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Friday
May272016

This Week in the Fitness Industry: MyFitnessPal Users Choosing Barre, SoulCycle

More MyFitnessPal Users Attending Barre, SoulCycle, HIT Classes
The number of MyFitnessPal users who attend exercise classes are favoring “upgraded fitness experiences” such as indoor cycling and Barre, according to data from the fitness tracking app. Findings showed that the use of Barre classes grew 3% from 2014 to 2015, with SoulCycle growing 38% and high-intensity impact training climbing 14% during the same time period. What’s more, use of Orange Theory Fitness grew by a whopping 170%. Glennis Coursey, coaching lead at Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal, attributed Orange Theory's rapid growth to the fact that its classes are targeted toward both men and women, while more women attend Barre and SoulCycle classes than men, Entrepreneur reports.

Study: Wearable Fitness Trackers Don’t Motivate Exercise
A study by researchers at Oklahoma State University suggests that fitness trackers don’t motivate users to exercise more, reports Science Daily. For the study, researchers gave a group of physical education students monitors, telling them they would measure the amount of sunlight the students received each day. Later, researchers gave the group another monitor, informing them they would count the number of steps they took each day. The catch—both sets of monitors actually measured how active the fitness buffs were. The results: the students were not more active when they knew their steps were being counted. "You need to take 10,000 steps a day to equal 30 minutes of light-to-moderate physical activity a day, and you should really do an hour a day to be healthy," one researcher said. "Students in the study took 11,000 or 12,000 steps a day, which isn't much above the minimum, and their activity didn't change with the monitoring. We expected them to model good fitness, but now we wonder what we can do to get people to be more physically active!"

U.S. Department of Labor Releases New Federal Overtime Rules
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published new federal rules on overtime. The new rules, a response to President Obama’s directive to update regulations for the Fair Labor Standards Act, which were last updated in 2004, go into effect on December 1, 2016. The rules amend what is known as the White Collar Exemption for certain workers that have historically been excluded from overtime protections. These workers are described in the regulations as “Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees.” Despite receiving written comments from tens of thousands of individuals and organizations stressing the serious harm that the changes would cause, the DOL made few changes to rules as originally proposed in 2015. Read our full coverage on the new federal overtime rules.

151.5 Million Members Get Active at More Than 186,000 Health Clubs
In 2015, global health club industry revenue totaled $81 billion, as 151.5 million members visited nearly 187,000 clubs, according to the just-released The 2016 IHRSA Global Report: The State of the Health Club Industry. The top 10 markets account for roughly two out of three health clubs and three out of four members worldwide. While the U.S. leads all markets in club count and memberships at 55 million and 36,180, respectively, Brazil is second in club count at 31,809, Germany second in number of members at 9.5 million. All three markets are also among the top 10 worldwide in revenue with the U.S. ranking first ($25.8 billion), Germany second ($5.4 billion), and Brazil seventh ($2.4 billion). “This year’s report shows collective growth in markets worldwide, with mature markets leading the way,” said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA's executive vice president of global products.

EEOC Clarifies Rules on Employee Wellness Program Incentives
Employers can offer workers financial incentives of up to 30% of the cost of their cheapest health insurance plan to participate in wellness programs without violating federal laws protecting the confidentiality of medical information, according to final rules released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The rules are meant to clarify the way two federal laws protecting employees' medical privacy apply to the popular programs, which are designed to control medical spending by reducing obesity, smoking, and other risk factors, Reuters reports. The rules are a result of a compromise between U.S. businesses and the EEOC, which previously held that providing incentives for voluntary wellness programs rendered them involuntary, and therefore illegal. 

Friday
May272016

The ROI of The IHRSA Institute, Executive Education for Club Professionals

Perhaps you enjoyed IHRSA 2016, and now would like to learn even more— but in an intimate environment. Or perhaps traveling to Orlando, FL, this year wasn’t feasible, but you’re still determined to enhance or add a skill set. 

Either way, you’ll want to consider the IHRSA Institute, Executive Education for Club Professionals, which convenes August 2–5, at the Rizzo Conference Center, at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill. 

Past attendees attest to having learned about and, subsequently, implemented highly effective leadership and business strategies at their clubs. 

