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Entries in Bryan O'Rourke (33)


How The IHRSA Institute Will Amp Up Your Health Club Management Game

There are several barriers that can stop your health club management game from reaching its full potential. Club managers have to juggle so many daily tasks it can be difficult to see the big picture, let alone find the time and resourses to sharpen your skillsets. 

If the situation we just described sounds familiar, the IHRSA Institute is for you. 

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This Week in the Fitness Industry: Health Club Industry Exceeds 66M Consumers, an All-Time High 

Health Club Industry Exceeds 66 Million Consumers, an All-Time High 
More than 66 million Americans used a health club in 2016, a record-high since IHRSA began tracking health club consumer statistics in 1987. The number of individual members totaled 57.3 million, up 3.6% from 55.3 million in 2015. Members frequented their health club an average of 106 visits in 2016, also an all-time high. Of the 296.6 million Americans age 6 and older, 19.3% were health club members in 2016. "Consumers continue to rely on health clubs as the primary outlet for physical activity and health goals,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA’s president and CEO. “Increased participation in fitness activities helped fuel growth in memberships and utilization as total club visits surpassed 5 billion for the fifth consecutive year.” Based on a study conducted by IHRSA as part of the Physical Activity Council (PAC), results show that nearly one out of five Americans belonged to at least one of the 36,540 health clubs nationwide. Since 2009, membership has grown by 26.3%, while the total number of club-goers has increased by 26.5%. 

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Your Health Club Members Have Gone Digital. Why Hasn’t Your Marketing Strategy?

For your health club's marketing strategy to be successful, you have to be adept at capturing people’s attention. And, increasingly, their attention is focused online.

Digital and social marketing isn’t just for millennials—mobile drives 56% of all web traffic and two-thirds of emails are opened via mobile devices, according to a new report from Flurry.

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3 Tangible Ways Cloud Computing Can Benefit Your Health Club

You don't need to be an aerospace engineer to appreciate air travel—and you don't need to be an IT expert to grasp the possibilities of the cloud at your health club. Here are three examples of how cloud technology can boost your bottom line.

1. It makes basic functions like renewals, class signups, and member purchases more efficient and cost-effective.

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IHRSA Welcomes the Newest Members to the IHRSA Board of Directors

IHRSA proudly welcomes Carrie Kepple, Alan Leach, Bryan O’Rourke, and Brad Wilkins as newly elected members of the IHRSA Board of Directors. The board-elect will serve a four-year term from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2021. 


Carrie Kepple is a 10-year industry veteran of international club business, currently serving as the manager of a Les Mills facility in Newmarket, New Zealand. She has expanded Les Mills business operations in New Zealand—opening, reopening, and managing three clubs across the country. As an international trainer and presenter, Kepple has also served as a global sales training consultant for Les Mills and as the national director for 62 corporate-owned clubs offering Gold’s Gym Group Exercise (GGX).

Most recently, Kepple launched a new coaching business called LIFESTYLES-Mindful Wellness, and she enjoys being a distributor for Kyäni nutritional supplements—demonstrating how proper nutrition can be paired with daily exercise to produce lasting health benefits.


Alan Leach currently serves as general manager, sales trainer, and head of sales and marketing for the West Wood Club, based in Dublin, Ireland. He uses his 32 years of health club and sales management experience to serve more than 33,000 health club members at West Wood Club and Crunch Fitness locations in Ireland and Bosnia.

Leach has been an avid supporter of the industry for years. At the start of his career, he grew an individual club’s membership from 700 to 3,100—establishing the club as one of the most profitable facilities in Europe. He continues to promote physical activity and the global industry as a regular speaker at countless events for fitness professionals.


Bryan O’Rourke is the founder and CEO of Integerus, LLC; the chief security officer (CSO) and principal of Fitness Marketing Systems, LLC; the CSO and partner in the Flywheel Group, LLC; the president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (FITC); and the owner and CSO of a chain of Gold’s Gyms based in Houston, Texas. He is also a former chairman of the Medical Fitness Association’s education committee.

O’Rourke is an industry innovator and technology expert, who serves and consults with leading fitness and health clubs brands around the world. As a highly regarded speaker and author, he has spoken on four continents, addressing how health club businesses and wellness professionals are improving the world’s health one step at a time. He was recently named to ACE's industry advisory council and contributes to the GGFA's think tank.


