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Entries in IHRSA Institute Spotlight (12)


How Your Gym’s Cancellation Policy Impacts the Member Experience

This post is an IHRSA Institute preview.

Today’s health club market is in a state of constant flux. It seems like every week there’s a new workout trend or must-have fitness technology, and it’s near impossible for independent clubs to keep up.  

On the bright side, your club is poised to deliver a competitive advantage that will never go out of style: a phenomenal member experience.

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To Grow Your Health Club’s Non-Dues Revenue, Focus on Your Strengths 

This post is an IHRSA Institute preview.

When Merritt Clubs management noticed the prevalence of before- and after-school care programs near their Eldersburg, MD, location, something clicked. They already had the infrastructure—the club’s summer camps were consistently successful—so why not start a before-and-after care program of their own?  

Continue reading "To Grow Your Health Club’s Non-Dues Revenue, Focus on Your Strengths."

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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.

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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. 

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Strong Fee-based Programming Drives Revenue, Trainer Retention

This post is an IHRSA Institute preview.

There’s more to fee-based programming than meets the eye.

Personal training, small group training, and other fee-based programs are strong drivers of additional club business revenue. But the benefits of fee-based programming don’t stop at your bottom line.

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4 Tips to Increase Non-Dues Revenue at Your Health Club

Membership is only one way for a health club to generate revenue. A sometimes overlooked profit-driver is non-dues revenues, which can benefit health clubs in several ways. 

“Once you are able to diversify your income streams, your business has the opportunity to offset potential shortfalls in other areas that may occur in your business,” says Kevin McHugh, COO of The Atlantic Club. “In addition, having a culture of creating non-dues revenues that positively impact the membership provides them more opportunities to be engaged in your business. During economic downturns, membership is often much more vulnerable that ancillary income streams that are engaging the customer more and make it harder to depart.” 

McHugh will teach club operators how to determine growth areas, engage prospects, and increase non-dues revenue in his Wednesday, August 3 IHRSA Institute session, “Non-Dues Revenue: Management & Growth Strategies.” 

How to Determine Growth Areas for Non-Dues Revenue 

“Health clubs can determine the best growth areas for their club by doing research,” he says. “This analysis includes networking with other clubs in the IHRSA network, as well as surveying the members as to what they would like to see.” 

When looking for opportunities for growth, McHugh says club owners should also focus on:  

  • Creating a culture where the staff becomes focused on creating new revenue streams
  • Drilling down into the club’s ancillary income streams in order to create new ancillary income streams within the current income streams
  • Exploring where there are gaps in the club's business
  • Studying other best practices and adapting them to the individual club’s business  

4 Tips to Increase Health Club Non-Dues Revenue 

Here are McHugh’s four tips for health clubs to increase non-dues revenue.  

  1. “Do not be concerned with non-dues revenues—be concerned with non-dues profits.”
  2. “Not all non-dues revenue programs work—you need to be diligent in identifying where programs need to be put to rest.”
  3. “We have the patience rule; [the program] often does not become an overnight success. Some do, but most can take up to a year. And if you are committed and place the proper resources, your chance for success has improved.”
  4. “Remember that membership dues is the club’s number one priority. Ancillary income can be more fun and take time away from the core business. Being aware of this potential issue will provide all involved a better chance of overall success for the business.”  

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.


Answer These 5 Questions to Hire More Strategically at Your Health Club

Hiring and staffing plays an integral role in any health club’s strategic plan. 

Earlier this month, we discussed the questions you should ask every job candidate at your club. Today, we’re taking a step back to consider the questions health club owners and operators should ask themselves before hiring someone. 

Health Clubs Should Adopt a Strategic Approach to Hiring   

To hire strategically, you should begin with the end in mind, says Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3. 

“When you do that, you are essentially beginning with your strategy goal and then you can create the steps and roadmap to get there,” he says. “So to align, you would define: Who do I need to hire to achieve our strategy? How do I need to train my team to achieve our strategy? What performance metrics do they need to achieve to achieve our strategy?” 

McBride will teach IHRSA Institute attendees how to enhance their strategic focus and develop high performing teams that deliver desired outcomes and profitability in his Wednesday, August 3 session, “Strategic Planning for Club Executives.”  

5 Questions to Ask Yourself before Hiring Someone 

Here are the five questions he recommends club owners and operators ask themselves before hiring someone:  

  1. What type of personality do you need to add to your team for it to operate at the highest level of productivity? 
  2. What skills are needed for the team to carry out the strategic mission? 
  3. Based on this candidate’s past performance, is there evidence that he/she will make your site more successful and achieve your strategic goals? 
  4. Does this candidate have enough of the “must be hired with” traits?  
  5. Do they have honesty/integrity? (These are always non-negotiable.)  

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.


