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Friday
May282010

Remember Them

By Craig R. Waters

God and the Soldier, all men adore

In time of danger and not before.

When the danger is passed, and all things righted,

God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.

The poem, scratched by an anonymous soldier on the wall of a sentry box on the island of Gibraltar, was recited by President John F. Kennedy in a 1962 address to the members of the Army’s 1st Armored Division.

The years have passed, but nothing has changed.

This year, as we once more take note of Memorial Day, established in 1868 in remembrance of those who’ve died in the service of their country, the men and women returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan once more are slighted. They may have this day, but, that notwithstanding, they also have little in the way of public acknowledgement, let alone appreciation; difficulty in readjusting to life stateside; a recession that limits their opportunities for employment, education, and home ownership; underfunded and, often, poorly managed federal veterans agencies; and, in all too many cases, dramatic physical or psychological needs.

A while ago, at an IHRSA convention, I wound up talking about this disturbing situation with a club owner who was, as it happens, also an industry supplier. We speculated about what our industry could possibly do to make things better, have a positive impact on the lives of these selfless individuals who’ve already done their part. We regretted the fact that, at the time, it seemed that nothing was being done.

Well, something is being done.

For example: 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide, Inc., the innovative San Ramon, California-based chain, has invited all of the members of the military community to work out for free at any of its 400-plus facilities over this Memorial Day weekend. Carl Liebert III, the company’s CEO and, himself, a Navy veteran, says, “Memorial Day is particularly special to me. We’re proud to show our respect to those who serve our great nation by dedicating this special weekend to them.”

24 Hour and Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc., the Venice, California-company that’s the force behind Spinning, as well as an IHRSA associate member, also participate actively in Ride 2 Recovery, a national effort that helps fund mental and physical rehabilitation programs for the military that focus on cycling.

Other clubs and other companies have launched their own initiatives, some of which I’ve heard about, and others that I haven’t yet learned about.

So, yes, something is being done.

But the current members of the military and the nation’s veterans deserve so much more than individual, short-term expressions of gratitude and offers of modest assistance, no matter how well-intentioned and well-executed they might be. They deserve, to my way of thinking, a sophisticated, ongoing, and national program—provided by our industry—that does all it can to promote their health, fitness, and happiness.

They have served us. Let us now, if we possibly can, serve them

To learn more about the challenges being faced by the members of our military, log on to the Website of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of Americans, www.iava.org.

To see some of their faces and read their stories about transitioning to civilian life, click here.

Wednesday
May262010

CBI Goes Greener!

By Jennifer H. McInerney

Those of you who regularly read “Green Scene,” my bimonthly column in CBI magazine, may be interested in this latest development: on Monday, we here at CBI decreased our paper-printing output by nearly 100%!

Let me back up…You see, the magazine you receive each month doesn’t just come out perfectly the first time around; there’s a lengthy, laborious process involved. After researching, writing, and editing the articles and various departments, we submit all of the issue’s text to our design team. They take our words and lay them out with the images we’ve collected, and e-mail us back a set of portable document format files, or PDFs. Prior to Monday, we could view the PDFs on-screen, but we were unable to make any edits unless we printed the pages out, marked them up, and faxed them back to the design team. After our designers made the corrections, they’d e-mail us another set of PDFs, and we’d go through the whole process again (and so on, and so forth).

Imagine all that wasted paper—on both ends of our operation—month after month. Yes, we recycled it all…but, still, it was painful to watch all those sheets of paper needlessly spooling off the printer.

And then, on Monday, our editorial office had Adobe Acrobat Pro installed. I know—it sounds like such a small, mundane upgrade, but it has increased our internal efficiency exponentially! Now, we can make edits directly to the PDF files and e-mail them back to our designers, without printing out a single page of our 100-page plus magazine.

As CBI’s resident “Green Queen” (my unofficial title, of course), I’m beyond jubilant! If I had a contingent of royal attendants, I’d command them to summon the trumpets to herald the news: We’re saving paper! We’re saving time! We’re saving money! We’re greener than ever before!

