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Entries in Session Spotlight (31)


Health Club Employee Engagement: A Leadership Commitment 

This post is part of our Session Spotlight series, previewing just some of the extensive education that will feature at IHRSA 2017, March 8-11 in Los Angeles.   

How many of your health club’s employees are truly engaged at work? It may be less than you’d think.

According to a recent Gallup poll, just 32% of U.S. employees reported being engaged at work. The majority (50.8%) of employees said they were "not engaged," and another 17.2% reported that they were "actively disengaged."

While these statistics are grim, they also point the way to an opportunity for club owners.

Continue reading "Health Club Employee Engagement: A Leadership Commitment."

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Slam Dunk Retention Campaigns

Gaining new members is often the top priority for health clubs, as it should be—growth is critical for any successful business. However, having a narrow focus on recruitment tends to distract from keeping those hard-earned new members happy and engaged. 

And when members don’t feel taken care of, a disconnect between brand expectations and brand experience forms, and, ultimately, retention suffers. 

Member retention is at the foundation of the Bay Athletic Club brand, and Trina Gray, owner of the Alpena, MI, club, will share her proven strategies with IHRSA 2016 attendees during her session, “Slam Dunk Retention Campaigns.” 

Get Members on Track in Their First 30 Days 

“Our system is simple, clear, and personal—and that is why it works,” Gray says. “Just having a system is half the battle in business.” 

Bay Athletic Club follows a finely tuned plan to get new members on track in their first 30 days. All members are greeted with a welcome post on social media and a swag bag with branded gear, a guest pass, and nutrition tools. Health club staff also strongly encourage new members meet with a trainer for a one-hour session to review and set fitness goals. 

“We follow up with a handwritten card and stay in touch with them in many ways, including our weekly e-newsletter, email check-ins, and simply conversations at the front desk,” Gray says. “Fewer and fewer people fall through the cracks of the business anymore, but we’ve been at this for a decade and have learned from our mistakes and successes.” 

The Monday, March 21 session will also help attendees:  

  • Learn how to organize, promote, and recognize participants in a "Power of 10" membership campaign to encourage 10 visits per month
  • Learn how to boost up your group fitness classes in the summer months with a "Group Ex Rocks" campaign and game card that your members and instructors will appreciate
  • Discover how to get your new clients on track in their first 30 days with an innovative plan that exposes them to your various club offerings and rewards them for testing out all that you offer
  • Learn how to wow your members with "Live Grateful," an off-the-charts membership appreciation campaign during a slow time of year to drive club usage and make them feel like a VIP
  • Discover how nothing retains members more than results, and learn how to capture testimonials and member successes all year long to use as social proof marketing and bolster retention

"Attendees will leave feeling more focused and fired up about keeping current members happy and engaged," Gray says. "They will leave with concrete ideas and action plans. In my opinion, member retention is the most important thing we do, alongside building a team culture and taking care of our employees. We made a promise to help members change their lives when we welcomed them into our business. It is our calling to follow through, if they are ready for change."

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Building a Multi-Million Dollar Fitness Business

Building a multi-million dollar fitness business may seem like a pipe dream, but attending IHRSA 2016’s Wednesday, March 23 panel, “Building a Multi-Million Dollar Fitness Business,” is the first step to turn the dream into a reality. 

“Anyone with the ambition to be successful in creating a business of their own and/or grow their business to a multi-million dollar business should attend this session,” says Rasmus Ingerslev, panel moderator and founder and executive vice chairman of Wexer Virtual in Denmark. “We have strong and international entrepreneurs on the panel who will share their inspirational pathways to success including how and why they believe they have succeeded when 90% of startups fail.” 

During the hour-long panel, Ingerslev and others will help attendees: 

  • Learn how to build a strong brand and business in the fitness industry
  • Discuss the difference between managing and leading
  • Explore what to expect when chasing your dream
  • Discover the biggest surprises entrepreneurs face
  • Obtain the most important lessons learned and best pieces of advice given 

Ingerslev himself is no stranger to entrepreneurship and building multi-million dollar fitness brands; the IHRSA board member is a fitness entrepreneur with an international footprint who has developed multiple successful start-ups and exits. He built and ran two of Denmark’s largest health club groups from start-up to exit, and served as founder and CEO of Wexer Virtual until May 2015, when he transitioned to the position of executive vice chairman. 

