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Entries in Olav Thorstad (4)


European Club CEOs Weigh in on Trends 

Three leading club company CEOs discussed the trends they are seeing in a panel discussion moderated by Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Global Products, today at the 14th annual IHRSA European Congress in Amsterdam. Here is a sampling of the insights they shared:

Valerie Bonnstrom, Mrs. Sporty:  We see McFit (budget club chain) doing an amazing job. The competition is increasing on the low-cost side, with more companies opening smaller, low-cost clubs. There is an opportunity on the higher end to provide a greater brand with strong positioning. Otherwise it becomes more difficult in a market that is increasingly price sensitive.

Olav Thorstad, Health & Fitness Nordic:  Functional training is a trend. Instructors are really important in driving profit. We also have to look at outdoor opportunities – people don’t necessarily want to go to the club. How do we serve them? This market is growing more rapidly than the club market. We have a big opportunity here, but we have to do more to catch the potential members interested in exercising outside of our clubs.

Irina Kutina, Russian Fitness Group: We continue to work closely with our personal training because it’s a good indication at how well the clubs are doing in engaging members. We are also looking at small group training – yoga, cycling – because it’s putting people together.

All three panelists agreed that the boutique model is an important trend. Bonstrom is operating some small, functional fitness training studios and notes that participants are very different from the target group that goes to a club. Thorstad said, “There is a market for it, and we should be in it. The margins and profits are bigger, and it will be positive for members.”


Photos from European Congress Day 2

The 14th Annual IHRSA European Congress continued on Friday at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam.

Among the highlights were the keynote by Jonas Kjellberg, the European Club Leadership Award presented to Olav Thorstad and many thought-provoking educational sessions.

Check out the above slideshow. And for all of the photos, visit the IHRSA Flickr page at


Thorstad Takes Home European Club Leadership Award

European Club Leadership Award winner Olav Thorstad, right, accepts the award from IHRSA CEO and President Joe Moore.Olav Thorstad, CEO of Health & Fitness Nordic, received the IHRSA 2014 European Club Leadership Award, presented at the European Congress, which is currently taking place in Amsterdam.

Thorstad is a visionary with a holistic view of the industry, shares his insights and leadership via international and national summits and seminars to help other industry operators.

“We are happy to honor Olav for his great leadership, strong understanding of business cultures, and his ability to attract and retain talent that shares his vision,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA president and CEO, who presented the award.

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


Thorstad to be CEO of newly merged company

The soon-to-be largest fitness company in Northern Europe has decided on the person to run it.

It was announced in June that Elixia and Health & Fitness Nordic, owner of SATS and Fresh Fitness, will merge. The new company will boast 2,000 employees, 181 locations and more than 500,000 members.

Olav Thorstad, CEO of Health & Fitness Nordic, has been tabbed as the CEO of the merged company.

"This is an opportunity I am very excited to embark on. I cannot imagine anything more exciting than working within this industry with such strong companies," said Thorstad. "We have a very important societal role in contributing to improved health and well-being in the Nordic countries."


Merger announcement

Thorstad interview in CBI

The merger still has to be approved, but it is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014.