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Victory! Maine Does Not Tax Health Clubs

Maine legislators approved the state’s budget, overriding Governor LePage’s veto, and ensuring that the sales tax will not be extended to health clubs.

Earlier in the session, Governor Paul LePage had proposed a budget that included sweeping changes to the state’s tax code – including imposing the sales tax on health club services. In response, IHRSA sought to work with our members in Maine to target key legislators and ask that they oppose a tax on healthy lifestyles in their state.

After months of bitter, high-profile bickering between the legislature and the governor’s office, the legislature won out and passed a less ambitious budget plan, which expands the state’s sales tax, but not to health club services.

IHRSA members are invited read more and comment here.


A New Year, A New IHRSA Board

Effective July 1, 2015, Molly Kemmer, regional director for EXOS/MediFit Corporate Services, is the chairperson of the IHRSA Board of Directors for the 2015/2016 term.

“This position is a tremendous honor and responsibility, encompassing my passion for service and relationships. The collaborative strategic work of the Board and IHRSA staff today, will bolster the future impact and relevance of our industry, thereby impacting global health.”

We are also thrilled to welcome the four newly elected members who will serve a 4-year term from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019.

  • Larry Conner, Stone Creek Club and Spa, Covington, LA
  • Missy Moss, Nike Athletic Centers, Beaverton, OR
  • Raymond O’Connor, Wisconsin Athletic Clubs, West Allis, WI
  • Jim Worthington, Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, PA

And now, we encourage you to apply for the next IHRSA board class. Each year, two to four passionate IHRSA members (club operators) are elected to the Board to replace outgoing members. The deadline to apply for the 2016-2020 term is July 31, 2015.

"Serving on the IHRSA Board allows me to contribute to an industry that has given so much to me!  It is extremely rewarding to serve and collaborate with like-minded, passionate professionals", said Allison Flatley, COO of Corporate Fitness Works. "I encourage IHRSA club operators that want to guide the association to apply for the board and help position IHRSA and its’ members as a solution to the inactivity crisis. I’ve definitely benefited personally and professionally from board service and you will too".

Download the board application 

Read the full news release here.



Joe Cirulli is determined to cultivate a sense of “home” at his three fitness facilities in Gainesville, Florida.

Reflecting on why that might be, he recalls how, when he was 21 and planning a facility of his own, he decided that he wanted it to emulate the atmosphere of an upscale, but affordable, country club –warm, inviting, a place where staff and members entered into enjoyable, rewarding relationships.

Today, his vision has become reality in the form of the Gainesville Health and Fitness Centers (GHFC), which, founded in 1978, now consists of three high-end, and multipurpose properties, totaling 120,000 square feet: the main 90,000-square-foot club, a satellite location, and a women-only facility.

Many club operators understand the importance of making prospects and members feel welcome and comfortable, and make every effort to do so. Their instincts and initiatives are supported by IHRSA research: according to The IHRSA Trend Report, two of the primary reasons that people join and make use of clubs are for “the social aspects” and because “my family and friends work out” at one.

“Joe has always said that he wants his club to have the relaxed. Front-porch feel of a home in the 1950s and ‘60s,” says Debbie Lee, the company’s marketing director. “It’s his vision of what he wants the business to be; it’s woven into our beginnings, our culture.”

Read more


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IHRSA releases One Million Strong: An In-Depth Study of Health Club Member Retention

IHRSA recently released One Million Strong, a report that provides a comprehensive retention analysis of more than one million membership records. Written by Dr. Paul Bedford and sponsored by Life Fitness, One Million Strong is a must-have reference for club operators.

“For more than 30 years, IHRSA has measured retention and other club operating benchmarks in Profiles of Success,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA President and CEO. “Now, with IHRSA One Million Strong, club operators have additional measures and insights to better understand the all-important metric of member retention.”