Increased Membership and Profitability 

“I’ve attended six times, and found the education to be extremely valuable,” said Michael James, the president of the World Bank Fitness Centers, in Washington, D.C.

For example, he learned how to successfully compete with local studios by offering new activities. The results: a larger membership base and increased profitability. 

Investment Advice and Business Growth 

“My biggest takeaway from the IHRSA Institute is the critical importance of networking, seeking

advice, and learning from others’ experiences,” said Alice Diamant, the president and general manager of fitwell–Medina Valley Fitness, in Castroville, TX. 

Diamant attended the three-day event while in the process of launching fitwell, and garnered advice on club set-up, key capital investments, and hiring and training a good team. 

“We made some large investments based on suggestions that were offered, and they’ve really helped our business to grow,” she said. 

Diamant was so inspired by a session on community service given by club owner Sandy Franco and IHRSA staffer Amy Bantham that she introduced a new program at her club. “fitwell now offers a monthly Get Movin’ Party designed for those with special needs that’s open to anyone in our community.” 

Continue reading "The ROI of the IHRSA Institute."

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May262016

New Federal Overtime Rules Released This Week

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published new federal rules on overtime. The new rules, a response to President Obama’s directive to update regulations for the Fair Labor Standards Act, which were last updated in 2004, go into effect on December 1, 2016. 

The rules amend what is known as the White Collar Exemption for certain workers that have historically been excluded from overtime protections. These workers are described in the regulations as “Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees.”

Implications of the New Federal Overtime Rules

Despite receiving written comments from tens of thousands of individuals and organizations stressing the serious harm that the changes would cause, the DOL made few changes to rules as originally proposed in 2015. The DOL did lower the salary threshold level to $47,476.00, slightly lower than what was originally proposed; however, this is still a 100% increase over the current salary threshold of $23,660.00. The changes are estimated to affect 4.2 million workers across all industries.

Beginning in December, for employees with a salary of less than $47,476 per year, or $913 per week, employers must compensate all time in excess of 40 hours/week at one-and-a-half times the regular pay rate. Employers may count incentive pay (e.g. commissions, company bonuses) towards the salary threshold, provided that the extra compensation is paid at least on a quarterly basis. However, employers are not permitted to count the extra pay past 10 percent of the salary floor. Hourly workers that do not receive an annualized salary are not affected; such exempt workers are already entitled to time and one half.

Advice for Health Club Owners

Kara M. Maciel an employment law attorney for Conn Maciel Carey, and a frequent speaker at the IHRSA convention, advised employers, “For those assistant managers and supervisors earning pay near the new threshold salary level, particularly those who generally work more than 40 hours per week, it may be a more financially feasible decision to raise their salary rather than try to address the issue of potential overtime pay. 

"Alternatively, for those employees currently earning a wage closer to the prior threshold level of $23,660.00, reclassifying them as non-exempt and closely monitoring hours worked to keep them at or below 40 hours per week would likely be the more feasible option. But every workplace is different and the determination as to how to handle these new requirements must be made on a case by case basis.“

Most lawyers, accountants and other business advisors are noting that it is important that employers take steps now to achieve compliance for December. These steps may include:

  1. Reviewing and if needed, updating, employee classification—exempt or non-exempt;
  2. Setting up systems to log overtime for non-exempt workers

The salary floor will be updated every three years, beginning January 1, 2020, with an agency announcement occurring 150 days before the new threshold goes into effect. The salary floor is set at the 40th percentile of data representing the earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage census region (currently Southern states).

For more, read the updated Department of Labor regulation, Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees.

If you have questions or comments, please send them to IHRSA’s public policy team at gr@ihrsa.org

Thursday
May262016

Best Practices: Hiring the Best Job Candidates

The following post was written by Lisa Gorsline for our Best Practices series. 

Question: We’re getting too many résumés! How can we identify the best person for the job? 

Lisa Gorsline: At our club, we have a proven system—a seven-step interview process—that eliminates the unqualified employee candidates early on in the interview stage. You may want to omit some of the steps, depending on the size of your club, but we find that this approach works very well for our club.

