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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Entries in benefits (5)


5 Things to Know About The IHRSA Institute

If you’re weighing whether to attend The IHRSA Institute this year, here are just a few things that might help you make the decision:

  1. You may be able to attend for free. The John McCarthy Merit Scholarship includes full registration, lodging, meals, and a travel stipend. One scholarship will be awarded for this year’s Institute. To be considered, apply by June 5.
  2. You can attend a complimentary webinar on May 21 presented by an Institute faculty member. Proven & Profitable Fitness Marketing Strategies will be presented by Alan Leach at 2:00pm EDT. Register for the webinar.
  3. The Institute Class of 2014 gave the program a Net Promoter Score of 96.  Read about their experience in the upcoming June issue of CBI.
  4. The registration fee includes IHRSA management tools and resources valued at over $800, PLUS the full education program, 3 nights’ lodging, and meals.
  5. The benefits will last a lifetime. The long-term professional relationships formed at The IHRSA Institute will give you a network of personal advisors who can help you throughout your career!

 One last thing – I guarantee you will have no regrets! 

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10-minute survey can mean more IHRSA benefits

Take full advantage of your IHRSA membership by completing a club census. The information you provide will help us upgrade your facility’s listing on IHRSA’s consumer website, ensure that you and your staff receive the latest industry information with a subscription to CBI magazine, and more.

Take 10 minutes to complete a club census online today at


How to Measure the Cost-Benefit Ratio of a Pool

(Photo: agaumont)

Hervey Lavoie and Whitney Benedetti discuss the cost effectiveness of an aquatics program in your club in this week's Best Practices.

Q: "We know that pools require a lot of maintenance, but it opens up a lot of opportunities for new programming. How can we measure the cost/benefit ration of having a pool in our club?"

A: Pools are expensive to build and maintain. It is definitely not a matter of “if you build it, they will come.”

Proactive programming is a must to turn this investment into a revenue stream from both increased member sales and fee-based programs. Experienced aquatic programmers can set up a profit/loss projection based on anticipated participation in the programs.

A single pool presents programming challenges based on water temperature. This is why most clubs with thriving aquatic revenue streams have two or three pools, each with a different water temperature based on programming needs.

Proper engineering and design of the pool or pools is a must to avoid operational costs and issues, such as smelling the pool in the main club entry lobby or corrosive effect on building components.

Hervey Lavoie, Architect and President
Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative

A: Analyze your needs and weigh that against the pool facility you design, and look at other facilities in your area. How profitable are their programs? Visit other pools with similar demographics to confirm viability. Are you handling families for swimming lessons, group and private? You would want a warm water pool. Are you going to offer adult programs– aerobics, zumba, AFAP, Tai Chi, yoga, or walking? Are these fee based classes? Is your pool going to be strictly for programming or are you adding a fun elements like a water slide or water features? What types of activities or events can you add to enhance the member’s experience? Are you catering to swimmers who would prefer a cold water lap pool?

Then work with a planning partner with plenty of experience planning, designing, and constructing aquatic facilities. Be aware of the ADA guidelines on pools and entries. Are you using a chlorine or salt water system? Is the pool inside or out? Can you cover the outdoor pool to minimize heat loss? Who will be CPO certified to manage the pool chemicals and testing? Who will manage, train, hire, and run the aquatics program? Do they have the appropriate training/knowledge to do so?

Whitney Benedetti, Acquatics / Activities Director
Rochester Athletic Club


Independent Club vs. Franchise

This week, experts Barry Klein, Amanda Oborne, and Constance Ruiz discuss the benefits of both independent start-ups and franchise businesses:

Q: “I am looking to invest in a start-up health club and trying to decide between an independent club and a franchise. What are the benefits of each?”

A: There are benefits and challenges to opening either an independent or franchise health club. Regardless, PLEASE gain all of the experience you can by at working at a club and studying business before jumping into ownership. Loving fitness is not enough. Having had personal success in a gym is not enough. You are opening a business that happens to be a health club, not just a health club business.

A well-run franchise can eliminate an enormous amount of risk to its franchisees with best practices, advertising, purchasing programs, mentoring, etc. This comes at a price with both up-front and recurring fees, as well as in giving up flexibility in how you run the business.

Both models can work, but it will be your experience, intelligence and hard work that will be most important. Independent gyms are the polar opposite. You can run your gym however you want, but there is no “mothership” to turn to – or pay - for coaching, best practices, advertising, or discounts. This is an emotional decision as much as a business decision.

