The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



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Get Active! Magazine’s 2016 Spring Running Shoe Review 

by Cregg Weinmann, Running Shoe Reviewer for Fortius Media Group, LLC 

Finding the best shoe for you has traditionally begun by assessing the characteristics of your feet and gait, and then matching them with the features and properties of a particular shoe. If you had a neutral gait, then your need for specialized shoes was reduced.

However, if you rolled to the inside of your foot, called overpronation, the thinking was that you required a more heavily supported shoe. 

This approach was based on the science- and construction-based solutions of 30 years ago. The notion of overpronation, and the thinking behind it, continued until recently. The (oversimplified) idea was that runners who overpronated risked injury if they didn’t run in shoes that employed a structure to correct the excessive motion. 

The recent minimalist movement set in motion an exploration and rethinking of these long-held tenets. Yes, the use of geometry and lighter materials have improved running shoes and their performance. But more importantly, it has resulted in a paradigm shift toward the understanding that running shoes by themselves don’t prevent overuse injuries, because they can’t control overpronation. 

(Click to enlarge)

This doesn’t mean the accepted stabilizing technologies are unnecessary. They actually help to resist the premature breakdown of the shoe’s structure and performance, playing a key role in the comfort of both your runs and your wallet. They just can’t stop the motion that your feet are inclined to take.  

The motion of general foot types is best served, first, by certain footwear properties, components and designs, and, second, by an individual runner’s preferences for fit and feel. Of the two, fit and feel trump properties, components and designs. All feet pronate, and some—depending on their movement patterns—pronate more than others. 

What we suggest is a starting point within the categories of running footwear styles, but it’s only a starting point. Runners are very fond of their go-to shoes, and a large percentage of runners have been guided toward a particular shoe at the suggestion of a running specialty store. That suggestion starts the learning process for what works for runners. With all the services your local running specialty store provides, it’s a great place to start your search. 

View the full “2016 Running Shoe Review” article in the Spring issue of Get Active!


Janine Williams Shares Her Advice on How to Be an Informed Leader

To show our appreciation for the industry leaders who support IHRSA's efforts to Grow, Promote, and Protect the industry, IHRSA is launching the “ILC Spotlight series.” We hope this series will help you get to know more about our industry's leaders, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

ILC Spotlight: Janine Williams
Leisure Sports, Pleasanton, CA

What is the most fulfilling part of being a leader in this industry?

First of all, as a company, Leisure Sports has been an industry leader in design and operational expertise in both the health club and hospitality industries which provides us with the platform to highlight the excellent work that we do and the accomplishments that we achieve. I appreciate having a voice at the table with IHRSA and our lobbyist in Sacramento when it comes to impactful legislation that is making its way through Congress. While the process can be tedious and slow, the small victories along the way make it rewarding. I also enjoy the connections I make with other club operators and the knowledge that I can impart due to my experience in the legislative arena.

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of advice you would have given your younger-self about working in this industry?  

The advice that I have followed, and would give to others, is ensuring that you continue to expand the depth and breadth of your knowledge; not only in the health club industry but in business and financial acumen as well. While you need to have a passion for fitness, you also need a solid understanding as to what ultimately drives profitability. This includes understanding the potential threats and opportunities within your marketplace and whether these threats and opportunities are internal or external by nature. Far too many health club operators open their doors only to close their business shortly thereafter. This detracts from our credibility and is often the reason why viable operators are faced with onerous regulations and statutes. 

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)? 

Leisure Sports has been an active member of the ILC for many years, as we believe it is important that we unite together to fight off potentially harmful legislation while also promoting legislation that would help our industry grow. As a California-based company, we are continuously faced with burdensome regulations and new laws that substantially increase our costs, and subsequently, the fees passed on to our members. Many of these laws are in direct conflict with one of our primary goals as a country in reducing obesity and rising healthcare costs.

I have taken a very active role in attempting to protect the recreational programs that we provide to our youth, as the obesity epidemic in young children continues to skyrocket. Health club operators are well poised to make a significant impact in a critical area, but not when we are constantly held to regulatory requirements that are not imposed on others.



