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Spot in brain that motivates mice to exercise is discovered

Image courtesy of ratch0013 at FreeDigitalPhotos.netLooking for some reading this long Labor Day wekeend (OK, for those in the United States)? This Week in the Fitness Industry should take up a small chunk of that time.

As always, a wide range of subjects:

  • part of brain responsible for exercise motivation found in mice
  • workouts in space
  • link between obesity and certain cancers
  • abdominal obesity in youth leveling off

Check them all out in This Week in the Fitness Industry.


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Company keeps clients, members InTouch

InTouch's booth at the IHRSA 2014 trade show.Perhaps the most vexing issue health and fitness clubs face today is how to keep their members. Reverse sides of the same coin, the retention/attrition conundrum is the bugaboo of most clubs, from small studios and gyms to massive high-end, multipurpose facilities.

As a certified personal trainer, Scott Johnston has dealt with this challenge from both the club and the member side. Over the years, he’s watched as friends and family members made serious overtures to join clubs, only to be forgotten.

The problem, Johnston realized, is that club staff often fail to stay in touch with both prospects and current members - hence the name of the company he cofounded with Nico Bot: InTouch Technology, headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, now a leading provider of health club sales and retention software.

“Many people walk into a club, express interest, but hesitate, saying they’d like to think about it first,” says Rachel Lai, marketing manager at InTouch. “Scott saw that, too often, no follow-up e-mails were going out, and no calls were being made to these prospects,”

So, four years ago, Johnston and Bot launched their Web-based communication management system that’s helping to revolutionize the way clubs generate leads for memberships and personal training and follow-up - and encourage people to stay once they join.

Both have extensive backgrounds to lever- age: In addition to his personal training experience, Johnston spent over 20 years in sales, marketing, and management in the high tech industry. Bot, too, is a veteran of high tech, having held senior-level technical positions where he provided strategic direction in enterprise resource planning (ERP) business processes to a number of Europe’s largest corporations.

InTouch in action

But can InTouch make a difference? The answer is yes.

InTouch guarantees that every lead and new member will receive a mini- mum of seven to 11 points of contact. And when clubs don’t drop the ball, the results can be impressive.

Client clubs (1,000 locations in 17 countries) generate leads through mobile text marketing, Facebook and other social media channels, and member referrals. A nightly report on daily sales activity automatically schedules follow-up calls, and sends automated messages to leads and members.


Year founded: 2010

Headquarters: Vancouver, British Columbia

Employees: 15+

Number of clients: 1,000 locations in 17 countries

Management team: Stewart Marshall, CFO; Claire Kendrick, VP of Operations; Collin Peters, Chief Architect; Rachel Lai, Marketing Manager

“Clubs who work with InTouch to increase the frequency and quality of communication with leads and members may see a 30% increase in revenue through memberships, personal training appointments, and improved member retention,” Lai points out.

And while the company markets its service as a lead and sales management tool, it can be used to focus on retention and attrition, which also are serious issues, says InTouch board chairman, Dag Lee, who was introduced to the company when he served as the CEO of SATS, the largest fitness company in the Nordic region. “Companies tend to concentrate on generating leads and closing sales because that’s what they know how to do,” he contends. “However, we’re all about continuous communication. Our philosophy is to consider the entire life cycle of the member experience.”

Innovations in the offing

And the innovations continue.

In March, InTouch debuted a beta version of its new iPad Welcome Kiosk at IHRSA 2014 in San Diego, and introduced its Management Group Training sessions for club staff who want to learn to use InTouch Follow-Up more effectively.

Follow-Up stores all sales activity, from lead generation through member- ship retention, so all calls, appointments, tasks, and touch points are documented. Thus, managers can track employees’ activities, and hold them accountable, either as a team or individually. Key reports are automatically e-mailed each night, enabling managers to stay on top of sales and club performance.

In addition, InTouch has partnered with ABC Financial, an industry leader in billing and club management software and payment processing, to provide customers with a seamless way to enter, close, and manage sales.