“I am sure the attendees will be inspired and motivated by hearing first hand how the panelists have managed to create and grow their successful businesses,” he says. “From a practical perspective, the session should provide a good understanding of what it takes to be successful and what life as an entrepreneur growing a business looks like. Finally, the session will include a Q&A session allowing attendees the opportunity to have their questions to the panelist answered. If you were not a passionate entrepreneur walking into the session. you may very well be walking out.” 

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Become Results Focused: A New Approach to Group Fitness

There are a number of reasons boutique fitness studios are hot right now—they’re social, they’re trendy, and they help members achieve fast results—something health club group classes often fail to deliver. 

“Gyms are losing the opportunity to give quick results to members because they program in 50 different types of classes in their class schedule and 50 different group fitness instructors to do it, instead of taking an approach to design the schedule so members can get results as quick as possible,” says Constance Ruiz, president and co-founder of Vivafit

Ruiz will go into detail about how club operators can deliver better results through programming in her IHRSA 2016 session, “Become Results Focused: A New Approach to Group Fitness.” In the Tuesday, March 22 presentation, Ruiz will help attendees:  

  • Explore why traditional group fitness studios need a new approach
  • Discuss the exercise prescription with group fitness—results guaranteed
  • Learn how to design a "results focused" class program
  • Discover how to create a GX results focus culture with your team
  • Obtain a plan to implement immediately upon your return to your club  

“Often when people join a gym and want to be involved in classes—especially women who want to be social and have fun—we don’t properly orientate the new customer to go to those classes in a way to best get the quickest results,” she says. “The reason is our class schedules are organized in a way that doesn’t deliver results—they’re organized for the people who are already fit.” 

Ruiz recommends that health clubs offer just 10 or 12 types of classes several times throughout the week, enabling members to attend the same class multiple times rather than a sampling of different workouts. This method will help them achieve their fitness goals faster. 

“In the session I’ll show different group fitness example schedules and show clubs how they can design their own class schedule to work smarter—and not harder—for all members to be able to attend classes based on objects they’re seeking and be able to see results quickly,” she says. 

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Think Like a Champion: The Road to World Class Leadership

There are several common traits among strong health club leaders: the aptitude for setting expectations, communicating feedback, and developing a clear ethos for their club or studio. And, above all, strong leaders possess the ability to motivate and empower their employees. 

"Most people want to be successful, but they must be shown the path to success and be motivated to achieve greatness,” says Todd Durkin, president and CEO of Fitness Quest 10 and Todd Durkin Enterprises. “I am convinced that all people want to win in business and life. Many people just don't know the formula on how to do it. You must fire them up and make sure they 'get their mind right' so they can be a winning teammate." 

Durkin will outline how health club operators can sharpen their leadership skills in his IHRSA 2016 session, “Think Like a Champion: The Road to World Class Leadership.” During the Thursday, March 24 session, attendees will:  

  • Discuss how one of the keys to success is having mentors and the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people that can help you create impact in your life
  • Review the top 10 lessons learned from mentors that helped create an extremely successful fitness business
  • Obtain lessons on marketing, leadership, creating a winning team, top business practices, time management and organization, life balance, and strategies to "think like a champion" amidst any challenge you may be facing so that you can play at world class levels
  • Obtain lessons from some of the top executives and athletes in the world and by itself, worth the weight of gold  

"I want to teach attendees the principles of leadership. I want to look at some of the best leaders and determine what makes them great leaders," Durkin says. "I want to teach communication and give some great examples in the club setting what is not good communication. And likewise, I want to teach exactly how you can be an effective communicator."

The session will also dive into several strategies on how health club operators can motivate, inspire, and empower employees, thus creating a winning team culture. 

"Attendees will leave feeling reenergized, re-awakened, and ready to run through a wall for their brand," Durkin says.

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: New Media Marketing

There are several reasons health club operators often don’t take full advantage of new media—maybe they’re intimidated by it, or they don’t think it’s important, or they dabble in it, but don’t use it regularly. Whatever the reason, health clubs who don’t have a thorough new media strategy are missing an opportunity to engage current members and recruit new ones. 

