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 Fred Hoffman (24)


Answers to Your Pressing Gym Design Questions

The success of your health club depends in part on making the most of your available space. Here are some tough questions you need to ask yourself before remodeling or designing your next gym.

Q: How often should I freshen up my health club's design?

A: Hervey Lavoie, architect and president of Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative, recommends that every health club maintain a five-year plan and re-examine it every six months. Lavoie offered that the most important thing is to not paint yourself into a corner.

Continue reading "Answers to Your Pressing Gym Design Questions."

Click to read more ...


3 Simple Strategies for the Post-New Year Workout Rush

The New Year always brings a flood of new health club members. To help you retain them without overworking your staff or elbowing aside your most loyal members, we offer this trio of New Year's resolutions. 

1. Remind yourself that this is a good problem to have.

Considering how much time, energy, and resources a health club owner devotes to adding new memberships, the idea of fretting over too many new members seems crazy. And on some level, it is.

"We change our mindset and don't look at it as 'dealing with it' but as, 'this is awesome,' and we encourage it," said Maria Miller, regional programs manager for Merritt Athletic Clubs in Maryland.

Continue reading "3 Simple Strategies for the Post-New Year Workout Rush."

Click to read more ...


7 Success Factors That Lead to a Thriving Personal Training Career

As the fitness industry has grown and evolved over the past several decades, so, too, has personal training (PT). Today, more opportunities exist both for newcomers and for veteran trainers than ever before.

However, with increased opportunity comes intensified competition, and, as a result, trainers—if they’re serious about succeeding in a significant way—need to think about and plan for their professional future.

To identify the basic building blocks, the foundation on which a person can construct a sound, rewarding, and constantly evolving career, CBI conferred with three of the industry’s best-known and most accomplished personal trainers, Todd Durkin, Fred Hoffman, and Greg Johnson. In addition to working with clients, all have managed to share their expertise, grow their brand, and develop their businesses by writing, speaking, and providing consulting services.

7 Personal Training Success Factors

To develop a successful PT career, Durkin, Hoffman, and Johnson, have acknowledged the critical importance of, and patiently cultivated within themselves, the following personal characteristics and commitments.

Success Factor #1:  Passion 

At the top of the must-have list, loving one’s calling is absolutely essential to excelling. Passion drives and satisfies trainers.

Durkin spent five years doing everything possible to rid himself of the pain from a back injury, and it changed his life. “I got ignited with more passion to share my knowledge and help people out of pain and to improve their performance,” he says. “Despite having no money, no clients, and no business plan, I started my company with the purpose of creating impact and inspiring millions to greatness every day.”

Success Factor #2: Diligence 

As with any career, PT requires ongoing effort and perseverance to excel. “It’s not as easy as you think, so be prepared to work hard, and aim to become great,” says Johnson. “This industry is full of grunt work, such as cleaning equipment and conducting maintenance, so embrace it.”

“New graduates may have to put in their time when they start out, and accept that this can be a stepping stone to something greater,” says Hoffman.

“Be persistent, work hard, always over-deliver, and never give up,” Durkin says. “Success is a marathon—not a sprint.”

Success Factor #3: A Service Orientation

Although it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that the PT business is about the clients.

“People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Johnson says, quoting Theodore Roosevelt. “When you first meet a client, don’t rattle off your certifications or accomplishments, but, rather, get to know them, understand why they came to you, and listen.”

According to Durkin, trainers should always be thinking about how to improve client satisfaction. “Be on the lookout for new ways to enhance their experience and create a ‘Wow!’ moment for them.”

Success Factor #4: Constant Curiosity and Learning

In an industry where research, products, and training methods are always changing, it’s imperative to keep abreast of the wealth of information—above and beyond fitness- related CECs—that’s available.

“Personal training is no longer just about exercise,” ays Johnson. “Always be on the lookout for new ideas, concepts, and business practices. Go to live events, read books, watch DVDs. Learn from other fields about such things as finance, business, customer service, and mental focus.”

