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.



From educational tools and events to promotional programs and public policy initiatives, IHRSA brings you success... by association!

Join | Renew
Pledge Your Support

Search IHRSA Blog

Welcome to the IHRSA Blog

The Online Home of news.

Blog Home |  Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Entries in 2016 Rio Olympics (8)


Olympian Gustavo Borges on the Future of the Brazilian Fitness Industry

Gustavo Borges, Olympian, entrepreneur, and IHRSA board member, told Club Business International about the opportunities and challenges facing the Brazilian fitness industry. 

Borges is a former competitive swimmer turned entrepreneur. He swam for Brazil in the Summer Olympic Games in 1992 (one medal), 1996 (two medals), 2000 (one medal), and 2004; and also competed in the World Championships and the Pan American Games (eight medals).

At one point, Borges held the world record in the 100-meter freestyle (short course). He currently lives in São Paulo, where he runs his own swimming school, Academia Gustavo Borges, which has four locations in Brazil. 

CBI: First of all, congratulations! You were recently elected president of ACAD Brasil, the Brazilian health club association. Please tell us about that organization and what it does.

Gustavo Borges: ACAD Brasil represents our industry in the same way that IHRSA does, both in the U.S. and the international market. In Brazil, every day there are important public policy issues that need to be addressed, as there are in all countries of the world. New laws that could interfere with our market always require attention, especially in a country as unstable as Brazil.

Our major focus, now, is to grow the organization in terms of numbers and representation all over the country, which means that we need the participation of all the major players, as well as the small operators, in order to produce great results.

CBI: We understand that you also serve as a member of the Brazilian Olympic Committee. What sort of involvement did you have in last month’s Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro?

GB: I was a member of the committee’s athlete’s commission, but had no real role in the games. The commission’s role was to help the Olympic Committee with regards to the needs of the athletes. My main participation in the games involved supplying the Olympic-size pools that were needed. I’m a representative for Myrtha Pools, an Italian company, which offers a specialized solution based on stainless steel. Together with a partner company, we provided all of the pools for the Rio 2016 Games.

In addition to that, I served as a commentator for the swimming events.

Continue reading "Olympian Gustavo Borges on the Future of the Brazilian Fitness Industry."

Click to read more ...


Innovative Brazilian Health Clubs Leverage the Olympic Spirit Despite Recession 

It’s no secret that Brazil has recently faced several hardships, from political instability to an economic recession—all while Rio de Janeiro is hosting the Summer Olympic Games. 

The difficulties have hit Brazilian health clubs hard, but some innovative IHRSA clubs are using the Olympics as a springboard to generate positive publicity and inspire young athletes to get active. 

“Brazil is suffering from a political, economical, and financial crisis, that have strongly affected our segment in terms of retention and new memberships, especially among adults,” says Flavia Brunoro, operational director of Competition. “In contrast, kids’ visits and retention have increased and we believe that they will be inspired by athletes and idols during the Olympic Games, leading us to even better results.” 

Examples of Competition's ads that target younger audiences.

Companhia Athletica has been focusing its efforts on younger gym-goers for the same reasons. 

“We don’t expect to see more people coming into our clubs due to the Olympics. That's why we are not using the theme for promotions or campaigns,” says Edward Bilton, marketing director for Companhia Athletica. “Right now, our industry is still fighting against the increase in costs, and the lack of demand due the economic crisis.” 

Competition Promotes Its Differentiator in São Paulo 

Competition's Passport Program. (Click to enlarge)One of the biggest market differentiators for Competition, located in São Paulo, is that it offers more than 15 Olympic sports—the largest variety in the city. 

“We started planning for the Olympics in late 2014/early 2015,” Brunoro says. “Our aim was to show the market our differentiation and, at the same time, encourage our members to discover and experience the variety of Olympic sports we offer.” 

To achieve those goals, Competition implemented the following initiatives:  

  • The Olympic Weeks: From March to July, each week they gave their members the chance to try one of their Olympic sports by offering special classes and events (for kids and adults), supported by related content about the same sport on social media.
  • A partnership with a sports journalist, who shared her experiences practicing in these sports at the gym on her social media accounts.
  • An Olympic Sports Passport for kids: A special booklet filled with stimulating challenges and stories about the Games, that encourage the kids to go to the gym, rewarding their efforts with special stamps and medal stickers.
  • Highlighted differentiation in their on- and offline communication.
  • Increased investments on their competitive swimming, basketball, and soccer teams. 