The report most notably finds that based on more than one million member records in the U.S. and Canada, 67% of members retain their memberships for at least 12 months. While there is very little difference in retention rate between males and females, results show that retention generally improves with age. Also, members on longer agreements tend to post better retention rates than those on short-term agreements. 

Read the full press release.

IHRSA One Million Strong: An In-Depth Study of Health Club Member Retention is available to IHRSA members for $99.95. Non-members can order the report for $199.95. 


All Employees Earn Sick Time in MA

On Friday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued final regulations regarding the Earned Sick Time law in the state, a measure that was approved by voters back in November.

The new mandate requires that all Massachusetts employers provide their employees with up to 40 hours of earned sick time per year.

This newly defined, earned sick time can be used for a number of reasons. Acceptable uses include caring for a child, parent, or spouse who is suffering from a mental illness, injury or medical condition that requires professional care; caring for the employee’s own physical or mental illness, injury or medical condition that would require the same kind of care; attending routine medical appointments or appointments for the employee’s child, spouse, parent, etc.; and addressing the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence as defined in the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Law.

The final revisions to the law come in the form of a new Safe Harbor provision surrounding the 2015 requirements pertaining to part-time employees.

Read more.

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Grateful for Everything


Congratulations to Skip Johnson, Vice President of Gold's Gyms of West Georgia - an IHRSA member since 1993 - for the rave reviews he's receiving on his inspirational book, Grateful for Everything as it continues to climb the charts, recently reaching the top 3% on Amazon’s rankings.

The book offers practical and empowering ways to develop and use a mindset of gratitude to overcome the daily challenges of our personal and professional lives.

Johnson comments, “This book is not a way to learn to be ‘happy’ about whatever happens in our lives. What I explore is how to take the hands that we have been dealt, develop steps to become grateful for the lessons to be learned, and then begin to weave it all into a mosaic of life that resembles more of a great game to play, instead of a mire to be trudged through on a daily basis.”

Among the book's many 5 star reviews is a comment from Amazon Top 10 Reviewer Jim Chambers, "The book is more than a simple philosophy about life or a collection of platitudes. The author gives specific examples to illustrate his ideas, and there are a number of practical tips for successfully transforming your outlook on life."

Read a sample of Grateful for Everything.


Ready or Not… Here it comes!  

This post is sponsored by ABC Financial:

Chances are by now, you may have heard the term EMV as related to your credit card. EMV is an enhanced credit card security protocol developed in collaboration by EuroPay, Mastercard, and Visa which has been used outside the U.S. since 1999. EMV use a microchip embedded in your credit card to more accurately identify that the card being used is not fake. Here’s how EMV differs from a standard credit card…

In a standard credit card transaction, the merchant or system calculates the amount of the transaction, you swipe the magnetic strip on your credit card across the card terminal, then scrawl your signature on a receipt. The main problem? That magnetic strip contains static data that can easily be stolen and passed around, increasing the likelihood that your gym-goers will be vulnerable to fraud during a point of sale (POS) transaction in your gym.

With an EMV, or “chip card”, this process changes. Rather than swiping a strip, you will insert the chip-end of the card into the terminal, leave it inserted while the system securely validate your card, type your PIN code or sign your name, then remove the card when prompted. Like the magnetic strip, the chip contains data. However, the chip’s data isn’t static – it changes every time you use it. This makes it substantially more difficult for scammers to take advantage.

Why Do We Need EMV?

Despite being one of the most technologically advanced nations on the planet, the USA leads the world in credit card fraud. While other nations such as Canada and Australia have reduced credit card fraud by moving to EMV technology, the USA continues to see instances of credit card fraud rise. To put it bluntly: we are standing still while others have moved ahead, and EMV can change that.

Read more from ABC Financial.

Click to read more ...


Growth In the Air

The total number of industry professionals who participated, including convention and trade show
attendees and vendors: 13,000.

Convention and trade show attendees: 8,000, a full 1,000 more than attended IHRSA 2014 in San Diego!