Durkin recommends attending at least two industry workshops and one personal development seminar per year, and reading one book a month.

Success Factor #5: A Business Mindset

Trainers who own their own businesses need to be businesslike. They should create a business plan; identify their corporate and personal goals; develop a solid strategy; hire the necessary professionals, e.g., accountants and attorneys; invest in a strong staff; and cultivate a positive team culture. Joining industry associations and participating in trade shows provides valuable opportunities to learn and network.

As the industry has grown, so has the opportunity to branch out to develop additional revenue streams, advises Durkin. “Write more and speak more to grow professionally.”

Success Factor #6: The Pursuit of Excellence

Durkin recommends that trainers do what they do best ... and hire the rest. Quoting Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, whom he met in 2009, Durkin says, “The bigger your dream, the more important your team.” He goes on to note that “Your coworkers elevate your thought processes, inspire your mindset, challenge you, and support you.”

Johnson focuses on connecting— versus competing—with industry colleagues. “We’re all on the same team,” he says. “As soon as you shut yourself off from the industry, you miss out on networking opportunities and don’t hear about a skill or marketing technique that could make or break your business.”

Success Factor #7: Balance

Trainers appreciate that cultivating all of these characteristics, while also working with clients, could easily become a daunting load.

“If you work 16-hour days and never say ‘No,’ it can lead to fatigue and burnout,” Johnson says.

Durkin acknowledges the importance of self-care, including workouts, nutrition, and massage.

“Permit yourself at least two weeks of ‘mellow’ time each year,” he says. “Vacation and time away are critical to restore and reenergize your spirit, and can lead to big ‘Aha!’ moments.”

Read the full article in the September issue of CBI.


Everything You Need to Know About Health Club Locker Room Size

Locker rooms and their amenities and features have become increasingly important as health clubs compete to attract new members and retain existing ones, but choosing the right size for your facility can be tricky—especially since there are a number of factors that should be considered in addition to the basic square footage percentage. 

An upscale locker room design by Fabiano Designs.

“Like all good design, locker planning is a case-by-case puzzle that needs specific attention and understanding of the target market,” says Hervey Lavoie, architect and president of Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative in Denver, CO. 

To help club owners and operators determine the locker room size that’s best for each facility, we talked to three experts about all things locker room. 

Locker Room Size Rules of Thumb 

Since there are no specific industry standards on locker room square footage, expert opinions are varied—but most agree locker rooms should take up 10-15% of the facility’s overall square footage. 

“As a rule of thumb, the quick answer is in general about 12-15% of the overall club size, meaning if you have a 20,000-square-foot club, the total size dedicated to both locker rooms may be between 2,400–3,000 square feet total, or about 1,000-1500 square feet each,” says Rudy Fabiano, architect for Fabiano Designs in Montclair, NJ. “Likewise, a 60,000-square-foot facility may have between 3,500 and 4,500 square feet for each locker room. These are base numbers that should get modified depending on the various factors.”  

But keep in mind that there’s a limit to this rule of thumb—as units get smaller, the required locker room percentage may grow to accommodate the minimum fixtures and facilities required, Fabiano says. 

“Many times this will preclude the ability to have any locker rooms at all,” he says. “With smaller clubs, under 5,000 square-feet as an example, we may opt for common locker areas, with dedicated individual toilet and shower rooms.” 

It’s important to consider the types and number of fixtures required by the plumbing code, occupancy load, etc. in the club’s jurisdiction. 

Member Demographics and Membership Cost 

There are a number of factors that may cause a club owner to modify the locker room size beyond the 10-15% rule, including member demographics and membership cost. 

“To better determine the actual locker room square footage and number of lockers, the specific needs and logistics of each facility must be analyzed and addressed,” says Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., owner of Paris-based Fitness Resources Consulting Services. “If there is a much larger percentage of either of the sexes, the size of the changing areas should reflect that difference.” 