Despite the economic hardships, Competition’s efforts have garnered results. 

“We noticed that our kids’ visits increased 5%, especially from the ones competing in our teams,” Brunoro says. “Also, we perceived a growing demand for the Olympic sports: swimming, judo, soccer, and athletics, above all.” 

Companhia Athletica Features Olympic Athletes in Rio 

An ad for Companhia Athletica's vacation camp.

Companhia Athletica captured the spirit of the games by creating Olympic-themed content and materials, especially for kids. Some of their activities and events include:  


Nerio Alessandri Looks Ahead to Technogym’s Sixth Olympic Games

Technogym CEO Nerio Alessandri spoke to Club Business International to discuss his company’s role at Rio 2016, its recent IPO, and his determination to make the health club industry cool.

CBI: To start, we’d like to discuss two major milestones for Technogym— this month’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the company’s recent partial initial public offering (IPO). First, tell us a bit about Rio.

Nerio Alessandri: For the sixth time, Technogym will be an official supplier for the Olympic Games, this time at Rio 2016. Following our participation in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Turin 2006, Beijing 2008, and London 2012, we were again chosen because of our level of innovation, our proven track record in elite sports training, and the fact that our high-quality equipment satisfies the needs of all sports disciplines.

Over 10,000 athletes, representing 205 countries and 42 sports, have been training with Technogym at the Olympic Village training center and at the 15 gyms we’ve set up at the other Olympic venues. The 21,500-square-foot main gym in the Olympic Village features the entire Technogym ecosystem, including connected equipment and the mywellness cloud platform.

CBI: Why this major initiative with the Olympic Games? What’s it done for the Technogym brand?

NA: First of all, the Games represent an opportunity not only for our company, but also for the entire industry, since they’re a unique platform that promotes the concept of “sport for all,” and encourages physical exercise, in general. It’s an honor for us to take part.

In addition, working with the best athletes, coaches, and athletic trainers in the world provides us with incredibly valuable feedback, insights into their training needs, and ideas about how we can innovate and improve our products, both in the Olympic and Paralympic arenas. So, the Games are a tremendous research tool.

CBI: You founded Technogym in your garage in 1983, and now, 33 years later, it’s an international entity. Please give us a sense of the scope of the company today.

NA: Technogym was established in Europe in what was then a greenfield market. At the time, many opportunities hadn’t yet been explored. So I started with my design skills and passion for sport, and, over time, continued to focus on Italian design, technology, and seamless customer experience.

From the beginning, we’ve offered a complete suite of cardio, strength, and functional equipment and software. Innovation has always been the key driver. In 1989,
for instance, we introduced the Constant Pulse Rate (CPR), a system that controls
the equipment based on the user’s heart rate; and, in 1996, we launched the Wellness System, a groundbreaking software platform for fitness data tracking and training management. Recently, with the Artis Line, we unveiled 30 new pieces of equipment— cardio, strength, and functional—at once.

We’ve never stopped innovating.

Continue reading Nerio Alessandri’s interview in the August issue of CBI.


Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman Finds a Perfect Balance Before Rio

The following was written by Chris Mann for Get Active! Magazine 

Before Olympic star Aly Raisman secured her spot on the Rio squad, the gymnast told IHRSA’s Get Active! Magazine how she deals with competitive pressure, body acceptance, and a brutal training schedule. 

Remember Mary Lou Retton and Mitch Gaylord? Back in the day, U.S. gymnasts who struck Olympic gold made off with their shiny neckwear and retired their star-spangled leotard. So why has Aly Raisman, who nabbed two gold medals and one bronze at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, opted for an Olympic encore in Rio this August, subjecting her post-teen body (she turned 22 in May) to a few extra years of strain and pain? 

“I felt like I wasn’t done,” Raisman said between training sessions at Brestyan’s American Gymnastics Club in Burlington, MA. “When I finished with the [2012] Olympics I did take a year off, but I always knew that I wanted to come back. My gut was telling me I wasn’t done with gymnastics yet. And I’m kind of addicted to it. I love it and I work hard. I want to win. I think about winning 24/7.” 

