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 IHRSA (99)


Turning No into NOW!

By Patricia Glynn

When I first stepped onto a plane this past March, bound for IHRSA’s 30th Anniversary International Convention and Trade Show in San Francisco, I never imagined that, just a few days later, I’d be contemplating what my deathbed regrets might someday be.

Yet, later in the week, there I was, at a special networking luncheon, as Phil Keoghan of CBS’s The Amazing Race asked me to do exactly that. “Think about what you’d regret if you died tomorrow,” he prompted.

Keoghan, one of the convention’s keynote speakers, asked luncheon attendees to split up into pairs to discuss our dreams, the obstacles we believe are keeping us from realizing them, and the ways in which we can overcome these seemingly insurmountable barriers.

We explored ways in which we might live—really live. We talked about how we should, and could, stop waiting for “someday” to arrive. As Keoghan mingled with guests, he encouraged us to live “NOW,” an acronym Keoghan uses to express his philosophy: “No Opportunity Wasted.”

Throughout the afternoon, we listed our goals and, more importantly, agreed to let go of the excuses that were keeping us from achieving them. Our justifications, Keoghan emphasized, are usually only in our mind. For instance, we only think we don’t have time. But as the old English proverb rightfully reminds us, if we have the will, we really can find a way (and a few extra minutes in our day, if need be).

Our industry, for example, is filled with people who imagined something more for themselves and who made their dreams come true. They have, among other things, launched businesses, created innovative products and programs, and written best-selling books. Many of these risk-takers have been featured in CBI magazine.

Keoghan’s message to the industry: No more excuses! Our dreams, be they big or small, can become reality. We must release our objections and just go for it. We need to live passionately, rather than in a state of perpetual procrastination.

So stop thinking you can’t ever realize your dreams. Instead, spend your energy on figuring out how you can make them become your “new normal.” Do new things and never stop reinventing yourself. And, remember, life is short—so be sure to live to the fullest each and every day. Live “NOW.”

And be on the lookout for the June issue of CBI magazine for more on the annual trade show and convention. 


Supporting Our Soldiers and Their Families

By Patricia Amend

I can only imagine how difficult it has been for military families during the last decade while this country has fought two wars in the Middle East—the painful, empty longing caused by the absence of a loved one; the near-crippling fear for their safety; and, for spouses, the additional burden of managing the business of family, work, and home without a partner.

Then, when the serviceman or woman returns home, there may be severe emotional and financial challenges to cope with, as they attempt to readjust to normal life.

A friend of mine has a son who’s an Army Ranger, a member of the elite Special Forces. After fighting in Iraq, he’s in now Afghanistan.

Can you imagine knowing that your child is in a war zone, that you can do nothing to protect him as he continually carries out dangerous missions? My friend has slept little while his son has been deployed. He checks the casualty lists for his son’s name every day.

So, I was pleased to hear that First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden have turned their attention to military families this year with a new program called Joining Forces. The Bidens understand better than most; their son, Beau, was deployed in Iraq for a year.

On Monday, May 9, at the White House, Mrs. Obama unveiled Joining Forces and announced several new healthy options for military families.

Joined by standout athletes, from tennis great Billie Jean King to basketball’s Grant Hill, Mrs. Obama singled out Joe Moore, IHRSA’s president and CEO, and Scott Goudeseune, president and CEO of the American Council on Exercise (ACE), to thank both organizations for their cooperative roles in the Joining Forces initiative.

IHRSA will offer free club memberships to immediate family members (ages 13 and older, where applicable) of actively deployed reservists and National Guard members, while ACE will provide at least one million hours of free personal training. The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition—composed of athletes, nutritionists, pediatricians, trainers, and educators—will hold a series of events for military families.

After June 1, servicemen and women and their families can find participating clubs at, or free personal training at

Personally, I am grateful for this effort, having grown up in a military family of sorts myself.

My older brother, David, my best friend when I was little, left to serve in Southeast Asia in the late 1960s. To this day, I can remember returning home early one morning after seeing him off, and sitting in his bedroom, wondering where he had really gone.

David survived, but the war changed him; his life has been a harrowing struggle ever since. He never had this kind of support.

