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Entries in IHRSA Institute (23)


5 Reasons People Are Talking About the IHRSA Institute

The staff at IHRSA could talk endlessly about how great The IHRSA Institute is, and how much it will change your career and your health club. 

But at the end of the day, the most trusted endorsements come from your peers. Therefore, check out what past attendees are saying about The IHRSA Institute.

Continue reading "5 Reasons People Are Talking About the IHRSA Institute."

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Strategic Plan Rewind: Working Backwards to Reach Your Goals

This post is an IHRSA Institute preview.

You can learn a lot about the pitfalls of strategic planning by observing fitness resolutioners.

Continue reading "Strategic Plan Rewind: Working Backwards to Reach Your Goals."

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Hone Your Organizational Skills to Create Successful Marketing Campaigns

This post is an IHRSA Institute preview.

A strong, integrated marketing strategy is key to the success of any business. Unfortunately, creating and implementing that strategy can be a challenge for smaller health club businesses, which often don’t have the resources to employ full-time marketers. 

Continue reading "Hone Your Organizational Skills to Create Successful Marketing Campaigns."

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What It's Really Like to Win an IHRSA Institute Scholarship

Your chance to win a full ride didn’t end in college. Every year, we offer scholarships to attend The IHRSA Institute to two worthy individuals who have a passion for the fitness industry and demonstrate strong leadership skills.

Each scholarship, named in honor of John McCarthy and Curt and Jane Beusman, has a value of more than $3,000 and includes a full registration to the Institute, program materials and handouts, social and networking events, lodging, and meals, as well as a $500 travel stipend. 

Not too shabby, right?

Continue reading "What It's Really Like to Win an IHRSA Institute Scholarship."

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6 Components of a Strong Personal Training Department

Why does personal training exist? Because we can’t do the exercise ourselves, said Luke Carlson of Discover Strength during his “Personal & Group Training Management” session at the 2016 IHRSA Institute.   

Strong Leaders, Strong Personal Training Department 

Session attendees shared additional reasons their club members hire personal trainers, such as looking for expertise and social interaction, and seeking motivation and accountability. The key reason club members need personal trainers is supervision; statistically, fitness performance and health outcomes are far better with supervised exercise, Carlson said.  

Carlson cautioned that weak leaders can be the reason personal training departments aren’t performing better. Club owners and managers must identify their core values, institutionalize them and build a culture around them. Those in leadership roles must identify each individual staff member and job function and ensure that the “right person is in the right seat." 

Six Components of a Strong Personal Training Department 

Carlson introduced the following six components that comprise a strong personal training department, and stressed the importance of identifying the tools and tactical solutions that drive performance in each. 

  1. Vision – Solidify a shared vision of core values and a future plan
  2. People – Determine who does what and how it should be done.
  3. Process – Identify, simplify, and document your processes
  4. Data – Develop a consistent way to measure key performance indicators
  5. Traction – Document the two-to-five most important things to be accomplished each quarter
  6. Issues – Effective leaders must recognize issues and how to handle them 

In closing, Carlson said, “There is a difference between doing, and doing well. Execution is paramount.” 

Read more coverage from the 2016 IHRSA Institute.


3 Marketing Secrets That Helped West Wood Clubs Survive Ireland’s Recession 

Can you name every single element of your health club business that falls under the umbrella of marketing? The answer may be longer than you’d think. 

“Marketing is everything you do that influences someone's decision whether to buy or not to buy from you,” said Alan Leach, regional manager of West Wood Clubs in Ireland, during his 2016 IHRSA Institute session. “It’s everything we do that influences someone's decision whether to continue to buy from us or not continue to buy from us.” 

During his Wednesday, August 3 session, Leach outlined the sales and marketing strategies that allowed West Wood Club to thrive during Ireland’s economic recession, which caused many health clubs to declare bankruptcy. 

The following are Leach’s top three marketing secrets: 

1. The Price is Rarely the Issue in Most Buying Decisions 

Leach cited a study done for Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone. For the study, researchers interviewed people who bought a slew of products—cars, gym memberships, etc.—and asked them how important price was in the buying decision. 

For those who bought the product they were considering, 14% said price was the most important factor. But when researchers asked the salespeople how important they thought price was in the buyer’s decision making, 84% said it was the most important factor. 

