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.



From educational tools and events to promotional programs and public policy initiatives, IHRSA brings you success... by association!

Join | Renew
Pledge Your Support

Search IHRSA Blog

Welcome to the IHRSA Blog

The Online Home of news.

Blog Home |  Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Entries in Michele Melkerson-Granryd (11)


April 14 Webinar: Sales Training for Personal Trainers Who Don’t Like to Sell

Personal trainers don’t choose their career to become salespeople, but—like it or not—they must be involved in the sales process in order to foster a successful personal training program. 

“The biggest [barrier] is that personal trainers think of ‘sales’ as a dirty word,” says Michele Melkerson-Granryd, general manager for BB Fitness Studios in Austin, TX. 

In her Thursday, April 14 webinar, “Sales Training for Trainers Who Don’t Like to Sell,” Melkerson-Granryd will explain how health club operators can encourage their personal trainers to get involved in the sales process in a palatable way. Personal trainers often assume that sales involves approaching members mid-workout, but, today, there are more effective and comfortable ways for them to promote their services.

“They might not be your direct personal training salesperson, but they’re definitely part of that process and they need to have their head in the right place,” she says. “It does need to be part of their mindset that they are really selling themselves every time they are in the club.” 

In the hour-long webinar, Melkerson-Granryd will help attendees: 

  • Gain insight into the psychology of your staff and clients.
  • Learn how to change the perception of “sales."
  • Explore how to generate leads and referrals.
  • Review easy sales techniques and scripts to share with your trainers.
  • Discover the importance of relationship building. 

Webinar attendees will gain “techniques to retrain the trainers’ perception of their position in the sales process, and what they can do to increase the comfort of their position in that sales process,” she says.

New Call-to-action


How IHRSA Helps Independent Clubs Like BodyBusiness Thrive

When IHRSA’s president and CEO Joe Moore first visited BodyBusiness in 2007, he was impressed by the clubs’ unique business model—boutique facilities with private studios for six to eight different exercise disciplines beneath one roof, then serving a combined total of about 2,000 members. 

A Place in the Industry 

Susan Cooper, owner, president, and CEO of the Austin, TX, clubs, had reached out to IHRSA for help in determining what she needed to do to stay ahead of the competition. 

“After Joe’s visit, we talked many times about the uniqueness of our model and how it fit within the industry,” she said. “He encouraged me to explore promoting this concept of intimate classes to further differentiate our club and to stay ahead of the competition. We really needed to hear the truth about what we were doing right, as well as how we could improve. We certainly got that from Joe, who gave us an honest evaluation.” 

Since Moore’s visit, the company has initiated an aggressive marketing plan that highlights the many health and fitness options the clubs offer. The business thrived, and Cooper continued her productive relationship with IHRSA by serving on the board from 2008 to 2012.

Success in a Changing Sector

Michele Melkerson-Granryd, the general manager at Cooper’s Davenport club, is also an IHRSA veteran. She’s been participating in IHRSA events since 1989, and has been a faculty member at the IHRSA Institute for the past two years. In March, she’s scheduled to present two programs during IHRSA’s 35th Annual Convention & Trade Show in Orlando, FL. 

BodyBusiness’ Davenport location has transitioned to a model that makes use of group exercise instructors, most of them certified personal trainers who work exclusively, full-time, for the club, teaching classes such as dance, yoga, barre, and core fusion. 

To maintain its edge, the club is now offering its services to nonmembers, while members receive a discount on all club programs and services. For example, class passes can be purchased either one at a time or in discounted packages of five or 10. 

“The industry has changed so much over just the last 10 years, and IHRSA has always provided great advice and insight,” she said. “Everyone—the staff and other IHRSA members— was so helpful to me while I was first developing my business. And they were always there, later on, when I needed help. BodyBusiness’ association with IHRSA has been priceless.” 

Read the full “This Owner Wants to Know” article in the January issue of CBI.


More women participate in group ex classes. Why?

With 48 percent of club members male, one would think that participation in group exercise classes would also be split down the middle.