InTouch Follow-Up features Smart Match, which has been integrated with ABC Financial’s DataTrak, permitting the transfer of lead and member data between the two systems.

And, in early May, InTouch announced that it had enhanced Smart Match to automatically sync lead and member status from DataTrak to InTouch Follow-Up on an hourly basis. When Smart Match finds leads or member records in one system but not in the other, it creates corresponding new member records. This newly enhanced Smart Match tool ensures that no leads are lost, and that all new members, whether they join online or at the club, automatically receive the correct follow-up communications.

For Lee, it’s all about engagement. “If members don’t know anyone at their club, they’re probably not going to have a great experience,” he opines. “But if clubs can connect members with each other - maybe it’s through train- ing for a marathon - then you begin to create stickiness, which helps retention. We create stickiness with good vertical, club-to-member, and strong horizontal, member-to-member, communication.”


Family to educate about fitness on 50-week, around-the-world trip

Paul Brown knows how to get a point across. After all, he was named the 2014 Presenter of the Year by the Australian Fitness Network.

It is safe to say that his latest endeavor will be heard by many and most likely taken to heart by the majority. We’re talking possibly tens of millions of people. That is his hope anyway.

Paul and his wife, Jacqui, are huge promoters of fighting the battle against childhood obesity, sedentary behavior and type 2 diabetes, especially among youth.

So the two industry veterans, along with their 9-year-old son, Ben, are hitting the road for almost a year to promote sports and healthy lifestyles to children and families alike.

But this isn’t a venture that will see them on a stage with a PowerPoint presentation on a giant screen behind them with a couple hundred people with laptops and notebooks jotting down key points. 

The Browns are putting on 50 Sports in 50 Weeks, a globe-trotting adventure that will take them from their home in Australia to Siberia, the United States, Europe, back to Australia, and many, many destinations in between. At each spot they will learn the intricacies and fundamentals from a well-known athlete in the sport, often in an iconic spot or stadium. In some cases they will watch a championship event, taking in the sport as a spectator.

Read on to see where they are going, who they are learning from, and more.

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IHRSA/Fitness Brasil going strong at 15

Fitness Brasil President Waldyr Soares opens the 2013 show.When the IHRSA/Fitness Brasil Latin American Conference & Trade Show first opened its doors 15 years ago it was a much different event than the one Latin American and South America will see this week.

Then again, it’s not like the event that Fitness Brasil President Waldry Soares put on in 2000 was the norm.

Back then the industry it was about physical education – working your body to look the best it could. There was little about health prevention and quality of life. He went for it regardless of perception and the norm.

"Fifteen years ago, there were no academies in the knowledge that physical exercises were important for longevity. Everyone worked out, but only from the perspective of body worship,” said Soares, in Fitness Business magazine. “Over time, medical research and laboratory examinations made that society passed to understand physical activity as the cheapest remedy, which helped leverage our enterprise.” 

Click here to read on about education, trade shows and a new publication to be unveiled.

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Expect new ideas from fresh faces of IHRSA board

New board members, from left, Jim Zupancic, Derek Gallup and Gustavo Borges.Throughout IHRSA’s 33-year history, the members of IHRSA’s board of directors have agreed on one thing: their four-year tenure has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of their professional lives.

Serving on the association’s board offers a unique opportunity to work with the best, the brightest, and the most prestigious group of business leaders in the health and fitness industry. It also affords a chance to help set the strategic course for both IHRSA itself and the industry at large.

“There’s nothing like it for individuals who are looking to share their expertise, affect public policy, and, potentially, make a difference in the lives of millions of people,” says Joe Moore, the president and CEO of IHRSA.

Each year, as two to four current board members complete their terms of service, their positions are filled by newly elected members. This process ensures that seasoned and new members sit side by side, facilitating an exchange of ideas and a balance of views, which ensures that IHRSA—and the industry – will move forward.

This month, CBI introduces you to the three newest board members - Gustavo Borges, Derek Gallup, and Jim Zupancic.

Read on to learn more on each new board member.

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