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Entries in ILC Spotlight (14)

Thursday
Jan122017

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: It’s Okay to Not Have All the Answers

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership.

Bill McBride
Active Wellness
San Francisco, CA


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?

Helping people learn and grow.  I really enjoy helping operators and staffs get better at how we approach our industry through training, development, standards, and excellence.  Supporting people in their professional and personal growth is very fulfilling. 

It’s all about the people—this industry is such a community. Competitors are friendly with each other. A lot of us believe in the concept of a rising tide floats all boats. It’s about building something bigger than you and your own company, but in helping grow the industry. It is very important and critical when working towards industry goals not to insert any personal agendas. Collaboration for the industry’s progress is very fulfilling to me on a deep level.

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?

I have two pieces of advice: 

  1. Find people that you trust who play to your strengths or offset your weaknesses. Surround yourself with a group of people that make you better, and spend time building your own team.
  2. Realize that it’s okay to not have all the answers, it’s okay to admit when you mess up, and it’s okay and necessary to ask for help.  

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)?

This industry was an immature industry, and there was nobody out there that could unify or bring the industry together to safeguard and protect its interests. There was no organization that had the ability to represent the for-profit clubs prior to IHRSA.

The ILC is that vehicle within IHRSA. What prompted us to join was that joining mattered. There are a lot of opportunities to protect and grow our businesses through advocacy and legislative efforts. The ILC creates an environment where health clubs can prosper.

There is also a social conscience about wanting to give back to an industry you care about. It’s not only the right thing to do to support your industry—it’s also good business. And it’s the smart thing to do to create a climate for our industry to flourish.  Those that don’t join and contribute still get the benefits of the work the ILC does, but the ILC could do so much more if everyone participated and contributed.  

What has been your most memorable experience as part of the ILC? 

The ILC’s work in carving out legislation that was prudent but could’ve gone too far. The ILC has done a lot of good work on AED legislation as well as personal trainer certification standards. It also has a very good track record on preventing sales taxes on health club memberships in many states. IHRSA’s track record of success in public policy and advocacy on many initiatives is extremely noteworthy.  

The ILC is out there guarding the industry from threats. It’s out there watching and trying to keep us secure. It’s the firewall. It’s important to keep this firewall on, even when there isn’t a direct attack. It is crucial to have that level of protection and security. 

The ILC is not only our defense, it is our offense. It plays a significant role in working to promote the public policy interests of incenting membership and exercise in commercial health clubs. IHRSA works to make lawmakers understand the importance our industry plays in curbing the national and international obesity and inactivity crises.

Thursday
Dec152016

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Be Sure to Ask Questions 

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Bill Beck
Club Fit
Briarcliff, NY


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry? 

Far and away the best part of being a leader in this industry is knowing that the work we do every day helps make people’s lives better. We’re responsible for motivating people to live healthier lives, which, in turn, helps them spend more quality time with the people in their lives that matter most to them. 

I’ve always been a big advocate for IHRSA but after having a leadership position on the Board of Directors, I am able to truly recognize and appreciate the great work that we do in the world. I can’t say thank you enough to the Board for this opportunity and for always caring about our members, our people, and the work that we do.  I would encourage anyone looking to take on a more active leadership role to apply. 

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry? 

I would have to advise myself to ask more questions and listen better. Young people tend to think they know more than they do in reality. It took me a long time to realize that asking questions didn’t show vulnerability or weakness. Rather, it helped me show interest in making things better for our staff and members.

I’m not able to make improvements in our operations if I don’t fully understand what’s wrong. Moreover, as a younger person I thought I understood the effects of exercise on people of all ages when I really only understood how exercise affected me. 

It’s also quite interesting how my opinion of “no pain, no gain” has evolved as I’ve gotten older. We need to be able to teach those around us how to motivate people to make exercise an integral part of their life. Pushing people to work to the point of pain seems counterintuitive to that goal for most sane people. 

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)? 

