By Josh Leve, AFS Founder & CEO

The annual International Health, Racquet & SportsClub Association (IHRSA) International Convention & Trade Show took place March 7-10 in Los Angeles and, honestly, it was an exceptionally exciting time for AFS and the entire fitness studio community. We had over 25 formal meetings and scores of informal conversations with industry leaders over the three-day period. 

A highlight of the event was the gathering of the AFS Advisory Council where for nearly 90 minutes we explored industry trends and their impact on the studio business.  A particularly hot topic was the impact of “boutiques” or fitness studios under 4,000 square feet on the so-called “big box” segment (traditional health clubs). 

Clearly, traditional elements of the industry (facilities, suppliers, and certifying organizations) have recognized that studios are not only here to stay, but they have tapped into a demographic and psychographic phenomenon that is certain to continue to grow.  A wide range of ideas, strategies, and “solutions” were bouncing around the meeting rooms and trade show aisles.

A related topic high on many people’s minds at the event was the multi-faceted impact of Millennials on the fitness industry for two obvious reasons:

  1. Millennials are the fastest growing age group, now in the prime of their fitness buying lives, rapidly becoming the go-to target market;
  2. Millennials’ embracement of technology as an integral component of their lifestyle is causing significant, if not seismic, shifts on vendor products and services

We saw no signs at IHRSA of the abatement of the desire of dedicated fitness professionals to enter the market, in fact, many consultants and suppliers were actively planning for the expansion of the studio segment, seeking to better understand the dynamic that has big boxes scrambling to get $20 per month, while studios can command $75 per hour.

Another interesting – and repetitive – discussion point was the international studio community and how we can all better engage via the AFS community to learn and apply best practices in a global manner.  Now with contributors and members from nearly every continent, AFS stands ready to spread the education, trend information, and successful operational experiences worldwide.

AFS was touched by the incredibly generous outpouring of love and money at the annual Augie’s Bash at IHRSA to support Augie’s Quest – to help find a cure and treatments for ALS.  

Lastly, we’d like to thank our friends at IHRSA for their wonderful hospitality in hosting an exceptional event.


Josh Leve is the Founder & CEO of the Association of Fitness Studios (AFS). AFS’ mission is to provide studio owners and entrepreneurial fitness professionals with the platform to effectively start, manage, and grow their businesses. 

With over 60 industry partnerships – Josh’s success with AFS has translated into being featured in all major fitness publications, the Wall Street Journal and US News. He is also a featured speaker for events such as Club Industry, NSCA, EMPOWER!, and more.

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