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Entries in CBI Interview (27)


A New Role for Cristiano Ronaldo: Crunch Fitness Franchisee 

Real Madrid star forward Cristiano Ronaldo is adding a new role to his resume—health club franchisee.

As one of Crunch Fitness’ newest regional franchisees, the soccer phenomenon intends to transform his new signature initiative—CR7 Crunch Fitness—into a winning brand in Spain and Portugal.

Club Business International spoke to Ronaldo—one of the world’s highest-paid and most popular athletes—about his new franchise, “workaholic” tendencies, and “Live Life Fit” philosophy.

Continue reading "A New Role for Cristiano Ronaldo: Crunch Fitness Franchisee."

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A Guided Tour of the Japanese Fitness Industry 

There are few individuals as knowledgeable about the Japanese health and fitness industry as Masaaki Yoshida. His responsibilities—as the executive president and representative director of Renaissance, Inc., and chairman of the Fitness Industry Association of Japan (FIA)—give him a unique perspective. Renaissance encompasses 150 clubs, and FIA, 2,800.

Yoshida shares some of what he's learned in the new Club Business International cover story.

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How Matrix Fitness Became One of the World’s Fastest-growing Equipment Brands 

Matrix Fitness, founded in 2001, has quickly become the premiere brand of Johnson Health Tech (JHT), its corporate parent. In 2016, JHT revenues were approximately $625 million. Matrix now offers some 500 commercial products, and accounts for 67% of JHT’s total.

A fair share of the credit goes to Mark Zabel, JHT’s global chief marketing officer and newly named president of its U.S. commercial division. Zabel recently spoke to Club Business International to discuss Matrix’s meteoric growth.

Continue reading "How Matrix Fitness Became One of the World’s Fastest-growing Equipment Brands."

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Johnny ‘Cupcakes’ Earle Brings Out-of-the-Box Branding to IHRSA 2017

Johnny ‘Cupcakes’ Earle—branding expert, and founder of zany apparel company Johnny Cupcakes—will explain how to turn feelings, memories, and magic into loyal customers at IHRSA 2017.

He recently spoke to CBI about his entrepreneurial beginnings, “street research,” and his Willy Wonka approach to business. Earle’s IHRSA 2017 keynote, sponsored by Matrix Fitness, will take place on Friday, March 10 in Los Angeles.

CBI: You’re delivering a keynote speech on “Viral Business: Inspiring Customer Loyalty” at IHRSA’s 36th Annual International Convention & Trade Show in Los Angeles. What can attendees hope to learn?

Johnny Earle: While my presentation will contain dozens of nuggets for the audience, in general, I’ll be providing everyone with a blueprint for cultivating brand loyalty by creating unique customer experiences.

Continue reading "Johnny ‘Cupcakes’ Earle Brings Out-of-the-Box Branding to IHRSA 2017."

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How the Workplace ‘Relationship Revolution’ Will Impact Health Clubs

Technology has sparked a relationship revolution, and IHRSA 2017 keynote speaker Seth Mattison knows how to win it.

Mattison has his finger on the pulse of today’s changing workplace. An internationally renowned expert on workforce trends and generational dynamics, he combines insights from his personal experience, from his work in the field, and from cutting-edge research to develop fresh perspectives on leadership.

As the founder and chief movement officer of FutureSight Labs, Inc., based in West Hollywood, CA, Mattison counsels many of the world’s leading brands on the key shifts now occurring with respect to leadership, talent management, and change and innovation.

Club Business International spoke to Mattison to learn about the digital relationship revolution and find out more about his March 8 keynote, which is sponsored by MYZONE.

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Why Mentors Were ‘Critical’ to Mo Hagan’s Success at GoodLife Fitness

Maureen “Mo” Hagan, IHRSA’s 2016 Woman Leader of the Year, spoke to Club Business International about spending 32 years striving to provide a GoodLife for all of the citizens of Canada.

CBI: An obvious place to start: At IHRSA 2016 in Orlando, you were presented with the Julie Main Woman Leader of the Year Award. What does that mean to you?

Maureen “Mo” Hagan: It means, among other things, that I have an obligation to provide, to the best of my ability, what Julie Main offered—inspiration, leadership, personal commitment, and support for others. To pay it forward, I’ve created “The Role MO-del Influencer” award and scholarship, which will be presented to a deserving GoodLife associate. The recipient will attend IHRSA 2017 in Los Angeles with me.

CBI: Did you ever have an opportunity to meet Main? ... For industry newcomers, she was the co-owner and president of the West Coast Athletic Clubs, in California, and a former president of IHRSA. She died in 2009 following a long and courageous battle with cancer.

MH: Yes, I attended her convention sessions, and was blessed with a number of opportunities to meet her at IHRSA social events. I was always impressed by her kindness, patience, and eagerness to help her peers.

CBI: In your acceptance speech at IHRSA 2016, you gave special credit to the mentoring you’ve enjoyed. How important are mentors?

MH: They’re critical. Mentors have helped, guided, and taught me as I developed professionally. Fortunately, I’ve had many inspiring role models since I entered the industry in 1983. The first was Lynne Brick of Brick Bodies Fitness Services, Inc., and Planet Fitness Growth Partners, LLC. I’ve learned so much from her vision, leadership approach, and the confident way she’s conducted herself in what was once a male- dominant industry.

I’ve also learned a great deal from Jane Riddell, the COO of GoodLife, who’s been called the “architect” of our corporate culture—one that’s predicated on core values such as caring, passion, and personal fitness.

And, of course, David Patchell-Evans, or “Patch,” the founder and CEO of GoodLife, has inspired me, and encouraged me to take risks I wouldn’t have taken otherwise.