Now that our office has eliminated our primary reason for printing out paper, perhaps we can go 100% paperless in the near future…and get rid of our printer altogether.

While we’re on the topic, did you know that CBI magazine now comes in a digital-only format? Click here to read it now.

And if you’d like to request a hold on your print copy of the magazine and sign up to receive the digital-only version, simply e-mail cbi@ihrsa.org.

Monday
May242010

HR Labor Laws

Brad Wilkins, Donna Russell, and Keith Callahan discuss HR labor laws and the responsibilities of employers:

Q: “When opening a new training studio and hiring full time, salary employees what forms need to be provided to the employee and what files do we need to keep on file as the employer from an HR/labor law standpoint? Any where to look up this kind of information?”

A: You asked a great question that a lot of small business owners are unaware of; yet they need to be to protect the business. I hope this helps!

The list of documents an employer must keep to comply with federal regulations is extensive. Therefore, Federal records retention laws are in place requiring all employers to keep records (often for many years) of all their employees and business transactions. For an example, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) requires that employers retain all documents pertaining to taxes; such as payroll and other income tax-related documents (at least fifteen years), W-4 forms (at least four years), and records pertaining to unemployment, Social Security, and Medicare taxes (all at least four years).

“...it is best to check with legal counsel in the state in which you live to verify that you are in compliance with Federal and State mandates”

Outside of the tax records conundrum, you will also need to maintain all records of employment (e.g. hiring and firing decisions, promotions and demotions)… which was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to enforce non-discrimination requirements in the workplace.

Below is a list of forms you may want to consider as a starting point for your business; but as always, it is best to check with legal counsel in the state in which you live to verify that you are in compliance with Federal and State mandates.

Pre-employment forms:

  1. Application
  2. Background check forms
  3. Resume
  4. Offer letter

Employment Forms:

  1. I-9 Form
  2. W-4 Forms
  3. Licenses, certificates (copy)
  4. Benefit Deduction forms ( 401k, Medical, Dental, etc)
  5. Personal information form (name, address, phone, etc)
  6. Confidentiality form
  7. Emergency Contact form
  8. Policy and procedure receipt form
  9. Harassment awareness form (which should include training)

Other Forms:

  1. Disciplinary actions
  2. Employment actions

Also, the below links can help you get started in finding the information you may need:

Brad Wilkins, Assistant General Manager & Commercial Club Consultant
Cooper Fitness Center
bwilkins@cooperfitnesscenter.com
www.cooperfitnesscenter.com

A: For information on payroll and federal tax issues, employers should contact:

Department of the Treasury
Office of Public Correspondence
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20220
202-622-2000
202-6222-6415 (fax)
http://www.irs.ustreas.gov
http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/formspubs

For information on payroll and state tax issues, employers should contact your state's Department of Revenue.

I suggest you purchase the BLR Employee Compensation Manual. The BLR Website is www.blr.com (Negotiate the price). BLR has lots of invaluable written materials.

Keep your employment records for three years after employee is terminated.
New hires should complete a W-4 Federal Tax Form (2010 W-4 Form attached), M-4 MA State Tax Form, I-9 Form (attached) with 2 acceptable forms of I.D. listed on the I-9 Form. The I-9 Form with two (2) I.D.’s should be kept in a separate file should you get audited.

Meal Breaks: no employee may be required to work for more than 6 consecutive hours without an interval of at least 30 minutes for a meal. The break does not have to be paid.

Over-Time: Non-exempt employees, i.e. front desk staff must be paid over-time (time and a half) when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

Donna Russell, Director of Human Resources
Fitcorp
drussell@FITCORP.com
FITCORP.com

"You can check with your payroll processing company for specifics and they can often supply you with copies of what you will need. “

A: For the employee, you'll need to supply a copy of your Employee Handbook, a Letter of Agreement outlining their compensation and a Job Description. For your employee file, you'll need to keep a copy of the Letter of Agreement with their and your signature and their job description along with the completed Federal I-9 verifying eligibility to work within the US and their original W-4 for withholding of taxes.

