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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Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Be Open, Be Humble

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. 

Mark Miller
Merritt Clubs

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

This industry, for so many of us, has been our lives. I think the reason being is, what other industry allows one to blend their passions for health and fitness and make a major impact on individual and community lives?

In addition, one of my favorite things to see is the development of our team and their families. It is so incredible to think about our team members and watch them grow, experience life with them, and see the impact we have on them, both personally and professionally.

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?  

Be open and be humble. When I went through college they drilled into us that we had to be experts in our field when we graduated. Because of this, most of us graduated being insecure and scared because no one ever taught us real world stuff.

We try to tell clients everything that they are doing wrong in order to show them that we are the expert. It overwhelms them and it’s too much jargon. Members are humans and as such they have fears and emotions and we need to understand that. If we talk to them in lay terms, listen to them, and adapt, we can have an impact. The fact that they came to our club to workout is a major win. Who cares if they do one set of a workout and fail or complete five out of five sets of that workout? The key is that this person is there and they are changing their life.

I would also tell myself to never stop learning and growing, and never get so set in your ways that you think you are an expert. To be the best, you have to remain a student.

IHRSA does a significant amount of advocacy work to Grow, Promote and Protect clubs across the country. How do you feel that work benefits your business or the industry at large?

Oh my, it’s incredible. I am not sure words can truly express the impact that IHRSA has. We have estimated that, for example, if a bill on taxation got passed, it could cost our clubs hundreds of thousands of dollars and would create another barrier for people to join. If a tax would do that to my clubs, imagine if you added up that cost for every club. It’s probably billions.

The Personal Health Investment Today Act, or PHIT, is legislation that would make access to physical activity more affordable. How will passage of this bill help America get PHIT?  

I think the answer lies in the question itself. It will create more access for millions of lives to be changed positively with fitness. It provides families and individuals savings that matter and incentivizes more Americans to get physically active.

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council? Or what has been your most memorable experience as part of the ILC?

There are so many other respected individuals as part of the ILC and what it represents—the character of the group, its organization, and its purpose compelled us to join.