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Obesity: There Is Hope!

An article in this issue of CBI, “A Call to Action!,” notes that “Overweight and obese children desperately need our nation’s help.” From a three-year-old in Texas to young men and women deemed “unfit” for military service, the situation is dire.

The health of our children has always been a primary—in fact, a primal—concern, but, today, it’s being threatened, across the board, by physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and other unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, producing what’s been described as an “obesity epidemic.”

Recently, doctors at the University of Texas in Houston described the case of a three-year-old girl—the obese daughter of obese parents—who’d been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, one of the youngest cases ever reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that, in 2012, 21% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 were obese (see pg. 48). And nearly 25% of 17-to-24-year-olds are too overweight to serve in the military.

The same problem is developing in other sectors where physical fitness is critical, e.g., police and fire departments.

I have friends who are in charge of evaluating applicants for several police departments. When a few job openings are posted, hundreds of highly motivated people apply. The written exam has always thinned the ranks, but now, they tell me, the physical fitness requirements are disqualifying a growing number of applicants.

On the designated day, these individuals find it impossible to pass the fitness test they had months—or even years—to prepare for.

The societal implications of an overweight population are countless—e.g., an increase in the incidence of certain diseases and medical conditions, rising healthcare costs, reduced employee productivity, shortened longevity—and their impact, monumental.

But it’s the personal cost to our children, and to the adults they’ll become, that’s most important.

As “A Call to Action!” points out, there are things our industry can do—should do—to help. Another critical step is to ensure that children understand the fun and benefits of physical activity, and have plenty of opportunities to engage in it. In 2013, more than half of all high school students didn’t participate in any physical education (PE) classes in a typical week, and, today, nearly 75% don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of activity per day.

Promoting PE in schools is one of the most effective ways to ensure our nation’s health. One way to do so is by supporting passage of the Fit Kids Act, introduced in Congress in 2013 and reassigned, last April, to a congressional committee for its consideration. If approved, this proposal would provide grants to schools across the country to launch, expand, or improve upon PE programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Importantly, it also would replace the 37% in funding cut from the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) for fiscal 2015, the country’s only dedicated source of funding for PE programs. To learn more, visit ihrsa.org/industry-watch/tag/fit-kids-act.

There is hope for overweight children … because there are solutions.

In the case of the three-year-old in Texas, physicians, initially, put the child on a liquid version of the diabetes drug metformin. But they also educated her parents about diabetes and nutrition, and asked the family to modify its lifestyle. “They were also asked to increase their daughter’s physical activity,” explains Foxnews.com.

Six months after diagnosis, the girl had lost 25% of her weight, had normal blood glucose levels, and was no longer taking metformin.


2 Member Loyalty Trends Across Top-Performing Health Clubs 

Two common trends across top-performing health clubs have a positive impact on member loyalty, according to a study by The Retention People (TRP), which created a loyalty benchmark for the UK health club industry.

Researchers generated more than 40,000 responses across hundreds of clubs by asking them to rank their health club using the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a rating obtained by asking customers a single question on a 0 to 10 rating scale: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”

Based on their responses, customers can be categorized into one of three groups: Promoters (9-10 rating), Passives (7-8 rating), and Detractors (0-6 rating). The percentage of Detractors is subtracted from the percentage of Promoters to obtain a Net Promoter Score.

Respondents can also fill out a free-form box to explain why they chose their rating. TRP used the scores and common phrases used by respondents to create word clouds to identify trends and themes.

Trends Across Promoters for Top-Performing Clubs

  • Staff: The most dominant category or the most frequent positive comment used by members to explain their high score was relating to staff. Nearly 1 in 4 of the comments from the top scoring NPS clubs related to ‘fantastic staff’, ‘great service’, ‘friendly team,’ and similar terms.’
  • Facilities: ‘Facilities’ was the second most common reason for members giving a promoter score of 9 or 10, with around 1 in 7 members citing this, followed by equipment, value for money, classes, and convenience.