Brad Wilkins is the senior vice president of Cooper Aerobics Enterprises, Inc., and oversees the Cooper Fitness Center and the Cooper Spa in Dallas, Texas. Wilkins joined Cooper Fitness Center as an intern in 1996 and since then, has taken on roles as a fitness trainer, fitness director, and general manager. Most recently, in 2015, he was named the chief operating officer of Cooper Wellness Strategies.



The Unlimited Potential of Cloud Computing for Gyms

Imagine a health club where the following is possible: 

  • Members can sign up for classes, download their instructor’s playlists, and purchase the apparel that their favorite instructor is wearing
  • They can enjoy new virtual classes on a timely basis to keep their interest level high
  • By checking the screen in front of them while they work out, members can ascertain whether they’re training in the correct heart-rate zone
  • The bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, and weight machines in the club send performance data directly to the user’s mobile fitness app
  • The cardio equipment notifies the club operator when maintenance or servicing is required 

Well, those are but a few of the proliferating perks made possible by cloud computing.

The Unlimited Potential of Cloud Computing

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrases “cloud technology” or “in the cloud,” but may not know exactly what they mean or how they relate to your club. According to IBM, cloud computing is “the delivery of on-demand computing resources—everything from applications to data centers—over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis.”

And what does it have to do with your club? A lot, today. And more, tomorrow. Because the cloud is virtual rather than tangible, it may seem elusive, phantasmal, but, in all probability, you’re already making good use of it—either personally or professionally.

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CrossFit Crosses Over: From Competition to a Health Club Offering

CrossFit has become not only a fitness industry power, but also an industry driver.

With more than 13,000 locations and a market value of around $4 billion, it serves as the very definition of a fitness juggernaut. The acknowledged answer for millennials and anyone else who’s interested in a rigorous workout, it’s carved out a huge international niche.

Last year, in an article titled “Big Gyms Shoot for a CrossFit Vibe, Without CrossFit,” The Wall Street Journal discussed the ways in which traditional clubs were adapting to the phenomenon.

Today, the new trend that the Journal might describe is how clubs are adopting CrossFit. This time, the headline might read, “Big Gyms Shoot for a CrossFit Vibe with CrossFit.”

Way back then, in 2015, the story was about coat-tailing on, capitalizing on, the opportunity that CrossFit had identified and tapped by introducing similar high-intensity programs.

Riding CrossFit’s Coattails

Pura Vida, an IHRSA-member club in Denver, CO, the newspaper reported, had spent $120,000 to revamp a medical office in the basement of its building to generate a “hard-core” vibe. It created a small-group training space with concrete floors, monkey bars, weight racks, and more.

And that was just the beginning.

Continue reading "CrossFit Crosses Over: From Competition to a Health Club Offering."

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How Fitness Technology Enhances Health Club Member Engagement

For decades, using "fitness technology" meant little more than stepping on a scale. Now an array of wearable devices and digital applications offers detailed workout feedback in real time. 

According to Bryan O'Rourke, president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (FIT-C), that presents health club owners with both a challenge and an opportunity. 

"The clubs that are going to be the most successful are the ones that integrate thoughtful digital strategies with the brick and mortar," O'Rourke said

Getting with the Digital Program 

A digital health club strategy can cover a lot of ground—everything from providing free apps to transferring your entire digital infrastructure to the cloud. As a club owner, only you can say what makes sense for you. 

Here are some options to consider: 

Wearables: As the name suggests, these are small fitness trackers that the customer wears, usually either as a clip-on or with a wristband. (They're sometimes called smartwatches.)

Digital trackers are light years beyond old-fashioned pedometers. Yes, they can count steps taken and calories burned. But they can also monitor heart rate and sleep patterns; some even have a GPS to help bikers and joggers map their routes. 

But the basic idea behind all trackers is simple: Trackers provide more data. More data leads to greater engagement. And engaged customers are happier customers. 

Apps: If you're not ready to make the leap to wearables—or you're worried that your customers will balk at the cost—fitness apps could a good alternative, says Michael Rucker, vice president of technology for Active Wellness

Basically, these apps tap into a smartphone's built-in tracking sensors and repurpose that data for fitness monitoring. And some of them are free. 

"If you're a high-volume/low-price club, your members are likely to be cost-conscious," Rucker said. "They're going to appreciate it if you offer them a free mobile app that does 80% of what a [wearable] does." 

And you'll appreciate the guests who renew their memberships because you made it easy for them to store workout data from both their home and your club on their phones. 