Our industry has so much to offer society yet we still find examples of legislative actions at the state and federal level which seem to work against us as we try to help people live healthier lives. My company isn’t big enough to act alone at solving this. It was easy to see that IHRSA had found a recipe, where I could make a bigger difference by joining the ILC than I could ever make on my own. By combining money from industry leaders we’re able to do much more. I had faith that spending money in this way today would help me avoid spending much more money in the future if punitive legislation were passed. 

The sales tax on health club dues in New York has been a large issue that IHRSA saw well before I did. I wouldn’t have seen it coming. They always keep their fingers on the pulse by reviewing and analyzing legislative action across the country. The action that IHRSA and the ILC took was so much more than I could’ve taken as a small operator.

Thursday
Dec012016

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Treat Customers and Employees Well

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Phil Wendel
ACAC
Charlottesville, VA


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry? 

This is a feel good way to make a living. At ACAC, we say that we help people “live their best.” We’re part of the solution to America’s healthcare crisis. So, while we’re making a living we’re also helping other people live.

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?

1. Focus on sales, sales, sales. I’ve had two jobs. The first was at a student travel company, and the second was in this industry. I started a fitness center (ACAC) in 1984. When we started, we focused on tremendously building the top line. I had a piece of advice I would always give to anyone that put a great idea on my desk; I would ask them—do you have someone that can sell this?

2. If your business is based heavily in sales, make sure there are an equal number of people working to manage the expense side of your business.

3. Treat your customers and your employees extremely well.

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)?

Any industry is far more effective if it has somebody that represents your common interests. IHRSA’s most effective tool and their best work—other than providing an A+ convention every year—is their work on fighting sales tax battles.

One of the best IHRSA member benefits is allowing individual club operators to contribute to legislative outcomes. Collectively we are stronger. Together we have a broader and more effective voice than any of us can have individually. 

Thursday
Nov102016

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Create a Compelling Story to ‘Sell’ Exercise 

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Lloyd Gainsboro
Dedham Health & Athletic Complex
Dedham, MA 


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry? 

Being successful in business is fulfilling. We are successful in the financial part of the health club business and we are successful in delivering medical wellness and physical therapy. This success allows us to benchmark our successes, and these benchmarks enable us to be leaders in the industry around how we deliver services.

We started out as a tennis club. Then in the late ‘70s interest rates went to 19% and inflation was at 12 %. As more women left their homes to join the workforce, we lost a good percentage of our membership base. That became our challenge. We took that challenge and morphed our business. We evolved from a tennis facility, to a full service facility, to a medically integrated facility—thus creating an opportunity to succeed. Challenges open new doors and lead us in new directions.

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?

If you analyze the adult population of the USA, only 15% wants what we sell, “exercise.”

Another 15% use the product “exercise” without buying from us. That leaves 70% available to buy our product and they need our product. So my advice is to create a compelling story to show that 70% that you have what they need. And then deliver exercise in a way that satisfies them.

The book Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborge talks about two different strategies, “Red Ocean” versus “Blue Ocean.” Red Ocean delivers a commodity that is in demand, Blue Ocean is creating a temporary monopoly. So you want to create a Blue Ocean product that gives you a temporary monopoly. Red Ocean has sharks, Blue Ocean does not.

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)?

Everyone who is in our industry should be involved in the Industry Leadership Council. If you are not, in my opinion, you are part of the problem. We joined the ILC because we truly believe this group can make our industry better today than it was yesterday.

Our industry has a potential to grow 450% (from 15% to 70%) and IHRSA’s efforts will help get us there, but it will take the support of the ILC.

Thursday
Oct272016

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Get Involved and Share Your Voice

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Lynne Brick
Brick Bodies
Baltimore, MD 


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry? 

The most fulfilling part [of being a leader] is three-fold:  

  1. To connect with other industry leaders and learn from them.
  2. To inspire rising stars and other rising leaders to exert their leadership skills and give back to the industry.
  3. To inspire our staff to discover their greatness.  

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry? 

I have two pieces of advice. They are: 

  1. Don't be afraid to fail.
  2. Begin with the end in mind. 

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)? 

I joined the ILC because it is one of the best ways that our industry can contribute to IHRSA's mission to protect the industry. It is best to be involved, contribute, and share one’s voice to avoid negative legislation as opposed to sitting on the sidelines and wondering what's happening. 