You can check with your payroll processing company for specifics and they can often supply you with copies of what you will need. The I-9 and the W-4 can be downloaded from US Govt. websites. Beyond any forms needed for the employee file.

I would caution you to not necessarily default to “Salary Employees” and “Full Time” employees. Carefully evaluate the cost of these types of positions and compensation as payroll will probably be your number one cost and difficult to control and change once your have hired.

Keith Callahan, G.M. / Managing Partner
Manchester Athletic Club
kcallahan@blueskycorp.com

Monday
May242010

Rehab: The Great Equalizer

By Jon Feld

Recently, my 16-year-old step-son had to undergo some fairly extensive hip surgery. Jake’s a hockey goalie, and the years spent in the butterfly position had taken their toll on his body. Based on the recommendation of his doctor, we had the procedure done at the renowned Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.

I was amazed at the work that went on there. Jake had seven different procedures, all done arthroscopically. The day of his surgery, he was rehabbing on an upright bike. And in great pain. Here’s why it resonated with me: At my club, we have several personal trainers who work with rehab referrals. Each week, I see these people slowly and painstakingly working through the simplest of exercises and I don’t think much about it. The week we were at the clinic gave me a profound understanding of just how difficult coming back from an injury can be.

Imagine being in a room with 30 grimacing, grunting people, all straining under the smallest of physical loads. I saw several professional athletes and geeks just like me with tears welling in their eyes as they struggled against the resistance of therapists guiding their walks with rubber tubes. It gave me pause. Whenever I think of a pro athlete dealing with an injury, I simply assume that their endurance levels, pain thresholds, and advanced conditioning will allow them to bounce back in a heartbeat.

Pro or not, I learned first-hand how truly tough it is to—hopefully—get back to your previous form after a surgery like this. (Jake, for example, was walking without crutches within three weeks of his surgery; yet he won’t be done with rehab for several months.) More important, when I got back to my club, my peers dealing with injuries became more real to me. And it gave me a genuine appreciation for the job of the personal trainers aiding these folks. I listened to the ways they led them through their exercises and heard honest empathy and a refusal to let them quit. It gave me a new perspective—and hopefully a little more humility—on what it takes to work through rehab issues. When we’re without pain—and I’ve never been unable to work out due to injury—it’s easy to take those issues for granted.

Friday
May212010

More Winners in CBI’s Photo Contest!

By Mia Coen

As many of you know—or have personally experienced—IHRSA and CBI’s first-ever Club Photo Competition this year was a huge success! Over 200 photos were submitted from 57 club companies, representing nine countries.

As coordinator of the project, I’d have to say that judging these photos was no easy feat. All of the submissions were unique in that they represented different clubs from all over the world. Our judges, including myself, had a difficult time of it: we had to pick the photos that were not only the most visually striking, but also those that conveyed a strong sense of a club’s unique experience. In fact, it was so difficult that we ended up doling out 20 additional prizes! These awards of merit and distinction were given to the clubs that we thought deserved special recognition for outstanding individual photos.

To name a few…

Cedardale Health and Fitness, based in Haverhill, Massachusetts, received an award of distinction for “Community Involvement,” reflective of the photograph taken at the club’s holiday parade last year. We hadn’t seen many photos like this one and, by the looks of it, the staff is wholeheartedly involved in not only their jobs at the club, but also their community.

World Class, a large gym chain based in Russia, submitted a photo that resembled something out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This picture, featuring Michael Saifulin, World Class’ master group trainer, and Olga Sloutsker, World Class’ founder and president, stunningly portrayed the empowering nature and beauty of fitness, as the pair dueled mid-air in a medieval fortress surrounded by fog. For this, World Class received an award of distinction for “Most Dramatic.”

One of our favorite photos from Fitness Factory, the Taiwan-based health club chain, is a panoramic shot of the front lobby of its Jiu-Ru location. It’s simply mesmerizing! We had to distinguish this photo with an award for “One-of-a-Kind.”

