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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Past attendees rave about IHRSA Institute

Suffice to say that Lisa Gorsline got something out of the IHRSA Institute.

The president and general manager at Corpus Christi Athletic Club in Texas not only attended the last event in 2009 - one year after her inaugural Institute – but she was the first person to register for this year’s event.

“I didn’t know what to expect in 2008 but from my very first day I was really happy (I decided to go) and was excited to be there,” she said. “My experience was a lot better than I expected it to be. The education sessions, as well as the team (building), inspired me and helped me boost morale (back at Corpus Christi). It took me to the next level and helped me learn new management skills. To be able to bring that back to the club was phenomenal.”

The IHRSA Institute, which is Aug. 5-8 at Kenan-Flagler Business School on the campus of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is back after a five-year hiatus. The all-inclusive event features graduate-level education with top-notch educators – many of whom are Institute graduates - in small classroom settings. Over the four days there are many networking, team building and social events that give attendees plenty of time to commiserate with classmates and educators alike.

Bill McBride, former IHRSA board president, is a past attendee who is now on the faculty where he will be leading two classes and is part of a roundtable discussion. He is a true supporter of the Institute – not only is he and a few from his new Active Sports Clubs making their way to North Carolina, but one of his top priorities when he was board president was to help bring the event back.

Bill McBride“I truly believe the IHRSA Institute is the best learning opportunity for club owners, managers and department heads,” McBride said. “The smaller group settings … dives into subject matter make it truly a rewarding and valuable training experience. Most attendees build friendships, connections and networking support systems that last for careers. It truly is a remarkable program.”

For Gorsline, the support system still holds true. She has four or so colleagues she is in contact on a regular basis, as well as meeting up during the IHRSA Annual International Convention & Trade Show in March.

“Normally in our industry, if you are experiencing a problem or situation at your club, most likely someone else is in the industry experienced it, too. The Institute is a great way see how people have dealt with the situation I was going through,” Gorsline said.

The event is leadership and management focused, with subjects like strategic planning (for both management and department heads), membership sales, retention, financial management, operations and more. Attendees range from owners and club managers to up-and-comers in the industry.

The days start out with morning workouts and a networking breakfast before diving into education classes, roundtable discussions and networking lunch. The day ends with dinner and team building exercises.

Teachers include industry leaders like Justin Tamsett, Alan Leach, McBride, Bryan O'Rourke and Rick Caro; IHRSA staffers Helen Durkin, Amy Banthan, Melissa Rodriguez and Tom Richards; and UNC professors Christopher Bingham and Alison Fragale.

With a great curriculum and spectacular teachers, it’s no wonder that Gorsline has been twice and will be taking in her third in a few weeks. She certainly suggests past attendees to consider going back year after year.

Lisa Gorsline“I came back (from 2008) with so many different techniques as far as managing, marketing and sales, that I was eager to go back for a second year (to learn more),” she said. “I didn’t expect it be better than my first year, but I ended up getting more great ideas. If you go in with open mind, and come back with one extra promotion or idea or something that you can implement in your club, it is well worth it.

“At both Institutes I attended I came back with new ideas and new promotions that helped me develop professionally. I think sometimes when we are in our clubs on a day-to-day basis we can’t ... recognize the problems and weaknesses that we need to work on.”

For more on the Institute, including the brochure and schedule, visit



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