“In a lot of cases, the price is a far bigger issue for the people selling [the membership] than the people buying it,” Leach said. 

Knowing this, West Wood Clubs continued to charge a joining fee during the recession, while other clubs that eliminated their joining fees struggled. 

2. Winning the Battle for Sales Leadership Will Clinch the Victory for Decades 

“When it comes to sales, the golden rule is that ‘winning the battle for sales leadership in a single year will often clinch victory for decades to come,’” Leach said, quoting Jack Trout’s book Jack Trout's book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. “When you have sales, you can fix anything.” 

3. Only Spend on Marketing if it Generates a Profit 

West Wood Clubs only spends on marketing if it has delivered a proven return-on-investment, Leach said. As a result, they only spend $35 on marketing and sales per new member.

Read more coverage from the 2016 IHRSA Institute.


Health Clubs Should ‘Re-strategize’ Every 90 Days to Stay Competitive 

Since 18.5% of the American population joins health clubs, “this means we are all competing for the same [18.5%],” said Mark Miller, vice president and CEO of Merritt Athletic Clubs, during his 2016 IHRSA Institute session, “Strategic Planning for Club Operation Professionals.”

Independent health club competition grows increasingly more difficult with consolidation, niche studios, high volume/low cost growth, healthcare, technology, social media, and service voids, Miller said. Attendees shared additional challenges they face in their clubs, including staffing, member retention, staff retention, and attracting a younger market.

Combating ever-growing competition requires a strong leadership strategy. Club owners and managers should identify what they want the club to be, what resources they have and how they will achieve their goals. 

Miller advised conducting a re-strategizing every 90 days to ensure the focus remains in line. Miller introduced the “Four Primary Management Practices”—strategy, execution, culture, and structure—followed by the “Secondary Management Practices”—finding and keeping talented employees, leadership, and innovation.  

A common theme at the IHRSA Institute, Miller discussed the importance of core values.  Clubs should answer the questions: 

  • What are your company’s vision and goals?
  • Is your marketplace willing to pay for what your club has to offer?
  • Do you have the right people and resources in place?
  • Are you willing to be different, unique, or change your thinking? 

A healthy organization is built on a cohesive leadership team that creates, communicates and reinforces clarity.  “The only way to do great work is to love the work you do,” said Miller. 

Read more coverage from the 2016 IHRSA Institute.


The 2016 IHRSA Institute in Photos

On August 2-5, nearly 100 health club professionals descended on the picturesque University of North Carolina campus for the IHRSA Institute, Executive Education for Club Professionals, sponsored by Core Health & Fitness, MINDBODY, NASM, and SPRI.

Over the course of the week, attendees sat in on high-level sessions on topics from sales to finance, networked during meals and cocktail hours, and shared experiences and strategies during roundtable discussions. And some even got their sweat on during daily early-morning workouts.

If you haven't been, it's difficult to explain just how engaging an event the Institute is. So we figured—rather than tell you—we'll show you.

Opening Keynote Address on Visionary Leadership

Over time, organizations naturally focus on efficiency—delivering on objectives—and start driving out flexibility and, as a result, miss opportunities for innovation, Christopher Bingham, Ph.D., professor of strategy and entrepreneurship for the Kenan-Flagler Business School at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said during the opening keynote address.

Scholarship Recipients Recognized

This year’s IHRSA Institute scholarship recipients, Azeza Tessereau, general manager at Wellbridge Athletic Club and Spa located in Town and Country, MO, and Brent Gallagher, owner of Avenu Fitness & Lifestyle located in Houston, TX, were recognized on the first night.

Attendees Got Hands-on During a Keynote Activity

Christopher Bingham asked keynote attendees to team up to try to build note card towers for an exercise that demonstrated the power of experimentation.


Networking Galore!

Between networking events, roundtable discussions, and group meals, attendees had countless opportunities to make professional contacts (and some new friends, too).

Learning at High-level Sessions

More than a dozen sessions were offered, on topics like strategic planning, marketing and sales, finance, legal issues, revenue, and more.


Dining at DuBose Hall

Meals, which were included in the event package, were held at UNC's historic DuBose Hall.


The #IHRSAInstitute logo swap is underway!

