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 Meredith Poppler (9)


That Terribly Important Thing You Don’t Even Know You Care About

Advocacy, public policy, government relations, public affairs, etcetera etcetera etcetera… A rose is a rose is a rose. No matter what you call IHRSA’s efforts to Grow, Promote and Protect clubs across the country, these efforts are rarely going to sound as exciting to most gym operators as newfangled equipment, retention rates, wearables, virtual fitness, yoga pants, even flooring options, and operating systems.

I know what you're thinking. I'm a gym owner, why do I need to care about public policy or advocacy? Spoiler alert—you already care about it, you just may not know it.

Continue reading "That Terribly Important Thing You Don’t Even Know You Care About."

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Women in the Fitness Industry Continue to Make Progress

I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion last Friday all about the issues women face in the fitness industry.

The panel, which was put together and moderated by Dan Kallen of Coaches Only and Breaking Muscle, also featured Andrea DuCane, director of certifications for Dragon Door Publications, and Annie Sakamoto, CrossFit Games competitor and co-owner of CrossFit Santa Cruz Central. 

Continue reading "Women in the Fitness Industry Continue to Make Progress."

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This Week in the Fitness Industry: Google Launches Fitness Class Booking Service

Google Launches Fitness Class Booking Service
Reserve with Google, a new feature that allows users to book fitness classes without leaving the search engine, is now available nationwide after completing a test run in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Mashable reports. Like Google Flights, the service pulls data from Google Maps and Google Search to help users find available classes at nearby fitness studios. Reserve with Google also makes personalized recommendations. "We make recommendations based on courses you've taken, and will be exploring more ways to bring timely and useful recommendations to fitness buffs," a Google spokesperson told "For example, you will soon be able to get notifications of new classes that might be interesting to you." Several class scheduling providers, including MINDBODY, MyTime, Genbook, Full Slate, Front Desk, and Appointy, partnered with Google on this effort, according to a release. 

Continue reading "This Week in the Fitness Industry: Google Launches Fitness Class Booking Service."

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Meet Team IHRSA: Meredith Poppler 

With the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show less than two months away, we’re launching the “Meet Team IHRSA” series to highlight some off the staff members you’ll see in Orlando, March 21-24. We hope this will help you to get to know our team a little better.   

Meredith Poppler
Communications and Leadership Engagement


Explain your role at IHRSA. What do you do? What is the best part of your job? 

I am all about the “Grow, Promote, Protect” part of IHRSA’s mission. I work to raise awareness of and funding for important advocacy issues that have the potential to either make or break the industry. And as IHRSA’s media and PR contact, I spend most of my work day communicating the importance of physical activity and how great health clubs are through reporters, bloggers, health columnists, social media, etc. 

The best part of my job… Can I pick two? I proudly serve on the Board of Directors of the Tennis Industry Association, representing the health and sports club industry. And there are some amazing perks (like front row seats at major tennis tournaments) that come with that assignment. But overall, I really like to write (blog posts, articles, news releases, media reports, web copy, responses to this questionnaire, even solicitations asking people to join the ILC) which I get to do every day.  

What drew you to work for an organization that supports the health club industry? 

Short story: I was a gym rat when I started here, so it was the perfect fit to call club owners, ask them about their business, explain why they should be IHRSA members, etc. 

Long story: There was a teeny tiny little ad in the Boston Globe for an international racquet sports business that was looking for salespeople. I wasn’t at all into racquet sports back then, but “international” and “sales” piqued my interest. Waiting in the reception area for my interview, I read CBI magazine, saw the other people working at IHRSA, and thought, this looks like the right place for me. 

Tell us about your fitness routine. How do you stay active? 

I was the first person at IHRSA to move file cabinets and shelves around to make a standing desk, so first, I really work to keep sitting to a minimum. Second, a couple years ago, Public Policy EVP Helen Durkin convinced me to get a Fitbit, which helped me realize how little movement I was getting on a typical work day. So now, (at least in good weather), I get my at least 10,000 steps. 

For more serious exercise, I do one very intense group training workout once a week. And, I picked up tennis about 15 years ago, and now play fairly competitive women’s doubles and mixed doubles two-to-three times a week. And, for 2016 my husband and I have a New Year’s resolution to begin practicing yoga. 

What is your favorite thing about the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show? 

This will be my 23rd IHRSA Convention, so I’ve got a lot of people to catch up with. My face always hurts from smiling and laughing too much, even though I don’t usually have much time to chat. And, of course, I’ve had the pleasure of learning from some of the most amazing keynote speakers over the past 20-plus years. 

Where can IHRSA 2016 attendees find you at the convention in Orlando, March 21-24? 

I work with local media to come in and film segments on the Trade Show floor during Trade Show and early morning workout hours. But most of the time, I’ll be in or around The Industry Leadership Club, Room S230C, where we have a series of special events scheduled for Industry Leaders and ILC Members

Convention attendees come from more than 80 countries. Can they speak to you in any other language? 

Je parle un peu de française. And I’m great (I think) at “Twitter”, does that count? 

What do you do for fun in your spare time? 

