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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The Origin of Success

In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin wrote about the survival of the fittest—not the fastest, strongest, or smartest—but the fittest for a given environment. Many club operators strive to be the fittest and most successful. Others, well, just get by.

If your club is a good fit for your market, and if it continually evolves in response to changing times and conditions, your business will succeed. If it isn’t and if it doesn’t—well, we don’t even want to think about that.

In the past, many club owners tended to become complacent when they operated in insulated markets that lacked aggressive competition of either the commercial tax-paying or nonprofit, tax-exempt kind. These types of environments are becoming fewer and farther apart as more diverse, savvier, and better-funded providers populate the landscape.

Intense and constantly increasing competition makes it essential—in fact, critical—that your business be as productive and innovative as possible.

So what’s going to give your club the edge, the distinguishing advantages, that will enable it to thrive in this always brave new world?

The answers and the solutions are to be had by acquiring new knowledge … and by acting on it.

Chances are that your direct competitors aren’t going to share best practices with you, or point out what they consider promising new opportunities.

That’s why IHRSA’s educational events are so important. The association is predicated on the gathering and dissemination of industry information, and its various meetings give attendees the chance to share observations and insights with club professionals from throughout the world—not from down the block or a mile down the road.

Operators tend to face the same challenges—with sales, programming, club utilization, and retention—regardless of where they’re located.

Those of us who’ve attended IHRSA gatherings over the years have learned and profited from our colleagues and peers at the dozens of seminars that are offered; in personal conversations taking place during receptions and early morning workouts; and while walking the trade show floor, questioning the incredibly well-informed exhibitors.

I recently returned from the IHRSA Institute: Executive Education for Club Professionals, at the University of North Carolina. We reinstituted this program last year, following a strategic hiatus, and, while it received rave reviews, this year’s installment was even better.

Many industry leaders believe that the Institute, with its intimate, targeted program facilitating a unique experience, is our most valuable event. Others, however, prefer our larger, more expansive shows. This year, those include meetings in Brazil, Mexico, France, and China (see “Calendar,” pg. 110). And, of course, excitement has already begun to grow in anticipation of IHRSA’s 35th Annual International Convention and Trade Show, which will take place next year, March 21–24, in Orlando, Florida.

IHRSA exists to grow, promote, and protect the industry, and to provide its members with products that will help them become more successful. I hope that you’re taking advantage of all the association has to offer.

The more you know, the faster your business will evolve, ensuring that it’s one of the “fittest.”

It’s worth noting that Darwin also observed: “In the long history of humankind … those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

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