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 health club (44)


2015 State Advocacy in Review

IHRSA Public Policy has two main areas of focus.

Increasing Health Club Membership and Protecting Clubs from Burdensome Regulations

Read more.

Click to read more ...


Niche Studios: There is Enough Room for Us and Health Clubs

YogaFit owner Beth Shaw feels her niche studios can coexist with health clubs.In 1992 Rodney King, the Los Angeles resident who was allegedly beaten by the later acquitted local police officers, uttered the words, “Can’t we all just get along?”

The mantra of the touchy race relations in LA more than two decades ago can be used when talking about two different factions of the health and fitness world. Thankfully there is no ill will in 2014.

For decades health and fitness clubs have been there for members who go through the doors for a variety of reasons – lifting weights, taking classes, going for a swim, taking in a sauna, or a variety of other reasons.

Now, while the do-all health clubs are still very vibrant – last year a record 5 billion visits were recorded in the United States – there is a new type of option that is making its way into the conversation: niche studios. 

And the industry has been able to support both, most likely due to the strong push on the importance of being in shape and the current fight on both childhood and adult obesity. 

Read on for the rest of the story.

Click to read more ...


Get industry trends, revenue and more in Profiles of Success

There is a lot of good news to take out of the 2013 IHRSA Profiles of Success, The Annual Industry Data Survey of the Health and Fitness Industry, which was published today.

The encouraging numbers were in the overall category of revenue and membership. Responding clubs to the Industry Data Survey, which is used for the report, saw revenue grow by 4% and membership up 3%.

"Although performance varied across club segments, overall, IHRSA's annual IDS indicates that leading clubs have continued to report improved results," said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA's executive vice president of Global Products. "The clubs profiled in this sample rely on an experienced management team operating in a conservative manner and responding quickly to member needs. This, in turn, creates a well-managed club and satisfied members.”

The 2013 IHRSA Profiles of Success provides detailed information about health and fitness club benchmarks and other aspects of club performance, including membership growth and traffic, facility reinvestment, financial statement data, and more. The report also contains an overview of the U.S. health club industry as well as a snapshot of member demographics. This year's report also includes a profit center section that analyzes revenue and profit margins from racquet sports, spas, pro shop/retail, food & beverage, and children’s/youth programs.

For more on the 2013 Profiles of Success, read on.


County Health Data Demonstrates Need for Health Clubs

According to research findings reported by USA Today, a state’s healthiest county “tends to be in a suburban area characterized by higher-income residents, meanwhile the least healthy counties have higher concentrations of poor residents, who have worse eating and exercise habits.” 

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation surveyed counties across the country and found that:

  • More than one in five children live in poverty;
  • Violent crime has decreased by 50% during the past 20 years; and
  • Places with higher death rates have the highest rates of smoking, teen births, physical inactivity and preventable hospital stays. 

The article notes that the new health care law, set to go into effect in 2014, will help improve health by increasing access to care, but social and economic factors weigh most heavily in the rankings. “Health behaviors, such as healthy eating habits and how many people smoke, and a county's physical environment, including parks and water quality, are key components of the ratings,” the article says.

Read the full article.

The findings are compelling for health and fitness centers, as clubs offer the social and community infrastructure necessary to increase physical activity. Health clubs provide safe, supportive and fun environments for regular exercise, where both adults and children can adopt lifelong healthy habits.


Pennsylvania club wants more

The Newtown Athletic Club can already boast at being a club that offers more than most. From a cafe and salon to a oair of gymnasiums to more than 30,000 indoor square feet for its youth members, it ilterally has everything under one roof.

But its five-year goal is to be one of the top 10 clubs in the United States. Check out what it has and what is in the plans for the future with the IHRSA Member profile.



Industry Intelligence: The IHRSA Global Report 2012

Just a few minutes ago—literally—FedEx delivered half a dozen preview copies of The IHRSA Global Report 2012: The State of the Health Club Industry, fresh from the printers, to my office. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to receive them.

Click to read more ...


Progress Never Ending

By Craig R. Waters

Occasionally, I make the mistake of thinking that I’ve seen the best our industry has to offer. And, inevitably, just as I’m beginning to feel a bit jaded, I find myself pleasantly surprised and unexpectedly reinvigorated.

Recently, quite by accident, I happened upon a photo of the therapeutic wet circuit at the Assawan Spa and Health Club, at the Barj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai. To say that this club and the hotel that serves as its setting are stunning doesn’t begin to do them justice. The owner, Jumeirah, a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, describes Barj Al Arab as “the world’s most luxurious hotel,” and I’m not inclined to disagree.

