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Friend or Foe? New IHRSA Member Retention Report examines likely health club Promoters and Detractors

IHRSA recently released the IHRSA Member Retention Report (Volume 3, Issue 1): What Differentiates Promoters from Detractors? Conducted in partnership with The Retention People (TRP), the current report focuses on the impact of the Net Promoter Score® on club member retention. Based on a survey of more than 10,000 health club members in the UK, the current installment examines how member demographics, duration, attendance, and activity participation vary between Promoters and Detractors. 

“The most recent edition of the IHRSA Member Retention Report will help club operators better distinguish the characteristics of loyal members, who may endorse their club to family and friends, from those who may be more likely to badmouth their business,” said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products.

According to the report, while the relationship between gender and Promoter or Detractor status is not particularly strong, NPS category varies by age groups. Members between the ages of 16-24 and 65 years or older are most likely to be Promoters. Half of members (50%) in the 16-24 age group are Promoters, while 46% ages 65 and older are Promoters.

Read the full IHRSA Member Retention Report to learn more on the characteristics of Promoters and Detractors.



What Can We Learn From Tree Climbing Fish?

There is a saying that goes something like “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing itself stupid.” It resonates with so many because we know every person has different talents, experiences, preferences, and abilities, and not all can be judged by the same measure.

Yet shouldn’t that acceptance of differences apply to physical activity and forming a fitness habit? What if some of these people who feel intimidated, those who tried and failed before, were just fish trying to climb a tree? Maybe they’ve tried running but didn’t enjoy it. Maybe they joined a gym but only used a few of the available machines and got bored. Maybe they bought a few months at a trendy new studio but found the classes didn’t fit their schedule. In all likelihood, most people who are habitually active have a story about an activity they tried that just didn’t work out. 

There is a theory that it takes 21 consecutive days of repeating an action to make it a habit. Yet I doubt a fish could climb a tree even once, let alone 21 days in a row. So how does the fish find the water and ace the swim test?

Read more on the Department of Health and Human Services Be Active Your Way Blog


CBI First Person: Perrey Reeves

You were born in New York City, but raised in New Hampshire. How did rural life affect you?

We were always doing something outside, skiing, playing soccer, etc., even in cold weather; in school, I was a gymnast. As a result, I love anything that involves movement. My parents always said, “You’ll stay young forever if you remain active.” And the mental health benefits are huge.

Speaking of mental health, we’ve heard that you’re very serious about meditation and yoga. A few details, please.

Yes, I started a meditation practice in 1992 and a yoga one in 1994, before they were cool. I like a simple, mantra-style meditation. You focus on something, and, when you drift off, you come back to the mantra—it’s very gentle, restful, and rather effortless.

As for yoga, it’s a Hatha practice. I first started with Ashtanga, since, having been an athlete, I wanted something really active. But I realized that I already have enough energy—I needed to calm down. So, today, my practice is a series of standing and balancing poses, plus stretching. I do what my body needs from day to day.

You’ve established the Sanctuary at Two Rivers, a yoga retreat in Costa Rica. How did that come about?

I wanted something beyond a career in Hollywood. I love acting, but have a lot of other interests. Because nature, health, wellness, and yoga are my passions, I thought, “I want to create a camp for adults.” Costa Rica is a beautiful country. And Sanctuary is situated between two rivers, with waterfalls, not far from the ocean. We built 15 structures—a little village with a spa and pool, on 40 acres in the jungle. We’re 100% solar, with luxurious tree houses—very Asian. We offer weeklong programs, with yoga classes and three meals a day. It’s restful, rejuvenating, and fun.

Life is draining, and nature helps restore one’s energy.

How do you attempt to motivate people to pursue a healthy lifestyle?

If you’re overweight and haven’t been eating properly, it’s hard to do things to get better. When, physically, you don’t have much energy and, psychologically, may be depressed, you’re more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors—it’s a vicious cycle. So I advise people to do something simple, initially: for instance, commit to just walking around the neighborhood—something realistic that they can do.

Say, “I’m going to do 15 minutes a day, three days a week, for 21 days, and I’m not going to let myself down.” It’s remarkable how happy that can make a person feel.

You also stress the importance of eating correctly—right?

Yes, if you’re not providing your body with the proper fuel, you’re not going to feel great. I’ve been a vegetarian much of my life, but I’m sure if I was doing a movie on location, living in a hotel, and a grilled cheese sandwich was the only thing I could get—I’d eat it. But if I’m not eating well, I don’t feel well. Health is a lifestyle—all of the different factors have to fit together.

All of this sounds like a far cry from Melissa Gold, the character you play on Entourage. Do you resemble her in any way?

Well, Melissa is devoted to her family and really loves Ari; all of their behavior comes from her desire to guide him, because he’s so out of control. So I’d say that we’re both strong women ... and both of us also talk fast.

