A day at FIBO – Where fitness is religion

I spent an awesome day at FIBO 2016 in Köln, the biggest fitness fair in the world.  FIBO is an incredible opportunity to get the latest info, news, products, marketing tips in the fitness industry. This fair is huuuuuuuuge. One day is just enough to get a little gist of the massive effort the organizers have put into this beautiful event.

Here are a few things I bring back from this amazing day that I got to spend with some new fantastic friends:

  • Style matters. We got to see 4 or 5 pavilions during the day. You know, in fitness, bodybuilding or lifting, there hasn’t been huge innovation in terms of training machines. If you watch some of Arnold’s videos from the 70s you’ll see that the machines in those videos are quite the same as you see in a regular gym now. But now people want style. We entered the machines and weights pavilion (can’t remember the official name) and I noticed how most people gathered around an Italian brand with super cool and flashy weights, bars, dumbells etc…I hardly believe lifting green, cherry or flashy pink disques instead of the regular black ones will affect your gains. Nevertheless, I admit that entering a colourful gym gives you a different taste, a different feeling. It might have something to do with cromotherapy but now, gyms and providers have to face this challenge. People want to be surrounded by beauty and style. Especially in that place where we look for peace, tranquillity and the possibility to toss a tough day at the office behind.
  • There’s always a new kid on the block…Goodness me. In 12 years of lifting I maybe used 3-4 supplement brands believing that kind of covered the whole market. Well, I was sooooo wrong. There’s a thousand brands out there, all endorsed by famous athletes and fitness figures. Even major brands can’t rest on their lorrels both in terms of product quality and marketing. I think it is positive to experiment with different brands and competition among brands is beneficial for the final user. To fitness enthusiasts my advice is to keep studying. Look at the different composition of each supplement brand and see the effect on you.
  • Fitness communication is mostly about lifestyle. As I discussed in previous posts, fitness is very much a matter of lifestyle rather than sports and health. This has always been the case inside bodybuilding for instance, but it is now that the spotlight is more about the way you conduct your life. Phil Heath said more than once “you can’t be a rockstar and a bodybuilder.”Fitness businesses are booming and standing out among competitors is tough. “Consumers” are now aligning themselves with sports and health brands that they feel share a like-minded perspective. See for instance the great work of Gymshark towards this strategy.

Next year I will definitely be back and hopefully I’ll manage to go to more fitness fairs. Stay tuned on my social media for updates.


How Lex Griffin revolutionized fitness and communication

When I quit rugby and basically any kind of competitive sports where I need to run, jump or have some kind of physical contact, I fell lost. Competitive sports were kind of all I had done for the previous 20 years. Every weekend, whether it was football, athletics or rugby, I have taken part in a competition. I would wake up every Sunday with a purpose and the necessary concetration to make the best out of my body and mind. All of a sudden this was gone due to a severe injury and consequent triple ankle and foot surgery. It was then that I started getting into fitness. For two main reasons: Firstly, I have always enjoyed lifting weights. I used to be a chunky 106kg guy doing heavy squats, bench presses and deadlifts and I have always loved the post workout feeling and the effect that good traditional weight training has on your sports performances. Secondly, in this “philosophy” (yes, it’s a philosophy and a lifestyle) you are in constant competition with yourself. That was what I needed after surgery and what I need now. But I’ll blog more about this story later on…

I have been getting very interested in the fitness industry lately. Especially, in the way social media helps fitness instructors, businesses and new brands getting into the scene and promoting healthy and aesthetics lifestyles.

This is nothing new. It is a common analysis to say that when Arnold passed from the bodybuilding stage to Hollywood, he basically brought fitness to the whole world (a world that saw a dramatic increase in fitness-related businesses in the 80s). In this article I want to focus on how now fitness figures approach social media and interact directly with their followers and how they have, by doing so, created a new image of what a fitness instructor, or simply somehow who’s into fitness and aesthetics should be and do.

Photo credit: http://on.fb.me/1YMw4TB
Photo credit: http://on.fb.me/1YMw4TB

This is why I choose Lex Griffin as an example.I have been following Lex for years now and I’m very happy things are turning out great for him. As a communication expert, here are the reasons why Lex has been somehow revolutionary in his business:

He shows he’s got a life (with its ups and downs): A way too common mistake that fitness instructors, dieticians and pro bodybuilders make is that they forget that most people have a life. MOST people have jobs, family, bills to pay, they come back home tired or frustrated, they don’t all have a supplement shop behind their office nor a kitchen at their disposal 24/7. Still, until maybe just a few years ago, the communication of fitness experts was kind of targeted to an ideal world where everybody simply has the time to workout and diet every day or have ten fish and chicken-based meals per day. Lex changed this. His motto is “shredded with a life.” I remember watching some of his early videos when he was working as a baker and he was showing how to organize you’re life in a feasible manner while doing your everyday job. After watching that video I remember thinking “Ok, this lad, has an actual life and he knows what that means.

He understands people. Not everybody needs to be a bodybuilder or a fitness model. People can choose their level of commitment to a passion. Contrary to most people in the business, Lex understands that not everybody is either cut out nor has the actual ambition of becoming a fitness pro. However, embracing a healthy and aestethic lifestyle is beneficial to your body, your mind and your confidence. Hence, regardless the level of commitment, a bit of healthy life is better than no healthy habits at all. For example, his holidays posts do not say “don’t eat cake on Christmas” or ” make sure you keep training 4-5 times a week while you’re on holiday.” Instead, he understands that our mind and body needs some reward while doing a little effort to keep a bit lean during the holiday period. “Have cake or ice cream but not both” is feasible. Restrict yourself to the joys of life is not… and Lex knows that

He doesn’t show off: So many bodybuilders and fitness figures focus on themselves. How great they are and how they think they are the best. I don’t see anything wrong with that. It is an acceptable marketing and communication strategy to gather support and fans. However, when you want to inspire people, you need to understand who you are talking to. Too much showing off will discourage people, simply because most people are average. Most people do not have Arnold’s genetics and were not brought up in a family that cherish bodybuilding like Rich Piana. Most people discover fitness at a late stage of their lives and many times it is to recover from a situation they are unhappy with, such as bad shape, lack of confidence or injuries. Focussing on inspiring people to do great things is better than challenging people to become who we are just because we think we are better people.

He listens and responds, and he finds pleasure in it. Lex’s success couldn’t be the same without his continuous and public engagement on social media. Open, accessible, transparent. The three keys to great digital personal branding.

CaptureHe “loves haters”: In the fitness industry, haters are an everyday business. As soon as you get success, you get haters. People jealous of your achievements will focus on any small possible tiny detail they could use to undermine you or discourage you from going your own way and do what you love. The best strategy to deal with haters? Love them. Let them come to you and respond appropriately by showing results, dedication, and most importantly, composure. Lex is constantly under attack and still manages to keep it cool but always respond. This takes guts and a much bigger mental effort that bodybuilding already requires.

Who are your favourite fitness figures? Share it with me in the comments below