Lessons learned from a live event
Hybrid sessions, COVID comfort zones and mental wellness themes resonate with fitness pros
Toronto, ON, Sep. 1, 2022-- For the first time in two years, the annual canfitpro Global Conference and Trade Show returned to a live format August 10-14, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Nearly 5,500 attendees, including 2,300 fitness professionals and 3,200 fitness enthusiasts took part in the five-day event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre or joined online through live streamed and online sessions.
For 29 years, canfitpro has relied on revenue and reputation from this annual event. During the first two years of the pandemic, the conference was held online, ensuring canfitpro could still reach members and participants with professional development opportunities. The shift to online inspired a profitable event model that will remain part of canfitpro’s strategy to serve more members. Many unique and best practices have been adopted by other industry event operators.
Maureen ‘Mo’ Hagan, chief operating officer of canfitpro, said the 2022 live event far surpassed expectations, to support learning and social cohesion among fitness professionals and to inspire the fitness industry to come back stronger than ever.
“It was a leap of faith to commit to delivering a live conference and trade show, but we knew fitness professionals needed it this year because of the magic that happens with in-person connection. We also offered online sessions and were able to live stream many of the in-person presentations for a hybrid experience. With online and hybrid formats, delegates could be part of more sessions, and it meant we could reach more people with learning opportunities.”
In-person connection: Fitness professionals thrive on community and connection. For many people who attended the in-person conference and trade show, this was the first time they had seen their colleagues in more than three years. The energy level was high and extremely positive. Diva Richards, founder and president of Hard Work No Excuses LLC, presented for the first time at this year’s event and fell in love with the togetherness and community felt at this year’s show.
“This has been an absolutely mind-blowing experience. From the lectures, to the fitness seminars to the trade show floor, this is definitely on my list for ever and ever, amen!”
Hybrid and online sessions: The canfitpro Global Conference and Trade Show featured 90 online sessions and 22 live streamed hybrid sessions. Presenters adapted their content to be more interactive in person and to involve those joining online. By including an online option, canfitpro was able to reach 500 additional participants. Many of the participants who didn’t attend live this year say they were motivated to come in person next year.
Spotlighting mental wellness: Based on input from members, canfitpro event organizers recruited extra presenters to focus on mental health and wellness this year. This included the two keynote presenters, Olympian and mental health advocate Silken Laumann and sport psychologist and coach Dr. Ivan Joseph. Presenters focused on the importance of self-care, connecting with your purpose and nurturing confidence to power a comeback across the fitness industry.
Recognizing COVID comfort zones: Recognizing that every conference attendee might have a varying comfort level when it comes to COVID-19, canfitpro implemented a colour-coding system that allowed attendees to show their COVID comfort status on their pass. canfitpro also encouraged mask wearing and testing, and provided hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue.
“It’s so important to meet people where they are in their current comfort level with COVID-19. I was really impressed that the canfitpro team took the initiative to colour code name tags to show how each attendee wanted to be greeted at the conference. It was a small thing that went a long way to make social interactions more seamless and in-sync,” Richelle Lowry, Senior Director, People Experience, Learning & Communications, GoodLife Fitness.
Hagan and her team expect more people to return to the conference in-person next year as canfitpro marks its 30th anniversary. Event organizers plan to broadcast more hybrid sessions from the event.
“We intend to continue the hybrid model to reach fitness professionals wherever they are and to continue to bring the world’s top leaders, trainers and industry experts to our event. We’re also making the event content available online to be viewed and shared into thousands of communities worldwide. Our goal is to reach as many people as we can with world-class, practical content that will support them in their careers and drive the industry forward as we all come back together from the pandemic.”
For a closer look into the canfitpro 2022 Global Conference and Trade Show, check out this short event recap video.
Photography by Dawn Bowman
canfitpro is the largest provider of education in the Canadian fitness industry. Founded in 1993, canfitpro delivers accessible, quality education, certifications, conferences, trade shows, and membership services. canfitpro's over 100,000 members include some of the world's finest fitness professionals, health club operators, industry suppliers, and fitness consumers. www.canfitpro.com