To start that process, we review all applications and résumés, and then select the individuals who, on paper, seem the most qualified.

We then call them to schedule a telephone interview to be conducted at a later date. During the phone interview, be on the lookout for any red flags:

  • Are they punctual for the interview or not?
  • Do they have a tendency to use slang words?
  • What does their tone of voice convey; is it positive, motivated, and energetic?

We evaluate whether the candidate has used proper English during the course of the interview. And we listen for background noise, if any, and consider the impression it conveys.

These conversations tend to weed out many candidates, so we don’t waste time bringing them in for an in-person meeting. It’s a good way to speed up the overall hiring process.

For us, the next steps are: three in-person interviews; a thorough background check; and, if all goes well, a job for the best candidate.

Lisa Gorsline
President/General Manager
Corpus Christi Athletic Club
Corpus Christi, TX

Wednesday
May252016

151.5 Million Members Get Active at More Than 186,000 Health Clubs

In 2015, global health club industry revenue totaled $81 billion, as 151.5 million members visited nearly 187,000 clubs, according to the just-released The 2016 IHRSA Global Report: The State of the Health Club Industry

The top 10 markets account for roughly two out of three health clubs and three out of four members worldwide. While the U.S. leads all markets in club count and memberships at 55 million and 36,180, respectively, Brazil is second in club count at 31,809, Germany second in number of members at 9.5 million. 

All three markets are also among the top 10 worldwide in revenue with the U.S. ranking first ($25.8 billion), Germany second ($5.4 billion), and Brazil seventh ($2.4 billion). 

“This year’s report shows collective growth in markets worldwide, with mature markets leading the way,” said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA's executive vice president of global products. 

 

Health club performance is also strong in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East. In the Asia-Pacific, thirteen markets in the region attract 17 million members at more than 31,000 health clubs. While there is room for growth in the Middle East and North Africa, 10 countries in this region have a combined total of roughly 5,600 health clubs and approximately 3.4 million members. 

“A new enhancement to The IHRSA Global Report this year for the U.S. market is a graphic illustration of health club utilization trends over the past seven years,” Ablondi said. “For example, total health club visits annually in the United States increased by 25% since 2009.”

Wednesday
May252016

A New Partnership Between Fitness First’s Connected Fitness Labs and Wexer Virtual 

Connected Fitness Labs, a stand-alone subsidiary of Fitness First, and Wexer Virtual announced their new partnership today. The two companies have combined Connected Fitness Labs’ intelligent health and fitness app and Wexer Virtual’s platform and exercise content from top brands. 

“We work with the majority of the biggest club groups worldwide and they are more or less all looking to expand their digital ecosystems to meet an increased consumer demand for mobility, flexibility. and support. It was clear to me, when I understood how strong Connected Fitness Labs’ app is, that we, by combining our technologies, can meet that need in our industry,” says CEO of Wexer Virtual, Paul Bowman, about how and why this partnership has come about. 

The unique new solution, that will be available with clubs’ own brands, will develop personalized workouts, set goals, and provide access to a library of hundreds of exercises, video demonstrations, and group exercise classes. It will track members’ progress and provide feedback on their fitness. 

From an operator’s perspective, the app will provide data on member behavior to help clubs improve the overall gym experience and drive retention. Additionally, the solution has an online booking system and allows clubs to create in-club challenges and engaging digital leader boards. 

Looking one layer deeper, the Wexer Virtual/Connected Fitness Labs solution applies the principles of behavioral psychology to deliver a truly engaging fitness experience, fusing technology, fitness expertise, and motivational science to gain and retain members for longer while providing the gym chains tools to increase secondary revenue through digital services and in-app purchases. 

 “Technology is shaping the future of most industries and we are really looking forward to bringing this next-generation digital tool to the fitness industry—and equally excited to be partnering with Wexer Virtual, who are already a well-known and successful brand,” says David Langridge, MD, of Connected Fitness Labs. “We believe our skill sets of digital science and fitness industry expertise combine to offer something that is very unique and very valuable to both members and operators 24/7/365”.  

Bowman and Langridge expect to launch the first club group on the new solution in the third quarter of 2016. 