The wet circuit—just one small component of the spa and club—offers guests a wealth of amenities, including sauna, steam, cold plunge, rain shower, infinity pool, and breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf 18 stories below. This photo is featured on pg. 17 of the November issue of CBI, while a different view appears above.

Other areas of this breathtaking facility are pictured below.

The spa and club, like the hotel, achieve a level of design excellence that’s nearly dreamlike, seamlessly integrating classic Arabian motifs, modern technology, and the finest quality materials. Their program offerings are equally eclectic and seductive.

Assawan’s packages include Ultimate Wellbeing for Life, Ultimate Fitness, Ultimate Rejuvenation, Ultimate Relaxation, and Ultimate Nutrition for Life. Its menu of spa services boasts such indulgences as Pure Gold and Platinum Rare facials and an Around the World Signature Massage: “Carefully selected techniques from traditional Shiatsu, Thai, Swedish, and Balinese massages are combined to form 85 minutes of sheer bliss.”

Clearly, in the case of our industry, progress is a process that never ends.








Sweat the Small Stuff

By Dr. Michael R. Mantell

Back in 1988, I wrote a book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: P.S. It’s All Small Stuff. What I didn’t realize then was that—while I was right for creating a calm, peaceful, healthy life—NOT sweating the small stuff was wrong for creating a business.  Read on and see what I mean.

If Ken Blanchard, author and business consultant, belonged to your gym, would he be able to call your customer service program an exemplary model that creates what he calls raving fans?

Do you know what I mean by your customer service program?  Do you know what raving fans are? Do we need to talk about the lifeblood of your club, gym, or spa?

It’s good, old-fashioned customer service and yes, in today’s competitive fitness world, with every imaginable alternative—from free outdoor boot camps, to no-contract, no-commitment, low-cost slimmed-down gyms, to free classes at fitness clothing stores—it’s time to do more than just put a smile on front desk personnel, which is there until you turn away.

Consistency, answering the phone, being a great communicator, doing your fitness research, and even tracking the success of Groupon sales may all be necessary, but they are not sufficient when it comes to putting on the full-court press in terms of powerful, business-growing know-how-WOW. 

It’s been said that a good salesperson can sell someone a gym membership, but it’s the quality of every detail, every nuance, every repair in your club that sends your members home feeling thrilled—chatting and posting about how great their gym is, and coming back as raving fans with friends to join their gym.

How do the top-tier pros do it? How do they form these business-boosting relationships? Here is what I’ve found that they do: they sweat the small stuff!

1. Never ever be satisfied with “customer satisfaction.”  If they are satisfied, then you don’t be.  Think instead, “they are just satisfied.” To leap ahead of your competition, you want them to be “ravingly satisfied” and entirely devoted to your gym and the services you offer.  Only by over-offering will this happen.

2. Make your entire focus on your guests—oops, I mean members.  In fact, find out what your members focus on and make their focus your driving force—one that you never ever take your mind off of. Don’t rely on anything short of a well-communicated system and a rock-solid “member is king” organizational culture to insure this unrelenting focus, so that every member of your staff is passionate about “the king’s focus” as well.

3. Ignore the unmistakable power of perception at your own business peril.  If you aren’t obsessed with the smallest details of your gym, someone else reading this will be obsessed with the smallest details of his/her gym. And guess where your guests—ugh, there I go again, I mean members—will be working out next week?  Stained carpet? Burnt out light bulb? Exercise machine computer display acting weird? Toilet not working properly? Weights left lying around instead of properly stacked? Sloppy counter? Old, torn magazines strewn around?  Trainers not consistent in delivering a message of friendliness?  

These telltale signs of “broken windows” are everywhere except at the finest gyms. If you read this and feel defensive, annoyed, bothered that you have to pay attention to “silly details” and pesky, complaining, unhappy, or “just satisfied” members, I suggest the fitness industry will leave you in its dust. If all you care about is sales numbers, you are a relic. 

To become a raving fan of your own gym, fix every “broken window” you can find every day, sweat the small stuff, and you’ll watch not only the numbers grow but the spirit of your gym grow as well. 

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D., earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania after completing his M.S. degree in clinical psychology at Hahnemnann Medical College where he wrote his thesis on the psychological aspects of obesity. He is a writer, speaker, and fitness expert for the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and a regular contributor to the “San Diego Fitness Psychology” column for The Sporting Club in La Jolla, California, where he is a member of the Sports Medicine Team, specializing in fitness psychology.