Trends Across Detractors for Top-Performing Clubs­­

  • Crowded, changing rooms, equipment, and facilities were the most common words used by detractors of the top performing clubs. Interestingly, there were no complaints at all about the staff or service. In fact, there was only one common theme of reasons cited for not recommending these clubs; that they were too busy at peak times (or maybe put another way—too successful). Changing rooms and facilities were also referred to by limited numbers of people.

For more in-depth information, graphics, and guidance, read the IHRSA Member Retention Report: Focus on Member Loyalty by clicking the button below. 

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This Week In Health Promotion: New E-Book, Motivation Tips From Trainers

Free E-book: IHRSA Clubs Promote Good Health and Good Practice

IHRSA’s latest free e-book, IHRSA Clubs Promote Good Health and Good Practice: Highlights from the IHRSA 2015 Health Promotion and Wellness Track, was released yesterday and outlines how club operators can turn health promotion programming into a successful business strategy. Promoting good health is a key practice because it benefits a club’s business, helps build and create new partnerships, and turns creative ideas into successful opportunities to advance physical activity. This e-book provides:

  • A summary of the best health promotion programs offered at IHRSA 2015 as a preview for what is to come at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando
  • A look at the variety of health promotion programs successfully run by clubs
  • Suggestions from leading industry experts
  • Additional resources for further information
  • Questions to ask

To read more about the e-book, see the IHRSA blog or download now.

How Can You Stay Motivated? 25 Tips From Trainers 

Motivation, especially for healthy habits like diet and exercise, can be easy to find and hard to hold onto. Even the most experienced fitness enthusiasts can struggle to stay motivaed. CNN talked to four inspiring fitness experts and got them to share 25 tips for staying motivated. The tips include:

  • Trying a new class
  • Listening to great music
  • Planning a post workout meal
  • Exercising with friends 

For all 25 tips, read the full article on CNN. 



Free E-book: IHRSA Clubs Promote Good Health and Good Practice

IHRSA’s latest free e-book, IHRSA Clubs Promote Good Health and Good Practice: Highlights from the IHRSA 2015 Health Promotion and Wellness Track, outlines how club operators can turn health promotion programming into a successful business strategy.  

Promoting good health is a key practice because it benefits a club’s business, helps build and create new partnerships, and turns creative ideas into successful opportunities to advance physical activity.

Because health promotion in the club setting is so important, IHRSA launched the first-ever health promotion track during IHRSA 2015 in Los Angeles, and will continue the track at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando.

This newly created track provides club owners and operators with an opportunity to learn and discuss best practices for successful health promotion programming and gain valuable insight from other leaders across the industry.

The goal of this e-book is to provide:

  • A summary of the best health promotion programs offered at IHRSA 2015 as a preview for what is to come at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando
  • A look at the variety of health promotion programs successfully run by clubs
  • Suggestions from leading industry experts
  • Additional resources for further information
  • Questions to ask

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New Retention Report: Stay Connected to Keep Your Club Members Raving Fans

Members who received at least one phone call, email, text, or social media message from their health club were more than twice as likely to be a Promoter than a Detractor, according to the new IHRSA Member Retention Report (Volume 3, Issue 2).

The report was conducted in partnership with The Retention People (TRP) and builds upon the previous installment, focusing 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 edition examines how communication strategy, member progress, and the impact of club improvements and inconveniences affect retention.

Not surprisingly, member progress with goals also affects NPS status. Roughly two-thirds or more of members who indicated making progress were promoters, in comparison with detractors. Sociability also ranked high among Promoters, as 70 percent of members that reported having made new friends were promoters.

“Understanding the mindset of Promoters is critical to improving overall member satisfaction, which has a direct impact on improving retention,” said Phil Bonomo, director of TRP North America. “TRP will be studying promoters in depth during an upcoming, first of its kind, North American health club member ‘longitudinal study.’ This study will track active club members over a multi-year period and provide meaningful insight into what makes a Promoter, and how clubs create a culture that yields more Promoters than Detractors.”

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Gold Threads of the IHRSA ‘Fabric’

Rob Goldman helped to create and, in turn, was helped by IHRSA

In the summer of 1981, John McCarthy, the acting executive director of a brand-new entity known as the International Racquet Sports Association (IRSA), faced a formidable task. His industry colleagues had called upon him to drive the growth and development of the fledgling trade association for the burgeoning racquet sports industry.

