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Entries in Newtown Athletic Club (16)


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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This Week in the Fitness Industry: IHRSA Members, Lobbyist Discuss PHIT on Capitol Hill

IHRSA Members, Lobbyist Discuss PHIT on Capitol Hill
IHRSA members Linda Mitchell and Kelly Beauparlant from the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) Have a Heart Foundation spent Tuesday, February 6 on Capitol Hill with Jay Sweeney, IHRSA's Federal Lobbyist. As the IHRSA team preps for the introduction of the PHIT Act, legislation that would make gym memberships and physical activity more affordable, Sweeney and the NAC team met with members of Congress and their staff to discuss the PHIT Act's benefits to their constituents. After a full day of meetings Linda Mitchell, NAC's director of public and government relations, said, “I learned so much more about the process of getting this bill passed. The responses from our meetings were very positive, but there's still more work to do.”

(L-R: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Linda, Kelly Beauparlant, Jay Sweeney)

Mitchell then implored other IHRSA members to get involved in the very important grassroots efforts to pass PHIT, "This bill could change the "life" of your business once and for all, by reducing the cost of membership and other services for your members. Please reach out to IHRSA government relations to learn if your Congressman is supporting PHIT. If he or she is, thank them! If not, you need to reach out to them personally and immediately. Your voice will matter. The IHRSA team will walk you through the process."  

The Latest Fitness Fad: Stretching Studios
Move over barre, indoor cycling, and bootcamp—stretching studios are the newest fitness fad, according to The New York Times. However, rather than competing with other types of studios, stretching boutiques may be positioned to create more of a symbiotic relationship. “There are all these peak fitness places that have popped up,” Power Stretch Studios Owner Hakika V. DuBose told The Times, referring to SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, and CrossFit. “People go five times a week and their muscles are very overworked and contracted.” Power Stretch Studios isn’t the only boutique of its kind—there’s StretchOut Studios in Boston, Stretchlab in Los Angeles, and Stretch Zone, which appears to be the largest national chain with 31 locations in California, Florida, North Carolina, as well as other states.

Panelists Announced for the 21st Annual IHRSA Financial Panel
The annual IHRSA Financial Panel, taking place on Friday, March 10 during IHRSA 2017, will highlight the expertise of four highly-regarded financial experts and apply their knowledge to the issues impacting the health club market. "The intent of the panel is to ensure industry operators have the knowledge they need to make sound financial decisions,” says Rick Caro, president of Management Vision and Financial Panel moderator. “This year’s four panelists have researched the market matter extensively.”

This year’s panelists include: 

  • Marc Magliacano, partner, L Catterton
  • Andrew B. Hirsekorn, principal, Eagle Merchant Partners
  • Will Cowan, senior VP, Jefferies LLC
  • Steve Tricarico, managing director, Jefferies LLC 

Panelists will offer information on major club transactions across a variety of club segments and answer any additional questions during a separate Q&A session. Learn more about the annual IHRSA Financial Panel.

Blink Fitness Announces Los Angeles Expansion
Blink Fitness announced the company’s expansion to Los Angeles metro area in 2017. According to a press release, Blink says that their first location in Los Angeles is a step in their mission to alter the rhetoric of unrealistic goals of ideal body image among the fitness industry. Their goal conceptualizes this positivity over physical results in their latest ad campaign, “Every Body Happy.” “The availability of prime real estate in dense neighborhoods with comparable demographics to much of Blink's home turf in the New York area made the Los Angeles marketplace an appealing next step for expansion,” said Todd Magazine, president of Blink Fitness. Blink's first LA lease is for a former 1930s movie theater in Huntington Park, set to open by the end of 2017. Read the full press release about the expansion of Blink Fitness.

6 Ways to Be a Leader in the Health Club Industry

Our friends at Star Trac Fitness created an awesome video based on one of our blog posts on leadership!


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.’ 

Continue reading "A Health Club Owner’s Birdseye View into the Trump Presidency."

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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.


Video: Health Club Urges Members to ‘Say No’ to PA Tax

Newtown Athletic Club’s (NAC) latest video series supports IHRSA’s and other Pennsylvania member clubs’ effort to fight the state’s proposed sales tax on fitness centers.

The “Say ‘No’ to PA Health Club Tax” videos feature long-time NAC members who use the health club as part of a medical regimen. The caption of each video provides a link to IHRSA’s Action Center web page, where residents can find out how to contact their legislators. 

NAC shared the videos with members via email and social media, which they believe generated hundreds of responses to legislators. You can view the full video series on NAC’s YouTube page.


CBI: The ‘Halo Effect’ of Community Service

Community service is a popular way for businesses to show their appreciation to customers and enhance their reputation in the community. As an added bonus, charitable initiatives tend to create a "halo effect" and give members and potential members a more positive perception of the business.

Two IHRSA clubs with thriving community service programs were featured in the December issue of Club Business International

Newtown Athletic Club’s Financial Assistance Program

Community service is a constant, ongoing effort at Newton Athletic Club (NAC) in Newton, PA, in part because it appeals to members.