Surprisingly, according to the latest IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, only 38% of group exercise participants are men. And, seeing options like yoga and spinning can often see numbers closer to a 50-50 split, other options like Zumba, P90X, Tabata and others have 3-to-1 or even 4-to-1 women-to-men ratios.

So, why the discrepancy? And, does it really even matter?

Read on to see what club managers think, and their suggestions.


Attendees are asked what brought them to the IHRSA Institute

Kate Golden, Director, People & Fitness Operations
Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, Penn.

“When I was at IHRSA (Annual International Convention & Trade Show) last year a couple people were talking about how great the (Institute) program is and how great it is to learn from it. I am new to the industry so I need to catch up.”


Noah Hastay, Fitness Director
Gainesville Health and Fitness Center, Gainesville, Fla.

“I want to learn more in the management side of the industry. I hope I will be able to improve my team by bringing back some ideas so we can keep the club one of the top in the nation.”



Gregg Pill, Partner
Oak Brook Racquet & Fitness Club, Westmont, Ill.

“I am a big believer in continuing education so I wanted to come out since I haven’t been able to since the (Institute) layoff. I came out to hear the great teachers and industry experts talk and for networking with those of similar-sized clubs so we can share ideas.”


Michele Melkerson-Granryd, General Manager
BodyBusiness Health Club & Spa

“Because I am on the advisory board. Honestly, I always look for new things that make me better at what I do, and I can get that here.



Sal Pellegrino, Director of Key Accounts
Star Trac Fitness, Raleigh, N.C.

“I’ll tell you, I refer to this as getting my four-day MBA in the industry. Our company supported it and I requested to be a part of it. It is such a wonderful event.”


Fourteen on 2014: part 2

CBI magazine continued its Fourteen on 2014, a look at the fitness industry in the upcoming year, in the February edition. All 14 industry veterans will also be shraing their expertise at the IHRSA's 33rd Annual International & Trade Show, March 12-15, in San Diego.

Industry authorities like Cedric Bryant and Michele Melkerson-Granryd, and IHRSA's Jacqueline Antunes, are among the second seven to give opinions on subjects like programming, foreign markets and membership sales trends. 

Go to the CBI digital edition for the first part and second part of the story.


What is better for losing weight, strength or cardio?

Many of those who join a gym or decide to get in shape do it to also to lose weight. And there is argument on both sides on whether strength training or cardio work is better.

Michele Melkerson-Granryd and Anthony Wall give their opinions in Best Practices.

This question is part of a new feature in Best Practices. On the first Monday of the month we will be taking a question from and then ask our leaders. 

"Is strength or cardio training better for weight loss?"

A: The easiest response to this great question is to say the what’s best for weight loss is choosing an activity that someone will stick with!. Long term exercise adherence is the key to losing weight. It really makes no difference if we put someone on the ‘best’ possible weight loss program if it is so demotivating, intimidating or boring  they quit in the first few weeks!

Now let’s touch on the science and see what the research suggests. If use the analogy of a car engine idling. If the engine idles at a higher rate it is using more fuel. Once we start driving if we drive using more hills, use more power or drive more aggressively then we use more fuel. This is similar to how the body responds, with one great advantage – if, during exercise we drive the body harder our ‘engines’ idle at a higher rate at rest. Cardio training can be effective for weight loss but often becomes an exercise in efficiency – (no pun intended) and we see people over time not hitting their weight loss goals. As people settle into the comfort of a routine they actually become more efficient at the activity and expend less energy and recover quicker. The current research around using high intensity interval training has been shown to be the most effective way to lose weight. HIIT training uses a combination of low and high intensity exercises and constantly challenges to body. Incorporating this style of training not only increases our resting metabolic rate (idling speed) but also in many programs the utilization of resistance is incorporated to increase the intensity of the session. This has the benefit of increasing lean muscle mass. The greater the energy expended during exercise the longer the body uses a higher idling speed to recover. Back to the question – is strength or cardio training better for weight loss? Incorporating high intensity interval training into an exercise program will yield the great weight loss goals.

