Fireworks mark FIBO's 25th anniversary

Raymond Kelly on how FIBO 2010 was a success despite the ash cloud

Raymond Kelly
Raymond Kelly
Proxowell's Core Circuit machine bagged a FIBO Innovation Award for its focus on stabilising core muscles.
Proxowell's Core Circuit machine bagged a FIBO Innovation Award for its focus on stabilising core muscles.

Raymond Sport managing director Raymond Kelly explains how FIBO 2010 emerged from the shadows of Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud to achieve record attendance at its biggest event yet

The fireworks originated in Iceland with the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano on April 14.

But as the opening of Essen-based FIBO approached on April 22, the majority of airports across Europe remained closed with hundreds of thousands of travellers affected. Disaster loomed large for the FIBO conference delegates, the manufacturers, their product specialists and the marketing teams for whom this major fitness industry trade show is the highlight of the year. FIBO could be a make or break opportunity for some businesses, a must attend for industry events, or even simply entertainment for consumers on the weekend — whatever the individual drivers, for the first time in 25 years it was in jeopardy.

But the fitness industry is all about making things happen. There was no better example of this than, when it looked like flights were not going to resume anytime soon, fleets of cars crammed full of marketing literature, product samples and sweaty bodies headed to Germany, taking over ferries and trains with the aim of ‘getting this show on the road’.

As it was, much of European airspace opened 24 hours before the show started and the watchword is that FIBO was a resounding success with record attendance. Just don’t tell that to the exhibitors who could neither get their products there nor themselves. Every cloud has a silver lining they say and the silver lining for the European-based manufacturers was that American and Asian manufacturers struggled to overcome the logistical nightmare imposed by the volcano and simply did not show up.

That record attendance of more than 53,000 over the four-day extravaganza was up 5% on the 2009 number. The fact that 560 exhibitors made it despite the now famous ash cloud is a testament to the resilience of the fitness and health market. Fitness is a young industry — less than 35 years old — but now coming into its own in the mainstream.

So to the show then, what was hot and what was not at FIBO?

This year, the after-show buzz was the apparent long-overdue embrace between the fitness industry and the health industry or more accurately, the injury rehabilitation industry. You would think that they were a natural fit, and they are, it’s just that market forces have conspired in the past to present them separately. Many exhibitors have reported that up to 20% of their show visitors were from the mainstream health and rehabilitation sector. If this is a trend then long may it continue, it brings much needed peer respectability to fitness and opens new markets.

THE INNOVATORS

A good measure of the success of any venture is sales. FIBO is not a selling show but sales that result from a launch at FIBO often determine the future course of a business. The event also has a neat history of calling the trends through its Innovation Awards Scheme.

The nominees at the FIBO Innovation Awards, which count PowerPlate as one of their previous winners, help us to gauge the future direction of the fitness industry. Nine products were nominated this year and the winners were chosen by an independent jury of experts. Here’s the low-down on the winners:

Proxowell’s Core Circuit product line focuses on torso and leg muscle stabilisation. This is made possible by seat construction which enables a half-sitting, half-standing training position. The benefits? Well, because the Core Circuit essentially manages without the otherwise common back padding or passive stabilisation supports, it’s less expensive to make and these savings are passed on to the customer, right? No, wrong — as a result of the half-sitting, half-standing training position the focus is on stabilising the core muscles throughout the weight training session, not just before exertion.

The guys at Aipermon had an obvious winner, the AiperSunny. It’s worn on the hip and uses high-tech sensors to measure and calculate the daily movement and calorie burn of the wearer, and one click sends the data to the web server for analysis.

No FIBO would be complete without a visit to the ‘wild side’. WildeSeile (Wild Ropes) is a training programme that recognises the effort and the core stability required to shake a rope! The resistance is easily adjustable by altering the length and thickness of the ropes. The longer the rope, the more difficult it is to generate a continuous wave and get the rope up off the ground along its complete length. The thicker the rope, the more difficult it is to grip and hold the rope. You get the idea. What can I say except, the model demonstrating said “wild ropes” was a knockout!

Raymond Kelly manages Raymond Sport. He is contactable at raymond.kelly@raymondsport.com

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