Everything You Need to Know About Health Club Locker Room Size

Locker rooms and their amenities and features have become increasingly important as health clubs compete to attract new members and retain existing ones, but choosing the right size for your facility can be tricky—especially since there are a number of factors that should be considered in addition to the basic square footage percentage. 

An upscale locker room design by Fabiano Designs.

“Like all good design, locker planning is a case-by-case puzzle that needs specific attention and understanding of the target market,” says Hervey Lavoie, architect and president of Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative in Denver, CO. 

To help club owners and operators determine the locker room size that’s best for each facility, we talked to three experts about all things locker room. 

Locker Room Size Rules of Thumb 

Since there are no specific industry standards on locker room square footage, expert opinions are varied—but most agree locker rooms should take up 10-15% of the facility’s overall square footage. 

“As a rule of thumb, the quick answer is in general about 12-15% of the overall club size, meaning if you have a 20,000-square-foot club, the total size dedicated to both locker rooms may be between 2,400–3,000 square feet total, or about 1,000-1500 square feet each,” says Rudy Fabiano, architect for Fabiano Designs in Montclair, NJ. “Likewise, a 60,000-square-foot facility may have between 3,500 and 4,500 square feet for each locker room. These are base numbers that should get modified depending on the various factors.”  

But keep in mind that there’s a limit to this rule of thumb—as units get smaller, the required locker room percentage may grow to accommodate the minimum fixtures and facilities required, Fabiano says. 

“Many times this will preclude the ability to have any locker rooms at all,” he says. “With smaller clubs, under 5,000 square-feet as an example, we may opt for common locker areas, with dedicated individual toilet and shower rooms.” 

It’s important to consider the types and number of fixtures required by the plumbing code, occupancy load, etc. in the club’s jurisdiction. 

Member Demographics and Membership Cost 

There are a number of factors that may cause a club owner to modify the locker room size beyond the 10-15% rule, including member demographics and membership cost. 

“To better determine the actual locker room square footage and number of lockers, the specific needs and logistics of each facility must be analyzed and addressed,” says Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., owner of Paris-based Fitness Resources Consulting Services. “If there is a much larger percentage of either of the sexes, the size of the changing areas should reflect that difference.” 

Hoffman also recommends that clubs consider the type of facility and member services; an upscale facility might choose to allot a larger amount of changing space per person to enhance the member experience. 

Consider “factors such as the demographics the club will serve, the number of member visits anticipated, and the cost of a typical memberships will affect size,” Fabiano says. “As an example, typically, the higher the membership cost, the more square feet per member should be allocated. Since personal space is a premium, higher end clubs typically provide more features, more space, bigger lockers, etc., versus a budget club, with minimum features and amenities.” 

When determining locker room size and number of lockers, club owners and operators should also consider the demographics of the surrounding community. 

“Is the club serving a residential market or a business work day market? Locker demand will be greater in a facility that is serving a work-day population,” Lavoie says. “A larger percentage of a residential-based membership will arrive dressed for working out and not need access to lockering facilities. Business-based membership traffic, for obvious reasons, has a greater need for changing facilities as they fit their workouts into their work day.” 

Continue reading "Everything You Need to Know About Health Club Locker Room Size."

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Earn a Masters in Science by Conducting Health Promotion Research in Ireland

If you have ever wanted to (or know someone who wants to) earn a masters degree–fully funded with a monthly stipend–while living in a beautiful part of Ireland, this blog post is for you.

IHRSA, the UNESCO Chair, the Center for Entrepreneurship & Enterprise Development, and Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee) are collaborating to offer a fully funded masters of science program at IT Tralee. The program spans two years, and the research project is focused on assessing the framework of currently available programs for the promotion of physical activity and exercise, and reviewing data on the effectiveness of inclusive fitness physical activity initiatives.

The student selected for the program would spend their two years working to identify the framework of currently available schemes/programs available for the promotion of physical activity and/or exercise among the general population and to conduct a review of available research on the cost effectiveness and/or return on investment (ROI) of identified programs or schemes promoting physical activity.

IT Tralee is located in County Kerry, Ireland, a coastal region on the southwest of the island, and is home to some of Ireland’s most iconic scenery. The UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Physical Education, Sport, Recreation and Fitness, based at IT Tralee, leads a global partnership working in these domains of physical activity as part of a broader intersectional human rights agenda focused on the social inclusion of marginalized groups in keeping with the goals of the United Nations, and specifically those of UNESCO.