Anthony Wall
Director of Professional Education
American Council on Exercise 



A: I believe that a truly successful weight loss program has the goal of helping an individual not only lose weight healthfully but lead to lifestyle changes so the weight loss will be maintained. It has to have a minimum of three components: 1) cardio training 5-6 days per week  2) a full body strength training program 2 days per week and 3) a nutritional component that includes food and exercise journaling and educates the participant about their nutritional needs and healthy eating options, and 4) an optional component of life coaching or even referral to a counselor to address disordered eating and exercise patterns/habits when these fall outside the scope of a Personal Trainer’s or Nutritionist’s scope of practice. 

We have a very successful program called the Weight Loss Challenge that we run every winter. It is a 12-week, team based program. The team that loses the greatest combined percentage of their weight wins three free months of membership. Each team is led by a trainer and a nutritionist. The trainer leads a 60-minute group workout each week preceded or followed by a 30-minute group meeting with the nutritionist. There is a complete package of handouts and education information covered each week. The trainer gives the team members homework (workouts) to be done on the days the group doesn’t meet. In addition, many of the team members are also doing small group training or personal training sessions. 

Many of these groups or sub groups of the challenge will stay together after the Weight Loss Challenge is complete to help provide accountability and motivation to maintain the weight lost and/or accomplish new weight loss or fitness goals.

Michele Melkerson-Granryd
General Manager
BodyBusiness Health Club & Spa


To see the answers for this question on, click here.

One of the most frequently consulted sections of IHRSA’s Website,, is “Best Practices,” which features answers from industry experts to a wide range of thought-provoking questions. Beginning this month, we’ll highlight some of them in this new CBI column.

Visit to read responses to more than 100 questions such as these or to submit a question of your own to be answered.


Retention is the subject of the next webinar

Michele Melkerson-Granryd, industry veteran and master of many trades, will lead the next webinar, "Creating Member Loyalty with Service Excellence,” sponsored by Cybex. It is on Jan. 10, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. EST.

Learn how to make your members happy, and in turn, keep them on longterm.

Click here to register and for more information.





Make youth programming fun in order to keep them engaged

Michele Melkerson-Granryd and Bill Parisi discuss what are the best ways to get children engaged and active in their clubs, in Best Practices.

Q: "In a time when childhood obesity is at the forefront, what are good strategies for children/teen programming to get youth in my community more active and engaged in the club?"

A: Our club is primarily an adult focused facility and we don’t have the luxury of enough space to run after school group programming – but we have many members whose children/teens are working with our personal trainers because they aren’t getting enough physical activity in school and their choice of activities at home are video and computer oriented. We also have trainers who do sport specific training for student athletes (golf, lacrosse, tennis, baseball, etc.). In the summer and over school breaks we offer short term memberships and encourage our members to work out with their kids who are 13 and over.

We are really excited this year to be introducing the Teen Fitness Connection (IHRSA’s initiative to introduce teens to exercise) to our community.  For an hour and a half each day – during our least active time of day – we are inviting teens (ages 13-19 – includes teens who are entering high school in the fall) to utilize the club during the months of June and July for free!  Each teen will be required to go through a safety, etiquette and equipment orientation and we are offering a sampling of our classes each week.  In addition, our staff members are volunteering to lead educational (and fun) seminars for both the teens and the parents. While this is our inaugural year for this program – the response has been overwhelmingly positive and I have members who are even planning on having their teens do some personal training ahead of time so that they can really be productive during the two month program. 

We are not a mecca for kids programming – but we are a testament that you can provide fitness services to teens without inconveniencing your adult members as long as you set up good rules that are enforced.  We find that most teens can easily be included in our classes and our members are happy to see the youth working out as long as they behave appropriately – which again simply requires a good orientation and requirement that they follow the stated rules.

