Leisure Industry Week (LIW) returned to the Birmingham NEC from 30 September to 2 October, providing a packed three days of networking, live demonstrations, educational seminars and new product launches from across the six core leisure sectors: Health & Fitness, Pool & Spa, Play, Eat & Drink, Leisure Facilities and Sport.
This year’s show welcomed over 80 new exhibitors and unveiled over 150 new products from across the sector. This included a number of big launches from the fitness industry, with a notable emphasis on the growing popularity of functional training and indoor cycling.
Amid a buzz of ambassadors, demonstrations and celebrity activity on-stand, Matrix Fitness launched a range of exciting products at the show. Dani King MBE was on the stand to officially launch the IC7 Indoor Cycle, with colour-coded training zones and highly accurate measurement of watt output. Meanwhile the Wigan Warriors helped launch the Magnum strength range, incorporating the Magnum Double Rack and Ziva Functional Trainer into their ‘Train like a Warrior’ session. Other ambassador appearances included England Rugby Union player Ben Morgan, and Marco Sorenson and Alex Albon of the Lotus F1 junior team.
Also in the area of cycling, Keiser showcased its new Bluetooth-enabled M3i Indoor Cycle, which allows user feedback to be wirelessly projected to a big screen from the on-board computer. Wattbike launched Power Cycling: Studio Edition – group cycling software that allows each member to train at the correct intensity based on their fitness level. And Star Trac showcased its Spinner NXT Black Belt, as well as its new air-driven Turbo Trainer.
The Stairmaster/Schwinn stand showcased Schwinn’s new AC Performance Plus bike with Carbon Blue technology. Meanwhile, Stairmaster cardio products the Gauntlet and FreeClimber were joined by the new TreadmillClimber and Air Fit.
Life Fitness launched a record number of products to the market, including PowerMill, FlexStrider, the Insignia Series of selectorised strength training products, and SYNRGY BlueSky, its first small group training system designed specifically for outdoor use.
Cybex launched the new Eagle NX, a 12-piece strength range showcased on-stand alongside Cybex’s Big Iron rack and lifting platform, Bravo functional trainer and 790T treadmill with enhanced speed and incline features.
SportsArt used LIW to present the Pinnacle, a cross-trainer that combines both linear and lateral motions, adjustable stride width, variable foot positions and unique handle settings. Users can simulate all forms of climb or short stride intervals.
On the Precor stand, visitors to LIW were the first in the UK to try the latest Experience Series treadmill, which incorporates a new motor drive system and an Active Status Light to alert facility staff of its operating condition.
Physical Company unveiled the Total Gym Elevate Line – a range of bodyweight resistance, single-station machines – as well as the SandRope from Hyperwear, which acts like a battle rope but features sand inside that moves freely to further challenge the user.
Gladstone Health & Leisure launched the latest version of its smartphone app, MobilePro, which allows customers to book activities on the move. It also showcased eyeQ, its new analysis and business intelligence tool.
Also in the technology field, Pulse Fitness launched a range of connectivity solutions, including a web and mobile app initiative to monitor members’ fitness, with the new SmartCentre.com allowing members access to view, track and update this data any time, anywhere.
And Performance Health Systems showcased its latest Power Plate products and new integrated fitness concept, which combines the use of Power Plate with ViPR, kettlebells and TRX Suspension Training.
The show floor was busier than ever this year, with over 120 live demonstrations and the LIW Early Morning Workouts, which took place on exhibitor stands: TRX, Jekajo Dance, Power Plate, Cybex, Star Trac, Pavigym, Life Fitness, FitPro, Octane Fitness, Wattbike and Matrix.
Highlights in the Star Trac CPD Masterclass Arena included a number of Star Trac Spinning workouts led by international Spinning instructor Sandro Morelli. From ‘James Bond 007’ – an action-packed ride – to ‘The Pulse’, an aerobic interval training session, there was a workout to suit any training mood.