Hoffman also recommends that clubs consider the type of facility and member services; an upscale facility might choose to allot a larger amount of changing space per person to enhance the member experience. 

Consider “factors such as the demographics the club will serve, the number of member visits anticipated, and the cost of a typical memberships will affect size,” Fabiano says. “As an example, typically, the higher the membership cost, the more square feet per member should be allocated. Since personal space is a premium, higher end clubs typically provide more features, more space, bigger lockers, etc., versus a budget club, with minimum features and amenities.” 

When determining locker room size and number of lockers, club owners and operators should also consider the demographics of the surrounding community. 

“Is the club serving a residential market or a business work day market? Locker demand will be greater in a facility that is serving a work-day population,” Lavoie says. “A larger percentage of a residential-based membership will arrive dressed for working out and not need access to lockering facilities. Business-based membership traffic, for obvious reasons, has a greater need for changing facilities as they fit their workouts into their work day.” 

Continue reading "Everything You Need to Know About Health Club Locker Room Size."

Click to read more ...


IHRSA 2016 Attendees Join Randi Zuckerberg On Stage for Facebook Live Broadcast

When Randi Zuckerberg announced she was going to invite IHRSA 2016 keynote attendees to join her on stage, Fred Hoffman was determined to be one of them. 

“When she had mentioned that she was going to ask for volunteers, I thought, I’m so up there—I’m definitely getting up there,” says the Paris-based Fitness Resources owner. 

Hoffman and six other audience members joined Zuckerberg on stage during her Matrix Fitness-sponsored keynote address to participate in a Facebook Live broadcast, which has now been viewed more than 15,000 times. 

“We are on stage at IHRSA! I’ve never done this—I’ve never been live on stage at a keynote,” Zuckerberg said, speaking into her phone’s camera before turning it to face the audience. “By the way, I’m here with a few friends—just, you know, hanging with 2,000 of my favorite friends and my new besties on stage here.” 

The Zuckerberg Media founder and CEO then panned her phone to her on-stage guests, asking each person to introduce themselves. Among them were a Bellicon employee, an attendee from Brazil, an aqua spin instructor, Kate Golden from Newtown Athletic Club, Vic Victorino from O2 Fitness, Tonya Houston from Temple Builders Fitness Center, and, of course, Fred Hoffman. 

“She was fantastic. Honestly, that was the highlight—not just being up there with her, but the keynote was the highlight,” he says. “I thought her message was great. She’s clever, she was entertaining, and I learned a lot. I have a lot of things I want to go back home now and research, just on tech and on mobile apps. It was really great—being up there was really fun.”


5 Steps to Prepare for the Post-New Year's Crowd 

Each New Year's, health club operators steel themselves for the influx of members—old and new alike—who will flood their facilities with the hopes of getting a jump start on a healthier year. While the bump in club memberships is always welcome, the increased volume can put a strain on staff and turn-off regular users.

“The phenomenon of people making New Year’s resolutions is often demonstrated with a desire to get in shape or get back into shape,” says Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., owner of Paris-based Fitness Resources Consulting Services. “So it is not uncommon that health clubs and fitness centers find themselves with an influx of people coming into the club in early January.”

To help you thrive during the early 2016 rush, we asked three experts how they approach the challenges caused by January “resolutioners” and curated five steps for success.

1. Be aware that the post-New Year's influx is made up of two main groups: new members and existing members who haven’t visited the club for a while. “Club operators need to be prepared to welcome back existing members and to sign up and welcome the new members,” says Hoffman says.

2. Fine-tune your processes well beforehand. “We evaluate every aspect of our company, from staffing, sales training, systems, and incentive programs,” says Shawn Stewart, chief operating officer for O2 Fitness in Raleigh, NC. “We begin by making sure we have the necessary staff hired and fully trained. Having the right staff is critical if you want a successful January. We generally keep extra staff into mid February.”