Every photo has a story behind it. For us, each photo told a story about the clubs from which they came, and, in turn, illustrated what IHRSA does on a global level, but also what fitness does for people all over the world.

Congratulations to all of the photo contest participants! We truly appreciate the time you took to show us what your club is all about.

To check out all the winners and read the Photo Contest feature in CBI magazine’s March issue, click here. And stay tuned for next year’s contest!

Wednesday
May192010

Pro Shop Pros...Plus!

By Patricia Glynn

In this month’s edition of CBI magazine, in the roundtable feature ‘Riding Out the Recession: Five Pro Shop Experts Share the Secrets that Ensure Success,’ I reported that retail spending, at the onset of 2010, had finally begun to recover. Happily, the trend has continued—and with seemingly no end in sight: according to Jharonne Martis, director of consumer research for Thomson Reuters, the Manhattan-based information company, the retail industry is “definitely showing an upward trend.” For January, the company accounts, same-store sales rose a robust 3.3%; then, for March and April collectively, sales grew even further, ending at roughly 4.8%. “Consumers,” Martis told the New York Times, “are spending.” Finally!

On that upbeat note, I’d like to share with you some additional insight provided by our five accomplished Pro Shop pros. As a reminder, our panel consisted of: Lara Price, retail buyer for the Coop, the 800-square-foot shop within the Cooper Fitness Center at Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas; Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, president of The Club Synergy Group, a consultancy in River Edge, New Jersey; Eric Ricard, national director of spas at five SportsClub/LA locations, which are under the direction of Boston-based Millennium Partners Sports Club Management LLC; Lynda Reis, manager of the 800-square-foot pro shop at Chicago’s Midtown Tennis Club; and William Banos, vice president/COO of Gold’s Gym Los Angeles, part of the international chain of clubs.

CBI: When hiring for a retail position, what traits and skills are most desirable in a potential associate? And throughout employment, what sort of training/educational protocol will help staffers reach their utmost potential?

Lara Price: Personality is a key factor. You can easily teach someone to run a cash register and tag clothing, but you can’t teach personality. When hiring, we look for an outgoing, friendly person who will genuinely enjoy being a customer’s personal shopper. We try to find a person who we feel customers will connect with, someone they’ll enjoy just stopping into the shop and chatting with. Because great service is one of our core values, each of our staff members participates in extensive customer-service training. We work to ensure that they’re motivated, continually, and that they’re able to please the customer. Ultimately, we want to help them deliver what is, in the end, a great shopping experience.

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian: The size of your shop will determine whether you need a dedicated full-time employee. As for the best person, they ought to be impeccably organized and very charismatic. They should be comfortable talking to anyone, at anytime. Conversely, they’ll also know when it’s best to just step back and allow the customer to browse. With regard to training, vendors should provide onsite instruction or, at the very least, a Webinar demo. Additionally, beyond basic product information, ongoing sales training is necessary. Staff should be instructed in varying selling techniques: how to identify customer needs; how to offer solutions in the form of product; and how to up-sell. This sort of education needs to be continually managed and updated regularly. Consistency translates into success.

Eric Ricard: We focus on hiring individuals who have sales experience coupled with a customer service background. And to ensure that our staff reach their potential, we offer extensive, comprehensive training in multiple areas, including sales, merchandise, and customer service.

Lynda Reis: Our associates are really vital to our success, particularly in terms of repeat business. We’re constantly striving to find ways to both improve our customers’ experience and to set ourselves apart from the competition. With that goal in mind, our employees all participate in a training program called “beREMARKABLE.” The goal is to teach staff how to build relationships with clients and how to make the shopping experience truly exceptional. A primary element is role-playing. Staff will act out different scenarios and, in the process, learn how to positively resolve a variety of situations. Overall, the program helps keep our associates engaged and motivated, while also educating them on best industry practices. As an adjunct, we also partner with equipment manufacturers who provide educational seminars. It’s ideal, as it keeps staff up to date with the latest industry information.