Tuesday
May242016

Who Needs a Magic Pill When There's Exercise? 

Truth be told, there is no medicine known to mankind that has the protective power of regular exercise. Consider these undisputed facts: regular exercise...

  • Reduces the risk of premature death;
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, breast cancer, colon cancer, and stroke;
  • Relieves depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia;
  • Lowers resting heart rate, reduces cholesterol, and increases metabolic efficiency;
  • Is essential for weight loss and weight management.

Every day, more and more doctors, health educators, and health journalists are continually communicating these benefits. As a result, the general population has become more aware of the “magic” power of exercise, and the implications for society over the long-term is decidedly positive.

Research has also shown that people tend to have substantially more success adhering to their exercise regimen if they belong to a health club or social group than those who do not.

For millions of men and women of all ages, their involvement with a health club has become an integral part of their lives. Their health club is not only a place where they work out, but it is also a place where they often connect with friends and neighbors— and meet new like-minded friends, too.

For more motivating stories and the latest news on the many health and well-being benefits of regular exercise, check out the Spring edition of Get Active! magazine.

Tuesday
May242016

3 Tips for Effective Strategic Planning for Health Club Professionals

Health club operations professionals know that creating and following a strategic plan is the key to their department’s and club’s success—but, often, that is easier said than done.   

“What I find a lot of the time with mangers is they get so sucked into the day-to-day they become really reactive,” says Mark Miller, vice president of Merritt Athletic Clubs in Baltimore, MD.  “When something unexpected happens it takes them off course, and the next thing they know they’re struggling and they’re never focused on how they can improve business and operations.” 

Miller will teach club operators how to overcome that obstacle in his IHRSA Institute session, “Strategic Planning for Club Operations Professionals.” During the Wednesday, August 3 session, attendees will learn to manage more effectively through the development of goals and objectives, timelines, and implementation plans. Miller will also help attendees understand the importance of resource allocation and positioning their team for growth. 

Here are three of Miller’s tips for effective strategic planning. 

1. Become Proactive, Not Reactive 

Club operators need to move from management in the moment to working toward anticipating what is coming down the pipeline, Miller says. By doing that, they can work with their employees to achieve a better outcome based on the company’s long-term vision.

“In my session, I’m going to teach attendees how to move from being a manager to being a leader and a manger,” he says. 

2. Broaden Your Mindset 

“Leaders have to start to look outside of the scope of just the fitness arena,” Miller says. “It’s critical to not be confined to your current thinking—to be open and conscious of where your own blind spots are and how you can improve upon them. Sometimes you need a good coach or mention to help you do that.” 

3. Connect with People Who Challenge You 

“Surround yourself with people you can learn from and get challenged by and grow from,” he says. “One of the benefits of going to the Institute is these are forward-thinking individuals sharing their insights and knowledge, so you’re interacting and building a network of people you can reach out to.” 

Miller’s presentation will help attendees gain a better understanding of their company culture and how it influences their success. 

“They’ll come away with actionable items that not only help them start the process of improving their growth, but items they can put into play immediately and move some needles,” he says. “I’m going to be at the Institute for a couple days, so I’d love to have conversations with attendees and let them pick my brain.”

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.

Monday
May232016

Personal Training Usage Continues to Grow Among Health Club Members

This feature is brought to you by the IHRSA Store spring sale. Now through June 30, save 25% on reports, webinars, and all other resources in the IHRSA Store by using promo code 2016SALE at checkout. 

Personal training is often the second-largest source of revenue for many health clubs and, in the case of many studios, it’s their primary source of revenue.

IHRSA’s Profiles of Success notes that leading club operators generate a median of 10% of total revenues from personal training. Incremental membership growth over the past several years has motivated club operators to seek new revenue sources and, consequently, the emphasis on monetizing the member experience through personal training (individual and small group). This year’s findings offer a window into the world of personal training to identify behaviors and trends that might help club operators prosper.

Personal Training Usage Moves Upward in 2014

In 2014, 15% of health club members and 15.4% of non-member users engaged in at least one personal training session. This represents an 11% increase over 2013, when 13.5% of members took part in at least one personal training session.