Exhibiting companies at the trade show: 388.

Space occupied by those firms: 178,000 square feet!

Countries represented: 84— an all-time record!

The number of educational, exercise, and networking sessions: 160.

As IHRSA explained in a press release, “Thousands of fitness industry leaders celebrated the successes of a thriving industry, showcased the newest and most innovative equipment, programs, and technology, and reinforced the industry’s commitment to increase physical activity levels across the globe.”

As accurate as that is, it doesn’t come close to describing the intense, overwhelming sensory experience evoked by the convention—the strong emotion, supercharged atmosphere, that enveloped those of us who were there. As at every IHRSA convention, there were countless personal interactions between those of us who feel called, compelled, to convince everyone on the planet to become, and remain, physically active. That conviction binds us together, confirming our enduring belief in the power of “success by association.”

Thomas Sowell, an economist and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, believes that central planning never works on a macro level; he estimates that no one knows as much as 1% of what would have to be known to an economy efficiently

And so, in a sense, it is with IHRSA on the micro level. We plan the convention agenda—the who, what, when, where, and how. But it’s the complex interaction of staff, members, speakers, vendors, association board members, and other stakeholders that provides 99% of the components that no one person, or group, could possibly understand or produce. Together, though, we’re able to create a uniquely rewarding experience, both intellectually and monetarily—for everyone involved.

And the convention and trade show were just the start.

During the coming year, IHRSA will host a num- ber of other valuable gatherings. Coming up soon is the IHRSA Institute, which will take place August 4–7 at the Rizzo Conference Center at the Univer- sity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Last year, this one-of-a-kind educational event attracted people from 24 states, the District of Columbia, and nine different countries. Everyone enjoyed a first-class learning and networking experience, and many attendees made friendships that will last a lifetime.

This year, the institute promises to be even better. (See “Executive Education for Club Professionals,” pg. 59.)

Next on the calendar is the 16th Annual IHRSA/ Fitness Brasil Latin American Conference and Trade Show, which will take place September 17–19 at the Transamerica Expo Center, in São Paulo. This edition promises to be the biggest and best ever. First held in a closed-off parking lot, the IHRSA/Fitness Brasil Trade Show has since grown into a formidable world-class event.

These are just two of the meeting highlights of the coming year. Check ihrsa.org for news about others!


Share inspiring speeches from Arianna Huffington & Magnus Lindkvist with your staff!

Videos from two IHRSA 2015 general sessions are now available for purchase. This is an exclusive opportunity for IHRSA members only, and quantities are limited.

Arianna Huffington’s presentation, Redefining Success: The Third Metric That Can Benefit Your Bottom Line (sponsored by SPRI), took place at the iconic Nokia Theatre, home to the Emmy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards and other major concerts and celebrations. Swedish trendspotter and futurologist Magnus Lindkvist received a standing ovation at IHRSA 2015 for Thinking About the Future in an Uncertain World (sponsored by Technogym). Now you can own both sessions on DVD. Download the order form.


Exercise, a Smart Business Strategy

Robert Brewster, president of The Alaska Club, and current chair of the IHRSA Board of Directors was just published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Newsminer promoting the benefits of physical activity in the workplace..

Brewster writes, "June is Employee Wellbeing Month, and Alaska business owners and workers have everything to gain from promoting good health and fitness in the workplace. After all, physically active employees are more productive, healthier, happier and even more engaged — all of which tie into a company’s bottom line.

Research shows that when employees are physically active, they take 27% fewer sick days and 14% to 25% fewer disability days than their coworkers who don’t exercise. Regardless of weight, employees who exercise once or more each week have lower healthcare costs.

The positive benefits of regular exercise can be especially important to small businesses that typically rely on a smaller staff. Small businesses make up almost 97 percent of employers in the state and employed more than half of Alaska’s private workforce in 2012. They tend to be harder hit when a single individual is out sick or is unable to work to their full productivity level."

Read the full article.