“I’ve seen so many of the great clubs that have found the right person to [execute their new media] for them, that put a strategy in place to make it happen, and realize the benefit of social media,” says Frank Furness, author and consultant, Frank Furness & Associates. “A lot of clubs don’t understand the benefit of using new media, so they give it to someone who is doing it as just a part of their job, and it becomes less and less important because they’re doing their own job as well.” 

Furness will outline how new media can benefit health clubs in his IHRSA 2016 session, “New Media Marketing.” The Wednesday, March 23 presentation will help attendees:  

  • Discover how to dominate the first page of Google to attract new members
  • Learn how to develop a 10 touch plan to retain members
  • Learn how to use Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube to build and sell your club
  • Gain an understanding of how to use social media as a marketing tool
  • Explore what makes a great website and how to attract members and keep the interest of existing members  

Since the majority of prospective members begin their search online, it’s critical for health clubs to have a well-designed, engaging website that clearly outlines member benefits and drives visitors to a next step, such as visiting the club or requesting more information, Furness says. 

But having the best website in the world won’t do much good if it has poor search engine optimization. 

“I’ll teach attendees how to get on first page of Google, because if you’re not there, your competitors will be,” Furness says. “Being a part of the Google family—Blogger, YouYube, Google+—helps a lot with search engine optimization.” 

Furness will also discuss several other new media outreach efforts clubs might employ to engage new members, improve member retention, and reach out to prospective members, such as video email, online forums, Periscope and live-streaming video, and webinars. He will draw on several case studies to demonstrate the results new media strategies can achieve. 

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: A Retention Reboot

Health club operators must focus on member retention year-round, but research has shown it’s the first six weeks of a new membership that are the most critical. This is due to a number of challenges new members face, which seem to increase each year as consumers have access to a wider range of information and choices. 

“Clubs must recognize that each and every new member will have individual needs that truly can be systematically met to ensure maximum retention rates and brand loyalty,” says Paul Brown, CEO of Face2Face Retention Systems. “This has to kick in from day one and evolve with the member for the lifetime of their membership, even beyond it.” 

Brown will teach club operators strategies to do just that in his IHRSA 2016 session, “A Retention Reboot.” His Wednesday, March 23 talk help attendees: 

  • Discover how to maximize the lifespan and loyalty of each and every client
  • Review long held beliefs and instincts on why clients quit
  • Revisit some of the customer service standards once commonplace
  • Gain an understanding of the clear differentiations in the various models and how to absolutely stand out from the crowd
  • Learn how to systemize and replicate for the greatest results across your business 

“Every decade since the 70s has brought rapid change, growth, and rationalization for our industry,” he says. “What’s different now is at last member retention is recognized as equally if not more important than sales. If we can sort through the gimmicks, lip service, up-sell, and empty promises and deliver to each and every member what they came looking for, our industry will grow and attain the respect of other healthcare providers and legislators we all desire. At 11 a.m. on Wednesday March 23 at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando, Florida, I plan to reboot the thinking that might just help make that happen.”

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Precision Marketing: Proven & Profitable Advertising Strategies

The terms “advertising” and “marketing” are often used synonymously, but they are markedly different—and if you don’t have a grasp on the two concepts, your promotional strategies might suffer. 

“Marketing is everything we do to influence a member’s decision to continue to buy or not to continue to buy from us (yes—retention is marketing),” says Alan Leach, regional manager of West Wood Clubs in Dublin, Ireland, and Sarajevo, Bosnia. “The type of group fitness classes you chose to provide, the staff you chose to hire, the staff training you provide, the design of your club, the prices you charge, the location of your club, the programs you offer, the retention strategies you provide, the size of your car-park—these are all part of your product and are all part of an effective marketing strategy. If all these marketing elements are wrong, no amount of advertising or sales promotions will save you.” 

Leach will help health club operators fine-tune their marketing efforts in his IHRSA 2016 session, “Precision Marketing: Proven & Profitable Advertising Strategies.” The Wednesday, March 23 session will help attendees: 

  • Discover the most effective advertising and marketing strategies for fitness business
  • Learn how to use the internet to advertise, promote, and grow your fitness business
  • Discover the secrets to writing high-impact and persuasive sales and marketing copy that will drive new leads into your fitness business
  • Find out how to brand, promote, and market your fitness business so budget clubs are never a threat
  • Discover lead generation advertising and marketing secrets that will pack your fitness business with more and more sales and leads 

Throughout his presentation, Leach will draw from the many successful strategies he’s employed at West Wood Clubs, including a proven “selling fitness” sales and marketing system that increased sales by 70%, 15 direct mail letters that generated over $20 million in revenue, database management that generates millions of dollars every year, internet advertising and marketing that brings in over $7 million a year, and more. 

