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Entries in Martin Seibold (7)


Reinventing a Heritage: The Sun Never Sets on Fitness First 

At one point in time, it was accurately noted that “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”

At another, much more recent point in time—2010, to be exact—the same also could be said for Fitness First, the health club chain that had been born as a single squash club in Bournemouth, Dorset, England, in 1993. Just 17 years later, it was a true global entity, with 78 facilities and more than 171,000 members in the U.K. alone, and a total of 360 clubs in 16 countries that served nearly one million members.

It was, arguably, the most recognizable club brand in the world.

But its domain had already begun to strain at the edges, and, bit by bit, shrink. Four years earlier, there had been 500 Fitness First facilities.

Continue reading "Reinventing a Heritage: The Sun Never Sets on Fitness First."

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Apply for the 2016 IHRSA European Club Leadership Award

Calling all European health club industry leaders! 

We’re currently accepting applications for the 2016 IHRSA European Club Leadership Award, which annually recognizes a leader in the European fitness club industry who has done the most to advance their company and the industry through strong leadership and performance. 

This year’s award will be presented during the 16th Annual IHRSA European Congress, October 17-20, in Seville, Spain. The deadline to apply is September 9th. 

Martin Seibold, managing director of Fitness First UK in Dorset, England, received the 2015 European Club Leadership Award last October in Marseille, France.  After joining Fitness First Germany in 1998, Seibold helped grow the company's number of clubs from seven to 99 in just eight years. 

"I am truly honored to receive IHRSA's European Club Leadership Award,” he says. “It's amazing to look through the list of previous winners and be part of this history." 

The IHRSA Awards Program seeks to “recognize, celebrate, and inspire.” Learn about applying for the European Club Leadership Award and more information about IHRSA’s industry awards, including prior recipients and open applications.


IHRSA Represents at Prestigious BIAC Forum on Innovation in Health and Well-being

Several IHRSA representatives, including Helen Durkin, IHRSA's executive vice president of global public policy, Kilian Fisher, IHRSA's global public policy advisor, and IHRSA members Martin Seibold and Catherine Carty, are representing the fitness industry at the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC) Forum on Innovation in Health and Well-being.

Catherine Carty and Kilian Fisher at OECD in Paris.

The forum, held May 3-4, 2016 in Paris at the OECD headquarters, is a unique two-day event that brings together senior representatives from government, the OECD, the leaders of multi-national consumer corporations, and leading experts in health and wellbeing to exchange solutions and policy recommendations.

Riz Khan, an internationally recognized journalist and author with shows on CNN International and Al Jazeera English, is moderating the two-day discussion.

The event will showcase the diversity of how business is involved in providing solutions to healthcare challenges. Participants will learn how the food and drink industries are investing in innovations to deliver healthier products for consumers.

As employers, businesses are also providing wellness programs that empower populations and increase productivity. The business community knows that we are just one stakeholder, and the event will showcase examples of partnerships with governments and community stakeholders to reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, as well as education programs that encourage populations to become physically active and adopt healthy lifestyles.

Martin Seibold and Catherine Carty about to speak on improving well-being."With so many multi-national food and drink companies and trade associations involved, this is our opportunity as one of the few 'positive' industries involved to really drive the health and wellness message, especially with regard to what the fitness and health club industry can offer to help addressing the global health crisis," Kilian Fisher said when speaking about the opportunities presented in attending this event.

IHRSA's representatives Catherine Carty, manager, UNESCO chair for inclusive Fitness, Sport, and Recreation (UFIT), and Martin Seibold, managing director of Fitness First UK, presented on day one on behalf of the fitness industry.

The discussion outcomes of the meeting are relevant for the global health community.

Find out more about the BIAC Forum on Innovation in Health and Well-being. You can also follow the event on Twitter via the hashtag #BIAChealth.

Event representatives include:
Heineken, The Coca-Cola Company, The McKinsey Global Institute, Nestlé Research Center, UNESCO, Fundación de Investigaciones Sociales, IHRSA, Fitness First UK, COCIR, Healthcare Services and Solutions, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Government of Sweden, EFPIA, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Pfizer Inc., Mines ParisTech, and The National Institutes of Health.

Martin Seibold Discusses Fitness First UK’s Repositioning Strategy

Martin Seibold, managing director of Fitness First UK in Dorset, England, has come a long way since he worked as an IHRSA intern in 1994. 

After joining Fitness First Germany in 1998, Seibold helped grow the company's number of clubs from seven to 99 in just eight years. That success is one of the many reasons Seibold received the European Club Leadership Award at the 15th Annual IHRSA European Congress. 

Seibold recently spoke to Club Business International about Fitness First's strategy and future. 

CBI: The Fitness First Group is constantly evolving. A little update—how many divisions, countries, facilities, members?

Martin Seibold: That’s right. We review our portfolio of clubs and products constantly, and use the insights gleaned to better understand where and why we’re successful, and to ensure that we’re meeting local needs. We operate 72 clubs, with 2,200 staff and over 189,000 members, in the U.K. Fitness First is a global brand with over 377 clubs, serving nearly one million members, in 16 countries worldwide.

CBI: And Fitness First UK—could you give us a short “state-of-the-business” report on it?

