One-on-One with Deborah Goldberg
July 15, 2019
Deborah Goldberg has been extremely active in the global fitness industry for more than a decade. Chief among her accomplishments was bringing Zumba Fitness and Piloxing to the industry as a leading distributor and marketer in the region. This spawned tens of thousands of jobs in the APAC region and increased memberships in all major big-box gyms.
Her focus for 2019 is to bring to market her new fit-tech platforms — morfus (morfus.fit), a global online platform that connects consumers with fitness professionals, and Subaclass (subaclass.com), an app and SaaS that facilities instructors and facilities to find the right substitute instructors for their classes.
How did you end up in such a position in the fitness business?
My passion for fitness has made me aware of all the opportunities that exist in the industry. Being active has been part of my life since I was very young. I was always involved in athletics and volleyball.
When did you get into fitness?
I joined my first gym when I was 15. Lifting weights was always very attractive to me. So I believe that by living, breathing and really knowing fitness as a consumer you can then be involved in products that will enhance and improve the lives of others.
How would you characterize the state of the fitness business in 2019?
According to a recent IHRSA report, only 21 percent of the population in the USA has a gym membership — and that figure has declined one percent since 2017. A full 40 percent of the U.S. population is obese, which is a huge weakness for the industry.
What are its strengths?
That there is enough opportunity to educate the next generation so we can decrease this percentage and avoid the obesity epidemic spiraling out of control.
And where are the opportunities?
The opportunity lies in finding ways to make our facilities and our services more accessible, less intimidating and more encouraging of ‘fitness for life.’ The facilities that are doing this really well are the ones that have the ability to reach the untapped potential of the areas of the market that others aren’t reaching, as well as the power to create the biggest position impact on the health of the USA overall.
How about the unique challenges the club owners and trainers face in this environment?
Continuing education is definitely one of the biggest challenges. Some trainers believe that just by attending a six-to-eight week course they understand how to run a business, how to retain customers and how to train their clients safely. Same for the club owners — investing in their staff needs to be one of their top priorities, not simply an afterthought.
You are big on the technology aspects of the fitness business. Please explain that interest.
Implementing technology is a huge challenge. The fitness industry is one of the slowest industries to adopt and embrace technology. Club owners must be able to offer technology-friendly equipment, HRM and CRM to their members. Trainers should also be accessible, not only face-to-face but via apps, including online training, webinars and other digital touch points.
What one piece of advice would you give to the typical club owner or trainer on how to be better – and make more money – in the fitness business?
The most relevant piece of advice I could give someone today is to expand your network. Assess who is in your current network and see who they are connected to that could help you find the right opportunity to increase your income and accelerate your success.
Finally, where is the potential for the fitness industry to expand in 2020 and beyond? Where are the growth opportunities?
The potential for the fitness industry is to give more focus to the Millennial generation. Build more gyms with more technology in them. Provide data, provide amazing content programs and create products that are accessible for everyone in the community.
What role do you see FIBO USA playing in the U.S. fitness business?
FIBO USA brings a new approach to the U.S. fitness business. Their education committee is curating the best and most influential fitness presenters and entrepreneurs globally to offer the most up-to-date trends and education. FIBO USA is also set to be the trade show with the most current, must-have products.
What do you plan to focus on at FIBO USA?
I’m planning to focus on sharing my business experience within the APAC region and to also learn more about the differences between the U.S. East Coast market and the Asian markets.
What should FIBO USA attendees look to get out of the Miami Event?
To get an overview of the current state of the industry from experts across the field.