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Best Fitness Industry Events for Fitness Professionals

Our pick for best overall fitness conference is the IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show. Stop by the GymBird booth this year if you're attending!

Owners
8 min read2023-11-28T21:00:01.126Z
MKWritten By Michelle King

OVERVIEW

Fitness conferences offer gym owners and fitness professionals a chance to enhance their skills and elevate their business. From the rise of biohacking to the ever-revolving door of new workouts, the fitness world evolves quickly. If you want to continue attracting clients and providing quality service, staying at the forefront of industry trends is key.

Best Fitness Industry Conferences

Best Overall: IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show

Best for Running Coaches: RRCA Convention

Best for Strength & Conditioning Coaches: NSCA National Conference

Best for Yoga Instructors: Symposium on Yoga Research

Best for Boutique Studio Owners: The Summit by BFS

Best For Business Development: Two-Brain Summit

Best to See Celebrity Trainers: Arnold Sports Festival

Benefits of Attending Events for Fitness Professionals

Participating in fitness conferences offers an excellent opportunity to connect with fellow professionals, broaden your expertise, and spark innovative ideas that you can apply to enhance your business.

Networking

In a world where LinkedIn is seen as crucial for professional growth, you might be surprised to learn that in-person networking could be more powerful than digital connections. In fact, 95% of professionals agree that face-to-face interactions are essential for long-term business relationships.

Fitness conferences allow gym owners to network in person with industry experts, fellow professionals, and potential clients. This dynamic environment helps foster real-time discussions and hands-on experiences that can't be replicated online.

Professional Development

Continuing professional development(CPD) is essential to stay up-to-date on cutting-edge research and industry trends. Additionally, CPD is typically required for trainers to maintain their certifications. Many conferences offer attendees CPD credits. This helps you maintain your credentials while enhancing your expertise.

Brand Awareness

With over 112,000 gyms and health clubs in the United States, the fitness industry is highly competitive. To stand out from your competition, creating a strong brand presence is essential.

Presenting or actively participating in fitness conferences provides an opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in the space and gain industry recognition. This can lead to future invitations for speaking events, collaborations, or interviews.

Inspiration

Conferences and expos highlight new products, techniques, and niches. This exposure sparks ideas for unique services or novel training approaches, fostering innovation and improving the quality of your fitness programs.

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How to Choose the Best Fitness Conference

Just because a conference is popular doesn't mean it's the best conference for you. Dave Readle, Head of Social Media at The HIIT Company, advises trainers and gym owners to conduct research before choosing a conference, saying, "Fitness professionals should resist the temptation to attend events simply because others in the industry are doing so. Instead, they should critically evaluate whether the event aligns with their unique objectives and if it provides a meaningful return on investment."

Take the following steps to help ensure you choose the best fitness event for your goals.

Define Objectives

With hundreds of fitness conferences to choose from, it's easy to become overwhelmed and unsure of which event is best for you.

To ensure you pick a conference that positively impacts your business, Dave Readle, Head of Social Media at the HIIT Company, suggests defining your goals for the event, saying, "Setting clear objectives is essential for fitness professionals when selecting the right event, as it provides a strategic framework for decision-making and ensures that your participation aligns with your overarching goals."

For example, if your primary goal is brand awareness, Readle suggests targeting events that draw a sizable audience. But, if your objective is continuing education, look for events with expert speakers you admire.

Consider Your Budget

While fitness conferences offer numerous benefits, they can come with a hefty price tag. You can expect to pay up to $1,000 for event access, not including travel, food, and lodging. Before committing to an event, Dan Readle suggests examining your budget. Assess the costs associated with attending against the potential benefits, considering not just financial aspects but also the time and effort involved. Confirm that the selected event delivers a favorable return on investment before making a decision.

Individual Reviews
Starting at $230

IHRSA International Convention

Best overall fitness event

  • Largest fitness industry event in the US
  • 8,000+ fitness industry attendees
  • 350+ exhibitors
  • 150+ expert speakers

Coming in as our top overall choice, the IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show is a one-stop hub for fitness professionals. Whether you're a gym owner seeking business insights or a personal trainer exploring innovative equipment, this event offers a comprehensive platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and hands-on experiences.


Attendees can start their day early with a workout class before diving into educational keynote sessions with business experts like Mark S. Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, Inc. Take a break from sessions and stretch your legs by exploring the IHRSA Trade Show with over 350 exhibitors.

IHRSA Conference Pros
  • Networking Events
  • Group Exercise Classes
  • 150+ Speakers
  • Trade Show
IHRSA Conference Cons
  • Higher Price for Non-Members
Starting at $295

RRCA National Convention

Best for running coaches

  • 60+ year event
  • Hundreds of club leaders and race directors in attendance
  • Coaching certifications available

Founded in 1958, Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is the oldest and largest association of runners. Dedicated to supporting community-based running organizations, RRCA hosts an annual conference to educate running coaches, race directors, and club leaders.

Attendees enjoy a variety of educational sessions from keynote speakers like Olympian, Alexi Pappas. For an additional fee, participants can complete their Level I or Level II Coaching certification while still participating in networking events.

You can't expect hundreds of runners to get together without a little friendly competition. So, this year's 66th annual conference will be held in conjunction with the Hoag OC Marathon Running Festival.

RRCA Convention Pros
  • Networking Events
  • Noteworthy Speakers
  • RRCA Certification Courses
RRCA Convention Cons
  • No Continuing Education Credits
Starting at $165

NSCA National Conference

Best for strength and conditioning coaches

  • Dedicated exhibit hall time to showcase products
  • Networking with industry pros
  • Largest gathering of strength and conditioning pros worldwide

Established in 1978, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing sports science, strength, and conditioning. The NSCA's annual conference is the largest gathering of strength and conditioning professionals worldwide, allowing attendees to network and learn from industry experts.

