Top 4 Takeaways from IHRSA 2021

It’s hard to believe it has already been a week since we returned from the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show! Not only was the conference an exciting time for our team to showcase Upper Hand and what we’ve been working on the past few months, but it was also a great opportunity to experience the industry’s digital transformation and revival.

We learned so much from industry vendors, gym owners, and trainers who visited our booth, and got some great feedback to take to our product team. We also enjoyed engaging with other industry businesses to gain a deeper understanding of what’s to come.

And of course we had a lot of fun along the way.

We just can’t stop talking about our time in Dallas, so we’ve put together a list of our top takeaways and what they mean for your business.


Takeaway #1: Get on board with data.

From software to equipment, a common theme across nearly every vendor at IHRSA was data, and more specifically, how you can use data to prove the value of your offerings.

Equipment companies have found ways to collect user data to help athletes achieve peak performance and showcase progression over time. Woodway treadmills, for example, measure distance, velocity, force, and power, and give instant feedback during training and testing. Similarly, we noticed many “smart” strength training equipment options that incorporate user data to dynamically adjust weight and resistance between sets and reps.

Even recovery companies were harnessing the power of data to improve user experience. Hyperice and Therabody, for example, are able to provide customized recovery recommendations based on areas of soreness or fatigue.

On the software side, our team was extremely excited to showcase Membership Analytics and data-driven reporting features that help club owners and operators improve their member experience as well as grow their business.

What this means for your business

To put it simply, data is the future of the industry. And it’s already here. Whether you’re looking for new training equipment to add to your facility, or you are interested in recovery tools, take advantage of how you can use the data this equipment collects to enhance your training sessions.Similarly, you should be leveraging data on the back-end side of your business. From athlete progression tracking to analyzing client behavior and information, you can better understand your business, plan for growth, and showcase the value of your offerings to your clients.



Takeaway #2: Promote the importance of recovery.

This year’s IHRSA trade show not only showcased innovative ways to achieve peak performance, but it also emphasized the importance of recovery and well-being. Our team notices a large presence of recovery companies exhibiting this year.

Recovery has always been an important part of training and exercise. Without it, an athlete’s body can never properly prepare for the next training session, and can have a greater risk of injury.

This past year, however, has stressed the importance of physical and mental well-being, both inside and outside of fitness. Many companies have found solutions to aid in recovery in a way that not only promotes a healthy body, but also a healthy mind.


What this means for your business

From customizable massage gun programs to red light therapy, expect to see technology vastly enhance how athletes recover. While your primary focus is on performance, you can also find innovative ways to promote recovery amongst your athletes. Consider investing in a recovery tool, or sending athletes home with a stretching or recovery protocol so that the next time they show up to train, they are able to push their bodies to the next level.


Takeaway #3: Cleanliness matters.

Something we all had to be reminded of this past year was to wash our hands. Even as facilities and gyms open up, reach full capacity, and rebound to levels of activity similar to that of our pre-pandemic world, cleanliness is still just as, if not more, important to clients. While this seems like a no-brainer, a clean facility is a non-negotiable.

But, beyond physical cleanliness, what was also apparent to our team throughout our time at IHRSA was the aesthetics of equipment and software that promote a positive user interface and experience. Many companies have not only considered the functionality of their equipment, but also how that machine integrates into a home gym or a traditional facility.


What this means for your business

It’s important to maintain a clean facility and devote proper time and attention to keeping your equipment in good condition. This will ensure your clients and athletes have positive experiences that keep them coming back. Also take a look at the equipment and software that you use to run your business. Think about the clients you want to attract to your business. What are your clients’ experiences interacting with your business? Does your facility and software look “clean” and promote a positive user experience?

Takeaway #4: The fitness industry is here to stay.

Despite being completely knocked to the ground by the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has shown grit and tenacity to rebound stronger than before. This was extremely prevalent throughout IHRSA 2021. After a year of video conferencing, Zoom calls, and digital connectivity, people are ready to be back in person. While digital fitness will remain a large part of the overall fitness experience, athletes crave the energy and human connection that you, as a business owner, can provide.


See why studios, gyms, and academies trust Upper Hand to deliver a premium client experience. Schedule a demo today.