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Entries in Jim Worthington (21)


Help the Fitness Industry Lead the Movement to #PassPHIT

To say that the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act has been top of mind lately is an understatement.

In light of all the changes happening on Capitol Hill and the questions that have yet to be answered surrounding healthcare reform, fitness industry leaders have been vocal about their support of PHIT. Industry leaders—and IHRSA—believe that the federal incentive designed to increase access toand the affordability ofphysical activity is necessary in order to reduce rates of inactivity and guarantee a healthy future for our nation.

Jim Worthington, IHRSA board member and owner of the Newtown Athletic Club in PA, recently spoke to the importance of passing this piece of bipartisan legislation as a featured guest on the Fit-C podcast.

Newtown Athletic Club's cardio area

Continue reading "Help the Fitness Industry Lead the Movement to #PassPHIT."

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A Health Club Owner’s Birdseye View into the Trump Presidency

It’s Inauguration Day—the day a new leader is sworn in to take charge of the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” This year, that leader is Donald Trump. And Newtown Athletic Club President and IHRSA Board Member Jim Worthington, who became a Republican Delegate to the National Convention last July, will have an up-front seat for the swearing-in ceremony. 

After becoming a delegate, Worthington pledged to support whomever the people elected in his congressional district. That person turned out to be Mr. Trump. Worthington then established a grassroots political action group at the behest of many Trump supporters. When the Trump team in Pennsylvania came to him with the request to host a rally, his answer was a resounding ‘yes.’ 

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An Open Letter to the Fitness Industry Leaders of Tomorrow

Dear Future Industry Leadership Council Member, 

Chances are you already are a leader—you just aren’t aware of it. 

You may be asking yourself “How is that true? What does being a leader truly mean? And how are other people able to identify me as one when I can’t even be sure of that myself?” 

The answers to all of those questions lie in the singular character trait all successful leaders share—passion.

Passion is the key to unlocking and capitalizing on any opportunity that comes your way, and joining forces with people who share the same passions and interests puts you in the company of those who want to use their collective power to make a lasting impact on society. After all, if a group of people can get anyone to look at the world through a different microscope—even if it’s only for a few seconds—they have succeeded in using their passion to perform good work.

So, if you have this passion and can leverage its potential for change by working creatively with others to solve problems, then believe it or not, you are a leader. 

Continue reading "An Open Letter to the Fitness Industry Leaders of Tomorrow."

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6 Actions Health Club Leaders Take to Develop Emerging Leaders

Identifying and nurturing emerging leaders continues to be a challenge in our industry.  

It’s also one ofif not the most importantchallenges we face. In his IHRSA 2016 session, “Extraordinary Leaders: Develop a High-Performance Team,” Eddie Tock of REX Roundtables said, “research shows that improving leadership behavior has more impact on your company performance than any other investment.”

So, in looking at the leadership traits of many of our industry’s leaders, I’ve distilled those traits into six common actions leaders use to foster leadership in both their own organizations and throughout the industry.

To develop the next generation of industry leaders, current club leaders...  

#1. Lead by Example 

Most everyone replied that leading by example is by far the most important trait. Basically, the leadership traits you want to see in your club staff are the same ones they want to see in you every single day. Any form of leader should be professional, ethical, communicative, supportive, display a high work ethic, and be willing to share knowledge and experiences.  

Jim Worthington, owner and president of Newtown Athletic Club, who is known for “walking the talk” has said that being a leader in the industry has given him the chance to mentor employees as well as colleagues at other clubs.

#2. Are in Perpetual Learning Mode  

According to Leadership Hospitality, it is important for leaders to ‘be visible about their own need to learn. Great leaders are never more powerful than when they are shown to be in a learning mode.’

Our industry’s leaders are some of the best at sharing the fact that they are information and education-hungry. Allison Flatley, CEO of Corporate Fitness Works, has shared that she loves learning growth strategy from successful entrepreneurs and training techniques from experienced personal trainers. And Janine Williams, vice president of human resources at Leisure Sports, said that the most important leadership trait is “to ensure that you continue to expand the depth and breadth of your knowledge; not only in the health club industry but in business and financial acumen as well.”