3. Expand your staff schedule and class offerings to match member volume. “Operators must guarantee that there is an appropriate amount of staff for the increased numbers as well as a sufficient amount of group classes available at all times of the day to accommodate everyone,” Hoffman says. “As the influx is anticipated, management needs to assess beforehand what the needs of the club will be and plan accordingly.”

4. Ensure new members are properly integrated into the club. “We work with our PT department in regards to ways to get our current members and new members off of the equipment and into groups on the floor to work out and we coach our sales teams to stay engaged with all of the new members that they sign up to make sure that they are seeing results and getting the most out of their membership,” says Maria Miller, regional programs manager for Merritt Athletic Clubs in Maryland. “This then turns into referral opportunities because family and friends will want to become a part of it.”

5. Keep a positive attitude and share it with staff. “We change our mindset and don't look at it as ‘dealing with it’ but as, ‘this is awesome,’ and we encourage it,” Miller says.


IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Cross-Channel Marketing in the Social Age

From emails to text messages to social media, it’s easier than ever for health club operators to reach out to members and potential members. However, the multitude of communications platforms can become overwhelming, and many clubs have difficulty planning a cohesive marketing strategy.

“These days a lot of people are doing [cross-channel communications] but they don’t realize it or they don’t necessarily have a strategy of how they’re going to use those different channels,” says Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., owner of Paris-based Fitness Resources Consulting. “Before marketing was done with print and brochures and cold calling and websites, and now there’s so many other ways that are being used, especially with social media and other technologies, like text messages and push notifications.” 

Hoffman will outline how health club owners can harness the power of today’s communication channels in his IHRSA 2016 session, “Cross-Channel Marketing in the Social Age: Why it is Essential for the Success of Your Business.”

To select the right platforms to communicate with members, club operators must first answer the following questions:  

  • Who is the target demographic? “Are they talking to the existing members? Who are they, what age groups, male or female, what are their interests?” Hoffman says. “If they’re looking for potential members, what is that demographic? They need to know who they’re talking to.”
  • What is the goal of the message? “What are they trying to do? Is it a special promotion to get members or are they launching a new product or program?” Hoffman says. “They really need to look at a strategy—it’s not enough to simply be on Facebook and have a website. You have to think about who you’re talking to and the reasons you want to talk to them.”
  • Is this the correct channel to communicate this message? “With social media, people think they have a Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, but a lot of times they don’t understand the functions and how to use it for whatever their purpose is. They need to understand how each platform works and how they can exploit them.” 

At Hoffman’s Tuesday, March 22 session in Orlando, he’ll present cross-channel marketing and communications best practices, common terminology, and popular platforms used across the health club industry.

Attendees will “learn how to put together a strategy for using the different channels and how they can successfully link the content that they’re communicating through the different channels,” he says. “A good part of the talk will be about personalization and targeting clients through different channels to make it a personal experience.” 

New Call-to-action


Best Practices: Air Quality Industry Standards for Fitness Facilities


Standards on air quality are often predicated on local building codes, and, as a result, differ from state to state and country to country.

Health clubs present a particular challenge, requiring operators to maintain adequate ventilation, and, at times, separate air temperatures and relative humidity levels, in a variety of spaces, at different times throughout the day, with groups of varying sizes engaged in a wide range of activities.

However, there are several research publications you may find useful. ACSM’s Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines suggests standards for the design and construction of health clubs and for maintaining appropriate air quality in all areas of a facility. ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, offers The Indoor Air Quality Guide, which focuses on larger buildings.

When considering air quality, you need to keep a number of factors in mind, including room size and ceiling height; the activities taking place in the space, and the number of occupants; the number of recommended exchanges per hour; the need for fresh and recycled air; ideal temperatures and condensation; the CO2 level; pollutants; green ramifications; and preventive maintenance.

Whether you’re building a new facility or renovating an existing one, to ensure a comfortable, healthy, and safe environment, you should hire a qualified mechanical engineer who can design an HVAC system that will meet all of your club’s—and your members’—needs.


