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Entries in Mark Miller (20)


Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Be Open, Be Humble

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. 

Mark Miller
Merritt Clubs

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

This industry, for so many of us, has been our lives. I think the reason being is, what other industry allows one to blend their passions for health and fitness and make a major impact on individual and community lives?

In addition, one of my favorite things to see is the development of our team and their families. It is so incredible to think about our team members and watch them grow, experience life with them, and see the impact we have on them, both personally and professionally.

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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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How The IHRSA Institute Will Amp Up Your Health Club Management Game

There are several barriers that can stop your health club management game from reaching its full potential. Club managers have to juggle so many daily tasks it can be difficult to see the big picture, let alone find the time and resourses to sharpen your skillsets. 

If the situation we just described sounds familiar, the IHRSA Institute is for you. 

Continue reading "How The IHRSA Institute Will Amp Up Your Health Club Management Game."

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How to Develop Your Health Club's Strategic Plan

If they're honest, some health club owners will admit that they began with no greater plan than to combine their occupation and their calling. While that's commendable—you must have passion to succeed in any business—it's not enough. 

What you need to succeed over the long haul is a strategic plan. Here are some tips from industry leaders on how to formulate one.

Figure Out Where You Fit in the Health Club Landscape

The first thing you must do is identify what your club offers that others in your area don't. Is it lower cost? Better member benefits? More workout options?

Whatever sets your club apart, it should be emphasized in your strategic plan. That will help you leverage your competitive advantage. "Once your club is up and running you need to differentiate it, distinguish it, from the competition," wrote Joe Cirulli, president and owner of Gainesville Health & Fitness.

Continue reading "How to Develop Your Health Club's Strategic Plan."

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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.


IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Onboarding: Developing a New Member for Life

A pivotal—and often overlooked—stage of member retention occurs even before a member first works out at their new health club.

“Onboarding is the Achilles heel of the health club industry; it’s the retention problem we all face,” says Mark Miller, vice president of Merritt Athletic Clubs in Baltimore, MD. “If members never get started on the right foot or if they start off well but then they drop off at one point, when their agreement comes up they quit. They made a commitment, but after one year they’re not locked in anymore and quit because they don’t see the value.”

There are several ways to mitigate this disconnect, which Miller will describe in his IHRSA 2016 session, “Onboarding: Developing a New Member for Life” on Wednesday, March 23 in Orlando. 

Among the onboarding strategies Miller will discuss during his session are these key steps: 

  1. Make sure your sales team’s language properly sets new members’ expectations. For example, sales shouldn’t label new member orientation as a free personal training session because doing so can devalue personal training.
  2. Find out what your club’s atmosphere feels like for members. “One of the things a lot of health clubs forget about is the overall feeling, the atmosphere, the way the facility behaves, the experience,” Miller says. “During our session, we’ll talk about what is that experience and what do the six different stages of customer experience look like.”
  3. Personalize the onboarding process. Welcoming new members shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all process. Tailor onboarding depending on generation, gender, goals, and personal interests.

The onboarding process is “like a good diet—those first few days of being on a diet are the most critical because you have to make sure its right for you,” Miller says. “Health clubs are the same way; people buy emotionally and get excited, but then they have to come into the club and create a habit and meet people and get comfortable and feel like they belong there. If they don’t they either stop using or are very infrequent.”

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Sales Excellence: Tips, Tactics & Strategies to Long-Term Success

Turning a prospect into a long-term, loyal member starts with the sale.  Join Mark Miller for an IHRSA webinar that will help you: 

  • Explore new ways to manage and structure yourself and your sales team for success.
  • Obtain creative strategies to drive quality prospects to your club throughout the entire year.
  • Review key components of the sales process that must be in place to ensure long-term results and success.
  • Uncover the gaps in systems and structures and learn how you can improve them to advance your business to the next level.
  • Discover why the simple act of WHAT and HOW you sell a membership can have a huge impact on retention.

You and your staff can participate in this webinar for just $39 ($79 for non-members) or subscribe to 6 consecutive webinars for only $99! (IHRSA members only)

To register, visit, email, or call 800-228-4772.  


Show Your Passion During IGNITE at IHRSA 2015

Jason Reinhardt talks about lead generation during the 2014 IGNITE session.Maybe seeing what Mark Miller has done on the final day of the IHRSA Annual International Convention & Trade Show for the past two years – and plans again in 2015 – will be proof enough.

When many people have decided to shift into cruise control after a busy and information-laden three previous days, Miller, vice president of Merritt Athletic Club in Baltimore, Md., has participated in the first two years of IHRSA newest offering, IGNITE. And, if the selection committee allows, Miller plans on presenting again in 2015 in Los Angeles.

“What I really like about IGNITE is it is bite-sized morsels of information. Rather than trying to do a whole presentation that may be overwhelming, IGNITE is … quick, succinct and to the point,” he said. 

IGNITE, which will run in a 75-minute session on the final day of IHRSA 2015, allows presenters five minutes and no more than 20 PowerPoint slides to talk about a single subject that can be informative, thought-provoking, personal or funny.

The deadline for applications for IGNITE is Dec. 5, which is a month earlier than previous years.

Read on for more on IGNITE and how to register.

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Miller Covers Retention and Membership at NEHRSA

Mark Miller at the NEHRSA/IHRSA Fall Conference & Trade Show.Mark Miller addressed attendees of the NEHRSA/IHRSA Fall Conference & Trade Show on Wednesday in his session, "Solving The Challenge of Membership and Retention Once And For All." He provided attendees with practical advice and tested solutions. 

Mark's topics covered How to Train Your Sales Team to more in depth overviews of the key KPI's that must be track in order to increase retention.

Group discussions on best practices were very valuable and his examples were insightful.

Some of the key points included:
1. Stay Relevant
2. Deliver Value & Results to increase engagement
3. Harness technology
4. Invest in Talent

For more on NEHRSA, visit its website.


Strategic planning takes, well, planning

Mark Miler's session at the 2014 IHRSA Institute was Strategic Planning for Club Operational Professionals.Engagiing with your staff, showing appreciation and planning for the future. These were all topics Mark Miller, vice president, Merritt Athletic Club in Baltimore, Md., discussed in "Strategic Planning or Club Operational Professionals."

The discussion was during the early Educational Session on Wednesday, Aug. 6, during the IHRSA Institute at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

"Strategy is not a lengthy action plan. It is the evolution of a central idea through continually changing circumstances," he said, quoting Jack Welch.

He covered strategic considerations, which included vision, mission, core values, core purpose, core functions, culture, stsaffing, competition, point of differentiation and agendas.

Miller explained that in order to manage you need to understand three numbers:

  • What drives revenue?
  • What drives profit?
  • What drives EBITDA?

And in order to become better at your job he gave three suggestions:

  • talent - hold on to the good ones
  • leadership - key leaders and directors who are committed to the business
  • innovation - be sure to turn out innovative products and services

Miller can be reached at for more information on the subject.