Among the 15% of members who have taken at least one personal training session over the past year, men are more likely to participate than women, with 16% of men and 14% of women engaging in personal training at least once in the past year, both increases from 2013. Among non-members, where overall participation was 15.4%, men and women were equally likely to engage in personal training.

Key distinctions in personal training participation can be observed across the various industry segments. The penetration percentage for members using personal training at least once in 2014 for traditional clubs ranges from 15% in nonprofits to 28% in multipurpose clubs, while for studio segments it ranges from 28% to 57%. It should be noted that the high levels of personal training participation for many of these studio facilities could be attributed to their heavy reliance on small group training.

In 2014, personal training clients worked with a trainer an average of 25 times over the course of the year, with women using the services of a trainer for an average of 32 times, in comparison with 20 sessions for men. The majority of members engage in personal training less than 10 times annually, with 59% of personal training clients using a personal trainer fewer than 10 times annually. On the other end of the spectrum, 15% of members engage with a trainer at least 50 times a year (super consumers) and women are nearly twice as likely to be a super consumer as men.

Personal Training Demographics – The Influence of Age and Income

Adults ages 25 to 34, along with youth 6 to 12, were the most likely to engage in personal training. Adults between the ages 35 and 44 closely followed these two younger age groups with 19% of personal training clients derived from this audience.

It’s worth noting that adults over age 55 are the least likely to leverage the expertise of a personal trainer, with fewer than 10% doing so. Viewing personal training trends by age group as a percentage of the overall membership, rather than just as a percentage of a specific age group, reveals that 6- to 12-year-olds, 25- to 34-year-olds, and 35- to 44-year-olds each represent 3% of the total membership base.

Personal training has proven to be the domain of the more affluent; 7% of members earning in excess of $100,000 annually engage in personal training—more than twice the percentage of any other HHI group that engages in personal training. No other HHI group has more than 2.4% of its membership group involved in personal training.

Finally, nearly 8% of all personal training clients are Caucasian health club members (over 50% of all personal training clients). Hispanic members are the second largest segment of personal training clients, representing 3.5% of all members (17% of all personal training clients). 

This post was excerpted from the 2015 Health Club Consumer Report.

Friday
May202016

This Week in the Fitness Industry: The Most ‘Instagrammable’ Fitness Studios

Shape Ranks Most ‘Instagrammable’ Fitness Studios in U.S.
Like it or not, social media is having an increasing effect on the fitness industry. Last week, we reported on the impact of social media on the growing popularity of inversion yoga poses. This week, a Shape.com article ranked the most “Instagrammable” fitness studios in the U.S., which indicates the degree to which photo-centric social sharing may be affecting health club décor and design. “In the age of Instagram, studios are outfitting their spaces with must-'gram decor like neon-lit mantras, graffiti walls, and personalized equipment,” the article states. “It sets their space apart, and send our motivation through the roof. Not only will we get a good sweat, but we'll get to do it in a place that looks as good as we'll feel.” Among the top-ranked: 305 Fitness, a dance studio in New York City; Air, an aerial yoga boutique in L.A; and EverybodyFights, a boxing club in Boston.

IHRSA President and CEO Signs UFIT Marseilles Declaration

Dr. Oliver Murphy and IHRSA President and CEO Joe Moore signing UFIT Marseille Declaration in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. The declaration represents a commitment to inclusion by and for the fitness sector, in full alignment with UNESCO’s International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Consumers Are Purchasing More Fitness Bands and Smartwatches
In the first quarter of the year, the shipments of wearables increased by 67% over the first quarter of last year, according to research firm IDC, CNET reports. Researchers suggested this growth was influenced by new strategies brands implemented to capture wearable customers, including exhibiting at tech shows and cutting prices following the holidays. Additionally, while fitness trackers such as Fitbit and Garmin continue to outsell smartwatches, smartwatches are beginning to catch up in terms of market share without eating into the sales of fitness bands. "It's shortsighted to think that basic wearables and smartwatches are in competition with each other," Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers, said in a statement. "Right now, we see both as essential to expand the overall market. The unique feature sets combined with substantial differences in price and performance sets each category apart, and leaves plenty of room for both to grow over the next few years."