4 Steps to Deliver a Service Culture in Your Health Club

Over the last decade, the number of health club member experience survey tools have proliferated. But, no matter which results you choose to examine, the same five terms keep popping up among respondents who are loyal to a club: 

  • Friendly staff
  • Plenty of equipment
  • Variety of classes/programs
  • Clean facility
  • Good customer service  

“Particularly in the health and fitness industry, we can find individuals to perform most of the specific job duties required—that talent is out there,” says Brent Darden, CEO of Brent Darden Consulting. “We all know how important it is to hire positive people who enjoy customer service and embrace that challenge, and the greatest reason people don’t do that is they don’t have a system in place to make sure it’s happening.” 

Darden will explain how health club owners and operators can such a system in his Thursday, August 4 IHRSA Institute session, “Member Retention, Experience & Engagement.”

Here some of are Darden’s steps to delivering a service culture:

  1. Make customer service a central part of your club’s core value system
  2. Recruit talent based on their ability to deliver service. (This is much more important than any technology training they might have.)
  3. Provide onboarding education and continuing education for employees so they understand and are constantly reminded about the importance of the member experience and how to make it happen.
  4. Set up a reward and recognition system that is specifically tailored to recognizing people that are delivering on those customer experience values. 

In his session, Darden will also help attendees learn how your organization can become more customer-centric and succeed at building member loyalty; discover the importance of utilizing Net Promoter Scores® and member feedback to deliver great customer experiences and gain the competitive advantage; and develop strategies to help your staff engage and retain members and explore practical approaches to deliver a service culture.

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.


11 Questions You Should Ask Every Job Candidate at Your Health Club

Understanding strategic thinking and developing a solid strategic plan is core to business success; however, your hiring, training, performance management and reward systems, and your organizational objectives must also align to achieve your goals. 

And executing that alignment often trips club owners up. 

“Most people start with the task at hand, versus going mentally to the final desired outcome and working backwards,” says Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness and BMC3. When you begin with the end in mind, “you are essentially beginning with your strategy goal and then you can create the steps and roadmap to get there.” 

McBride will teach IHRSA Institute attendees how to enhance their strategic focus and develop high performing teams that deliver desired outcomes and profitability in his Wednesday, August 3 session, “Strategic Planning for Club Executives.” 

During the session, McBride will go in depth on how following hiring best practices will help club owners and operators achieve their strategic goals.   

Here are 11 questions that McBride suggests asking every job candidate before hiring them:  

  1. What was your first job? 
  2. What did you love about it? 
  3. What did you hate about it? 
  4. Can you tell me about that experience?
  5. Are you lucky/fortunate?
  6. If you were to have a professional business coach, what would you chose to be coached in?
  7. What are you most proud?
  8. What was your hardest work situation involving conflict with another person?
  9. Why should we hire you?
  10. What concerns you about the job?
  11. What do you like about our company?  

 “In the session, attendees will learn more about each one and how they fit into their strategic plan,” McBride says. “We will also look at how knowledge, attitude, skills, and habits form our ways of thinking and approach to result outcomes. There will be much more on strategic thinking modeling, hiring best practices, and performance management to achieve strategic goals.” 

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.


3 Tips for Effective Strategic Planning for Health Club Professionals

Health club operations professionals know that creating and following a strategic plan is the key to their department’s and club’s success—but, often, that is easier said than done.   

“What I find a lot of the time with managers is they get so sucked into the day-to-day they become really reactive,” says Mark Miller, vice president of Merritt Athletic Clubs in Baltimore, MD.  “When something unexpected happens it takes them off course, and the next thing they know they’re struggling and they’re never focused on how they can improve business and operations.” 

Miller will teach club operators how to overcome that obstacle in his IHRSA Institute session, “Strategic Planning for Club Operations Professionals.” During the Wednesday, August 3 session, attendees will learn to manage more effectively through the development of goals and objectives, timelines, and implementation plans. Miller will also help attendees understand the importance of resource allocation and positioning their team for growth. 

Here are three of Miller’s tips for effective strategic planning. 

1. Become Proactive, Not Reactive 

Club operators need to move from management in the moment to working toward anticipating what is coming down the pipeline, Miller says. By doing that, they can work with their employees to achieve a better outcome based on the company’s long-term vision.

“In my session, I’m going to teach attendees how to move from being a manager to being a leader and a manager,” he says. 

2. Broaden Your Mindset 

“Leaders have to start to look outside of the scope of just the fitness arena,” Miller says. “It’s critical to not be confined to your current thinking—to be open and conscious of where your own blind spots are and how you can improve upon them. Sometimes you need a good coach or mention to help you do that.” 

3. Connect with People Who Challenge You 

“Surround yourself with people you can learn from and get challenged by and grow from,” he says. “One of the benefits of going to the Institute is these are forward-thinking individuals sharing their insights and knowledge, so you’re interacting and building a network of people you can reach out to.” 

Miller’s presentation will help attendees gain a better understanding of their company culture and how it influences their success. 

“They’ll come away with actionable items that not only help them start the process of improving their growth, but items they can put into play immediately and move some needles,” he says. “I’m going to be at the Institute for a couple days, so I’d love to have conversations with attendees and let them pick my brain.”

Learn more about the IHRSA Institute, August 2-5 in Chapel Hill, NC.