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Reflecting on IHRSA 2021

by Bill Davis, President and CEO, ABC Fitness Solutions

IHRSA 2021 Takeaways

My journey into the fitness industry started in February of 2019 when I joined ABC. At that time Peloton was still a private company, Vista Equity Partners had just acquired MINDBODY for $1.8B, and Cycle Bar, OrangeTheory and Anytime Fitness had their eyes set on international expansion. The energy in the industry was palpable – something I physically experienced at IHRSA that year in San Diego – and I was thrilled to be part of it all. It goes without saying that my ‘endorphin high’ was shorter than expected. 2020 proved to be a year like no other.

Last month IHRSA brought us all back together in Dallas, Texas to celebrate the industry’s revival and their 40th anniversary. While the event did not have the same attendance as it did in 2019, it was a strong showing and a statement. The fitness industry is resilient, people like to work out together and in person, and technology can be a key differentiator for those who effectively leverage it. With that I would like to recap my top moments, experiences and takeaways from IHRSA 2021.

My Top Moments from IHRSA

  • The ABC team unveiled our highly anticipated ‘next generation’ gym management solution and received rave reviews. The new platform, ABC IGNITE, aims to redefine how fitness operators and members interact with technology to reach their respective goals, and simplify the business of fitness. Featuring tight integrations and open architecture, our 6 modules, Sales, Membership, Engagement, Operation, Commerce and Insights, address all the jobs that must be done in your club. I could not be prouder of our team and appreciate everyone who stopped by the ABC booth for a demo.


  • Quality Conversations: Attendance and the attendees at IHRSA exceeded my expectations. From owners and operators to fitness professionals everyone was excited to be back and actively engaged in meaningful dialogue about the industry and how we can move forward together. The future of fitness is bright; we have a lot of smart, talented, and committed professionals leading us into 2022 and beyond.
  • Club Executive Leadership Panel: This was one of the most interesting sessions I attended. The panel featured Chris Rondeau, CEO, Planet Fitness, Chuck Runyon, CEO & Co-founder, Self Esteem Brands and Greta Wagner, Executive Director, Chelsea Piers Connecticut, and was moderated by Brent Darden, Chair, REX Roundtables for Executives. Their optimism and insights were incredibly powerful, as was their call for collective action to move the industry forward. Leadership like this gives me tremendous confidence in the industry as a whole.
  • Keynote Introduction: I had the opportunity to introduce Diana Kanter’s keynote address. Her discussion on being genuinely curious with your customers is highly relevant and timely for the fitness industry. If you need a little inspiration, I highly recommend her book, The Curiosity Muscle. The book is full of great questions and practices. At ABC we shared The Curiosity Muscle with our entire senior leadership team.
  • Innovation: Walking the exhibitor floor is something I enjoy doing at tradeshows, there are always a lot of great vendors and new products to see. This year Technogym, Therabody and our partner, MXM, deserve special recognition. Technogym’s evolution of connected cardio equipment continued to impress. They make quality equipment and their mobile and wearable integrations have come a long way. Recovery continues to gain traction in fitness and few do it better than Therabody. Their new RecoveryAir line is impressive! I am interested to see how gyms integrate recovery tools and programming into their service offerings in the coming months and years. MXM gathers member feedback and sentiment continuously and automatically, and they are continuously evolving their technology. Now more the ever it is critical for gyms to have a pulse on member sentiment and engagement.

Obviously, there were many more great moments at IHRSA 2021. What did you enjoy most from the event? If there is a standout person, brand, or moment you would like to share I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. I will see you at IHRSA 2022!