#3. Cross-train to Develop Across Skills or Knowledge Gaps  

Our industry already understands the value of cross-training to build endurance, flexibility, and skill. The same applies for leadership learning as candidates that are rotated through various jobs gain first-hand experience and new expertise in many different roles. They also develop a broader vision of your club and exposure to staff dynamics and member concerns.

In his IHRSA 2016 presentation, "Developing NextGen Leaders," Brent Gallagher discusses the practical steps involved in establishing a team of next-generation leaders, including the need to train across areas to create a healthy leadership pipeline.

Continue reading "6 Actions Health Club Leaders Take to Develop Emerging Leaders."

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Learn How Jim Worthington's Leadership Style 'Walks the Talk'

To show our appreciation for the industry leaders who support IHRSA's efforts to Grow, Promote, and Protect the industry, IHRSA is launching the “ILC Spotlight series.” We hope this series will help you get to know more about our industry's leaders, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

ILC Spotlight: Jim Worthington
Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, PA

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

This industry has offered me the opportunity to improve people’s lives by providing health and fitness programs and facilities.  There was never any doubt that the product we offer benefits the lives of every single individual. 

Over and above that, being a leader in the industry has given me the chance to mentor employees as well as colleagues at other clubs. Even more importantly, the relationships I have built through the industry have allowed me to learn each and every day. 

As a leader, I am able to network with global thought leaders who inspire and motivate me to push the envelope of excellence in our field even further. I truly believe that we are changing the world, one step, one push up, and one Zumba class at a time. In doing so, we are poised on the continuum of healthcare to provide disease prevention programs and services to the masses through healthy lifestyle changes. 

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

This is what I tell anyone starting out in the industry: 

  1. Make time to “walk the talk” and workout every day;
  2. Read industry trade journals voraciously to understand trends;
  3. Attend IHRSA conferences every year without fail; and
  4. Network with a vengeance with everyone in the industry. 

There is something to be learned from everyone, not just from the leaders and large club operators, but also from the small club operators. Innovation and inspiration comes when it is often least expected and often it can be found in unusual places. 

Continue reading "Learn How Jim Worthington's Leadership Style 'Walks the Talk.'"

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Watch Our Periscope Interviews from IHRSA 2016

Back in March, we covered IHRSA 2016 on a variety of media, including this blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and—for the first time—Periscope. 

We used Twitter’s live-streaming video platform to broadcast exclusive interviews with VIPs and IHRSA members. In the video below, you’ll find IHRSA’s Meredith Poppler talking with MarketingProfs’ Chief Content Officer Ann Handley, IHRSA’s Carolynn Jordan chatting with Timothy Donald from Temple Builder Fitness Center and PJ Ragone from Inspira Health Network Fitness Connection, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at Newtown Athletic Club President Jim Worthington's IHRSA Live studio interview.


IHRSA Advocacy Provides The Protection We Need

Insurance protects the things we hold dear: our homes, our health, our automobiles, our lives, and our livelihoods. For health club operators, the ultimate “insurance,” perhaps, is IHRSA’s public policy team.

Helen Durkin, JD, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global public policy, and her group of “agents” are constantly on the lookout for impending problems, such as tax-exempt competition, burdensome restrictions on member contracts, and taxing health club memberships. Their mission: to protect IHRSA members and their businesses at the local, state, and federal levels.

The threats they address are often so inconspicuous that, if it weren’t for the team’s prompt and efficient responses, you might not be aware how many there are, and how dangerous they are. The 2015 record for Durkin’s crew is an astonishing 13 wins.

Recently, I spoke with Jim Worthington, the owner and president of the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), in Newtown, PA, about a risk he’s faced. A proposal has been placed on the legislative docket to impose a sales tax on all of the health clubs in that state. If enacted, it would cost Worthington’s business more than $1 million a year.

Recognizing the danger, Worthington and Linda Mitchell, NAC’s director of public and community relations, did what any IHRSA member can and should do: They called on Durkin and her team, who immediately joined forces with them and their allies. Working with the support of local lobbyists retained by IHRSA, the group has petitioned state representatives aggressively.

The objective: to prevent passage of a law that would tax the public’s pursuit of healthy lifestyles.

“A monumental effort had to be mounted, and would have been impossible without the IHRSA team,” says Mitchell. “In order to help produce over 13,000 messages to state legislators in just one week, we had to not only engage our members and employees, but join IHRSA in reaching other clubs throughout the state. IHRSA staff and their lobbyist in Harrisburg supplied the strategy and technological resources, as well as minute-by-minute feedback in real time. It was a great example of marketing and communications at its best.”