Franchisers say that their franchisees have a higher rate of success. Independents point out the large number of failed franchises in our industry. Both models can work, but it will be your experience, intelligence and hard work that will be most important.

Barry Klein, Owner
Elevations Health Club

A: Based on what I’ve learned working with the independent club owners who are members of the FitLife Club Network, the choice between independent and franchise really comes down to what kind of owner, and really what kind of person, you are.

Independent owners want to retain complete control over their brand, operating procedures and member experience. They are loathe to pay royalty fees for what amounts to a product created out of their own blood, sweat and tears. They also believe the buck stops with them and don’t want to be beholden to a centralized office that may or may not come through on promised support or make decisions that don’t fit their local needs.

That said, there are some very strong practical reasons for considering a franchise. The business model for a good franchise has already been proven, the brand is already known (there’s no underestimating how expensive it is to build a brand from scratch!), group purchasing lowers equipment and supplies costs, and it can be easier to recruit good staff to a known entity.

Many of the benefits of franchising are available to independents if they join a good regional trade association like the FitLife Club Network or one of the IHRSA regionals. Such associations offer education and networking opportunities, group purchasing offers and a backbone of support and information to assist the independent operator. Visit to learn more about regional associations.

Amanda Oborne, Executive Director
FitLife Club Network

A: An independent start-up is a good idea if you have two essential elements: knowledge of the industry, and knowledge to work “on” your business and not “in” your business. The book that explains this the best is the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. It is a mistake to be a good “technician” and believe that is the only skill set you need to be able to successfully run a business.

A fitness franchise business helps when either one of the two essential elements is missing. If you are from the industry and invest in a franchise, hopefully the systems and support are sufficient enough for the business to take-off. This will allow you the opportunity and time to invest on running the business including administration, marketing, and overseeing that all the processes are in place with the right people to carry them out. On the other hand, if you have management and business experience but don’t have the industry background, again franchising can teach you this.

The best case scenario is if you have both the above skill sets and invest in a credible fitness franchise that knows they are in the franchising business along with enough industry knowledge to make it work.

Constance Ruiz, President


The Benefits of Selling Month-to-Month

Q: "I've been in the industry for over 13yrs. I don't understand this new wave of no-contracts. How does a club stay afloat on month to month membership basis? I know its the wave of the future but how does it work financially for the club? What is the benefit to offering no contracts? And should we make the transition as it seems most clubs are?"

A: Todays potential and existing Club members prefer the month to month option over the longterm commitment associated with a one, two or three year contract.

Given the fact that 25% of members are inactive 6 months after joining and that rises to 50% being inactive after one year, one of the black eyes to our industry has been the reputation we have earned from binding inactive members to long term retail installment contracts.

By shifting our industry to a month to month model, one club at a time, we will become a business that focuses on member retention AS WELL as new member acquisition.

If our members are free to leave with written notice at any time we will be much more cognizant of their satisfaction with our service, programs and facility upkeep.

Can this model prove as profitable as a contract sales model?


First, we will attract more members.

Second, our reputation as a service provider will improve.

Granted members will leave at a faster pace but with more joining the outcome will still result in a net gain for each of us.

Geoff Dyer, Founder
Lifestyle Family Fitness

A: No contracts (month to month agreements) have actually been around for some time, especially for higher priced facilities. The main challenge is obviously proving your value on a month to month basis, but I believe that is what elevates and promotes a higher level of club service... it influences your entire staff culture to focus on member retention. The other challenge is that it places a lot of pressure on your sales process. If you don't have members locked into a contract, you have higher potential to lose them, which means you need to be selling at the same rate or higher than your losses.

The benefit to offering no contracts is that a large percentage of those interested in a club membership can be turned off by the long term commitment. Therefore, knowing that they (the prospect) can leave at any time is a comforting decision, especially in this economy. We offer two options: a one-year contract which allows a new member to join for a $25 processing fee or a month to month option offered at a $250-$500 initiation fee. The contract member has a buyout option to pay the full initiation (or pro-rated) if they wish to leave the club before the year expires.

Offering these two options during challenging economic times are working for us and yes, I would recommend the same for others. Please let me know if you need further assistance.

Jarod Cogswell, General Manager
ClubSport Oregon