William Banos: We’ve put into place an entire orientation program designed to prepare our staff in all areas of retail service. One component of our education involves visits to high-end establishments in the area. By observing the typically outstanding techniques they employ, we then learn how to better serve our clients.

CBI: How do you determine which products to stock?

Lara Price: Learning what the latest and greatest trends are requires observation. Be attentive and proactive. In particular, be aware of what’s going on in your own club—get to know the members and find out what they need, what they prefer. It can be a bit of a trial-and-error exercise at first. But you’ll soon come to know what your clientele will prefer. I know now, for instance, that the color green, for this location, does not sell. In general, we tend to bring in clothing that works both for workouts and for when a member leaves to run errands—items that are functional yet stylish. Also, people recognize our company name, which is quite helpful; they come in looking for Dr. Cooper’s vitamins and books.

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian: You’ll want to pay attention to trends (eco-friendly “green” items, for instance, are very big right now) and make it your job to know what’s out there, what’s new. Also, be aware of the demographic you’re serving. Ideally, you ought to stay current and change product at least six times per year. Of course, in general, you’ll want to offer necessities, such as towels and locker locks. Other products to consider include gift baskets, body care items, pedometers, apparel, etc. Branded items are always good—T-shirts, water bottles, bags. Selling these items will promote your business when members utilize them out in the community. Tie-ins, too, can determine product; you may offer a stress-relief clinic and then sell related products, such as books, CDs, aromatherapy items, supplements, and such. And, when selecting a vendor, be sure to ask lots of questions, such as what their minimum order is and what the return policy is.

Eric Ricard: We seek to carry a variety of health and fitness products and it’s a team effort as far as determining what the next “hot” item is. Also, since we have clubs throughout the country, what we sell in a particular location depends on the needs of the people in that particular market. To figure out what will sell, we listen to the client—listening to customers’ needs is crucial.

Lynda Reis: We work to keep our apparel current and to feature the latest technology in racquets and shoes. Also, we’ll gladly fill special orders if there’s something we don’t carry. Customers really appreciate when we go that extra mile. When deciding what inventory to stock, I depend a great deal on feedback from both associates and customers. I think having a good eye is helpful, but what’s particularly important is utilizing current market data to determine future decisions. By analyzing past trends, we gain a better understanding of how to proceed.

William Banos: We have a dedicated retail director who handles product selection. She pays attention to prior sales—what sold, what didn’t. Additionally, she’ll visit trade shows to see what’s new and what’s available. Finally, she’ll keep in contact with members, listening to them, finding out what they want to buy. Also, we have our logo products—these are always very popular among both members and non-members alike. People will come in just to buy Gold’s Gym branded items. Then, along with specialty products, which maybe aren’t readily found elsewhere, we stock all the essentials and items that members may have forgotten at home. 

Monday
May172010

Air Quality Standards

Fred Hoffman and Hervey Lavoie discuss air quality standards in health clubs:

Q: “Are there any Industry standards on facility air quality?”

A: Health clubs and fitness centers present a challenging task. Maintaining air temperatures, relative humidity and adequate ventilation in a variety of spaces which accommodate differing numbers of people at different times of the day, and for with a wide range of activities. And although there are recommended guidelines from reputable sources in the health club industry, standards on air quality, often based on building codes, may differ from state to state or country to country. Illustrating this, ACSM’s Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines (3rd edition) provides health club design and construction guidelines for maintaining air quality in all areas of a facility, while ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning engineers), has recently made available The Indoor Air Quality Guide (for large buildings).

Club operators agree that to ensure a comfortable, healthy and safe environment, it is essential that the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems be sufficient and well designed. So, whether building a new facility or renovating an existing one, plan to hire a qualified mechanical engineer who can provide the expertise necessary for proper design of the HVAC in your facility.