The fate of this particular proposal remained uncertain when this column was written, so the industry’s vigilance and opposition remain both real and strong.

As an IHRSA member, I know that my investment in the association goes a long way—toward the annual convention and trade show, industry research, and CBI … and, importantly, to support IHRSA’s public policy team. They provide the insurance we can’t afford to live without.

To learn more, visit


9 Predictions for the Health Club Industry in 2016 

The health club industry is positioned to expand in 2016, but much remains to be seen.

To gain a clearer outlook for the coming year, Club Business International asked a panel of nine industry leaders that includes five members of the IHRSA board of directors and four IHRSA associate members, to share their predictions for the next 12 months.

1. Sport and fitness applications will dominate the digital consumer landscape.

“My customers and my sales team tell me, simply and straightforwardly, that clubs are looking for equipment, programs, and solutions that attract new customers, while retaining current ones,” said Nerio Alessandri, founder and president of Technogym in Cesena, Italy. “In support of this, this year Technogym will launch new equipment and programs conceived and designed for clubs so they can develop specific business strategies in different areas: functional training, group training, cardio, and strength. The common factor is connectivity—enabling clubs to design engaging experiences and stay in contact with their members both inside and outside of the club.”

2. Personalization will become a key differentiator.

“We’re seeing rapid growth in both the high-volume/low-cost (HV/LC) and boutique fitness club segments,” said Rob Barker, president of Precor, Inc. in Woodinville, WA. “We’re seeing investment by mid-market operators who want to differentiate, and we’re seeing more investment in fitness by verticals, such as hospitality, corporate, and multifamily facilities.”

3. Legal matters will demand club operators’ attention.

“In my view, hot items for 2016 are EFT cancellation policies and overtime compensation,” said Bill Beck, president of Club Fit in Briarcliff Manor, NY. “If clubs haven’t sought a legal review of their procedures with regard to these issues in the last five years, they should do so soon.”

4. Small-group training, active-aging will continue to expand.

“I think we’ll see the demand for small-group training and integrated technology solutions sustain their growth,” said Chris Clawson, president of Life Fitness in Rosemont, IL. “We’ll also see products that are appropriate for the active aging population become more popular, as this exercise-focused demographic moves farther into the senior years. 

5. The Affordable Care Act will fuel wellness program growth.

“Forward-thinking companies are also recognizing that having wellness and fitness embedded into their culture is extremely important,” said Alison Flatley, COO of Corporate Fitness Works in Falls Church, VA. “They’re moving from return on investment (ROI) to return on value (ROV). They’re creating a 'culture of health' by having their corporate and wellness goals and objectives overlap.”

6. New trends will drive the fitness experience.

“A big trend will be on-demand digital fitness apps,” said Missy Moss, general manager of Nike Athletic Centers in Beaverton, OR. “These programs can be done anywhere––in your office, hotel room, outside, etc. People don’t have to walk into a health club to perform a fitness activity. On the flip side, members are coming to clubs to use their mobile devices and apps.” 

7. Health club members will become more selective.

“We’re seeing less spending on ancillary services such as personal training, food and beverage, and children’s programs,” said Mark Stevens, regional director of The Houstonian Clubs and Spas in Houston, TX. “Retention still remains high, but we have to do business differently—focus even more on retention, service, programs, cleanliness, and improving relationships.”

8. The commercial market will grow, with a higher level of fragmentation and specialization.

“Commercial facilities will continue to focus on promoting greater levels of variety and programming for a discerning customer base,” said Kent Stevens, executive vice president of sales for Matrix Fitness Systems in Lake Mills, WI. “Successful club operators will combine superior products and services in a way that gives their members a sense of community in a purposeful environment.”

9. Multipurpose clubs will “boom or bust.”

“Those that are willing to press the limits of opportunity will thrive,” said Jim Worthington, owner of Newtown Athletic & Aquatic Club in Newtown, PA. “Medical wellness, member feedback, and tracking mechanisms such as Medallia and MYZONE, along with well-designed spaces and programs that are competitive, will boom. Operators who do little or nothing to capitalize on trends, or who ignore the competition, will bust.”