CBI: Speaking of Patch, he’s one of the most ambitious, energetic, and successful individuals in the industry. What’s it like to work with him?

MH: You can only imagine! It’s an education in itself, and I mean that in the most positive way. He’s a hard-driving entrepreneur who looks to the future, and, while
he expects others to work hard too, he’s never asked his people to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. Patch has always made himself available—and still does—as much as he can. He’s encouraged me to bring ideas forward and to seek out new ways of doing business.

The GoodLife work environment is dynamic, if not always easy. In the end, though, it’s always rewarding.

Continue reading Mo Hagan’s interview in the December issue of CBI.


How The World Bank Fitness Centers Fights Poverty with Exercise

Mike James, the general manager of the World Bank Fitness Centers, talked to Club Business International about the challenges of serving a global clientele in the national’s capital. 

CBI: First, for readers who may not be familiar with it—what, exactly, is the World Bank? And how do its fitness centers differ from other corporate fitness facilities?

MIKE JAMES: The World Bank, which has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.,
is an international organization that provides financing, advice, and research to developing nations to support their economic advancement. Its mission is to fight poverty by offering assistance to middle- and poor-income countries. It has more than 10,000 employees in over 120 offices worldwide, approximately 7,000 of whom are based in the District.

One of the unique things about our centers is that volunteers teach most of our 60 weekly group exercise classes. We recruit these individuals, send them to certification programs, and conduct workshops and retreats to enhance their skills. Many have been teaching here for more than 20 years.

CBI: How many locations do you currently have? If you would, tell us something about them.

MJ: We have three in Washington, for a combined total of 37,000 square feet of space. Membership is limited to World Bank employees and their spouses, and, at the moment, we have 3,200 members.

Our main 24,000-square-foot facility, located on H Street, includes an extensive cardio and strength-training area, a group cycling studio, and three group exercise studios. At the International Finance Corporation (IFC), on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is part of the World Bank Group (WBG), we have a 12,000-square-foot facility that offers group exercise and cardio and strength training. There’s also a 1,000-square-foot center in the bank’s Connecticut Avenue building, which offers cardio and strength machines, free weights, lockers, and showers.

CBI: And how does it work on the financial side? Who pays for what?

MJ: Membership dues are $35 per month, and there are additional fees for personal and small-group training. Our goal is to balance our budget; when, on occasion,
we do have overruns, they’re minimal, and funded by the bank. Memberships aren’t subsidized per se, other than with reduced chargeback costs for space and utilities.

CBI: Your extensive curriculum vitae notes that you’ve also owned and managed an independent club. How does managing a corporate fitness center differ?

MJ: Day to day, there’s less pressure to meet sales or profit targets in a corporate setting. This allows staff to concentrate more on service delivery. But there’s another side. When working for a corporation or an institution such as the World Bank, one has to respect the culture. Because fitness isn’t the core business, a priority for you may not be a priority for them. You must accept this, and work to achieve win/win solutions.

Also, in a commercial club, your interaction with members may be limited to a few times per week. In a corporate center, you work in close proximity with your customers every day, so relationship-building and conflict-resolution skills are high priorities.

Continue reading about World Bank Fitness Centers in the November issue of CBI.


Rasmus Ingerslev: Man of Many Brands

Rasmus Ingerslev is a successful fitness industry entrepreneur with multiple startups to his credit, including two of Denmark’s largest health club groups, fitness dk and Fresh Fitness, and a new startup, REPEAT. He’s also a cofounder of the Danish Fitness & Health Organization (DFHO), and a recipient of the IHRSA European Club Leadership Award.

Currently, Ingerslev serves as chairperson of IHRSA, REPEAT, Barry’s Bootcamp Nordic, and Stockholm Leisure Partners. He spoke to Club Business International about his passion, goals, new ventures, technology, and the health club industry’s future.

CBI: You began your tenure as the chairperson of IHRSA’s board of directors in July—the first non–North American in the association’s 35-year history to hold this position. What do you bring to the role?

RASMUS INGERSLEV: First and foremost, I bring passion for our industry, which, I believe, is the most important ingredient required to push anything forward.

Second, I bring experience as a fitness industry entrepreneur. I’ve founded or cofounded two of the largest club groups in my home country of Denmark; I’ve built an international company that supplies virtual training; and I’ve cofounded and helped build a national trade body, the Danish Fitness & Health Organization (DFHO).

Third, I’ve created a very strong international network over nearly 20 years in our industry, which has given me a global perspective. My many years as a speaker, writer, and participant at IHRSA events have been a central point of building this network.

I’ve also had the privilege of being in a roundtable with some of the sharpest minds in our industry for the past 10 years. Together, we’ve travelled the globe to see and understand the state of our industry, and taken deep dives into each other’s businesses. My passion, experience, and network are very useful in my current role as chairperson.

CBI: Recognizing the increasing significance of technology, the board has recently decided to create a Technology & Innovation Council. What can you tell us about this and any other board initiatives?

RI: My agenda, in accordance with our strategic plan, is growth. Ultimately, the wider we spread IHRSA’s wings, the better we can do as an industry. The better we do as an industry, the more likely it is that we can make the planet healthier.

In this context, we’ll quantify a new IHRSA membership goal later this year. We also want to embrace the next generation of industry leaders. To do so, we’re launching a new program, “IHRSA Rising Stars,” that recognizes the young talents that will shape the future of the industry.

The Technology & Innovation Council is another key initiative we’ll see brought to life shortly, as these areas have been key drivers for the changes we’ve seen over recent years, and that will continue to influence the industry to an increasing extent.

Continue reading "Rasmus Ingerslev: Man of Many Brands."

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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."

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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.