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Remaining Relevant in 2015

Robert Brewster, IHRSA ChairpersonThe new year is now just days away. Among the good news: an economy that continues to improve, and growing awareness of the importance of regular exercise. Among the bad: constantly increasing competition, and persistently sedentary lifestyles.

As we confront 2015, the principal challenge, it seems to me, is to ensure that our clubs remain relevant—relevant, that is, to the needs and dreams of our members and communities.

The health and fitness industry is inherently—and historically—about change. But never before have the changes been so significant or come so swiftly. Is there, in fact, such a thing as a “traditional” health club anymore? The number and variety of business models proliferate too fast to follow. Price points plummet, while in the case of boutique studios, they skyrocket.

Everything, it seems, is in flux.

There’s no better or more current guide to the sector’s shifting landscape than the new edition of IHRSA’s Profiles of Success. “Chart Your Course,” (CBI December 2014, pg 46) provides a preview, and the complete publication is available at

Remaining relevant—and, therefore, profitable—obviously requires that we employ all of the skills and expertise we’ve acquired in the past. We still need to make the best possible use of our existing assets; maximize our understanding and utilization of new technologies; and invest in new equipment, new types of equipment, and new programs.

For example, “Mud, Sweat & Cheers,” (pg. 42), reports on the recent emergence of club obstacle courses; and “The Fun Factor,” (pg. 50), describes the growing importance of making exercise entertaining.

Right now, at one of The Alaska Club's tennis facilities, we're developing a dedicated tennis social lounge and introducing 24-hour access to the courts. These changes will allow us to provide additional court time, host more and better events, and delight a niche clientele.

But, at the same time, we need to be acutely sensitive to shifts in social and industry trends, be aggressively innovative, enthusiastically embrace risk-taking, and make even better use of every education/information resource available. The latter, of course, is where IHRSA—with its magazines, research reports, conventions, conferences, trade shows, and other valuable services—comes into play in a major way.

The pursuit of a better bottom line may remain the same, but how we get there in 2015—well, that’s a brand-new game.


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