20 Reasons to Attend the 2023 IHRSA European Congress

We’re back in Europe—Lisbon to be exact! Join the health and fitness industry for three days of education, expert presentations, networking, testing products, and more.

The 2023 IHRSA European Congress returns 17-19 October in the stunning capital city of Portugal. Hosting the event in Lisbon may be reason enough for you to register and book your stay—and maybe even extend for a mini holiday. However, if you're still undecided, we've collected 20 reasons for you to attend the event in honor of the Congress's 20th edition.

1. Attend a Historic Event—First European Congress Since 2019

If you lived on planet Earth these past three years, you're most likely not surprised to hear that the last time we hosted the Congress in person was four years ago. Now that the pandemic has subsided and worldwide travel is almost back to normal, it's time to buckle down and unify our industry. Be part of the solution.

2. Tour Lisbon’s Quintessential Health Clubs

Health Club Tours is historically a popular activity during our international events. Go behind the scenes at Lisbon's elite clubs to spark inspiration from facility designs, wellness offerings, and programming. Tours are optional, and availability is limited. Add it to your registration ASAP to save your spot!

3. Meet IHRSA President & CEO Liz Clark in Person

As a U.S.-based association, our global members, partners, and federations have fewer chances to get to know Liz. The event is a unique occasion to take advantage of possible face-time with one of the most influential figures in the health and fitness industry—and, truthfully, one of the best personalities.

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4. Test Ingenious Products & Services

Venture through ingenious products, software, and services at the Sponsor Marketplace. Discover technology and equipment—or even brands—from around the globe that you may have never heard of before. If you're an industry partner or supplier interested in attending the European Congress, check out available sponsorship opportunities.

5. Unlock Trust With Michelle King

Culture and equality are key factors in attracting and retaining staff and ultimately impacting your business's success. Improve your leadership skills with Michelle King, Ph.D., co-CEO & founder of The Culture Practice. Be all ears during her keynote presentation, Unlocking Trust: Creating High Performing Teams and Effective Leaders, sponsored by Lacertosus.

6. Immerse Yourself in Career-making Networking Opportunities

It's no secret that forming a quality network can take you far in your career. We offer bountiful intimate networking opportunities to get you face-to-face with executives from major brands worldwide to build rapport, share ideas, or strike a deal.

7. Hear From a Diverse Lineup of Expert Speakers

The Congress boasts a stellar lineup of global speakers ranging from health and fitness industry professionals to seasoned business people and entrepreneurs. Attendees will gain knowledge to expand business operations, strategies to increase revenue, business tips, and more from high-grade presenters.

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8. Take Notes for Success at the Fireside Chat

Calling all European operators and fitness professionals. In just one hour, you can uncover trends from across the continent in the session, Around Europe in 60 Minutes: European Trends and Opportunities, sponsored by Freemotion. Executives from the UK, Germany, Norway, and Ireland are prepared to discuss what's hot and what’s not.

9. Follow Along in Your Native Tongue

International attendees can sit back and relax during education sessions with live translations available in Spanish, Portuguese, and French—more languages to come. Additionally, participate in roundtable discussions in Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, or English.

10. Master How to Target Significant Members: Gen Z & Millennials

Gen Z and Millennials make up more than half of all health club members, according to the 2022 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report. Communicating with these generations is critical for success. Silke Hensel, chief marketing officer of RSG Group, presents Gen Z & Millennials: Marketing, Consumer Trends, and Their Significant Relevance to the Industry.

11. Tour Iconic Landmarks in Lisbon

While you're in town, soak up all that Lisbon has to offer. From crystal clear beaches, picturesque cobblestone streets, breathtaking views, iconic historic sites, and more, you'll need to scramble to fit everything in. Here are four tips to "hack" an event to balance work and play.

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12. Avoid the Stress of FOMO

You don't want to miss out; it’s as simple as that. The European Congress attracts premier talent and leadership across the industry and beyond. Grow your business, meet new friends, and help make the world healthier!

13. Become the Fitness Industry Leader of 2023 With Juan Del Rio Nieto

Who will be The Fitness Industry Leader of 2023? My guess is someone who attends Juan's session at the Congress, sponsored by WellnessSpace Brands. As CEO of VivaGym Group, Juan knows a thing or two about effectively leading a health club.

14. Reunite With Old Friends at the Opening Reception

This year's Opening Reception kicks off an exciting few days in Lisbon. Enjoy a lively, informal evening catching up with old friends and acquaintances before we get down to business. Be sure to say hi to the IHRSA team and rack the brains of the Board of Directors in attendance!

15. Stay Trendy

The industry will never stay the same; there's always a new initiative, program, or company around the corner that shakes things up. Several sessions will discuss current and future trends that you should consider for your facility's planning and growth opportunities.

16. Indulge in Top-notch Dining

We wouldn't forget to highlight Lisbon's incredible food and dining options! Indulge in fresh, salty seafood—perhaps the national dish, Bacalhau—or visit a local pastelaria to cure your sweet tooth with a pastel de nata. Be sure to dine at one of these restaurants, rated the best in town by a local couple.

17. Build Partnerships With Paramount Suppliers

The Sponsor Marketplace is where all the action is. The intimate atmosphere is perfect for one-on-one time to make connections and cut deals with some of the biggest names in the game.

18. Access All You Need to Know in the Congress App

Download the 2023 IHRSA European Congress mobile app to stay in the know while on the go, receive session alerts, and keep in touch with other attendees or speakers. Or create your account in a browser using the email address you provided during registration at community.ihrsa.org.

19. Gain Creative Strategies to Boost Success

Soaking in knowledge and business tips from experts inside and outside the industry gives you a leg up on the competition. Elements from the stories and real-life examples of improved sales, revenue, or membership levels can be incorporated into your business or stimulate other creative strategies.

20. Join Forces With the Global Health & Fitness Association

As the Global Health & Fitness Association, IHRSA's mission is to grow, promote, and protect the industry. IHRSA members are critical to improve population health and expand access to spaces where consumers can be active. Attending the Congress is an opportunity to join forces with IHRSA, our membership, and partners while taking advantage of numerous benefits to help your business thrive.

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Sami Smith

Sami Smith is IHRSA's Senior Manager of Digital Communications, working to shape the organization's image on various digital platforms. On a typical day, she creates content, delivers impactful communications, and executes targeted marketing efforts to keep IHRSA at the forefront of the industry. Outside of the office, you can find her exploring new destinations, indulging in food, or participating in just about any sport.