A team player both by instinct and practice, McCarthy knew that, to be successful, he had to enlist the help of the most knowledgeable, accomplished, and well-connected club operators in the country.

One of the first people he called was Rob Goldman, who, at the time, was managing the Tri-City Racquet Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as the Greater Cincinnati Indoor Tennis Association (GCITA). At GCITA, he’d designed and implemented a series of inter-club tennis leagues and tournaments that involved 12 other facilities.

Goldman, now 65, recently retired after having served for 26 years in a variety of positions with the Columbia Association (CA), a nonprofit service organization based in Columbia, Maryland. The business, a member for more than 33 years of what’s now the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), manages a self-contained, planned community of 10 villages with a total of 100,000 residents––the brainchild of the late real estate visionary James Rouse.

Goldman served most recently as the vice president and COO of CA, and as the general manager of its Haven on the Lake mind/body/wellness retreat.

Read more about Rob Goldman.

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IHRSA Applauds Introduction of Senate WHIP Act

IHRSA voiced its ardent support of the Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (S. 2296), introduced today by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). Introduction of this important piece of legislation is a fundamental step in providing American employers and employees with the tools they need to help stop the devastating health trend toward inactivity and obesity in America. 

"IHRSA commends Senator Cornyn for his admirable leadership and foresight in seeing how wellness in the workplace is an issue that translates into a stronger U.S. economy,” said Joe Moore, president and CEO of IHRSA. "By keeping workers healthy, we control the cost of health care, increase productivity, and bolster the ability of America’s businesses to compete in a global economy. Undoubtedly, primary prevention—supported by legislation like the WHIP Act and other public policy endeavors—is the most cost-effective means of securing the future health and prosperity of America. The WHIP Act takes a significant step in this direction.”

Under current tax law, businesses small and large are permitted to deduct the cost of on-site exercise facilities, and employees are not taxed on the benefit. However, if an employer provides this same benefit at an off-site facility, employees who take advantage of the benefit must pay income tax on the value of the subsidy. 

This requirement is in direct contradiction to the goal of promoting healthful activity in the workplace and is simply unfair to employees of firms who are unable to provide an onsite fitness center to all employees. The WHIP Act would eliminate this inequity, reaffirming employers’ right to deduct the cost of providing off-site health club or gym benefits and preventing this wellness benefit from being considered additional income for employees. 

“The WHIP Act will help America’s businesses build a strong employee base,” Moore said. “Since many employers do not have the resources or office space to offer on-site exercise rooms and fitness programs, the WHIP Act makes it easier for all employers to offer health-promoting exercise incentives to their workers without any tax complications. The introduction of the WHIP Act makes it clear that Senator Cornyn is a champion of primary prevention, and is truly committed to improving the health of all Americans.”

To learn more and join the campaign visit ihrsa.org/whip.


7 Surprising Facts about Orlando, Florida – Home of IHRSA 2016

IHRSA 2016 will kick off in Orlando, FL, on March 21, marking our first-ever visit to the east coast. While the city is known for sun and amusement parks, there are many other features that make it the perfect location for this year’s conference. 

Here are seven facts about Orlando that may surprise you.

  1. The average temperature in Orlando in March is 78 degrees Fahrenheit—that’s 38 degrees warmer than the U.S.’s average temperature for the same month.
  2. Orlando International Airport (MCO) sees 851 flights each day, with 35 airlines flying to 81 domestic locations and 44 international routes.
  3. The Orange County Convention Center, where IHRSA 2016 will take place, is the largest convention center in the world to achieve the Gold Level of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and the highest ranking convention center in the U.S., according to Cvent, Business Review, and USA Today. Incidentally, it is also fewer than three miles from Walt Disney World.
  4. The city boasts 176 golf courses, some designed by the greats such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
  5. There is more to Orlando than Disney World—it is also home to amusement parks like LEGOLAND, Busch Gardens, Seaworld, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where you can find the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Be sure to visit ihrsa.org/attraction-discounts for theme park discounts just for IHRSA 2016 attendees!
  6. Orlando is becoming a hub for fine dining, featuring restaurants by renounced chefs Emeril Lagasse and Todd English.
  7. The new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is bringing Broadway shows, ballet performances, and more to the city. In fact, Broadway’s percussion, movement, and visual comedy STOMP is scheduled for March 23 and 24.