There are a host of great student facilities at IT Tralee and the area has plenty of indoor and outdoor social, community and sporting activities. Tralee is close to mountains, lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

If you are interested in applying (or know someone who is) and want more information, contact Kilian Fisher at To apply, download and complete the Application Form and send it electronically to

The application deadline is July 15th 2016.



Download IHRSA’s Free Guide to the Boutique Studio Phenomenon

Boutique studios—offering everything from cycling, yoga, Pilates, and personal training, to boxing, CrossFit, and functional training—now constitute 42% of the U.S. club market, according to a CBS News report. That’s double what it was in 2014. 

There are a number of reasons boutique fitness studios are hot right now—they’re social, they’re trendy, and they help members achieve fast results. The rapid growth of boutiques has changed the landscape of the fitness industry, causing concern among health club owners and operators. 

IHRSA’s Guide to the Boutique Studio Phenomenon provides a broad view of this trend, digging into the root of this particular consumer purchasing behavior, the elements behind the appeal of boutiques, and a number of ways health clubs can leverage boutique strategies to improve member engagement and drive revenue. 

This free resource includes:  

  • The Root of Boutique Studio Members’ Purchasing Behavior
  • The Rise and Rise of Boutique Clubs
  • Maximize Revenue by Leveraging the Growth of Studios
  • 4 Expert Tips for Successful Fitness Studio Design
  • Further Reading 

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Happy International Day of Yoga

Tuesday, June 21 marks International Day of Yoga, celebrated by the United Nations as a day to raise awareness about the many benefits of practicing yoga. 

Yoga has been shown to decrease stress, improve muscle strength, help maintain balance, and increase flexibility. Many clubs offer yoga as part of their group exercise offerings, and some clubs offer yoga for specific groups like prenatal yoga and yoga class for older adults. 

According to the latest IHRSA Consumer Report, 9.9 million consumers participated in yoga in 2014, one of the most popular group exercise offerings for people under 24. Stretching and calisthenics were one of the most popular offerings to adults over 55. And, according to the Sport and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), 25.2 million health club members participated in yoga in 2015. 

IHRSA members offer a wide variety of yoga styles, from meditative and restorative yoga to higher intensity Vinyasa and power yoga classes, as well as Bikram yoga, or yoga performed in a heated room. Some clubs and boutiques have taken a more interesting route—trying out yoga with cats, beer, and even salt. 

Are you celebrating International Day of Yoga? Tag us on Twitter @IHRSA or add the hashtag #WhyGetActive. 


Answer These 5 Questions to Hire More Strategically at Your Health Club

Hiring and staffing plays an integral role in any health club’s strategic plan. 

Earlier this month, we discussed the questions you should ask every job candidate at your club. Today, we’re taking a step back to consider the questions health club owners and operators should ask themselves before hiring someone. 

Health Clubs Should Adopt a Strategic Approach to Hiring   

To hire strategically, you should begin with the end in mind, says Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3. 

“When you do that, you are essentially beginning with your strategy goal and then you can create the steps and roadmap to get there,” he says. “So to align, you would define: Who do I need to hire to achieve our strategy? How do I need to train my team to achieve our strategy? What performance metrics do they need to achieve to achieve our strategy?” 

McBride will teach IHRSA Institute attendees how to enhance their strategic focus and develop high performing teams that deliver desired outcomes and profitability in his Wednesday, August 3 session, “Strategic Planning for Club Executives.”  

5 Questions to Ask Yourself before Hiring Someone 

Here are the five questions he recommends club owners and operators ask themselves before hiring someone:  

  1. What type of personality do you need to add to your team for it to operate at the highest level of productivity? 
  2. What skills are needed for the team to carry out the strategic mission? 
  3. Based on this candidate’s past performance, is there evidence that he/she will make your site more successful and achieve your strategic goals? 
  4. Does this candidate have enough of the “must be hired with” traits?  
  5. Do they have honesty/integrity? (These are always non-negotiable.)  

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


IHRSA 2016 Session Recordings Available Now for Download

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. 

