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Dear Colleagues,

In March 2020 FISA North America turned twenty years old, and almost to the day, we found ourselves smack dab at the beginning of a Global Pandemic. As I write this, we appear to be coming out of those trying times for our business and for the country. Emotions are running high. Relief, elation, optimism, sadness, residual fears and still, real rage. Engulfed by climate, economic and otherwise, our business is resetting in ways we never imagined. We have thrived during and in the aftermath of difficult economic circumstances in the past. The years 2008-2010 come to mind. Through resolve and readjustment, we’re going to do it again. With vigor!

As hard as we can be on ourselves, let’s not forget that our customers want us, need us and they look to us for guidance, market intelligence and support at the ground level. As they adjust and evolve we are evolving  right along with them. Still we are faced with more questions than answers, and many more uncertainties than this brief letter can pose or answer. As we move ahead, let’s agree that there’s a reasonable approach everyone can take, even with speculation rampant.

KEEP YOUR VALUES CONSTANT AND YOUR ACTIONS FLUID.

New opportunities will emerge because no one knows how many clubs and what type of clubs will survive and what will they look like when they do? There will be holes in the market to fill. Where? Will consumer migration to the home setting recede, level off or increase? Consumer perception about “shared spaces” is changing…and not just in fitness facilities. Their expectations have also been altered by the deployment of new technologies. It will continue and evolve. But how?

For now, conjecture still dominates our conversations. I don’t have answers, but after much contact across the fitness industry, with our Board of Directors, our members, health club owners and operators, non-profit executives, and numerous players from outside our industry, this much can be said. The upsurge of energy will be contagious. Constraints will end. Everything will be in motion. The lid will be off. The clock of history in our business has been reset and we will thrive again. Think of it. A whole industry’s aims no longer addicted to the past.

We’re going to look back with amazement, not just that we lived through this, in our country, in our business, in our time, but as who we were and what we became. Examples? New use of outdoor spaces, new streaming services that allow clubs to offer blended service inside and outside their clubs. It’s going to be astonishing.

One owner of multiple clubs told me he recently closed a 35,000K foot facility that was losing money, relocated only the personal training component to a 3,000K square foot space just down the street and is now making a profit. You might call that thinking outside the box. I call it thinking with NO box at all.  So have at it. There’s plenty of independent thinking going on out there!

All this said, our Board of Directors and our members continue to believe our best role and our value is to offer a limited number of cooperative initiatives, doing them well. Examples include:

  • Publishing the Commercial Market Trend Report, an annual data collection effort that tracks the global sale of commercial fitness equipment by product line, unit and volume sales and dealers sales activity, and more. We own comparative data since 2000.
  • We offer three appointment-based VIP events: FISA East and FISA West, and ‘Doing Business with YMCAs’. Held at world-class resorts and hotels such as La Quinta Club & Resort, Four Seasons Palm Beach Resort & Club, Turnberry Isle Collection, The Loews Coronado Resort, and Omni Rancho Las Palmas, the format includes prearranged, one-on-one meetings, social and networking activities with owners and executives of regional health club chains, independent clubs, YMCAs, JCCs and hospital-based facilities. It’s a great value for all participants, making efficient use of everyone’s time. Where else can you meet 30-40 decision-makers in one place, over 2½ days?
  • ‘Doing Business with YMCAs’ provides a similar format to connect with programming executive staff from Large and mid-tier YMCA groups.

When you browse our membership directory, you’ll see the names of companies you recognize and expect to see….those with great products, great people and insights to help commercial customers thrive. Be assured that as a supplier or as a customer, no matter your size, your product or service, your input is welcome as a part of our long-term commitment to help meet the needs of our industry.

 

Sincerely,

David Dinerman
Director