Here are some of the issues that should always be considered:

  • Room size (square feet or meters), and ceiling height
  • The activities taking place in the room or space, and occupancy
  • Number of air exchanges per hour
  • Fresh air and recycled air, Ideal temperatures, and condensation
  • A monitoring system for CO2 levels
  • Pollutants
  • Green considerations
  • Preventive maintenance program
Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., Director of International Services
The Club Synergy Group
fred@fredhoffman.com

A: There are no published standards for air quality in Athletic Clubs and fitness centers. The matter of air quality in buildings is, however, a general subject addressed in various building codes and ASHRAE standards. These standards are very prescriptive in nature and will govern any indoor air “conditioning” that is designed by a professional engineer, These standards would apply to all but the smallest of facilities. There is an emerging standard that is increasingly being applied to the built environment. Those are LEED standards, which are related to sustainable or “green” design. The measures outlined in these standards are widely published, just Google LEED Indoor Air Quality or check out the scorecard at www.usgbc.org.

These standards can be easily applied to an athletic club or fitness center. The benefit of complying with these standards, even if you do not intend to seek an official LEED certification, is that you will have a well documented defense against any claim for damages by litigious individuals who may claim that your building is making them sick.

Hervey Lavoie, Architect and President
Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative
hlavoie@olcdesigns.com

Monday
May172010

Helping Group Exercise Programs to Shine

Shannon Fable

By Jean Suffin

Group fitness is too often underutilized as a critical membership and retention tool. A strong group fitness director can grow your programming and the quality of your instructors and add a tremendous amount of value to your club.

Shannon Fable, a world-renowned fitness industry veteran, 2006 ACE Group Fitness Instructor of the Year, and one of the top three finalists for 2009 IDEA Instructor of the Year, is the principal founder of Sunshine Fitness Resources (SFR), a consulting business that works with clubs to help them hire and train effective group fitness managers and directors. SFR, based in Boulder, Colorado, represents some of the top fitness professionals in the world. The company provides instructors with career-development resources, develops programming and training for new products, and works with clubs to hire leaders and grow their programming.

Fable says that group fitness is undervalued. “If you study the number of people who head into your classroom compared to your total number of swipes for the entire facility, you might be surprised to find how many people this department affects. Class attendees tend to be the most ‘connected,’ socially oriented of the members and they tend to utilize the most pay-for services in a facility, like the spa, lessons, childcare, and café.

“Improving group fitness offerings begins with hiring the right manager with experience managing people. Look for a combination of educator, customer service agent, master scheduler, and nurturer,” she advises.

Another issue to pay heed to: Often, clubs promote their most popular and successful instructors into group fitness management positions without training them how to oversee a staff, a budget, and an effective program. “Having a cohesive group of individuals who are committed and vested in your club is the beginning of a great program. We teach clubs how to find good talent, what to pay them, and how to hire a manager who will transform their group fitness programming.”

Education is really SFR’s biggest initiative. Fable wants to train instructors to avoid simply latching onto the latest and greatest fad. Rather, she’s interested in bringing back base-level education that helps hone essential skills in movement, class design, and communication. “Internal education is so critical. We give managers the tools to be able to train their own staff and continue to improve the end-product for the member,” Fable explains.

Fable travels constantly and, as a result of her personal experiences and frustrations with communicating with her own group fitness staff, she developed GroupExPro.com, a software program to enhance communication within group fitness and personal training staffs.

"GroupExPro.com was born out of my own need to be able to run the group fitness departments I was in charge of from abroad. There was an abundance of e-mails that weren’t getting read or tracked, and the need to keep track of subs was getting overwhelming. I needed a way to streamline communication via the Internet because the group fitness manager position is 24/7 and always code red. Groupexpro.com tracks what people are reading and generates a paper trail of subs while maintaining a definitive contact list. I have used the software for over four years and could never manage without it.”

Now, Fable sells GroupExPro.com to clubs and other group fitness managers.

“Communication is the name of the game, and it’s lacking in most clubs. We want to help raise the bar for instructors, trainers, and managers so that clubs can really succeed in offering their members programming that will keep them motivated and living the fitness lifestyle.”

Friday
May142010

Dare to Be 100

By Mia Coen 

Some people can’t imagine what it would be like to live to 100. Some people can’t even imagine 80! But how about running your 40th marathon at the age of 80?