Michele Melkerson-Granryd, M.Ed.
General Manager
BodyBusiness Health Club & Spa 



A: Youth fitness is all about motivation and engagement. Kids are not thinking health and longevity, they want to have fun, be competitive, and most importantly, be accepted by their peers. The most powerful way to engage children in fitness is to show them how they can improve their sports performance ( speed, agility, quickness and strength).

Research shows that over 70% of all kids between the ages of 7 and 14 participate in at least one organized sport. This totals over 20 million children nationally.  And believe it or not, many kids who do not play organized sports, wish they had more ability to do so, and your club can show them how.  

Offer a sports performance program for kids of all fitness levels ages 7 through 14. Make your program inviting to the non-athlete by hiring staff who truly loves kids. The program itself does not have to be overly complicated but it should be professional. You should have a respected youth performance brand, credible staff, and an environment that is motivating and professional. 

One of the most important aspects of a professional and motivating environment  is the flooring surface.  I recommend installing turf flooring in your club, similar to the surface most youth sports events are played on. When you have a turf flooring system to train on, it looks and feels athletic. This is a very important aspect of creating that culture of sports performance in your club. Also, you can run many adult boot camp type classes in this area as well, during the morning and afternoons hours to maximize your space, when it is not being utilized by the youth market.  

I highly recommend Performbetter to do a floor plan site evaluation on where you can incorporate some turf in your club. That along with a good hire, someone who loves kids, and with the right training and brand, you can be off to empowering your community and your bottom line in no time. 

Bill Parisi
Founder & CEO
Parisi Speed School


See what some clubs are doing as far as programing in a recent IHRSA story, Clubs fight the fight on childhood obesity.

This post is a part of our weekly Best Practices series. We post a new question and answer every Monday morning. If you have a question you'd like our Industry Leaders to answer, submit your question today.


How to Incentivize Personal Trainers: Hint, It's Not Always Money

Dr. Haley Perlus, Richard Synnott and Michele Melkerson-Granryd discuss creating incentives for personal trainers in this week's Best Practices.

Q: "Our trainers' performance is lagging and we think it may have something to do with our incentive scheme (hourly pay plus incentives for training sessions). What are some other effective incentive schemes that might get this group motivated again?"

A: Although we would like to think that ‘pay per performance’ is enough incentive to increase work output from our trainers, monetary rewards are often not enough to spark the fire. I recommend experimenting with the following three methods often used to motivate employees:

  1. Public disclosure. Friendly competition is a powerful mechanism to increase productivity. Place a white board in the trainer’s quarters that keep track of each trainer’s responsibilities and individual progress (e.g. number of new members he/she signs each week). At first you may encounter some resistance, but public disclosure will increase the probability of goal achievement. 
  2. Autonomy. Allow your trainers to feel a sense of control and determine their own course of behavior. Your trainers need to have ownership and feel they have a say in decisions affecting their involvement. Otherwise, they feel pressured or obligated to act. Allowing them to choose from a group of tasks and then selecting from a group of rewards they can receive once they complete the task will foster high autonomy. High autonomy encourages wanting to participate, whereas low autonomy means having to participate. 
  3. Develop competence and success in your trainers. Individuals who doubt their ability to perform are called failure avoiders. Rather than striving to demonstrate success, they focus on avoiding failure because they doubt they can compare well with others. Be sure to highlight your trainers’ strengths, provide positive constructive feedback, and always give them tasks they perceive are within their capabilities.  

Dr. Haley Perlus, Peak Performance Consultant

A: Conventional wisdom often centers on monetary “schemes” as a motivating force. Money, itself, does little to sustain motivation in the long term. If you read enough about motivation it’s about recognition, feelings of accomplishment, approval, camaraderie, and pride. Exceptional leaders know that. You need to re-commit to your core vision of why your club exists and why your trainers do what they do. It has to be about the results the members get, and helping people live a longer, healthier life. So here are the practical ways to start: 