I sincerely hope this program catches on all across the country. We owe our returning soldiers and their families so much. It’s the least we can do.


IHRSA Joins Forces with White House

Did you see IHRSA President Joe Moore with First Lady Michelle Obama during Monday's White House press conference? Did hear about IHRSA's new partnership with Let's Move! and the new IHRSA Joining Forces Network, a health and wellness initiative for military families?
If not, click here for a recap and slide show of the event. We'll have more related info for you on Monday...stay tuned!

IHRSA President Joe Moore, front left, with First Lady Michelle Obama and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Big Day in DC

By Mia Coen

Today's a big day for IHRSA in Washington, D.C., as Joe Moore, IHRSA's President, will be joining First Lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn for the Military Family Wellness event! We're sworn to secrecy until after the event is broadcast.

Of course, we'll be on the sidelines getting the scoop so we can fill you in! Expect to hear more soon!



Bringing Back the Backyard

By Julie M. King

As a mom of three boys—an 8-year-old and 6-year-old twins—I see, firsthand, the sedentary influence of technology on children. If only Super Mario Brothers on the Wii counted as exercise, my kids would surely be super fit.

And as a group exercise instructor and personal trainer who spends a lot of time at the health club, I clearly recognize the value of physical activity. But, like eating vegetables, knowing what is healthy and actually getting your kids to do it can be a challenge.

So I was curious when a friend told me about the Backyard Game of the Year contest from CLIF Kids, which is part of Clif Bar & Company, an IHRSA associate that makes healthy, organic snacks and drinks. Going on now, this promotion encourages kids ages 6-12 to come up with unique backyard game ideas that allow at least two kids to play together, and can incorporate common household items and toys, such as balls, beanbags, and hula hoops.

I liked this idea immediately: it encourages kids to go outside and to use their imagination and creativity—all of which the Wii definitely does not. Plus, there are incentives: five finalists (and one parent each) will fly to New York for the playoffs in August, and the winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship. The other finalists will be rewarded with a $1,000 scholarship, along with a Trek bicycle and Bell helmet. Not bad for whooping it up outside.

Fame is another motivator, as the company plans to reproduce the game and donate it to the Children & Nature Network, where it can eternally inspire other children to get out and play.

While I’m already kicking around a few backyard amusement concepts, the games must be created by children, according to the rules. But I do hope to serve as a role model for my kids—I might even take them to my club to check out some of the innovative methods the personal trainers practice with their adult and kid clients.

Of course, I’ll supervise the game-development process, as little boys tend to gravitate toward anything risky, dangerous, and downright scary.

And, ultimately, the prize is really secondary. This is about getting outside, being active, and having fun. After a long, miserable winter, count us in—outside!


Eating Disorders at the Club: Is It Your Place to Say?

By Jean Suffin

We’ve all seen it. The woman (or man) at the club who is painfully thin and working out frequently, for long periods of time and with obsessive vigor. A person who is so thin that your heart goes out to them and you wish you could say something. Of course, that’s not realistic or effective. So what can a club do, if anything, to intervene and help members who suffer from complex eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia?

First, the experts believe, don’t assume. There’s a lot more to an eating disorder than meets the eye.

Dr. MaryJayne Johnson

 Dr. MaryJayne Johnson, an exercise physiologist with countless achievements under her belt, including the international IHRSA/CYBEX Fitness Director of the Year award, explains that sometimes disordered eating or exercise is hard to identify because the profiles and symptoms are not cut-and-dried. In addition to the behaviors described above, there are people of normal weight who exercise compulsively, people who weigh themselves compulsively, and those who swear they don’t eat much and never lose weight. “You can see how complex this can get because these signs are not definitive,” she says.

Eliza Kingsford

 Eliza Kingsford, MA, LPC, a licensed professional counselor specializing in eating disorders, agrees, and emphasizes that there are objective criteria by which an eating disorder diagnosis is determined. “As much as it may pain you to see someone so obviously thin working way too hard, it’s still something we never want to pass judgment on.”

