. Cardio and strength equipment is improving. Functional fitness is where it’s at – exercise that trains the whole body. Soon, stationary strength training equipment that targets only one muscle group will be a thing of the past.
  5. Boot camps are out. Instructor-based training – where good enough is never enough – isn’t working for most clients. Smart, client-based teaching – where your best is good enough – is replacing this group format.
  6. Science-based fitness is where it’s at. Clients want to know why they’re doing what they’re doing. And, they want proof of the promised results.
  7. Group fitness is here to stay. The advantages are almost too many to count. It’s motivating, creates accountability and creates camaraderie.

On a personal note, I walked away from this year’s conference deeply moved and reminded that we all have the power to make a difference. For 11 years, the industry has stood behind Life Fitness co-founder Augie Nieto and ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease. Augie was diagnosed with ALS in 2005, and his fundraising effort to find a cure – Augie’s Quest – has raised more than $45 million to date. A dear friend of mine in the industry passed away from this disease so it is a cause dear to my heart.

Just before this year’s Augie’s Quest bash on the closing night of the convention, I received a message from Augie, who can only communicate typing a message on a computer screen using his big toe. It read, “Ellen, you have inspired so many people with words & actions.”


It was one of the better moments of my life.

Talk soon,

– Ellen Latham

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