If IHRSA 2023 taught us anything, it’s that product development is back on!
It’s three years now since the outbreak of COVID-19. In the technology sector, it was both a disrupter and a proponent of innovation at once. Manufacturing halted, leading to a lack of components for fitness hardware, but fitness organizations were driven by necessity to think differently about how they deliver services and how products can support remote fitness. This meant that, for many, ‘non-essential’ commercial delivery was halted while remote services took priority. But three years on, at IHRSA 2023, we witnessed a pretty impressive leap forward in terms of investment in innovation and the appetite for new development.
Connected strength training
It started with conversations around how to bring productivity into the strength training area so as to provide a 360-degree connected experience in the physical gym space. How do we start to measure performance using weights? How do we do it in the most purposeful way using the equipment and wearables? At IHRSA, we witnessed the implementation of digital weights and wearables that started to turn this idea from concept to reality.
AI as standard
We also saw that technologists have made room to adopt new technologies, particularly AI, with more companies using AI than in any prior year. Far from a future-facing technology, AI is now a part of the fundamental checklist of product delivery, with organizations now asking themselves, ‘How can AI make this better?’ In fact, it held its own spot in the roster, posing a panel discussion on ‘The State of AI and Predictive Analytics’ as ‘the way ahead in health and fitness’.
Health meets fitness
Another trend we witnessed was just that – a continued merging of health and fitness with, for the first time, a healthcare provider (OPTON) as the title sponsor of the conference. Insurance companies are particularly invested in the shift. With the cost of healthcare increasing so much, the concept of gym membership as a preventative measure has become popular, linking fitness to healthcare rewards. This means the implementation of health tracking by insurance companies like OPTON and Tivity in a bid to incentivize healthy behaviors.
For SweatWorks, this is a positive step towards our mission of ‘wellness for all’, using technology to deliver health improvements through fitness. We’re hyped to see that while the impact of COVID-19 is still there, as a sector we’re ready to get back in the game.
SweatWorks Huddle 2023
For the second year running, we held our ‘Superbowl’ of events at IHRSA. At the SweatWorks Huddle 2023, together with our partners FitTech Club and Prism Labs, we welcomed a selection of the top minds in the fitness technology sector, and opened up a collaborative dialogue about AI, investment in innovation, and the appetite and aptitude for new development. Check out our gallery from the event.