MS: Fitness First is no longer just a gym. It’s a supported lifestyle offering. Over the last three years, we’ve reengineered the entire business to ensure that our members are at the heart of everything we do.

We’ve upgraded our facilities, reinvented our training options, and harnessed technology. This has meant, among other things, removing turnstiles; improving seating areas; and introducing key touch points for the modern gym-goer, such as free WiFi, cool-down showers, and instructional iPoint touchscreens. Working with TEAM GB, the British Olympic Association, we’ve also reinvented our training options, developing the most advanced gym floor and group exercise programs in the U.K.

CBI: Everyone has been following the recent repositioning of Fitness First. What were the objectives? Are they being met?

MS: The proportion of ex-members rejoining each month is at its highest level ever, and our net promoter score (NPS) has shifted by 36 points. We’ve had like-for-like joining, retention, and revenue growth for the last two years. This is clearly a sign that our primary objectives—of enhancing our position both in the marketplace and in the eyes of the consumer—have been met.

CBI: Fitness First is innovating aggressively in terms of facilities, programs, and technology. What haven’t we heard about yet?

MS: We’re again taking our training and investment in our people to a whole new level. This will provide us with an even deeper understanding of our members, so we can tailor everything we do for targeted groups of members. On top of this, after two years of development, we’ve just launched our very own app, CustomFit, which gives members full control of their training with anytime/anywhere support. Over 12.5% of our U.K. members are already using it. 

Read the full interview with Martin Seibold in the February issue of CBI.  


The IHRSA 2015 European Club Leadership Award goes to Martin Seibold

Robert Brewster, Past Chair of IHRSA Board of Directors presents Martin Seibold with award.Martin Seibold, Managing Director of Fitness First UK, is the recipient of IHRSA’s 2015 European Club Leadership Award. The award was presented on Tuesday, October 20, in Marseille, France during the association’s 15th Annual European Congress.

The IHRSA European Club Leadership Award annually recognizes a leader in the European fitness club industry who has done the most to advance their company and the industry through strong leadership and performance. 

 Seibold began his tenure in the industry as IHRSA’s first international intern in 1995. He joined Fitness First Germany in 1998, where he helped grow the number of clubs from 7 to 99 in just 8 years. Then in the UK, he had a different challenge: decreasing the portfolio from 180 to 75 in two years.

“These were two very different challenges, but both aimed at positioning the company for optimum performance and growth,” said Robert Brewster, Past Chair of the IHRSA Board of Directors, in presenting the award.

“Key to that growth has been having a team he could count on and actively working with managers on their professional development,” Brewster continued. Martin has personally mentored 10 managers to take on senior executive positions within the health and fitness industry, some of them still within Fitness First.”

Early in his career, Seibold spent over a year working with children who had mild to severe handicaps. That experience made clear to him the importance of giving back to the community, a value he found was shared by Fitness First. Over the years, Seibold and Fitness First have been involved in numerous projects and programs to benefit a variety of charities.

“We are happy to present Martin with this award to honor his dedication to the industry and great leadership,” said Brewster.

The IHRSA Awards Program seeks to “recognize, celebrate, and inspire.” For more information about IHRSA’s annual industry awards, including prior recipients and open applications, please visit


Martin Seibold Joins Congress CEO Panel

Martin Seibold, Managing Director of Fitness First, United Kingdom, will join three other distinguished leaders for the IHRSA European Congress panel discussion on “The Future of the Industry: Embracing & Understanding the Changing Consumer Marketplace”.

Register by 25 September and Save! 

Rounding out the panel will be:

Franck Hedin
Chairman & CEO, CMG Sports Club, France
Andy Caddy
Group CIO, Virgin Active, United Kingdom
Sponsored by Exerp
Brent Darden (panel moderator)
CEO, Brent Darden Consulting, USA

More than 500 industry professionals will be attending the event, which will feature 17 additional seminars* on a range of topics aimed at helping you grow your business, a Sponsor Showcase, tours of some of the area’s premier clubs, the launch of the UFit Conference, and one of the best networking opportunities in Europe.

The Congress will be held at the Palais du Pharo, located in the heart of Marseille – at the entrance to the Vieux Port (Old Port) – with several hotels, restaurants, museums and attractions nearby.

Visit for full programme details.

Download the Brochure 



Plenty to Gain by Attending European Congress

“The European Congress itself, the networking opportunities, and the club tours were invaluable, and will, without a doubt, have a significant impact on shaping the future of Fitness First U.K.”

Martin Seibold, Managing Director, Fitness First UK

RijksmuseumThe comments about IHRSA’s Annual European Congress - whether it is like Siebold’s, they relate to last year’s meeting in madrid or next month’s gathering in Amsterdam - attest to the fact that this event, now in its 14th year, is having a true impact not only on individual club companies, but also on the European and global fitness industries, as well.

This year, the congress is expected to attract more than 500 attendees from over 30 countries, including individuals from as far away as the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and Australia.

“Cross-border friendships, business relationships, product and service innovations that have found their way into European facilities—these are examples of the impact the congress is having,” notes Hans Muench, IHRSA’s director of Europe.

Read on to learn more about the event, local attractions and more.

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