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Entries in Paul Bedford (6)


IHRSA Mercado Fitness 2016 in Photos

The third annual IHRSA/Mercado Fitness Mexico City Conference & Trade Show was held on October 26 and 27 in Mexico City, offering attendees 10 conferences, four seminars, and a bustling trade show. 

IHRSA staff was there, and we've compiled some of the top photos from the event.  

IHRSA Mexican Health Club Report Announcement

During the IHRSA Mercado Fitness opening address on Wednesday, Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products, announced the forthcoming IHRSA Mexican Health Club Report—the first-ever comprehensive report that provides an overview and analysis of the health club industry in Mexico. All attendees will receive a copy of the report for free. Read our full coverage of the opening address.


The Trade Show Opens

Jose Marsico, CEO of Mercado Fitness, and others spoke before the Trade Show opened on Wednesday. 

Dr. Paul Bedford Shares Retention Strategies

Dr. Paul Bedford, the research director of Retention Guru, based in Croydon, Surrey, shared his research-based best practices for better health club member retention. One tip: split members' long-term goals into smaller goals. For each goal a member achieves, you reduce their risk of canceling each month by 10%.


Enjoying Mexico City

Attendees took the opportunity to get some fresh air between sessions in the area surrounding the World Trade Center.


Alan Leach Talks Sales and Marketing

Alan Leach, regional manager of West Wood Clubs in Ireland, gave two presentations on Thursday about sales and marketing.

"One of the reasons West Wood is so successful is I don’t follow what they do in the Irish market. A lot of the sales and marketing techniques that I use are based on proper marketing principles," he said in an interview prior to the event. "I’ve worked for companies in Mexico and [the marketing approach] is not different at the end of the day."


Lots of bright lights and high-flyers today at the IHRSA #MercadoFitness trade show.

A photo posted by IHRSA (@ihrsa) on Oct 27, 2016 at 9:51am PDT

Scenes from the Trade Show

Attendees got a chance to check out equpiment, demonstrations, and more throughout the event this week.


IHRSA/Mercado Fitness: An Industry Fiesta

In just three years, the IHRSA/Mercado Fitness Mexico City Conference & Trade Show has become the preeminent industry event in Mexico, which, by any gauge, is one of the five largest markets in the Americas.

According to The IHRSA Global Report 2016, the country now has 7,826 fitness facilities, with some 2.7 million members, and annual revenues of $1.5 billion—and all of those numbers are growing.

Testifying to the sector’s vibrancy is the fact that, this year, attendance at the 3rd annual IHRSA/Mercado Fitness (I/MF) gathering, taking place October 26–27, at the World Trade Center in Mexico City, is expected to jump by 20%, topping 6,000.

Upgrades and Improvements

The increase is being driven, in part, by the numerous upgrades and improvements to the 2016 edition of I/MF.

“While the 2014 and 2015 events in Santa Fe were very successful and well-attended, this year the conference and trade show will take place in the heart of Mexico City, which will boost attendance,” says Jacqueline Antunes, IHRSA’s senior manager for Latin America.

In addition to increased accessibility, I/MF ’16 boasts a host of other enhancements, explains José Antonio Mársico, the CEO of Mercado Fitness Mexico, the program’s producer. It’s been promoted by well-known athletes and government organizations, has introduced a new web platform and app, and has fine-tuned its schedule of conferences and workshops to maximize the possibilities for attendees.

In all, it will offer some 10 conferences and four seminars that, together, will address virtually every essential, as well as some extraordinary, aspects of health club operations. And, as it has in the past, I/MF will attract operators from throughout Mexico and countries such as Argentina, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the U.S.

Continue reading "IHRSA/Mercado Fitness: An Industry Fiesta."

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The Rise and Rise of Boutique Clubs

The following was originally published and written by Paul Bedford, Retention Guru. 

It started before Soul Cycle—an underground movement with small groups of exercise enthusiasts turning up to workout together. They shared a common desire to train hard, suffer together rather than alone, motivate each other, and recognize individual and group achievement. They shared a common goal—maximize the workout and share the experience. 

The industry looked at it as a fad, something on the periphery, a small group of enthusiastic spinning participants, yoga devotees, and Olympic lifters. 

