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 Scott Gillespie (8)


An Open Letter to the Fitness Industry Leaders of Tomorrow

Dear Future Industry Leadership Council Member, 

Chances are you already are a leader—you just aren’t aware of it. 

You may be asking yourself “How is that true? What does being a leader truly mean? And how are other people able to identify me as one when I can’t even be sure of that myself?” 

The answers to all of those questions lie in the singular character trait all successful leaders share—passion.

Passion is the key to unlocking and capitalizing on any opportunity that comes your way, and joining forces with people who share the same passions and interests puts you in the company of those who want to use their collective power to make a lasting impact on society. After all, if a group of people can get anyone to look at the world through a different microscope—even if it’s only for a few seconds—they have succeeded in using their passion to perform good work.

So, if you have this passion and can leverage its potential for change by working creatively with others to solve problems, then believe it or not, you are a leader. 

Continue reading "An Open Letter to the Fitness Industry Leaders of Tomorrow."

Click to read more ...


6 Actions Health Club Leaders Take to Develop Emerging Leaders

Identifying and nurturing emerging leaders continues to be a challenge in our industry.  

It’s also one ofif not the most importantchallenges we face. In his IHRSA 2016 session, “Extraordinary Leaders: Develop a High-Performance Team,” Eddie Tock of REX Roundtables said, “research shows that improving leadership behavior has more impact on your company performance than any other investment.”

So, in looking at the leadership traits of many of our industry’s leaders, I’ve distilled those traits into six common actions leaders use to foster leadership in both their own organizations and throughout the industry.

To develop the next generation of industry leaders, current club leaders...  

#1. Lead by Example 

Most everyone replied that leading by example is by far the most important trait. Basically, the leadership traits you want to see in your club staff are the same ones they want to see in you every single day. Any form of leader should be professional, ethical, communicative, supportive, display a high work ethic, and be willing to share knowledge and experiences.  

Jim Worthington, owner and president of Newtown Athletic Club, who is known for “walking the talk” has said that being a leader in the industry has given him the chance to mentor employees as well as colleagues at other clubs.

#2. Are in Perpetual Learning Mode  

According to Leadership Hospitality, it is important for leaders to ‘be visible about their own need to learn. Great leaders are never more powerful than when they are shown to be in a learning mode.’

Our industry’s leaders are some of the best at sharing the fact that they are information and education-hungry. Allison Flatley, CEO of Corporate Fitness Works, has shared that she loves learning growth strategy from successful entrepreneurs and training techniques from experienced personal trainers. And Janine Williams, vice president of human resources at Leisure Sports, said that the most important leadership trait is “to ensure that you continue to expand the depth and breadth of your knowledge; not only in the health club industry but in business and financial acumen as well.”

#3. Cross-train to Develop Across Skills or Knowledge Gaps  

Our industry already understands the value of cross-training to build endurance, flexibility, and skill. The same applies for leadership learning as candidates that are rotated through various jobs gain first-hand experience and new expertise in many different roles. They also develop a broader vision of your club and exposure to staff dynamics and member concerns.

In his IHRSA 2016 presentation, "Developing NextGen Leaders," Brent Gallagher discusses the practical steps involved in establishing a team of next-generation leaders, including the need to train across areas to create a healthy leadership pipeline.

Continue reading "6 Actions Health Club Leaders Take to Develop Emerging Leaders."

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Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Connect with the Bigger Picture ‘Outside Your Box’

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership. 

Scott Gillespie
Saco Sport & Fitness
Saco, ME

What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?

I love seeing the incredible evolution in our industry. Much of this is due to the many bright and giving leaders who are willing to share their best practices, allowing us all to build on their thoughts and experiences. 

In a world of proprietary this and protected that, our industry is a rare example of one where people come together to help each other become better. This voluntary collaboration helps build our industry’s positive impact on the world. We are so fortunate to have so many contributing leaders paving the way to a brighter future for all of us. A rising tide truly does elevate all the boats in the harbor!  

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?  

Never lose the very special connection you have with the market you choose to serve, but get outside of your box! Get and stay connected to the ever-evolving bigger picture through industry associations and groups—like IHRSA and the ILC. Lastly, be sure to balance what you get from this industry with what you give back to it.  

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)? 

It started with defensive objectives. I had to face a Greenfield YMCA being built very close to my club. This YMCA was not built as the traditional charitable YMCA. It was built to serve the adult fitness market and was to be a direct competitor. The challenge was that, as a non-profit, it would enjoy many financial advantages due to its tax exempt status. 

It was to be 50% capitalized with tax exempt donations. The mortgage was well below commercial interest rates. It would not be subject to property, payroll, sales, or income taxes, and the ability to utilize volunteer labor would give it a 30+% operating expense advantage over my club. Therefore, the YMCA could significantly undercut my fees while providing very similar services. 