Read the full "Industry Outlook: 2016" article in the January issue of CBI.


On the Move: IHRSA 2016

Moore explains, “People around the globe suggested Orlando as a site because of its size, climate, and the fact that, for many attendees, it represented a quicker, easier, and more affordable trip than one to the West Coast.”

Named No. 13 on Forbes’ list of fastest-growing cities for 2015, Orlando and the surrounding metropolitan area have a population of about 2.1 million, and welcome nearly 60 million tourists a year. In March, the city boasts nine hours of sunshine and an average high temperature of 79°–81° F every day.

Molly Kemmer, the chairperson of IHRSA’s board of directors, and the regional director of MediFit Community Services, based in Littleton, Colorado, is enthusiastic about Orlando. “I like to shake things up a bit, and I think this location is going to appeal to many, many people,” she says. “It’s going to keep the convention experience fresh.”

Read on for more information about IHRSA 2016

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Introducing: Ray O’Connor and Jim Worthington

IHRSA Appoints New Members to Its Board of Directors

This month, CBI is pleased to introduce two of the new members of IHRSA’s board of directors: industry veterans Ray O’Connor, the CEO and co-owner of the Wisconsin Athletic Club (WAC), in Milwaukee; and Jim Worthington, the president and owner of Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), in Newtown, Pennsylvania.


As early as high school, Ray O’Connor knew that he was destined for a career in the health club industry. From a young age, he appreciated the power of partnerships, and that awareness would ultimately lead to his 30-year involvement with the Wisconsin Athletic Club (WAC), one of the largest club companies in the Milwaukee area.

In 1982, O’Connor landed a membership sales position at The Vertical Club in Manhattan, an aptly named, seven-story multipurpose club that distinguished itself as one of the first facilities of its kind. “Anybody who was somebody in Manhattan belonged to this club. It was the place to be,” he recalls.

Within a few short years, O’Connor realized that his place to be was The Racquetball Club, an eight-court racquetball and social operation in Milwaukee. He entered into a partnership with the club’s owners in 1984, helped to develop the business, and, in 1998, rebranded it as WAC. Since then, WAC has grown to encompass seven clubs, plus a corporate fitness arm, which offers fitness services to such companies as Johnson Controls, Northwest Mutual, and the retail giant Kohl’s.

O’Connor has attended nearly every IHRSA convention and trade show since the mid-1980s; participated in a
number of other regional and international industry events; and been instrumental in battling unfair competition from nonprofit fitness providers. He served as a key player in the formation of the association’s Industry Leadership Council (ILC), and, in 1999, received the IHRSA President’s Award for his efforts in the Fight for Fair Competition.

As a new member of the IHRSA board, O’Connor would like to help elevate the industry’s profile, and to continue establishing partnerships essential to addressing the obesity and physical inactivity crises both in the U.S. and worldwide.

“One of the most important elements is the interconnection of people, and forming partnerships. The word ‘club’ is in our industry’s name,” he observes. “We should be able to control our own destiny by combining our knowledge of all the various groups involved in IHRSA, and getting them to work together to grow the industry.”

Jim Worthington:

Like O’Connor, Jim Worthington is a quick study and an industry player of long standing. After managing the Babylon Racquet Club in his hometown of Horsham, Pennsylvania, for just three years, he was approached by a group of Wall Street investors, who inquired about his interest in reinvigorating a failing, 11-court racquetball club in Newtown.

Worthington was interested.

“In 1983, I attended my first IHRSA convention, which was a real game changer,” explains Worthington. “I utilized this great opportunity to learn, monitor trends, and to network with the top minds in the industry.”

And he’s done so ever since. Over the years, he’s attended nearly every IHRSA convention and trade show. “The event’s educational component has been the driving force of improvement and change for me,” he notes. As a result, Worthington, today, is the majority owner of the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), a 250,000-square-foot, indoor/outdoor “lifestyle center” on 22 acres with 500 employees and 12,000 members.

As a member of IHRSA’s board, he’s committed to applying his 37 years of experience to helping the industry grow to its full potential. “We must be bold, continue to evolve, and push ahead,” he says. “I’ve seen IHRSA do this in the past, and I’d like to be a part of its continuing to do so. IHRSA is an international organization that shares best practices, policies, and ideas with the world. I believe the best is yet to come both for the association and for us as a global industry.”