It was no sweat for Dr. Walter Bortz, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Recognized as one of America’s most distinguished scientific experts on aging and longevity, he’s living proof that the benefits of exercise extend beyond the point in life when we think we’re “over the hill.”

After completing the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon on April 19th, he said, “I wanted to show what an organism can do this late in life.” He indeed showed, if not proved, that it can be done. Dr. Bortz has been running for 40 years, since the death of his father. Running has become a sort of therapy for him, and he’s been participating in marathons ever since.

It took him eight hours to complete the trek across the Boston ’burbs and into the city. Hundreds gathered at sunset to see the last of the runners cross the finish line on Boylston Street.

Dr. Bortz reminisced about his first days of running in his essay, Running, Aging, and Human Potential.The Boston Marathon, then the only world-class running event open to the running-around slug, appealed to my Walter Mitty personality. So I entered and finished my first marathon in 1971 in 5 hours and 5 minutes, as I recall.” Not bad, for a then-40-year-old doctor, who’s now double the age that he was.  

It’s physically evident that Dr. Bortz practices what he preaches. His career and research are focused on “physical exercise in the promotion of robust aging.” He is the former co-chairman of the American Medical Association’s Task Force on Aging, former president of The American Geriatric Society, and current chairman of the Medical Advisory Board for the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation, as well as a senior advisor to Healthy Silicon Valley, a community collaborative effort that addresses the soaring incidence of obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Bortz has published over 130 medical articles and authored numerous books, including We Live Too Short and Die Too Long, Dare to Be 100, Living Longer for Dummies, and Diabetes Danger.

All this—and he still has the time and energy to train for marathons. Inspiring all of us to dare to be 100, Dr. Bortz’s story is certainly moving us here at CBI.

Wednesday
May122010

Anchored by Anka

By Patricia Amend

No matter who we are, what we do, or what we know, we can all benefit from having others care enough to gently challenge us now and then…

One evening about a month ago, I darted into my local Boston Sports Club in downtown Boston, shortly after 9 p.m. I wanted to squeeze in 45 minutes of speed walking, jogging, and sprinting intervals on the treadmill, and do a little stretching, before the club closed at 10.  I had been rushed all day, and I didn’t even take time to take my coat and workout bag to the locker room downstairs. Instead, I dropped those items on a chair that sits in front of a long table near the door, a common practice for many members whenever they “pop in.”

But something changed my hurried mindset at the front desk.

It was a white board, on which someone had scrawled, “What Does Fitness Mean to You?” I stopped and read the possibilities, then went on to check in. “I’m so glad that you asked this question,” I told the pleasant young woman as I passed her my keychain. “I know that fitness can mean something different to people at different times in their lives. Or even on different days.”

“I just love fitness and I love to get people to think about it,” she said. She looked right at me and I could tell she wasn’t just being social; she meant it. I asked her name. It’s Anka, and she’s a personal trainer at the club.

What Anka did was get me to stop, have a conversation, and think about why I was there. It was a “member opportunity,” and Anka seized upon it.

Since then, I’ve been noticing the attention she seems to give everyone she sees. Anka also takes the time to photocopy articles of interest and put them on the front table, and writes “Anka’s Tip of the Day” on the white board. I’m certain that she does similar things that I know nothing about; it seems to be part of who she is.

All of the front desk people at this club are also notoriously kind and friendly. I always get a big smile and an acknowledgement when I check in, and a nice send-off when I leave. The manager, Krystyna, greets me pleasantly, every time I see her in the club. She did the same today, when I saw her on the street.

However, that encounter with Anka made a lasting impression. Now, whenever I walk through the door, I recall that conversation and it helps me be more “in the moment,” and focus on what I’m doing and why. As a result, I get more out of every workout.

The irony is that I have written dozens of articles and several books on fitness, what it means, and how to get the most of from it. Yet, she got me to listen.

Thanks, Anka! And thanks to everyone at my club. You all make a difference. Your passion compels you to do what you do so well.