As you can see, not only is Orlando an ideal location for IHRSA 2016, it’s a great getaway spot for families, too. So register now, bring your family, and extend your stay to visit a theme park or two and digest all of the insight you’ll have gleaned at the conference. 

IHRSA 2016 Register Now


Ten Years of Experience Fueled DC Personal Trainer Regulatory Success

Have you been following the personal training regulation battle in DC? If you have, you may have wondered what role did IHRSA play in the recent victory in DC regarding personal trainer legislation. A look at the history of this fight and the strategy employed in the DC fight demonstrates IHRSA’s role in the victory in DC and a number of other states.

Let’s start with a look at the history. The first time IHRSA defeated an attempt to narrow the supply of personal trainers through legislation was 2006. (In 2008, DC made its first attempt to regulate personal training, but it was defeated by IHRSA.) 2006 marked the beginning of many years of IHRSA successfully fighting for clubs on the issue of person trainer regulation. Let’s do a quick run through of the personal trainer legislation that has been introduced and stopped by IHRSA.

  • 2006 – GA
  • 2007 – TX
  • 2007 – MA
  • 2008 – NJ
  • 2008 – MD
  • 2008 – DC
  • 2009 – NH
  • 2009 – MA
  • 2009 – CA
  • 2010 – NJ
  • 2010 – MD
  • 2012 – TX
  • 2011 – MA
  • 2011 – GA
  • 2012 – NJ
  • 2012 – FL
  • 2013 – MA
  • 2013 – MA
  • 2014 – DC fight began
  • 2015 – MA.

One of the things we have learned in the nearly 10 years IHRSA has lobbied on this issue is to pick the right fight. When we look a little closer into DC, we see how important that is. If all the interested parties lobbied only the Physical Therapy Board then we would have lost. Despite the repeated attempts to sway the members of the Physical Therapy Board, the Physical Therapy Board was poised to issue onerous regulations.

Early in the process, IHRSA and our DC lobbyist realized that the Physical Therapy Board was NOT interested in working with anyone in the industry. So, while not abandoning our seat at the table with the Board, we moved the focus of our lobbying to the DC Council and the Mayor’s office. IHRSA didn’t publicize this to our members or enter the media frenzy that was created in DC because victory is, was, and always will be more important than publicity. It was this focus on the DC Council that led to the victory. The regulations in DC were not stopped because the Physical Therapy Board listened to reason, but because the mayor changed the chair of the Physical Therapy Board and then Jack Evans, of the DC Council, gathered enough votes to repeal the mandate for personal trainer regulations. With that, the Physical Therapy Board opted not to release their guidelines. But make no mistake, the victory came from IHRSA’s work with the DC Council and Mayor. Not the Physical Therapy Board.

Just last week, the Standard’s Committee of the IHRSA Board looked again at Personal Trainer regulation and reaffirmed IHRSA’s Personal Trainer Guidelines position that allows for registration of personal trainers by an accredited third party, but not licensing. IHRSA, like both the Obama administration and many members of the Republican right - as pointed out in the WSJ article - is opposed to over-regulation, increased costs for personal training services and a money grab by state and local governments. IHRSA will continue this battle as we have done for the last ten years. 


Stone Creek Club’s 500 Flag Fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project

IHRSA member Stone Creek Club and Spa in Covington, LA, sponsored its third annual Stars and Stripes Salute fundraiser to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that supports wounded U.S. service members and their families.

Stone Creek flew 500 small American flags, each representing a donation, along the road outside of its facility from November 6-11. The health club has raised more than $30,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project over the past two years.

This year, Stone creek joined other health clubs throughout the U.S. to participate in the Stars and Stripes Salute, which cumulatively raised more than $150,000 in donations.

"We are happy to join the community for the opportunity to do what we can to honor our nation's veterans," Larry Conner, Stone Creek’s general manager and founder of the fundraiser told a local news outlet.