Both agree that it’s almost never appropriate for another member to approach the individual. “Telling someone who has an eating disorder that you think they have an eating disorder and that they shouldn’t be working out will not help that person recover,” Kingsford explains.

But club staff, Dr. Johnson maintains, can. “The first line of action is a new member appointment with a personal trainer. Often, as the personal trainer is interviewing the client, verbal cues indicate that a referral to a dietitian, mental health practitioner, or physician is in order. If we have existing members that we have concerns about, a qualified member of the staff can approach the member in a caring, concerned manner.”

But first, she advises, clubs need to define their role as a health/wellness facility, as opposed to a workout facility. “If we profess to be health/wellness professionals, then I feel we have a responsibility to reach out to the member.”

Kingsford advises club managers to have resources on hand to refer members to in case they reach out for help.

Dr. Johnson explains, “Nationally certified personal trainers and group fitness instructors should understand that helping our members to live a healthful lifestyle is part of their role as professionals. As a health club manager, I would want my staff to talk to their fitness director and/or to me if they have concerns about a member. Together, I would want to establish an appropriate way to approach the member in a caring, nonthreatening way.”

For more information on how to train staff to deal with these situations, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) has published a resource called Lifestyle Weight Management Coach that speaks to signs and symptoms that a personal trainer should be aware of, and suggests appropriate actions to take. 


A Refreshing Respite at IHRSA30

By Patricia Amend

Cliff Buchholz

 It’s March 17—Day Two of IHRSA’s 30th Anniversary International Convention and Trade Show at the Moscone Convention Center in downtown San Francisco. The sun is out and the air is cool, with temperatures hovering in the mid-50s. Today has offered a welcome break from what has been a long, trying winter for many.

What’s the mood inside?

Decidedly positive, with smiles all around—clearly a result of the constant connections, mentoring, and support that occur over the four days of this event. Old friendships are being re-established and new ones are forming. Deals are in progress.

The casual observer would never know that these attendees and exhibitors from around the world have been trudging their way through The Great Recession since 2008. A trip to IHRSA offers a refreshing respite from the problems that linger at home. It can also provide solutions.

People will return to their respective clubs rejuvenated, eager to install the new equipment they’ve purchased or to implement the new ideas they’ve learned from the speeches, sessions, and workshops they’ve attended, and from fellow attendees.

I had a chance to catch up with Cliff Buchholz, owner of three Miramont Lifestyle Fitness centers in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“Membership sales are still flat,” he said. “So everybody is looking for ways to increase nondues revenue. Everyone is trying to figure it out.”

Buchholz, himself, has made a bold move in that regard—by installing an urgent care center at one of his clubs that’s staffed by a physician and nurse practitioners. It’s available to both members and nonmembers, who can receive medical attention for problems that might otherwise require an expensive and unnecessary trip to their primary care physician or local emergency room.

While he acknowledges that he won’t see a quick return on his investment, Buchholz feels that it’s the best way to support the wellness programming that his clubs already offer and to better serve the needs of his existing members, while attracting new ones.

It’s a gutsy move, one that’s likely to inspire his peers to think more creatively, and take equally courageous steps they might not otherwise consider taking.

That’s the beauty of IHRSA conventions: the face-to-face contact. As much as we live in a world driven by cell phones, Skype, Facebook, and Twitter—which now play important roles—there’s nothing quite like sharing our experiences in person. It’s invigorating to hear a veteran like Cliff Buchholz tell his story and explain his rationale.

You can’t help but sense his commitment and his drive. And it’s wonderfully contagious.

Stay tuned for another IHRSA30 update on Monday…


Get the message?

By Mia Coen

Today’s post is a light-hearted clip to get you thinking a little bit about your club’s message. With the Convention coming up, you’re expecting to meet new people, namely, other industry professionals and gym owners. But when they ask you about your gym, what do you say?

This video is a clip from Dodge Ball, a movie starring Ben Stiller, one of Hollywood’s fittest (and funniest) celebrities. He plays the role of White Goodman, the owner and operator of Globo Gym, a fictitious monster gym that, in addition to fitness, offers extensive cosmetic enhancements in order to help fight the flab. Though we here at CBI and IHRSA don’t condone or necessarily appreciate his overall message, we do think that every club owner should be as confident and knowledgeable about their gym as he is.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s Globo Gym’s “ad” from Dodge Ball.