A photo posted by IHRSA (@ihrsa) on Aug 4, 2016 at 3:48pm PDT

The Famous IHRSA Institute Logo Swap

Each year, attendees bring their company's swag to exchange with others. This year's logo swap was one of the best yet!


The Traditional Group Photo

Not a bad-looking group, if we do say so ourselves. 


Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Because the IHRSA Institute wouldn't be complete without a graduation ceremony.

And Before You Go...

Just a few more of our favorite photos from this year. Thanks to all those who attended! We hope to see you—and some new faces—at the 2017 IHRSA Institute. 


5 Exercises to Increase Confidence During High-Stakes Communications

Strong confidence and polished communication skills are common attributes of health club professionals. The traits often come hand-in-hand, but they aren’t inherent in everyone. 

In fact, confidence is 70% volitional and 30% genetic, meaning that we can make a decision to become confident or not, according to Heidi Schultz, Ph.D., clinical professor of management and corporate communication at UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

In her Thursday, August 5 IHRSA Institute keynote presentation, Schultz shared several exercises that health club professionals can use to communicate with confidence in high-stake situations, such as presentations, meetings, and difficult conversations. 

Here are a few of her confidence-boosting suggestions. 

1. Happy Talk 

“Tell yourself as you’re preparing and getting ready that ‘I’m prepared and I’m poised,’” she said. “It’s simple, but it’s an incredibly powerful concept. You can undercut your confidence by thinking you’ll never be able to do this.” 

2. Visualization 

“Your mind can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is vividly imagined,” she said. “So let’s take that insight and vividly imagine high-stakes communication—a high-stakes meeting or a high-stakes presentation. In your mind, go through the introduction but very specifically—detail matters. Visualize the room, where you are in relation to your audience, visualize various high-stakes components, and if you make it real and do it often, when you get there for real it feels so much better.” 

3. Run and Present 

In this physical exercise, Schultz recommends practicing a presentation while running up and down a flight of stairs to experience what it feels like to present when you’re anxious and nervous.

“This particular practice allows you to feel what it’s like to be nervous when there’s nothing at stake,” she said. 

4. Four Square Breathing 

This controlled breathing exercise helps you to slow down your heart rate when you're nervous and provides a distraction, Schultz said. 

Simply inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and repeat. 

5. Isometric Exercises 

Schutlz recommends using these exercises to burn up any nervous energy. If your upper leg tends to shake before a presentation, just squeeze your muscles and release. If your hands shake, she suggests making a fist, then squeeze and release, or press your index finger to your thumb to the count of 10 and then release.

“Then you don’t have the energy and you stop shaking,” she said.

The IHRSA Institute, Executive Education for Club Professionals is sponsored by Core Health & Fitness, MINDBODY, NASM, and SPRI.


Implement a Professional Sales System to Grow Health Club Memberships

Through its digital marketing strategies, West Wood Club’s website generates 990 leads a month—but those leads are worth nothing if they’re not converted into memberships. 

And the best way to turn leads into members? Implementing a professional sales system. 

“The best investment you’ll ever make in a fitness club is to invest in a professional sales system,” Alan Leach, regional manager of the Dublin, Ireland club. “If you’re having difficulty growing memberships, find a professional sales trainer or have someone on your staff who can go through that training […] It will be invaluable to you.” 

Leach took IHRSA Institute attendees through his club’s proven strategies during his Thursday, August 4 session, “Sales Management.” To start, he outlined the top three sales tasks:  

  1. Generate leads for your fitness business
  2. Convert leads into tours of your fitness business
  3. Convert tours into members of your fitness business  

West Wood Clubs uses integrated marketing strategies to generate leads, from search engine marketing to direct mail campaigns. And once the leads are recorded in their database, it’s up to the highly trained sales team to guide the leads through the buyer’s journey. 

Each West Wood Club sales team member goes through a rigorous training process:  

  • Full day: How to sell 70% of all tours
  • Full day: How to convert 70% of enquiries to tours
  • Three full days: Sales role play
  • Full day: How to do sales prospecting 

As a result of their marketing strategies and finely tuned sales process, West Wood Club’s website nets 56,000 visits a month, which the sales team generated into 3,992 memberships in 2015, resulting in $8.4 million.