“Profitable marketing is just as much about thinking strategically about your advertising as it is about your short-term marketing and advertising goals,” he says. “Powerful marketing concepts, such as how your club is positioned in the market, how you differentiate your club from your competitors, and how you hope to create a sustainable competitive advantage in the fitness club market, are extremely important marketing activities—far more important than the special offer you run next Tuesday. In fact, these strategic marketing decisions are probably more important than ever before, because if you can get these marketing strategies right from the start, you depend less on those special offers and discounts for your fitness club’s success.”

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Technology: Trends, Opportunities & Challenges

While technological innovations are creating opportunities for health clubs to save money, improve the member experience, and differentiate themselves from the competition, the sheer volume of tech devices and software options can be daunting. 

To help alleviate this pain point, IHRSA 2016’s Wednesday, March 23 networking roundtable, “Technology: Trends, Opportunities & Challenges,” will enable club operators to connect, and share knowledge and ideas on a variety of mission-critical topics. 

“We’ll discuss the challenges of technology today in this space,” says Bryan O'Rourke, founder and CEO for Integerus and the CSO and principal for Fitness Marketing Systems, who will moderate the roundtable. “We’ll look at how the industry is dealing with the change of technology in various respects, from the manufacturing side to equipment software, and the utilization of these kind of applications that are reinventing our business models, and the ability operators have to deliver solutions to customers in new ways.” 

Roundtable discussion will also touch on the findings of the Fitness Industry Technology Council 2016 Trend Report, including topics such as censor technology, cloud computing, and mobile apps. 

“When you see Anytime Fitness acquire PumpOne, when you see SoulCycle launching the app that they now have deployed around their brand, when you see Planet Fitness adopt an application for their brand—these are pretty telling and evidentiary of the significant changes underfoot,” says O’Rourke, who sits on the FIT-C board. “The point of the roundtable is to have conversation about what it means and how people are coping with it.”

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Future-Proofing Your Club: Innovation of Technology and Your Business

There are a number of reasons a health club operator might not adopt innovative technology in their business, from having too much on their plate to worrying that they’ll invest in the wrong tech. But, in an increasingly competitive market, the right technology can be a key differentiator for health clubs. 

“It is all about having a clear value proposition and delivering the most value for money—regardless which segment of the industry you are in,” says Rasmus Ingerslev, founder and executive vice chairman of Wexer Virtual in Denmark. “Technology already plays significant part in the delivery and technology’s part will only increase.” 

Ingerslev, an IHRSA board member, will explain how health club operators can use technology to improve their business in his IHRSA 2016 session, “Future-Proofing Your Club: Innovation of Technology and Your Business”—a topic he discussed in the December issue of Club Business International

“The use of technology can do anything from reducing the cost of manual labor, which is important to the low-cost operators, to allowing clubs to interact with members in a more meaningful and personalized way, which is important in the high-end operators,” he says. “If you are not razor sharp on cost or in your member interaction in those two segments, respectively, your competitive position will be under significant pressure. Different technology for different businesses, but all businesses will need to embrace and adapt to new technologies on an ongoing basis to remain competitive.” 

The Monday, March 21, 3:15 - 4:15 p.m. session will help attendees:    

  • Explore why technology is changing our industry
  • Discover how technology is tearing down the four walls of your club
  • Review major technology trends impacting the fitness industry
  • Discuss failures and successes as a technology oriented entrepreneur
  • Obtain advice to prepare for the technology impact  

“I will provide an understanding of how technology is influencing and transforming multiple industries with an emphasis on the fitness industry,” Ingerslev says. “Additionally, I will show some of the technologies being used by early adopters globally and share my thoughts on how I believe technology will impact our industry—and which technologies may be the biggest influencers. Finally, I will share some of my success stories and failures in being an early adaptor of technology.” 

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