A Heat Wave Refresher

 By Jennifer H. McInerney

Ahhhh…summertime. We hunkered down and waited all through the punishing winter months for these long days of cloudless blue skies, cooling breezes, and refreshing swims. In anticipation of summer’s sweet respite, we conveniently forgot about the oppressive humidity, blazing-hot temperatures, and dangerous air quality that accompany one of the season’s common phenomena: heat waves.

For the past several days, most of us throughout the U.S. have been caught in the grip of what the media describes as a “searing” heat wave. Being outside for even a few minutes can feel like torture.

As club operators, you’ve probably noticed a sudden upsurge in attendance—especially if you have a powerful air-conditioning system or a nice cool pool.

While all of your members are to be applauded for maintaining their exercise regimens despite the intolerable heat, it’s especially important to remind them to take extra care—both during and after workouts.

Water-Consumption: Most exercisers tote a water bottle to the club. But the hydration shouldn’t stop when that bottle’s empty. During heat waves, especially, drinking plenty of fluids is strongly recommended “even if you do not feel thirsty,” according to the American Red Cross. Failure to remain hydrated could lead to dangerous health risks, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages are not advised. For additional information, click here. 

Staff Training: Be sure your staff  is trained to recognize the signs of, and to treat victims of, heat-related emergencies. According to the National Weather Service, “Heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S., resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year.”

Other Precautions: Lightweight clothing, smaller meals, frequent rests, avoiding strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day, and seeking air-conditioned shelter from the sun are all recommended.

Stay cool!


Upgraded Hiring Practices Down Under

By Coby Halpin

Coby Halpin, Manager at Goldfields Oasis Recreation CenterAmazing staff is the key to business success. If you have the right people, you’re on your way. If you don’t, you’re facing an uphill battle!

Even the most diligent hands-on manager can’t watch every part of the facility every day. Your staff needs to be well-selected, well-trained, passionate, and always focused on providing excellent customer service.  
Having worked both in urban and regional fitness facilities, I can attest that having the right team is equally important whether a club is situated in a major city or in one of the more remote areas of Australia. In the city, competition is fierce because people have so many options. And, in regional areas, where communities are smaller and more close-knit, a good staff is critical because word-of-mouth is so strong; one bad word can have a huge impact on your business.

In both cases, amazing staff is amazing staff, and the recruitment process—and outcomes—should be the same! 

As the manager of the Goldfields Oasis in Kalgoorlie, a regional recreation center in Western Australia, I’ve found that recruiting the right staff is challenge for several reasons: we’re located in a remote area with a small population that hasn’t had a great deal of experience with the fitness industry.

It’s been a constant struggle, but, recently, the local city council has done a great deal to publicize the services we provide, increasing our profile and enhancing our image in the community. Now, the Oasis has a staff of committed professionals, and the results are amazing. These employees add to the atmosphere at the Oasis, attracting more people who want to be a part of what we’re doing.  

I have one overriding concern when it comes to staff members: Do they care…or not? Ask yourself this question, and you’ll probably discover that you know the answer immediately. Budgets and wages are important, of course, but spending an extra $5,000 to get the best person for the job may actually produce an extra $50,000 in profits for your business—directly, through such things as increased sales and higher member retention, but also indirectly through such things as increased staff tenure and elimination of rehiring expenses.

Goldfields Oasis Recreation CenterYou should dedicate yourself to creating an environment in which staff is respected, valued, and supported, and that provides a level of customer service that’s second to none. If so, you’ll have a club where people will want to work.

To achieve that worthy goal, heed the following tips.

• Analyze any vacant position thoroughly.

• Update your interview/selection process regularly.

• Write effective job advertisements.

• When searching for a new employee, take your time and look around—the right person is out there

• Seriously consider anyone who asks about a job: you never know what they might be able to bring to bear

• Be present at every interview—you can’t hire someone based on a resume

• Be prepared to pay a bit extra

• Invest your own time in a new employee—it will pay dividends

• Be prepared to make a tough call—if a current employee isn’t meeting your expectations, and a better-qualified person comes along, you may have to make a difficult decision, but you have to do what’s right for your business

Coby Halpin is the manager of the Goldfields Oasis Recreation Center, in Kalgoorlie, Australia, one of the largest recreational facilities in Western Australia. Goldfields serves more than 18,000 visitors each month. Halpin is also an avid reader of CBI Unbound!