This conference offers over 45 sessions exploring the latest research in sports science. Past lectures have included topics like "How to Train Effectively Without Lower Back Pain or Injury" and "Muscle Fiber Types: What Are They? Why Do We Care?"

NSCA National Conference Pros
  • Continuing Education Credits
  • Networking Events
  • Noteworthy Speakers
  • Trade Show
NSCA National Conference Cons
  • Higher Price for Non-Members
2024 Pricing TBA

IAYT Symposium on Yoga Research

Best for Yoga instructors

  • Pre-conference workshop on yoga research methodology
  • Special-interest group sessions
  • Networking opportunities

Established in 1989, the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) is a nonprofit organization supporting yoga therapy research. IAYT's yearly symposium presents the latest research in yoga therapy and encourages networking between yoga instructors, scientists, and other experts in the field.

SYR Pros
  • Continuing Education Credits
  • Networking Events
  • Noteworthy Speakers
SYR Cons
  • Pricing not available online
Starting at $499

Boutique Fitness Solutions: The Summit

Best for boutique studio owners

  • 300+ Passionate Studio Owners
  • Influential Media Partners
  • 30 + Speakers

Boutique Fitness Solutions (BFS) is on a mission to educate, empower, and connect boutique gym owners. The Summit by BFS supports this goal by providing the opportunity for boutique fitness professionals to learn new business strategies and connect with others in the field.

The conference includes a keynote session, panel discussions, networking opportunities throughout the day, and fireside chats in the evening. Expect to interact with industry leaders from popular fitness brands like Soul Cycle, Club Pilates, and Pure Barre.

The Summit by BFS Pros
  • Noteworthy Speakers
  • Group Workouts
  • Networking Events
The Summit by BFS Cons
  • No Continuing Education Credits
2024 Pricing TBA

Two-Brain Business Summit

Best for business development

  • 15+ Speakers
  • 30+ Millionaire gym owners
  • Multi-track options

If you’re ready to supercharge your fitness career, look no further than Two-Brain Summit. Run by Two-Brain Business, this event gives gym owners and fitness coaches the guidance they need to grow their businesses.

The Two-Brain Summit offers two tracks, one for gym owners and one for coaches. This ensures attendees experience sessions most relevant to their business needs. Outside of education, fitness entrepreneurs can enjoy morning workouts led by top-notch coaches and a mix and mingle to network with like-minded individuals.

Two-Brain Summit Pros
  • Noteworthy Speakers
  • Group Workouts
  • Focus on growing your business
Two-Brain Summit Cons
  • No continuing education credits
Starting at $40

Arnold Sports Festival

Best for bodybuilding and celebrities

  • Celebrity athletes and trainers
  • Fitness and bodybuilding competitions
  • Trade Show and networking events

No fitness event lineup would be complete without mentioning the infamous Arnold Sports Festival. Open to all fitness enthusiasts, this event attracts thousands of athletes every year. Attendees can expect to see famous athletes like Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Samson Dauda, and Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.

Outside of watching physique and Strongman competitions, fitness professionals should check out The Arnold Expo. With hundreds of booths sporting the latest equipment, apparel, and nutrition, this trade show provides an opportunity to stay up-to-date on the latest fitness trends.

Arnold Sports Festival Pros
  • Vibrant Trade Show
  • Celebrity Athletes & Trainers
  • Celebrity Keynote Speakers
Arnold Sports Festival Cons
  • No continuing education credits

Compare Best Conferences for Fitness Professionals

Tradeshow Starting PriceContinuing Education Credits Trade Show Number of Days Speakers 
IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show $230Yes Yes 3 150+ presenters & speakers
RRCA National Convention$295NoNo32 Keynote Speakers and Unknown # of presentations 
NSCA National Conference $165Yes Yes 345+ sessions & lectures
IAYT’s Symposium on Yoga Research New pricing for 2024Yes No 320+ presenters & speakers 
The Summit by BFS$499NoNo230+ Speakers 
Two-Brain Summit New pricing for 2024NoNo214 Speakers 
Arnold Sports Festival $40NoYes 3Celebrity Keynote Speakers 

How to Get the Most Out of a Fitness Conference

You’re likely dedicating significant time, energy, and money to your next fitness conference. Get the most out of your investment by implementing the following tips.

Take Notes

Conferences grant you access to some of the brightest minds in fitness. But, active listening during lectures and presentations isn’t enough to retain new knowledge. Most experts agree that individuals will forget up to 75% of what they learned after obtaining information.

By jotting down key points, insights, and action items, you create a tangible record of information that enhances retention. Taking notes reinforces your understanding and provides a reference guide for future applications.

Stay at the Conference Hotel

Most conferences work with a specific hotel to offer special rates for conference attendees. This hotel is often within walking distance from key events and is where most other conference participants will stay.

Opting for the conference hotel provides convenience in terms of proximity and enhances your networking opportunities by fostering impromptu conversations with fellow attendees.

Follow Up With Connections

For many fitness professionals, one of the primary goals of attending a conference is to increase their professional network. If you’re hoping to make business connections at your next conference, it’s not enough to just talk with people. You need to follow up.

After the conference, connect with people you talked with on LinkedIn. Send a personal message thanking them for the conversation– this can turn short meetings into lasting, valuable professional connections.

Bottom Line

Attending fitness conferences provides an opportunity to learn about the latest wellness trends and connect with industry leaders. Before choosing a conference, make sure it aligns with your business goals. By doing so, you can gain valuable insights and make connections to boost your business' success. Our overall #1 pick for best fitness conference is IHRSA International Conference and Trade Show.

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