As mentioned, I’m a big tennis fan, both to play and to watch. And we have an idyllic (oldest continually working farm in the Boston area) organic farm in my neighborhood with walking trails, chickens, goats, lambs, ducks, flowers, a farm stand, barn dances, etc. If it’s not snowing or raining, you’ll often find me at the farm or on one of the walking trails. 

Share a random fact about yourself. 

I have two awesome, brilliant, handsome step-sons, one of whom is getting married in May to the most wonderful young lady, so I am soon to be a first-time mother-in-law.


Passion vs. Pragmatism

Those of us in the club industry are, in many cases, entrepreneurs who are driven by a passion, a cause: to help people become healthier and happier. It’s a noble calling, but one that, at times, can become dangerously all-consuming.

There’s no getting away from “healthier” and “happier,” of course, nor would we want to. These words are the industry’s reason for being, its principal defining objectives. They’re enshrined in the mission statements of many clubs, and, even when they’re not, are personified in the attitude, concern, and fine deeds of our staffs.

Fitness professionals are intensely aware of the manifold benefits that proper nutrition, regular exercise, and other healthy lifestyle behaviors confer, and are constantly striving to find ways to educate, engage, and serve the public in safe and effective ways. Sometimes, though, more mundane matters get lost in the whirlwind of aspiration, effort, and achievement.

And what, I ask, could be more mundane, more boring, than government regulations, rules, or mandates?

Stay with me; this is important!

Just as exercisers need professional guidance, club operators need tutelage when it comes to the legal side of the business.

When people contact me about legal matters, they tend to inquire about state issues. However, there are also federal and local requirements to consider. You and your attorney should work together to ensure that your club is in compliance with all government mandates. You should also instruct your legal counsel to watch for any changes that might require attention.

Remember, too, that you have an excellent resource at Log on and you’ll find food for thought on many topics with legal ramifications, including:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

• Automatic renewal of membership

• Bonding requirements

• Price caps

• Membership length restrictions

• Employment law

• Legal waivers

• Privacy rights

As this is a partial list, it’s important to stay vigilant about other matters that may arise.

It’s always possible that lawmakers will propose new legislation that could have a negative effect on your business, e.g., by imposing a sales tax or unnecessary regulations on personal trainers, etc. IHRSA’s public policy team strives to prevent such bills from becoming law.

For example, in April, the association launched a grassroots advocacy campaign in Maine to oppose the potential expansion of the sales tax to include club services.

The effort was successful!

In July, legislators approved the state’s budget, overriding the governor’s veto, and ensuring that the sales tax won’t be extended to health clubs.

And earlier this year, in Pennsylvania, the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), IHRSA, and a coalition of local business owners helped sidetrack a sales tax proposal that would include health clubs (see “Anatomy of a State Victory,”).

The efforts in Maine and Pennsylvania demonstrate that vigilance—both to protect and promote the industry—needs to be ongoing, and that there’s strength in numbers.

The IHRSA members who are most involved in protecting the industry from dangerous government intrusion participate actively in the Industry Leadership Council (ILC). To learn how you can get involved, contact Meredith Poppler, of IHRSA’s public policy division, at


Keep Your Business Safe, and Growing

If you appreciate the work IHRSA is doing to keep your business safe from government intrusion, and/or our efforts to grow the number of people exercising in clubs, please consider supporting those efforts by contributing to the Industry Leadership Council (ILC).

Every dollar pledged is very much appreciated, and put to the best of uses.

For some of the many reasons to contribute or be more involved, check out: 

Questions, email Meredith Poppler.


Opportunities to Grow Membership

Thank you for checking out the above slideshare on Opportunities to Grow Membership. If you'd like more information on the expected opportunities, download the 2015 Opportunity Report here. And to support IHRSA's efforts to grow, promote and protect clubs across the country, please consider joining the Industry Leadership Council. 

Meredith Poppler

   twitter icon
Meredith works daily to grow, protect, and promote the industry by raising awareness of and funding for important public policy issues, while encouraging advocacy, collaboration and leadership within the industry.

Threats to Health Clubs 2015

Thank you for checking out the above slideshare on Threats to our Industry. If you'd like more information on the expected threats, download the 2015 Threat Report here. And to support IHRSA's efforts to protect clubs across the country from threats like these, please consider joining the Industry Leadership Council.

Meredith Poppler

   twitter icon
Meredith works daily to grow, protect, and promote the industry by raising awareness of and funding for important public policy issues, while encouraging advocacy, collaboration and leadership within the industry.

Technology in the Fitness Center

Recently The National Club Association, an association for country club operators, asked IHRSA about technology trends and their likely impact on clubs now and in the near future.

Since technology impacts just about every aspect of the average fitness center -- aside from pure body weight exercises -- we had quite a bit to say on the subject. Our response, covering "on the floor technology", "business technology", "mobile and apps", "on-demand classes and online trainers" and "human-power" was featured in the Winter 2104 issue of Club Director, The National Club Association's magazine, and it is with their permission that it is reposted on IHRSA's website.

The article begins with the following quote from NCA, "Technology is vital to health clubs and new trends develop what feels like every day. Consumers today expect the latest and greatest, so our industry’s challenge is keeping up."