Then, when Soul Cycle revealed $112 million in annual sales, people took notice. On the surface it looked easy to replicate. Take a small space, give it a funky appearance, coin a unique training approach, and charge by the class not by the month. 

Create a quality workout and user experience, make sure you can deliver those same high standards over and over again, price it above the norm to create some level of exclusivity.  

SoulCycle Washington D.C. (Picture P. Bedford)

In the past six months I’ve tried these sessions for myself. Soul Cycle in Washington D.C. was my first real boutique experience. 

When it was time to ride, my first observation was the amount of participants still hanging around from the previous class. They stood in reception talking, laughing and sharing stories, dressed in this season’s workout collection. A few even wore Soul Cycle New York or L.A. tops to show they’ve been riding in various locations. It was a tribe, not just a group of people who happened to do the 5 p.m. class. A community. 

I chose the class based on two things: the time slots available and the instructor’s music choice, posted on the website, which meant I knew ahead of time the music I could expect. Not only was it a great workout, but riders that recognized I was new asked how I got on once it was over. 

Continue reading "The Rise and Rise of Boutique Clubs."

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IHRSA One Million Strong

An In-Depth Study of Health Club Member Retention in North America identifies the factors that spell the difference between winning and losing.

IHRSA One Million Strong: An In-Depth Study of Health Club Member Retention in North America is, perhaps, the most comprehensive, detailed, and revealing study of member retention ever conducted.

This new IHRSA research report is the culmination of an in-depth, 36-month study of the North American fitness industry that reflects the membership experiences of approximately 1.5 million club members. The painstaking research was conducted and analyzed by retention authority Dr. Paul Bedford, the founder of Retention Guru, an industry consultancy based in Croydon, Surrey, England, with the invaluable assistance of Microsoft, Inc.

The project was generously sponsored by Life Fitness.

As Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products, points out: “This groundbreaking report analyzes retention and its associated factors on the basis of the review and analysis of more than one million membership records. It provides club operators with essential insights to help them drive revenue and improve member retention … or, to put it another way: You can learn a lot from a million members!”

Perhaps the most telling statistics come from the report’s baseline: Between January 1, 2012, and February 3, 2015, a total of 722,246 members cancelled their memberships, at a rate of 33.6 cancellations per 1,000 members, per month. The total loss represented 47.5% of all members. The average length of membership was 20.2 months.

More importantly, though, IHRSA One Million Strong identifies and quantifies the factors that led to those numbers, documents the impact that retention has on club revenues, and underscores the critical need to keep members engaged as long as possible.

Click to read more ...


World Renowned Retention Experts Coming Together For Retention Convention

World renowned retention experts will be coming together for one-day Retention Convention in the UK. The one-day event is being lead by international speaker and author of the world’s largest retention study, Dr. Paul Bedford, and will take place on 14 May 2015 in Central Birmingham.

“The purpose of the day will be to explore how retention can impact on business behavior,”says Retention Guru Bedford. “The emergence of the low cost sector has created challenges for all operators, including themselves, and clubs need to look at improving their retention in order to retain a profitable business. Operations directors, senior managers and anyone who who has a role in keeping members happy should not miss this event.”

Only 120 physical places were available and so the only way to access the event now is to watch it live! The event will run from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm GMT. There will be breaks for lunch, but essentially you will get to see and hear everything that the audience do, but from the comfort of your own home or office. 

Visit to register. Enter code IHRSA for a 25% discount


Price break for European Congress is approaching

Save up to 160€ off the full onsite registration rate for the annual IHRSA European Congress. Just sign up and pay before Aug. 20 and save on each registration.

Join more than 500 industry colleagues for business-building seminars such as: Doug Miller on “X-Selling at Membership Sales” and boosting revenue; Paul Bedford on “Day-to-Day Retention Activities” and improving member loyalty; Rene Moos on “Premium and Budget Clubs Operating Together in a Difficult Market”, and more.

The Congress will be held at the Beurs van Berlage, recognized as the first Stock Exchange Building in the world, in the center of Amsterdam. It is within easy walking distance of hotels, museums, canals, restaurants, nightlife and more.

Visit for full program and registration details.