Not that the telegenic athlete hasn’t already made quite the name for herself on and off the stadium floor. During her “year off,” Raisman cha-cha’d her way to the finals on “Dancing with the Stars” and solidified her role-model status with girls and young women by espousing the importance of a healthy self image—no matter your body type. 

Cosmopolitan just did an article online listing me with Lindsey Vonn, Misty Copeland, and other athletes, stating how we’ve all said we’re not a size zero and we’re OK with that,”

Raisman said. “I don’t have the typical gymnastics body type. We all try so hard to fit in, to look a certain way, but we all have different body types, and it’s OK to be a size zero—but it’s also OK not to be.” 

Read Aly Raisman’s full interview in the Spring issue of Get Active! Magazine.


Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman Looks Ahead to Rio

Aly Raisman captained the U.S. women's gymnastics team during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, nabbing two gold and one bronze medals. After taking a year off, the Needham, MA-based gymnast set her sights on Rio de Janeiro with the hopes of adding more gold to her trophy case.

Raisman recently spoke to Club Business International about her competitive drive, training routine, and expectations for the 2016 Games. 

During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, you scored two gold and one bronze medals. Now you’re preparing for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro—the first U.S. gymnast to make a back-to-back Olympic appearance since 2000. Why?

I just felt as though I wasn’t done. When I finished with the 2012 Olympics, I did take a year off, because I needed a break. But I always knew, in the back of my mind, that I wanted to come back. There was just something that my gut was telling me: I wasn’t done with gymnastics yet. I have more that I want to accomplish.

And I’m kind of addicted to gymnastics. I love it and I work hard. I want to win, obviously. I say that I try not to think about it, but, of course, I think about winning 24/7.

During that year off, you appeared on Dancing With the Stars, cha-cha-ing your way to a fourth-place finish. You also provided a healthy self-image role model for young women.

Cosmopolitan just did an online article about me with alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn, ballerina Misty Copeland, and other athletes, stating how we’ve all said, “We’re not a size zero, and we’re okay with that.”

It was really cool to be listed with those other women who are so successful. I don’t have the typical gymnastics body type. I think it’s so important to remember that we all try so hard to fit in, to look a certain way, but we all have different body types, and while it’s okay to be a size zero, it’s also okay not to be.

Last October, at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, you had a bit of a setback during the floor event, placing fifth. What was that like?

I think I’ve learned that you can’t get your best all the time. Everyone has rough days. Unfortunately, for me, my rough day was at an important competition on an important day. But I’ve had some time to sit back and really think about it. And, even with one of the worst competitions I’ve had, I was still the fifth, out of 184 world gymnasts, on the first day—I’ll take that any day of the week.

Of course, I wish I had done better. But I think everything happens for a reason, so I’m using it for motivation. Because obviously this summer is the most important.

Is it fair to say you’re now eating, sleeping, and breathing your training in preparation for the Olympics in Rio, which are coming up in August, just two months from now?

Yes, absolutely. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I go to the gym in the morning and at night. So I’ll do 8:30 a.m. to 11 or 11:30 a.m. Then I’ll come home and, usually, take a nap and a bath.

And I use the NormaTec Pulse Recovery System. It’s a machine that compresses my legs, my lower back, and hips, and it’s great for recovery. And then my workout is from 5 to 9 p.m. By the end of the day I’m really exhausted. My eyes are half closed by my last event.

So, how do you feel about the chance of bringing home more Olympic gold?

I feel really good. I’m just trying to look at it as, at the end of the day, no matter what, I had a great experience in 2012. I exceeded my expectations. I hope it goes well in 2016, but, if it doesn’t, I’m still always going to be an Olympic champion. So that’s something I have to remember to always be proud of.

It’s amazing just to do it once. I was very proud that I was able to do it, and I worked really hard. Hopefully, I can do it again. But I have to tell myself that, if it doesn’t happen, I can’t let it be the end of the world.


This Week in the Fitness Industry: 24 Hour Fitness Supports Five TEAM USA Athletes 

24 Hour Fitness Partners with Five Team USA Athletes
24 Hour Fitness has announced its partnership with “Team 24 Hour Fitness,” five athletes expected to represent Team USA at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. “Our distinguished athletes come from diverse backgrounds. They are each compelling, inspiring and relatable,” Mark Smith, CEO of 24 Hour Fitness, said in a release. “The athletes that make up Team 24 have embarked on the fitness journey of a lifetime and we look forward to sharing their stories with our members in the weeks ahead. It’s moments like this that reaffirm our commitment to helping people – everyday athletes and U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls alike – reach their fitness goals.” The five athletes include a swimmer, triathlete, a middle distance runner, a Paralympic long jumper, and a Paralympic swimmer.