  • Make sure you have a leader who can establish the mission and vales system for the PT team
  • Have a staff retreat to share that vision. Recognize the people who already embrace that vision.
  • Ask the top two trainers to be mentors for others
  • One of the measurements of success is that more people will train so the revenue will go up. Establish a team financial goal, with incentives
  • Find out what motivates each trainer to do what they do, and where they want to be in the long run and show them how they can get there
  • Meet frequently
  • Make them accountable for selling and retention
  • Take quick action to terminate anyone who is not performing 

Richard Synnott, Executive Director
Weymouth Club

A: Here are some suggestions:

  1. Run a competition such as a weight loss challenge – the trainers can train teams of small groups (4-8 people) over a designated period of time, for example eight weeks.  The team that loses the most weight wins a prize (for example 6 months membership) the winning trainer wins a cash prize (eg $500). 
  2. Have your trainers teach group ex – something they have a passion for so that they have exposure to a wider group of members.
  3. If incentives aren’t working – maybe the trainers don’t have the opportunities to promote themselves – do you offer discounted initial package to new members? (3 sessions for $99)  These introductory packages allow the new member to try out a trainer – the trainer has three session to prove their value

Michele Melkerson-Granryd, M.Ed., Executive Director
Texas Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association


Small Group Training

Bob & Jolyn Esquerre, Lori Lowell, Michele Melkerson-Granryd, and Phillip Mills discuss the growing trend that is group training:

Q: “I keep hearing that group training is getting popular, so I decided I'd ask. What is the best way to implement group training? What kind of exercises work best? What demographic is typically interested in it?”

A: Your observations are correct....Group Training is indeed growing in popularity! The recession and the recovery, especially with high unemployment rate, has forced educated consumers to self-reflect more before they decide to spend money. Here are their thoughts, based on our experiences:

  1. They want additional spending options in addition to one-on-one training [e.g. Small Group & Large Group Training];
  2. They want a stronger reason to initially spend money, which include, for example
  3. Not only getting "Guaranteed Results", but they also
  4. Want a way to quantify/validate their results; which will give them
  5. A stronger reason to keep spending. If these 5 points occur consistently, they will have
  6. A very strong reason to refer their friends, family members and colleagues to you as their subject-matter-expert.
"... they will have A very strong reason to refer their friends, family members and colleagues to you as their subject-matter-expert."
However, most Clubs &/or Fitness Professionals are not successful in planning, launching & managing fee-based Group Training Programs.

Jolyn & I, as a minimum, have identified the Top 5 "Failure Points" why Group Training Programs have failed:
  1. Neither the Clubs nor the Personal Trainers knew how to market &/or position Group Training as an '"added-value" service; this occurred because
  2. They did not know how to create programming value for Group Training;
  3. They could not make a clear/compelling distinction between Group Exercise Classes & Group Training Programs [the exercises & the equipment used in Group Exercise Classes cannot be the same used in Group Training] ;
  4. The Club Managers & Personal Trainers did not know how to stimulate & manage consumer "demand" from educated consumers for Group Training Programs; and
  5. The selected Personal Trainers did not have the skill-sets to deliver & manage Group Training Programs.
For more detailed information &have the ability to ask and have answered your questions, please join us at the IHRSA Group Training Webinar on April 22nd.

Bob & Jolyn Esquerre
Esquerre Fitness Group International
Business Solutions Consultants

A: Group Training is very different from Personal Training. Group Training must stand alone as a separate department within the gym. Add it to the org chart.

Many people think that the best way to implement Group Training is to put it under the direction of the Personal Training Department. There is a skill to working with people in a group to include:
  1. Team Building
  2. Putting a compatible team together with a compatible trainer
  3. Delivering an outline to the group of "what to expect"
  4. The trainer must do their homework and know who they are working with.
The best success of Group Training will occur if you have an Trainer/instructor that is both a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor. Because the two approaches are very different it is important to have a really good handle on both skills (group fitness instruction and personal training).

A philosophy of operation of what the approach of "group training department" is critical and the club needs to identify exactly what the approach will be not only from a training perspective but also from a guidelines perspective.