After Entourage, what’s next for you?

Something will come along. I’m sure of it. That’s the great thing I’ve learned with meditation and yoga. I don’t stress over those types of thing anymore. There’s a calmer way to exist.



Giving Back To Those Who Serve

Few would argue that our men and women in uniform - from veterans of the armed services to active duty military to police, firemen, and first responders - are deserving of programs that benefit their health, well-being, and mission. IHRSA clubs have found a number of ways to give back to these men and women through programs, initiatives, and fundraising. 

A few ways IHRSA clubs have given back include:

Fundraising For Wounded Vetarans 

The Stone Creek Club and Spa in Covington, Louisiana ran a fundraising event last July 4th that raised over $15,000 and lined the road leading to the club with 500 miniature American flags. Funds raised were donated to the Wounded Warriors Project, a nonprofit organization that helps inured military veterans readjust to civilian life. Other clubs have also raised funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, and in 2012 TRX and 24 Hour Fitness also raised money for the Semper Fi Fund which provides support for injured servicemembers and their families.

Fitness Benefits for Military Families 

In 2011, IHRSA launched the Joining Forces Network in partnership with the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. Clubs who joined the network provided six and 12 month memberships at no charge to spouses and families of deployed National Guard. Over 1,000 clubs have participated at one point or another over the program's four years. 

Yoga Training To Cope With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

YogaFit, a global yoga fitness education school, offers a program called YogaFit for Warriors. The 100 hour training teaches instructors on techniques to help students with PTSD or traumatic brain injury (TBI) cope with and heal from their condition. 

These are just a few exmaples. Is your club offering a program for men and women in uniform? Please take one minute to answer our three question survey about military programs. When IHRSA knows what our clubs are doing in their communities, we are better able to engage partners and create initiatives that grow and promote clubs and the industry.

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The "Psychology" of Small Groups

Have you ever wondered what, exactly, attracts people to small-group training (SGT), and why the approach has become so popular in recent years?

SGT is proliferating in clubs and studios across the country, manufacturers are creating SGT programs for their equipment, and, as a result, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has designated small-group personal training one of the top 10 exercise trends for 2015.

No doubt, each club member has their own reason(s) for participating, which might include, among others, its cost-effectiveness, the support they obtain from the trainer, and the camaraderie and motivation provided by other participants.

But, regardless of why someone initially joins a group, smart trainers will do whatever they can to understand the psyches of both their individual SGT clients and the group as a whole, in order to deliver the ultimate exercise experience. That way, their students will continue to come back for more and are likely to refer their friends.

While it’s not easy, it’s possible—with a little extra thought and attention to individual and group dynamics—to understand the emotional/psychological dimension of SGT better.

To start, it’s important to keep in mind that, no matter the size of the group, the end goal for each participant is the same––achieving success. Results can be measured in any number of ways, but the first priority is to determine what each person really wants, as well as what they don’t want, from the experience. The trainer then utilizes that personal, individual information to inform and shape the group format, to provide the experience that members seek and expect.

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Best Practices: Fostering a Sense of Community



Everyone likes to belong! Keep that in mind. Exactly how a club creates a sense of belonging and community will depend, to some extent, on the type of facility. However, at the end of the day, it comes down to making members feel welcome. They need to enjoy their experience so much that they’ll want to come back.

Some clubs do it by offering the newest, most appealing equipment, and others, by providing a full complement of services, e.g., towels, personal lockers, etc. To make sure the member’s experience is enjoyable, some others develop running or hiking groups.

Regardless, the one thing that all successful health and fitness facilities have in common is staff who are genuinely concerned about members, and enjoy being part of their involvement in club activities.

And, while being made to feel welcome shouldn’t stop at the front desk, it most definitely starts there. In a world that seems to be moving more and more toward automation and digital interaction, the club that creates a warm, welcoming, personal environment will always win.

Also keep in mind the fact that the process of fostering a sense of personal connection begins at the top. It’s simply not good enough for management to expect front-line staff to be the best if it, itself, isn’t serving as a role model of what the best looks and acts like.

Remember that the adage, “Treat your staff the way you want them to treat your members” is as true today as it ever was.

The bottom line: everyone wants to feel as though they belong.



Beth, a former member of our club, had to cancel because her husband’s job change was taking her out of state. In a video testimonial, she said she was sad to leave Austin for two reasons— she was going to miss her church and her health club. “Lots of gyms have nice equipment and good classes, but it’ll be hard to

find one with the same kind of heart,” she said.

All clubs should aspire to do the things Beth regarded as important: a staff that knows all of the members by name, and that demonstrates true concern and devotion; high staff and member retention; a team culture that encourages staff to refer members to other employees who can be helpful; and members who view the staff as “family.”