What has been your most memorable experience as part of the ILC? 

My most memorable experience was when we defeated the expansion of the sales tax in Maryland. We recruited bus loads of members and staff in addition to other clubs in our region and stormed the capital of Annapolis, Maryland. We starting chanting “Don’t tax health” and doing push-ups in front of the building where the hearings transpired, called “Lawyers Mall.”

Later when there was an opportunity to speak in front of the committee hearing on behalf of our industry, along with our lobbyist, I simply asked each legislator to do some seated shoulder rolls and explained that sitting is the “new smoking” and as a state we need to encourage citizens to move, not inhibit or create barriers by including health club memberships under the expansion of the sales tax.   

Bottom line: We won!

Thursday
Oct132016

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: People Make the Difference

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership.

Steve Capezzone
Healthtrax International
Glastonbury, CT


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?

Being in a leadership position and having the opportunity to be a change agent is so important. To me, leadership means being directly involved in influencing public policy initiatives, having access to other operators to learn from and network with, and having the ability to call upon other leaders to help make an impact on the industry.

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?

I can’t just pick one piece of advice because I have found that there are many strategies that—if implemented correctly—can help a person improve their leadership abilities.

First, people make the difference! A lot of people talk about new clubs and equipment and that’s important, but what really makes a difference in this business is the people. They create the stickiness for our members and create the environment that can make or break your work.

So, surround yourself with the best people you can. It makes work more enjoyable and has a huge impact on your bottom line. 

Second, have a realistic view of your own strengths and weaknesses. Then make sure you surround yourself with people who are better than you and balance your organization. Better people bring the whole group up to a new level—they will push you up and won’t push you out.

Third, don’t get stuck in your four walls. You have to get outside your facility and create a group of industry folks to network with. And get to IHRSA, to shows, and to regional events. If we’re not learning, growing, and expanding, we will get stale and die. 

And finally, sales is not a four letter word. Sales is a big part of what drives our business. When I interview people they are scared of the word. Sales is perfecting an influential communication style. You’re seeing it more in the fitness industry now. Do whatever you can to perfect your persuasion and communication skills. 

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)?

Advocacy has always been in my DNA, I’ve always had an interest in politics, policy and legislation. And as an ILC and Public Policy Committee member, I’m looking forward to the experiences I will have working to promote and protect the industry.

Capezzone and other IHRSA board members presenting the IHRSA Get Active Leadership Award to Rep. Ron Kind

There are so many important issues that I can help support and work toward as an ILC member. I want to see WHIP & PHIT passed. We recently had an event in D.C. where Congressmen Kind and Dold said many nice things about the progress we are making. We are continuing to build momentum there.

And steering state legislation is critical. For example, the effort to stop the Pennsylvania sales tax last year saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That’s why I want to be involved at a grassroots level: to promote our industry and protect our centers.

Thursday
Sep292016

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: It’s All About Perspective

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Chuck Richards
Sunset Athletic Club
Portland, OR 


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?
 

It is the opportunity to ride shotgun with other leaders—the folks that are out in front. 

And, if I can support the industry with time or effort, then I’m happy to do that. 

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry? 

We’re about to undergo the most expansive growth that our industry has ever seen. Right now, the speed of this change gets you looking in so many different directions, so it’s hard to make a decision on which way to jump. 

Getting perspective is important. Look at the implications. Don’t think you necessarily need to go in every direction all of the time. There are so many ways to be successful. There are so many opportunities. Going in too many ways will dilute your best efforts. 

I would also say to listen to people when they speak. It is important to appreciate and listen to the disruptors in our industry because they are the ones who motivate others to go out and make a noticeable difference. 

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)? 

The initiatives that the ILC has taken over the years convinced me to join. I rocked back and forth on the decision to join, but eventually did because I found that this group was the point of the spear to make change happen. Its pretty terrific to have a group focused on doing that. 

Thursday
Sep012016

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Think Creatively to Get People Moving

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Allison Flatley
Corporate Fitness Works  


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?
 