“They love belonging to a club that’s seen as caring and generous,” said Linda Mitchell, director of public relations and community partners for NAC. “That’s how they want to be, too. It helps them relate to you on an emotional level, which will serve you handsomely for the life of your business.”

NAC supports the community via charitable donations and volunteerism, but it’s also developed a financial assistance program for deserving individuals that, it believes, is one of a kind.

The 20-year-old program is predicated on the belief that everyone in the community should have an equal opportunity to become healthy and physically fit. Interested applicants are asked to fill out a form that reflects their ability to pay for a club membership; it’s then reviewed by NAC’s Financial Assistance Review Committee, which consists of the club’s owners, and its general manager, general counsel, and director of charitable giving.

Over the years, the program has given thousands of Newtown-area residents the chance to exercise in a safe, supportive environment—despite financial difficulties.

Franco’s Athletic Club’s Inclusive Programming

Ron and Sandy Franco, the owners of Franco’s Athletic Club (FAC), in Mandeville, LA, have developed a number of programs that have been specifically designed to be inclusive, making club services available and accessible to groups that, otherwise, wouldn’t be able to take advantage of them.

The club provides exercise classes for special needs children and individuals with disabilities to show that it’s possible for them to take part in regular physical activity, and to encourage them to do so. It also offers employment opportunities to local residents with limited mobility.

The gesture not only demonstrates FAC’s commitment to helping those in need but, thanks to the halo effect, also helps sell memberships. The club’s charitable efforts create a positive public impression, making belonging more appealing.

“We invest in our community, because giving back to others has helped us to grow our facility, our membership, and our value,” Sandy Franco told CBI.


Newtown Cares for the Quest and the Community

“Recently, I’ve stumbled across a new business paradigm…Its hallmark is institutionalized compassion, a kind of corporate social conscience, a full embrace of the web of obligations that connects us all.”

Augie Nieto, cofounder and former President and CEO of Life Fitness, could not have been more correct – “doing good” not only contributes to the life and success of any business, but it also builds a strong sense of unity among members of the local community.  

After Nieto was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2005, he created Augie’s Quest, an initiative designed to “do better” by funding research and drug development aimed at ending Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) in Pennsylvania has been a strong supporter of Augie’s Quest for several years now and has built a strong connection with the program. The club has used Augie’s message and service mentality to establish club programming to raise funds and awareness for ALS - some of which include Zumbathons hosted by celebrity instructors and broader fitness events that allow participants to choose from a variety of workout options.

In 2014, Newtown had a more personal encounter with ALS when the club discovered that one of their own members was diagnosed with the disease. And at that moment, 31-year old Matt Bellina, became the local face of the campaign to support Augie’s Quest.  To raise charitable funds, NAC designed a system to drive online donations from members through their electronic monthly funds transfer. A strong email and social media marketing campaign – with content tailored around both Matt and Augie – generated a significant amount of donations. With support from sponsors and club staff members, Newtown was able to create a variety of activities, fitness competitions, and silent auctions all designed to benefit this worthy cause. As a result, the club raised a total of $180,000 or 10% of the $1.8 billion raised at Augie’s Quest during IHRSA 2015.

And Newtown’s reputation as a business that cares about the community has only grown stronger. Through its charitable efforts, Newtown has created a brand that will continue to elicit long-term support and success.  

“Having a strong community outreach component and charitable vision will define you as a business with a heart that is essential to your community,” says Linda Mitchell, Newtown’s Director of Public Relations and Community Partners, “All of our businesses are made up of people with generous hearts, but that is hard to see unless you make a consistent outreach effort.  It is worth it for the health of your business and it is the right thing to do.”

Newtown suggests that other health clubs looking to pursue involvement in these types of initiatives should work on establishing an effective brand, since creating a brand for fundraising is essential in order to promote and raise awareness for the notable work that any club is doing.

Mitchell reiterates, “Members love to belong to a club that is seen to be caring and generous.  It is how they want to be, too and they will relate to you at an emotional level that will serve you well for the life of your business. “



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.”


The Anatomy of a State Victory

IHRSA’s public policy efforts help preserve, protect, and promote the industry.

A stack of 8,500 postcards bearing the headline “My Voice Against Taxing Health Club Services” sits, today, in the offices of the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), in Newtown, Pennsylvania—unused ammunition left over from a fight against dangerous legislation.

Each postcard reads, “Please, do not tax this medicine,” and features a short paragraph explaining why health clubs shouldn’t be subject to a state sales tax. Each is addressed to a Pennsylvania state legislator and signed by a NAC member or a Newtown resident.

The postcards were printed for a NAC campaign conducted earlier this year, and supported by IHRSA, which opposed a budget proposal that, among other things, would have expanded the state’s sales tax to encompass more goods and services, including health club memberships. The purported objective: a step in the direction of reducing property taxes.

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