By Josh Leve, AFS Founder & CEO

The annual Convention & Trade Show of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) was held March 21-24 in San Diego.

From the AFS corporate perspective, we held over 30 meetings with a wide variety of fitness industry leaders including major equipment suppliers, new-wave technology firms, certifying organizations, influential trainers, and leading studio operators.

It was great, as always, to connect with AFS Advisory Council members, including Rick Mayo, Frank Nash, Shannon Fable, Hans Muench, Tony Berlant, Jennifer Urmston Lowe, Kerri O’Brien, Petra Robinson, and Kevin Steele – great industry leaders one and all and we’re honored to have them part of the AFS team.

As always, IHRSA was also a great learning experience and it’s great to meet with industry colleagues and have the opportunity to see what’s new. I was honored to participate in a panel discussion on “green” technology, sponsored by AFS supporter SportsArt.

Not unexpectedly, technology stole the show on four levels:

First, there was an explosion of technology companies offering club and studio management solutions through advanced applications;

Second, there was an equally impressive number of new companies offering streaming and virtual classes and trainer engagement tools;

Third, there was an abundance of firms utilizing heart rate technology, with wearables, trackables, and monitoring capability; and

Fourth, major traditional equipment suppliers have also embraced technology, incorporating a variety of treatments into treadmills, elliptical machines, and bikes, as well as new product launches.

While the trend of technology’s application to the fitness industry continues unabated, there is a certain element of “buyer beware” out there as many of the new entrants to the field are exactly that – new, somewhat untested, and not necessarily guaranteed to be here tomorrow. The astute operator will know exactly what he or she needs from technology and will have done the appropriate due diligence before moving forward.

From the more traditional equipment standpoint, functional continues to strengthen its foothold while the “smaller footprint” trend also has influenced offerings from a wide variety of suppliers.

Augie’s BASH, the annual fundraiser now in its 13th year, dedicated to finding treatments and cures for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) was a huge success, raising $6,068,273 in just one night! Much of the tally was due to a more than $4,000,000 raise in just three weeks by OrangeTheory.

Augie’s Quest, the parent company to Augie’s BASH, was founded by Augie and Lynne Nieto after Augie was diagnosed with ALS in 2005. He is a legendary fitness industry icon, and former CEO of Life Fitness.

Josh Leve is the Founder & CEO of the Association of Fitness Studios (AFS). AFS’ mission is to provide studio owners and entrepreneurial fitness professionals with the platform to effectively start, manage, and grow their businesses. With over 60 industry partnerships – Josh’s success with AFS has translated into being featured in all major fitness publications and is also a featured speaker for events such as Club Industry, NSCA, NASM, Athletic Business, EMPOWER!, and more.