Mobile: Mobile devices and the health and fitness industry go hand in hand. The word "mobile" even suggests an active lifestyle. Health club owners can fully engage their busy, active guests by allowing them to use their mobile devices for all aspects of the health club experience—not just tracking, integrating, and customizing workout data, but also renewing memberships, checking club schedules, reserving equipment, etc. 

As O'Rourke noted, "It's irrefutable that a 'mobile-first' strategy is emerging, which means that you may need to rethink some aspects of your business model." 

A Revolution in Real Time 

You don't have to commit to a particular digital strategy today. You do, however, have to commit to having a digital strategy. Because fitness club guests everywhere are demanding a higher level of engagement that only modern technology can provide. 


Which Strategic School of Thought is Right for Your Health Club?

In the fitness industry, staying ahead of the competition just isn’t as easy as it used to be. 

On top of a booming market and increased competition, the way businesses approach strategy has changed drastically in recent years. 

“The reason that these things have evolved is that, up until the last decade, industries tended to conduct strategy in a confine of thinking that had to do with the past being a reasonable predictor of the future,” says Bryan O’Rourke, CEO of Integerus, LLC. “There was a lot more certainty when it came to a plan and strategy because people would take their knowledge from what happened before and say that’s a reasonable guess. But you just can’t do that anymore.” 

O’Rourke will explain how to best evaluate your marketplace and choose the right business strategy for your club in his Thursday, August 18 webinar, “Staying Ahead of the Competition: Competing Successfully in the Fitness Industry.” 

Part of his presentation will go in-depth on the three new strategic schools of thought: 

1. High Risk/High Return 

“In this scenario, you do something completely new and different,” O’Rourke says. “Find new, completely uncontested markets and transform everything around that, which has high degrees of risk and high degrees of return if you get it right.” 

Peloton, for example, followed this strategy when they began selling bikes for home use that allow customers to live-stream cycling classes. “It’s very disruptive and completely new,” O’Rourke says. 

2. Build on What You Do Well 

“When you build on what you do well, you incrementally build outside your core to defend against disruptors,” O’Rourke says. 

Examples of companies in the fitness industry that follow this strategy are clubs that are creating boutiques within their club, thus staying true to their core while also guarding against free-standing boutiques that could infringe on their market share.   

3. Don’t Assume Anything 

Companies that follow this strategy don’t make assumptions—they evaluate several opportunities, test ideas, and iterate until they find what works, O’Rourke says. 

“There are now fully eight clear, distinct business model delivery systems, and within those eight there are subsets, so the number of offerings and business models out there for fitness have proliferated in the last decade,” O’Rourke says. “Consumers are presented with many more choices, so to really do strategy well, fitness companies have to really be objective and evaluate what are they really capability of doing.” 

During the webinar, O’Rourke will also help attendees: 

  • Learn how to evaluate your marketplace.
  • Review the fundamentals of health club strategy.
  • Explore key business model alternatives should you consider pursuing and why.
  • Gain insight into marketing in the new era; and learn how to gain and retain members in today’s world.
  • Discuss options to consider when you beat your competition.

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IHRSA Members Will Feature in FitLife Club Network’s Summer Conference

IHRSA will be heading to the Pacific Northwest to join the FitLife Club Network for their annual Summer Conference, July 23-25 at the Riverhouse Hotel & Conference Center in Bend, OR.  

The event will consist of a tradeshow and two days of education and networking, including the popular IHRSA Panel. The panel opens the room to discussions on a wide range of topics, facilitated by IHRSA Board Members past and present, including Missy Moss of Nike Athletic Center and Jim Zupancic of the Stafford Hills Club.   

Keynote speakers include IHRSA member Bryan O’Rourke of the Fitness Technology Council, Integerus, and Fitmarc. Bryan has been a featured speaker and presenter at IHRSA conferences and webinars, and was named by Club Business International as one of 13 to watch in 2013. He joins keynote speakers Blair McHaney from Medallia and Karen McNenny from Community is the CURE! 

The mission of the FitLife Summer Conference is to create meaningful networking and educational opportunities for the owners, managers, and staff of FitLife’s network and the suppliers who support them.  

IHRSA’s Chris Hixson will be in attendance to represent the association, network, and share ideas with attendees and fellow IHRSA members. Attendees should ask Chris about resources to help drive member retention and maximize social media efforts, such as the Health Benefits of Exercise Report.  Join the IHRSA LinkedIn group and begin networking now!