’Tis the Season

By Jennifer H. McInerney

Even though I’m not a club operator, given my role as editor of CBI, I try to view the club I belong to from the perspective of the IHRSA community.

And one thing I’ve noticed over the years—it’s hard not to, really—is that January truly is the busiest time of year for new membership sales. What with New Year’s resolutions, extra holiday pounds, and wintry weather, the club is buzzing with newbies!

Even though I don’t relish parking a little farther away from the building or jockeying for my favorite pieces of equipment, I can’t help but smile at all the new people coming in for tours, or stepping onto an elliptical for the very first time and trying to figure out how to turn it on.

This annual influx of well-intended individuals—some of whom won’t stay, but many of whom will become lifelong exercise enthusiasts—has helped the club business continue to grow and prosper over the last several decades. And the fact that there are yet more newcomers streaming through the doors in January 2011 bodes well for the future of everyone in our industry.

And if you haven’t seen as many new faces in your club as you’d like, let me make a simple suggestion: how about inviting them, via a well-timed Letter to the Editor in your local newspaper? It’s free and often very effective.

With New Year’s resolutions fresh in their minds, residents may be primed for such an invitation from your club. Reminding them of all the health benefits of exercise—and how your club can deliver them—may provide just the impetus they need to get off the couch and beat a path to your door.

For additional resources, visit

But don’t wait too long: January comes but once a year!


Mobile Fitness: The Business Behind Being Exclusively Inclusive

By Mia Coen

 I’d like to think that we all have a passion for something that’s outside our realm of knowledge or occupation. It could be something we don’t understand or something we’d like to know more about.

For Greg Kirk, founder and president of Fitness Therapy Unlimited (FTU), his passion is helping adaptive needs individuals achieve physical competence through fitness therapy.

What makes FTU so special is its unique niche and what it brings to the health and fitness industry: mobility and specialized knowledge. Though FTU doesn’t even have its own facility, it thrives as a mobile business. “We travel to different communities throughout the state of Michigan,” said Kirk. “We travel to the client’s home, local gym, and pool to conduct the fitness therapy. We encourage our clients to get out in their own community to socialize. It’s more than physical fitness; it’s to help improve their cognitive and social state.”

Kirk and his team of fitness therapists hold Fitness Therapy certifications from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), an IHRSA Associate. They work exclusively with disabled individuals who have conditions like spinal cord injury, brain injury, MS, muscular dystrophy, visual impairment, and different orthopedic and geriatric issues. He and his team travel to different health clubs, community centers, and pools within the same communities where his clients live, in order to provide convenience and a familiar social atmosphere. FTU staffers practice a range of specialized services, such as fitness therapy, aquatic therapy, massage therapy, and nutrition. Frequent stops are made at Warren Community Center (WCC) and Romulus Athletic Center as well as such IHRSA facilities as the Great Lakes Athletic Club, the Beverly Hills Club, and Bally Total Fitness, to name a few.

In the fitness industry, the disabled community is a population that goes decidedly underserved. Though many clubs make an effort to make their facilities handicapped-accessible or equipped with user-friendly machines, adaptive needs individuals may find it difficult to integrate themselves among their able-bodied peers at the gym. In addition, many trainers don’t know how to develop a regimen for someone who’s had a catastrophic injury. And most certified nutrition counselors are unable to recommend a diet plan without knowledge of drug interactions. FTU has one up on the industry by being able to provide specialized services to the adaptive needs population.

“Fitness Therapy is an actual certification. The name separates us into a niche that other people aren’t addressing. It’s not fitness training, it’s not physical therapy; it combines both, the fitness and the therapy,” said Kirk.

FTU is doing something extraordinary: meeting the demands of the disabled community by opening the fitness market to them. In turn, clients develop strength and physical competence, partake in social activities, and get involved with their communities.

“It’s pretty inspiring to help these people every day. We teach them, but they teach us just as much. We appreciate the opportunity, just as much as they do.”