Ask these questions for your team in regards to group training:
  1. What is it?
  2. How are we going to implement it?
  3. How are we going to market it both internally and externally?
  4. Which employees will be part of this "new" department?
  5. What does your "proforma" look like?
  6. How many people can you service; monthly, quarterly, annually?
The mistake that most clubs make is they just go up to the fitness director and say - let's start doing group training without any vision, mission, values, goals or philosophy being set.

Avoid this and focus on implementation by getting this "new department" ready and follow the 6 steps mentioned above for success.

Lori Lowell, Owner
Gold's Gym of Woodbridge, Lorton, Fredericksburg, VA, Madison, Milwaukee, WI
President, Group Fitness Solutions, LLC

A: Small Group Personal Training is a great way to expand your training business and generate additional revenue. Small group training often expands personal training revenues by bringing the group fitness participant into personal training. There is still a social component but more opportunity for individual attention and targeting the workout towards accomplishing specific goals. It’s also an affordable way to introduce members to personal training who have been resistant because of the cost or to increase the number of sessions a client is doing per week with the goal of creating results more quickly.

I recommend that you create your group with a set number of weeks, preferably 8-12, depending on the season. Ideally, you will have a theme that describes the focus – for example, in the spring you might offer, “Beach Body Boot Camp”; “Strong Bones” is ideal for a group of women in their 50’s and 60’s; Yoga Strong could be geared towards men and individuals who might be a bit skittish about getting involved in yoga; 10 weeks to a Stronger Back might be targeted to clients that your massage therapists have identified as. Ideally you will run 3 to 4 cycles of Small Group Training to follow the seasonal cycles of your business. In our area it makes sense for us to run a fall session (September to Thanksgiving, about 12 weeks). We do some smaller bridge sessions for our members who are in town through the winter holidays (Thanksgiving through the first week of January). A winter session starts in the 2nd week of January to Spring Break (2nd week in March) and a spring session runs from the end of March through the first week of June, which is when our schools get out. We also do a summer session starting in mid June which runs through mid August. During those weeks that no groups are scheduled the trainers can run make-up sessions if they feel the need.

It is also important to keep the groups fresh from session to session. You can do that through the theme and also through the equipment that you use. If you are starting brand new with boot camp – perhaps use the equipment you currently have on hand, then every other session or so – add something new – kettle bells, the power rope, ladders, go outside, etc. Keep in mind that your trainers will get bored more quickly than the clients.

Michele Melkerson-Granryd, General Manager
BodyBusiness Health Club & Spa

A: Group exercise has huge potential to help most clubs to improve their business. At a time when many clubs are being hurt by low-cost competition, clubs with great GX are actually increasing their prices and creating a whole new paradigm in our industry. While the average club has less than 500 GX attendances per week, some have more than 5,000, which creates remarkable profitability. I am aware of a number of midsize clubs with gross profits $2-3 million a year based on GX success.

The first key is to track attendance. You can’t manage it if you don’t measure it! Set yourself a goal of increasing weekly GX attendance from, say, 500 to 2000 over the next three years. Have your instructors set their own individual goals for every class they teach, and produce weekly ranking lists, with quarterly prizes for the best performances. Incentivize your GX Manager or Fitness Director to achieve quarterly overall targets. (Les Mills offers attendance-measuring hardware and analytical software if you wish.)

Methods for achieving your targets include:
  1. Recruit instructors with the potential to attract big numbers – people with previous stage experience are great, along with passionate fitness freaks.
  2. Create a training calendar for your instructors involving external providers and internal coaching. As with any athletes or performers, GX teachers need constant practice to become masters.
  3. Design a great experiential studio using theatre principles. The industry standard for studio design is bland and sterile. We need to create unselfconscious, fun places for people to enjoy their GX.
  4. Hold regular GX events where you introduce new classes and material, and ask your members to invite their friends along for free.
  5. Launch licensed programs like BODYPUMP® to create buzz and quality assurance for your members.
Phillip Mills, Founder and Creative Director
Les Mills International