More Doctors Prescribing Exercise Over Medication
A growing number of physicians are prescribing exercise—not medication—to treat their patients’ chronic health problems, according to a report in The Boston Globe. “In one such program run by a health center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, primary care physicians, internists and psychologists prescribe access to a gym for $10 a month, including free child care, classes, and kids programs,” The Globe reports. “Providing affordable gym access for patients ensures compliance, said Gibbs Saunders of Healthworks Community Fitness, a nonprofit gym in Dorchester that has partnered with several health care providers to help low-income residents fill their exercise prescriptions.” The health center’s executives said low-cost access to a gym is important, since many of their patients’ income is low and 70% of those they treat suffer from chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.

Study: Fitness Report Cards Have Negative Effect on Children
Giving schoolchildren “fitness report cards” may actually cause overweight girls to gain more weight, according to a study of New York City public schools’ “Fitnessgrams.” Researchers analyzed 442,408 anonymized BMI records of New York City girls whose weight placed them just above and below the “overweight” cutoff for their age between 2007 and 2012. They found that “girls who were told they were overweight gained, on average, 0.17 pounds more than ‘healthy’ girls, and their BMI increased by 0.03 BMI more units, over the course of the following year,” Slate reports. “For girls who were told they had a ‘healthy’ weight one year and then told that they were ‘overweight’ the following year, the impact was even more pronounced—their BMI subsequently increased 0.07 BMI units more than girls whose weight remained ‘healthy.’”

High Body Fat—Not BMI—Linked with Higher Death Rate
High body fat—not BMI—is linked with a higher death rate, according to a study. CNN reports that the study’s researchers were able to look at participants’ total body directly because they selected individuals who had previously undergone X-ray testing to determine if they had decreased bone density. They found that the thinnest women with a BMI less than 22.5 (a group including underweight and normal weight women) had a 44% higher risk of dying during the seven-year follow-up period. They also found that women with more than 38.7% total body fat had 19% higher death rates. Among the thinnest men, those with a BMI less than about 23.8 had 45% higher death rates during a follow-up period of about 4.5 years, while men in the highest body fat group (more than 36% total body fat) were at 59% higher risk of dying during the study period. "Being underweight is a marker for illness in some individuals at the same time that being overweight and obese is not optimal for health,” the study’s lead author said.


Last Rep: IHRSA/Fitness Brasil Has Grown in 15 Years

IHRSA CEO and President Joe Moore, in his monthly Last Rep column in CBI magazine, marvels at the many highlights of the recently completed 15th Annual IHRSA/Fitness Brasil Latin American Conference and Trade Show, in Sao Paulo.

Here is some of what he most enjoyed:

  • as he talked about the new InfoPacks members received an e-mail from IHRSA to download it
  • IHRSA Board member Christian Pierar’s talk on innovations and technologies
  • the excitement in Brazil with the Olympics arriving in 2016.

It was also fun to consider how far this indus- try gathering has come. The first IHRSA/Fitness Brasil trade show was held in a closed-off parking lot, but, since then, it’s grown into a true world- class event. This year, the attendees were able to view and try out countless innovative products and services.

Read the entire column in CBI magazine online.


Technogym to be in Rio Olympics training centers

Technogym has been chosen to be the exclusive supplier of the training centers at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

The Cesena, Italy, company will supply a wide range of equipment, approximately 1,000 pieces, to 15 centers and warm-up areas. It will also install the Mywellnes cloud platform that will allow the world-class athletes to connect directly - on the equipment or mobile devices - with their training program. Technogym will also send 50 athletic trainers to Brazil for training, gym layout, installation and technical support.

This is the sixth Olympics for Technogym.

“We are very proud to have been chosen for the sixth time as the official supplier of the Olympic Games," said Nerio Alessandri, president and founder of Technogym. “This important achievement represents a victory for the whole Technogym team and a strong reference on our products' innovation and quality standards.” 

For more information, see the press release on the Technogym website.