Currently, no government agency has published specific standards with respect to the air quality in health clubs or other types of fitness facilities.

The matter of air quality in buildings is a rather general subject, which is addressed in a variety of building codes, as well as in the comprehensive guidelines published by ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. These standards are very prescriptive in nature, and pretty much determine what any indoor air-conditioning system designed by a professional engineer is going to be like. The ASHRAE standards are applicable to all but the smallest of facilities.

In addition, there are a series of emerging standards that, increasingly, are being applied to the human built environment. These LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards define and describe products, systems, and practices that are related to sustainable or “green” designs. The measures they outline are widely circulated: just Google “LEED Indoor Air Quality” or check out the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) scorecard at

These guidelines can easily be applied to an athletic club or fitness center. Complying with these standards, even if you don’t intend to seek an official LEED certification, will give you a well-documented defense against any claim for damages by litigious individuals who may claim that your building—or the air in it—is making them sick.


Fred Hoffman and Scott Lewandowski: Personal Trainers and Member Retention

I firmly believe that whatever takes place in a club is a reflection of the company and its management. Policies, procedures, performance standards—all should be based on the company’s mission statement and represent its core values.

If you have a mission statement, revisit it, and, if you don’t, draft and fine-tune one. This statement should provide an explanation of what the club does, a description of the company’s culture, and real-life examples of how it’s demonstrated on a daily basis. It should also enumerate the firm’s core values, explaining how they’re employed to obtain the desired results for members, staff, suppliers, and, of course, the business itself.

The critical objective of maximizing membership retention should be clearly stated.

During the interview and hiring process, trainers should be informed about the mission statement, and, specifically, about their role in retention. Their responsibilities should be clearly set forth in the job description, and they should indicate that they understand and agree with all of the requirements before signing a contract.

Their responsibilities and obligations should be discussed and stressed during the post-hire orientation process. Thereafter, communicate with trainers on a regular basis, and if needed, refer back to the mission statement and the club’s policies and procedures concerning retention.

Remember that trainers can only be successful with clear direction from the company and its management team, and when provided with the means and tools required to accomplish what’s expected of them.


Personal trainers must understand, first, why the retention of club members is so important, what the club’s retention-level goal is, and how achieving high retention numbers will improve their training business. It costs approximately three to five times more to obtain a new club member—due to advertising and marketing expenses and sales team compensation—than it does to retain a member. So holding on to clients adds money to the club’s bottom line.

The extra profit produced by improved retention can underwrite growth and promotion initiatives for the club, higher compensation and bonuses, or the purchase of new fitness equipment for the trainers to use with their customers.

Trainers need regular feedback to do their best. Send an online survey to members who’ve worked with a particular trainer, solicit their feedback, and share the favorable responses with the trainer. Use the unfavorable replies to create training tracks to improve service.

Trainers also need to recognize that the scope of their business extends beyond their own clients. They need to service not only those individuals, but all of the club’s members, as well, some of whom will become their future customers. Offering consultations and seminars to the general membership will lead to higher retention numbers. To incentivize trainers, reward them with bonuses for recruiting first-time clients.

Keep your trainers engaged in all of the club’s activities, and let them know about the positive impact they’re having on your business—and retention will grow.


More take on #IceBucketChallenge

Evan, Marla and Jim Zupancic of Stafford Hills Club, accept Ice Bucket Challenge.It is nearly impossible to not see someone taking on the #IceBucketChallenge.

So, of course, we have more from the health and fitness industry who have accepted our nomination.

Jim Zupancic, Stafford Hills Club (and another IHRSA board member)

Mark Fisher, CEO/President, Sport & Health Clubs & Serenity Day Spas

Missy Moss, Nike Athletic Centers, General Manager 

Dedham Health & Athletic Complex

Fred Hoffman, Fitness Resources in France