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Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Be Sure to Ask Questions 

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Bill Beck
Club Fit
Briarcliff, NY

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

Far and away the best part of being a leader in this industry is knowing that the work we do every day helps make people’s lives better. We’re responsible for motivating people to live healthier lives, which, in turn, helps them spend more quality time with the people in their lives that matter most to them. 

I’ve always been a big advocate for IHRSA but after having a leadership position on the Board of Directors, I am able to truly recognize and appreciate the great work that we do in the world. I can’t say thank you enough to the Board for this opportunity and for always caring about our members, our people, and the work that we do.  I would encourage anyone looking to take on a more active leadership role to apply. 

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

I would have to advise myself to ask more questions and listen better. Young people tend to think they know more than they do in reality. It took me a long time to realize that asking questions didn’t show vulnerability or weakness. Rather, it helped me show interest in making things better for our staff and members.

I’m not able to make improvements in our operations if I don’t fully understand what’s wrong. Moreover, as a younger person I thought I understood the effects of exercise on people of all ages when I really only understood how exercise affected me. 

It’s also quite interesting how my opinion of “no pain, no gain” has evolved as I’ve gotten older. We need to be able to teach those around us how to motivate people to make exercise an integral part of their life. Pushing people to work to the point of pain seems counterintuitive to that goal for most sane people. 

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

Our industry has so much to offer society yet we still find examples of legislative actions at the state and federal level which seem to work against us as we try to help people live healthier lives. My company isn’t big enough to act alone at solving this. It was easy to see that IHRSA had found a recipe, where I could make a bigger difference by joining the ILC than I could ever make on my own. By combining money from industry leaders we’re able to do much more. I had faith that spending money in this way today would help me avoid spending much more money in the future if punitive legislation were passed. 

The sales tax on health club dues in New York has been a large issue that IHRSA saw well before I did. I wouldn’t have seen it coming. They always keep their fingers on the pulse by reviewing and analyzing legislative action across the country. The action that IHRSA and the ILC took was so much more than I could’ve taken as a small operator.

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