There’s nothing worse than the dreaded commute to work—especially for fitness professionals. You’re excited to get to the club and start another day of doing what you love, but first you have to sit in traffic or deal with crowds on public transit. 

It’s an unavoidable waste of time. But it doesn’t have to be.   

All IHRSA 2016 session MP3 audio recordings are now available for download in the IHRSA Store

Thousands of fitness industry leaders celebrated IHRSA 2016 in Orlando, March 21-24. The event showcased the newest and most innovative equipment, programs, and technology from over 400 exhibitors, reinforced the industry’s commitment to increase physical activity levels across the globe, and provided an unparalleled venue to learn, network, and exchange ideas. 

The Convention featured dozens of educational sessions on several topics, including:  

  • Customer Service & Retention
  • Fitness & Personal Training
  • Health Promotion & Wellness
  • Leadership
  • Management & Operations
  • Membership Sales & Marketing
  • Programming
  • Research & Industry Trends
  • Technology & Social Media  

Whether you attended the event or not, there are a multitude of learning opportunities to be had by listening to the session recordings. 

And if you’re an IHRSA member, we have even more good news: all IHRSA Convention recordings from 2013 and earlier are available to you for free.   

So, check out the available recordings at the IHRSA Store and make your next commute a motivational learning experience. And don't forget to use promo code 2016SALE to save 25% on purchases through June 30.


This Week in the Fitness Industry: Augie’s Quest Wins $100K for ALS Research

IHRSA Members Help Augie’s Quest Win $100K for ALS Research
Earlier this week, we posted that Augie's Quest, Life Fitness Co-founder Augie Nieto’s cure-driven effort focused on finding treatments and cures for ALS, was in the running to win $250,000 from CBS' Viewers to Volunteers Challenge. At the time, Augie’s team—headed up by Entertainment Tonight’s Nancy O’dell—was in fourth place, so we asked the IHRSA community to join the team and spread the word on social media—and that’s just what you did. Thanks in large part to your efforts, Augie’s Quest rose to second place, winning $100,000 for ALS research. 

Apple Watch Update Will Support Fitness Tracking for Wheelchair Users
A new Apple Watch feature will extend its fitness tracking and reminder alerts to wheelchair users for the first time, according to ABC News. The smartwatch’s new feature is part of a free software update, watchOS 3.0, and will prompt people in wheelchairs to wheel or spin their chairs around regularly. It will also track speed, distance, and calories burned during wheelchair use, just as it does for running and walking. "We want to make products that serve every walk of life," Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, said in an interview. "We realize that while it was great for messages on the wrist, we wanted to offer this group of people the same opportunity to get healthier using Apple Watch." 

Apply for the 2016 IHRSA European Club Leadership Award
We’re currently accepting applications for the 2016 IHRSA European Club Leadership Award, which annually recognizes a leader in the European fitness club industry who has done the most to advance their company and the industry through strong leadership and performance. This year’s award will be presented during the 16th Annual IHRSA European Congress, October 17-20, in Seville, Spain. The deadline to apply is September 9th. "I am truly honored to receive IHRSA's European Club Leadership Award,” said Martin Seibold, managing director of Fitness First UK in Dorset, England, received the 2015 European Club Leadership Award last October in Marseille, France. “It's amazing to look through the list of previous winners and be part of this history."


Apply for the 2016 IHRSA European Club Leadership Award

Calling all European health club industry leaders! 

We’re currently accepting applications for the 2016 IHRSA European Club Leadership Award, which annually recognizes a leader in the European fitness club industry who has done the most to advance their company and the industry through strong leadership and performance. 

This year’s award will be presented during the 16th Annual IHRSA European Congress, October 17-20, in Seville, Spain. The deadline to apply is September 9th. 

Martin Seibold, managing director of Fitness First UK in Dorset, England, received the 2015 European Club Leadership Award last October in Marseille, France.  After joining Fitness First Germany in 1998, Seibold helped grow the company's number of clubs from seven to 99 in just eight years. 

"I am truly honored to receive IHRSA's European Club Leadership Award,” he says. “It's amazing to look through the list of previous winners and be part of this history." 

The IHRSA Awards Program seeks to “recognize, celebrate, and inspire.” Learn about applying for the European Club Leadership Award and more information about IHRSA’s industry awards, including prior recipients and open applications.