Note that Beth didn’t mention fancy new Internet-enabled treadmills, or community-building events that require loads of time or money; nor did she single out favorite employees. For her, our club has “heart” because the people working here have “heart.”

How do you make this happen?

Hire and fire the right people. Define your purpose and values, and compare every decision against them. Compensate and reward employees based on their performance. Train them to create a consistent member and guest experience.

Need a roadmap to get started? I suggest Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business.

Ultimately, you want your members to say what Beth said in closing: “It’s home, and it’s always hard to leave home.”


Participation in Some Physical Activities In Adolescence Predicts Activity Later In Life 

Generally physical activity in childhood predicts activity later on, where more active kids tend to be more active as adults.  However, it is not known if there is any association between type of physical activity and greater activity levels in adulthood. A study in the International Journal of Behavioral, Nutrition, and Physical Activity examined this relationship, following 673 kids in Montreal, Canada, for 10 years.  Researchers looked at 29 different activities sorted into three groups: sports, fitness and dance, and running.

The study showed a positive relationship between sports and running in the early teen years (age 12-13) and physical activity at age 24. No such relationship was found for fitness and dance. Health clubs provide a safe, supportive place for kids to run and engage in a variety of sports.

Bélanger M1,2,3, Sabiston CM4, Barnett TA5,6, O'Loughlin E7,8, Ward S9,10, Contreras G11,12, O'Loughlin J13,14,15. Number of years of participation in some, but not all, types of physical activity during adolescence predicts level of physical activity in adulthood: Results from a 13-year study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2015 Jun 10;12(1):76. doi: 10.1186/s12966-015-0237-x.

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Community Based Exercise Program Helps Women Maintain Bone Health and Muscle Mass  

As people age, they experience declines in bone health and loss of muscle mass. A study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics analyzed the effect of a community based exercise program on preventing some of these losses in 20 post-menopausal women with type 2 diabetes. The exercise program included walking, aquatic exercise, and resistance training three times per week for 32 weeks.

The results showed an improvement in muscle mass and bone mineral density among women who exercised compared to those who didn’t, suggesting that regular, varied exercise can help prevent sarcopenia (age related muscle loss) and osteoporosis in older women. Health clubs provide a supportive, safe place for women to pursue regular, a variety of different exercise activities.

Bello M1, Sousa MC2, Neto G2, Oliveira L3, Guerras I4, Mendes R5, Sousa N5. The effect of a long-term, community-based exercise program on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. J Hum Kinet. 2014 Nov 12;43:43-8. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2014-0088. eCollection 2014.

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Physical Activity Linked To Lower Risk of Depression Regardless of Sedentary Time

Often sitting time and physical activity levels are grouped together when it comes to health research. This study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, assessed the two separately, looking at the association between sedentary behavior, physical activity, and a combination of the two on depressive symptoms in Japanese adults. Over 2,900 people filled out questionnaires on physical activity and depression.

The findings showed an independent relationship between more physical activity and lower risk of depressive symptoms, but no association was noted between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms. These results suggest that meeting physical activity requirements can help reduce the risk of depression among adults regardless of sedentary time.  Health clubs provide a fun, supportive environment to get recommended amounts of physical activity. 

Liao Y, Shibata A, Ishii K, Oka K. Independent and Combined Associations of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior with Depressive Symptoms Among Japanese Adults. Int J Behav Med. 2015 Apr 8. [Epub ahead of print]

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Excitement and Demand continue to grow for MACMA

The Mid-Atlantic Club Management Association (MACMA) will hold its Annual Summer Conference July 22-23 in Annapolis, MD. Keynote speakers Trina Gray and Mike Moore will kick off the event designed for owners, senior managers, personal trainers, account representatives, marketing specialists, and customer service specialists. Breakout session will focus on 3 important entities of running a health and fitness club: management/leadership; sales/marketing; fitness. A growing exhibit floor allows all the Associate Members an opportunity to discuss services and products in an intimate setting.

"The MACMA Annual Conference has proven to be professional, educational, time-worthy, and cost-effective,"said Kerry Campbell, Executive Director of MACMA.

MACMA is also offering a Jonathan Ross half-day workshop and a golf tournament. Titled, "Create Life Changing Fitness Makeovers for your Clients," the workshop focuses on ways to grow will power, change attitudes, and the power of increasing the complexity of a workout for your personal training clients. 

"The golf tournament has become a fun networking tradition for MACMA attendees," Campbell said, noting that it is open to fitness professionals, associate members, and the public. The tournament will be held at Renditions Golf Club in Annapolis, MD, and is modeled after the best holes on the PGA Tour, Campbell noted.  “If you enjoy golfing, don’t miss this course! It is amazing,” she said.