This is easy—it is the people! The fitness industry is filled with energetic, passionate, and success-driven people who are willing to share their knowledge and ideas.   

I love learning growth strategy from successful entrepreneurs and training techniques from experienced personal trainers. The diversity of the industry and its people is exciting. 

 

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry? 

I’d tell my younger self to ask more questions and think bigger and broader.   

The changes that have occurred in technology, communication, and business tools are amazing and have had a big impact on how we process information and live our daily lives. The fitness industry has not changed to the same degree. We need to think creatively to help more people embrace movement and activity. 

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)? 

It was a phone call invitation from a widely respected industry leader. It was my first introduction to the Council and after becoming involved, I consider it an honor and obligation as a leader.   

It is important for industry leaders to band together to support public policy and legislative efforts. As a group, we can be influential with our lawmakers to enact policies that encourage Americans to be physically active and take care of their health and to support all clubs and businesses that improve the health of the nation.

Thursday
Aug182016

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Resonate with Members’ Hearts and Souls

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Mike Alpert
The Claremont Club
Claremont, CA 


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?
 

It is being able to innovate and create programs for people that need us the most and can afford us the least. You must be able to see past the bottom line and see what moves the bottom linewhich is people. 

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?  

Don’t ever be complacent. Think outside the box, and think about how you can make a difference in people’s lives. 

It takes good people to create and maintain meaningful and purposeful work. Because of this, we have really been able to resonate with members’ hearts and souls. We offer programs for those afflicted by paralysis, cancer, and other chronic conditions. Making programming all inclusive has unintentionally proven to be a direct link to member retention. It was absolutely never about the money to begin with, but this model has proven to be very successful for us.   

And, nothing meaningful or great comes without failure. You need to be able to anticipate the difficulties and when they will arise. 

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)?

We all have a responsibility to support the efforts that IHRSA is making in legislative advocacy. It’s all of our responsibility to support them as a club operator, and that means lending support through financial means.

Thursday
Aug042016

Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Connect with the Bigger Picture ‘Outside Your Box’

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Scott Gillespie
Saco Sport & Fitness
Saco, ME


What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?
 

I love seeing the incredible evolution in our industry. Much of this is due to the many bright and giving leaders who are willing to share their best practices, allowing us all to build on their thoughts and experiences. 

In a world of proprietary this and protected that, our industry is a rare example of one where people come together to help each other become better. This voluntary collaboration helps build our industry’s positive impact on the world. We are so fortunate to have so many contributing leaders paving the way to a brighter future for all of us. A rising tide truly does elevate all the boats in the harbor!  

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?  

Never lose the very special connection you have with the market you choose to serve, but get outside of your box! Get and stay connected to the ever-evolving bigger picture through industry associations and groups—like IHRSA and the ILC. Lastly, be sure to balance what you get from this industry with what you give back to it.  

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)? 

It started with defensive objectives. I had to face a Greenfield YMCA being built very close to my club. This YMCA was not built as the traditional charitable YMCA. It was built to serve the adult fitness market and was to be a direct competitor. The challenge was that, as a non-profit, it would enjoy many financial advantages due to its tax exempt status. 

It was to be 50% capitalized with tax exempt donations. The mortgage was well below commercial interest rates. It would not be subject to property, payroll, sales, or income taxes, and the ability to utilize volunteer labor would give it a 30+% operating expense advantage over my club. Therefore, the YMCA could significantly undercut my fees while providing very similar services. 

The ILC helped me fund a PR campaign to raise public awareness which dramatically reduced the YMCA’s capital campaign donations and delayed the opening. Since then, the ILC has supported me and other Maine clubs with three other YMCA PR campaigns, three sales tax fights, and two membership contract fights. With the ILC's help, we won all of them! 

The great thing about the evolution of the ILC is that it is not only helping clubs protect themselves from threats like unfair competition or harmful legislation, it is now also actively promoting our industry. It funds legislative efforts like WHIP and PHIT, partnerships with many like-minded organizations such as the NCPPA and Michelle Obama's Lets Move, and other PR campaigns that help amplify our voice!