The ILC helped me fund a PR campaign to raise public awareness which dramatically reduced the YMCA’s capital campaign donations and delayed the opening. Since then, the ILC has supported me and other Maine clubs with three other YMCA PR campaigns, three sales tax fights, and two membership contract fights. With the ILC's help, we won all of them! 

The great thing about the evolution of the ILC is that it is not only helping clubs protect themselves from threats like unfair competition or harmful legislation, it is now also actively promoting our industry. It funds legislative efforts like WHIP and PHIT, partnerships with many like-minded organizations such as the NCPPA and Michelle Obama's Lets Move, and other PR campaigns that help amplify our voice!


Gillespie talks up fitness industry on New England cable network

NECN imageIHRSA Board Member Scott Gillespie was the guest on CEO Corner in NECN (New England Cable News) recently, and he covered quite a few topics in the 30-minute segment.

Gillespie, owner of Saco Sport and Fitness in Saco, Maine, first answered the host's question about the increase in small group and personal training.

"Both are moving rapidly," he said. "The ability for groups of people to come together has great power."

Gillespie continued when asked how group training can help members. He compared other behavioral change industries, like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous.

"(Behavioral change) programs work on the concept of bringing a group of people together to come to a common goal," Gillespie said. "When I can feel the support of a group behind me and with me and hold me accountable I am much more likely to stick with it."

For a five-minute clip, go to the NECN website for three clips from the interview: Fitness industry trends, Making health clubs work for consumers, and The business of fitness


How do you collect and use feedback?

Any area of business wants to know what its clients think of the job is doing. The fitness and health club industry is no different.

This week's Best Practices question asks about how to solicit the opions of members and how a club should then use the information.

Industry veterans Patricia Laus, Laury Hammel and Scott Gillespie each weigh in on the subject.

Q: How does your club solicit feedback from members about any/all aspects of their club experience, and how is the feedback used?

A: We have four methods of collecting customer feedback:

1) All members of the staff are trained on taking feedback from members and passing it on to the appropriate manager;

2) We have suggestion boxes throughout the club;

3) We have a "give us feedback" link on our website; and

4) We have hired a customer experience management firm, Medallia, to do e-mail surveys to our membership on a random quarterly basis. This is based on the net promoter score question, but goes deeper to allow specific rankings of key club operations like each department’s staff friendliness, locker room and showers, billing department, facility, and equipment availability. These results are dashboarded and ranked, allowing us to see trends, and prioritize our responses. 

Scott Gillespie
Saco Sport & Fitness


Our managers conduct one-on-one surveys on-site with our members, and we also do online surveys via SurveyMonkey. This year, we will launch the Medallia survey product for our entire membership in both locations, as well as our non-member related businesses which will provide a numerical ranking from 1-10 on how we perform each day within each of our core businesses. We believe having a clear understanding about the needs of the member/customer and also being sure that our member/customer knows we are concerned about their requests are required in developing long-term relationships and successfully growing our business.

Patricia Laus
Chief Executive Officer
The Atlantic Club



A: Each year, we conduct a member survey via e-mail. It asks the same 10 basic questions ever year. They include, ‘On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being great, how do you rate your overall experience at the club?’ and ‘Do you find our staff to be friendly and service oriented?’ We also ask if they would recommend our club to their friends, relatives and colleagues. The response rate to the survey is about 25%, which is quite good. We also get a lot of feedback year-round through our “Express Yourself” forms as well as in person to our staff members, who are quite approachable. We take all member feedback very seriously.

Laury Hammel
The Longfellow Club


Gillespie will help you find your 'Y' during education session

Elena Ciccotelli, the founder and CEO of TrainerDiva, felt this year was the perfect time to attend her first IHRSA convention.  

With her business in the “growth and expansion phase,” possibly opening a bricks and mortar studio in the next year, there are many direction she can go, as far as education sessions, during the 32nd Annual International Convention & Trade Show, which is March 19-22 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. 

One of the sessions she is most excited about is Scott Gillespie’s, Discovering What Makes You Special: Finding Your Secret Sauce, on Wednesday, March 20, at 1:30 p.m. She said as soon as she decided to sign up she pored over the schedule, specifically the Marketing track. 

Read more here.


Athletic Business Conference in New Orleans continues

IHRSA staff and members took some time from the Athletic Business Conference in New Orleans to catch up, and pose for a photo.




Many gather at the Athletic Business Conference in New Orleans

Today through Dec. 1 the Athletic Business Conference & Expo is going on in New Orleans. The event features continuing eduation, seminars, a trade show and more.

Expected to attend are industry experts and manufacturers, as well as colleges, schools, YMCAs and JCCs, corporate fitness centers among others.

IHRSA sent a group to take it all in.

For more on the conference, click here