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Key figures from the health and fitness industry came together last week for active-net 2015. The event, now in its second year, welcomed 65 buyer and 71 supplier delegates to imago Burleigh Court and Holywell Park, Loughborough, for one-to-one meetings, networking and educational sessions.
 
The event kicked off with a standing mindfulness session from guru Deniz Paradot. He challenged his audience to remember the last time they did absolutely nothing before explaining how the art of mindfulness – learning to watch your thoughts come and go, without judgment – can give a greater understanding of the present moment and, in doing so, help reduce stress and improve memory, decision making, attention and concentration.
 
Educational sessions included a panel debate about leadership in the activity sector, chaired by Lisa Dodds-Mayne from CLOA and the return of the popular 'supplier workshop', in which operators covered the latest trends and challenges the public sector is facing, and how suppliers can help overcome them, led by Paddy Corcoran.
 
David Minton from the Leisure Database Company talked about wearable tech. His presentation led to a lively debate on research, data and wearable technology, how the industry uses it and how far we have to go before we're utilising all that social media and tech companies have to offer. "Most operators are playing at using data. How many of us are monitoring 50 social media channels about our sites? When 20% of us don't even have websites and even less use twitter, I suspect not many. Operators are afraid of technology and therefore aren't engaging with it to its full potential," he said.
 
Les Mills UK new CEO Martin Franklin identified millennials (18 to 34-year-olds) as a key growth market for physical activity providers going forwards. Quoting research carried out for Les Mills, he encouraged operators to segment programming and marketing to ensure they're tailored for different demographics.
 
An evening dinner gave delegates more time to do business and network, with former Zimbabwean cricketer Henry Olonga giving a lively interview and even a few songs!
 
Mike Hill, active-net organiser and managing director of Leisure-net Solutions, says: "We've learnt from last year's event, listened to feedback and implemented changes that have gone down really well. The educational element really differentiates active-net and I'm pleased our attention to detail in arranging one-to-one meetings has been so positively received."
Speaking at the close of the event, ukactive's soon-to-depart CEO David Stalker described active-net as: "a pinnacle event in the networking professional development environment."
 
Dave Wright, MYZONE CEO, said: "I'm very impressed with the mix between education and buyer-supplier meetings, and the fact suppliers sit and buyers move from table to table positively affects the balance of power and puts us on a more equal footing."
 
Warren Smyth, CEO at Abbeycroft & Anglia Community Leisure, said: "The scheduling and matching process for meetings has been excellent this year; I'm speaking to people who I really wanted the opportunity to meet. There has been excellent planning so we're not talking to people who aren't valuable for us, and we've met suppliers we wouldn't have thought would be interesting to us, but are very much so."
 
Next year's active-net has already been confirmed for 27th and 28th April 2016. To find out more and register your interest, visit http://www.active-net.org/ or email Kirsty Reed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
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