The Tabata Group Exercise Arena introduced the new Tabata Body and Tabata Cycle workouts, powered by ICG. Meanwhile the FitPro Functional Zone saw Dan McDonough, TRX senior manager of group training and development, across from the States to run a range of workouts including TRX Group Rip Performance, a high intensity, time-based group training session. ViPR was also in action with ViPR Athletic, a metabolic conditioning class that trains the body as a whole in an explosive fitness workout.
The Outdoor Area of this year’s LIW saw a range of demonstrations and displays from Parkour Generations, which was at the show to launch MOV’, its new range of Parkour-based group exercise programmes.
The LIW Live Stage played host to demonstrations from Piloxing, Clubbercise, CobraFit, UniKurve, Wild Training Systems and D2F battle ropes. And Matrix Fitness was celebrating Women in Sport, supporting the Women’s Sport Trust with LIW Live Stage presentations from Sally Gunnell OBE, Dani King MBE and the Matrix Fitness Vulpine cycling team.
The STA hosted the Swim Zone for the second year running at the show, and this time the pool was a central feature on the show floor. Demonstrations included a synchronised swimming display from Zoe Cooper, former British Champion and star of Britain’s Got Talent and ITV’s Splash, performing her pool solo routine.
This year’s Leisure Industry Week included 252 free education sessions. New to 2014, the programme took a ‘silent disco’ approach, with delegate headphones ensuring talks were uninterrupted by the show floor activity.
The Life Fitness Keynote theatre hosted a range of interesting discussions, including presentations by ukactive CEO David Stalker, who provided an overview of the current levels of physical inactivity in England. Stalker presented key trends for the sector and put forward recommendations on how we can turn the tide of inactivity, highlighting the importance of activity being at the heart of the community, as well as the need to look at collaborative data and statistics to show what exercise can offer.
Complementing this, IHRSA European director Hans Muench used his educational session to outline what’s hot internationally, and why. Key points included improving sales processes, focusing on supplementary spend, identifying new target groups, and differentiating through technology.
Luke Lancaster, aged just 18 and CEO of Young Pioneers, presented three keynotes sessions, revealing the learnings from Young Pioneers’ award-winning YP Be Healthy Programme, which has used young mentors to engage over 7,500 young people into healthier lifestyles.
The Thursday of LIW – this year named Independents’ Day – provided an educational programme geared towards the topics relevant to independent operators. The keynote was delivered by Thomas Plummer, a fitness business guru with 30 years’ experience in the sector who’s renowned in the US for coaching independent operators to success. Plummer talked about how to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive market, and how to embrace new ways to do business.
The REPs National Convention on the Wednesday and Thursday of the show was headlined by Olympians such as Louise Hazel, Olympic heptathlete and REPs ambassador. Fresh from her Glasgow 2014 commitments, Hazel delivered a session on how her life as an elite athlete has influenced her career as a personal trainer.
Hazel was followed by Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith, who was joined by her KBT Education colleague and coach, Sam Dovey, to present a workshop discussing the essential factors to consider when developing a programme to ensure athletes peak at the right time for competition.
This year’s programme reflected visitor feedback about the importance of networking opportunities at the show. For the first time, visitors and exhibitors were able to pre-schedule show floor meetings through LIW Connections.
The highlight of the Tuesday evening was the Members’ Choice Health Club Awards, with a black tie dinner and awards ceremony taking place at the National Motorcycle Museum (see p74).
Wednesday saw the return of the ukactive VIP Programme and after-show drinks reception, which was followed by the LIW drinks reception at the Hilton Metropole.
On the future of LIW, event director James Samuel comments: “The independent research jointly commissioned by ukactive and LIW ahead of the show provided some great insight into what the industry places importance on when looking at an event, and in particular LIW.
“It was clear that as an event, LIW has health, activity and wellbeing at its heart, and this must be a focus moving forward. There’s an exciting opportunity for the industry to evolve the show into what it wants and needs, and this year’s show included a dedicated Evolution Hub, where attendees had a chance to share their thoughts and suggestions for the future direction of the event.
Samuel continues: “We want to continue to reach out to new audiences with market-leading products, high quality educational content and networking opportunities.”