Steve Orton, director at Bodypower, on expanding a brand beyond the confines of a show.
When we speak to Steve Orton in early February 2019, he’s in the middle of preparing to launch a podcast for fitness show Bodypower, which takes place in May at the NEC.
“It will ultimately be talking about their first experience of Bodypower,” he tells EN. “One of the girls first came to the show when she was 18. She was being bullied at school, got into fitness, came to the event, met people that made her feel comfortable and she’s now one of the biggest influencers on social media.
“Bodypower changed her life for the better.”
It’s perhaps disingenuous to say that the podcast is for the Bodypower event, instead it’s arguably an extension of what has become a global fitness brand – with a presence in the UK, China, India and South Africa and a range of product and services available to its enthusiastic international community.
Bodypower launched in the UK in 2009, with an initial focus on bringing US celebrities from the worlds of fitness and power sports to the UK.
“It was just the start of the nutrition industry in the UK,” Orton explains. “We started as power sports. It developed to bring elite athletes over and from there it has developed almost a cult following.”
Such is the passion for the brand – in India at least, where Orton’s brother Nick is leading the launch of several gyms – that some fans have even got Bodypower tattoos. There is an online store for the Bodypower brand, which sells accessories and sportswear for men and women.
The Bodypower account has accumulated around 150,000 followers on Instagram, and much of the popularity of the show has come from partnerships with influencers on social media.
“We bring a number of social influencers and fitness influencers along to the event,” Orton continues. “They promote that they’re going to be there, so their followers come along.
“Throughout the year I wouldn’t say we’re hugely active in the fitness industry but when you get to 12 weeks out from the show the talk is about Bodypower and everyone’s going to meet up.
“The brands and the athletes will be there and it’s really what an event should be – an industry get-together. There are people who speak on social media day-to-day and they have the opportunity at Bodypower to meet up face-to-face.”
The emphasis on community has resulted in strong results through affiliate marketing, alongside more traditional forms of promotion for the event, and the team has also launched the Bodypower Collective, which allows up-and-coming figures in the fitness industry to speak at the show in exchange for creating content for their social media.
“Our aim is to inspire people to be healthier and fitter,” says Orton. “If we have educators there, and athletes there, it’s motivating and inspiring people, so they buy into that brand as well as just an event.”
Orton foresees the future of his event as being increasingly experiential, a ‘theme park of fitness’, with a range of dedicated zones and activities for attendees.
“Once you get into an industry you realise what isn’t being done and what could be done,” he concludes. “We’re always trying to be creative and look at how we can evolve the event.”