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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Professors add to cachet of IHRSA Institute faculty

We tout the IHRSA Institute as “graduate-level education” because of the top-notch instruction, relevant networking and team building events, and a streamlined format. It’s where up-and-comers and those hoping to move up in the health and fitness industry come to learn. 

So it stands to reason that there will be the look and feel of going to college.

Being held at the lush, green University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in a prototypical college town, the look is definitely there. The Institute faculty will also feature two UNC professors – in addition to the strong health and fitness industry leaders speaking – who will instill their knowledge and expertise to the close to 100 attendees, giving it an even more college feel.

The Institute runs Tuesday, Aug. 5, through Friday, Aug. 8, at the Rizzo Conference Center at the Kenan-Flagler Business School on the UNC campus.

“Having two highly acclaimed UNC professors speak only adds to the cachet of the faculty we have for the Institute,” said Marc Gagnon, senior manager, Meetings & Education.

Both professors – Christopher Bingham, associate professor and Phillip Hettleman Fellow of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, and Alison Fragale, Mary Farley Ames Lee Scholar and associate professor of Organizational Behavior – are excited to be part of the return of the Institute as both have interests in health and fitness.

Fragale, who will be running her third half-marathon in Dallas in October, has run a full marathon, does yoga, barre and bike rides and is truly invested in the industry.

Alison Fragale“As a professor in psychology and my passion for fitness, I understand human behavior and motivation,” she said. “Motivation is interesting within health and fitness – how to bust out of a workout rut, boost your motivation to hit the gym early, etc.”

Fragale believes her talk, “Motivation: It’s Not Just for Six-Pack Abs,” is perfect for the Institute. It will cover motivating your team members, but can be adapted for other areas.

“I think this is a great topic and I am looking forward to what professionals in the industry will think about it and how they will engage (in the discussion),” she added.

Bingham calls himself “a huge fitness buff,” despite admitting he doesn’t hit the gym very often. He is an avid snowboarder – a knuckle-dragger from when most resorts didn’t allow them more than 20 years ago – and he has many friends who are personal trainers or are looking to create the next Zumba or P90X.

Bingham believes his talk, “Capturing New Opportunities for Growth and Profitability,” works for any industry.

“My value (to the Institute) will best practices and frameworks that apply to a lot of industries,” he explained. “They aren’t idiosyncratic to a specific industry. One of my keys is bringing the conversation up a level so attendees can see patterns that can help any industry. Then those in attendance are smart enough to see that this is the principle and (they) will know how to apply it (to their industry).”

Christopher BinghamWith his talk geared toward growth and opportunity, Bingham will touch on innovation quite a bit. He said that owners and managers are often slow to innovate. Often it is because they don’t feel the need – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality – or they do in small increments. He said he feels personal trainers and even gym attendees innovating by inventing new equipment or fitness programs.

With so much competition out there - different price points, niche facilities popping up everywhere and smart consumers – clubs can’t afford to stand pat.

Bingham will talk about how to capture new opportunities for growth and profitability, how to facilitate performance-enhancing change, and how to be creative, entrepreneurial and innovative.

“I think this subject really applies to the industry. When you need to change more, then you’ve got to cut back on culture and dial back on procedures and your teams,” he said. “All of that structure creates more inertia and it is harder to change.”

Fragale’s talk will center around EPO (effort, performance, outcomes). It is a researched-based model for understanding and improving workforce motivation. The links between performance management, organizational results and organizational values and cultures will be discussed. 

She believes, like many industries, people are promoted to managerial positions based on seniority, strong work ethic and knowledge of the subject. Experience with running a team is rarely considered, but is always a requirement. 

Loving the industry, which most of those in health and fitness are, is not always enough to make the decisions necessary when in charge of employees and a department, she said.

“True to any industry, most people enter an organization not because they want to be a manager but because they are passionate about the industry,” Fragale said. “This training will be useful because there is no real mechanism to learning how to be a manager.”

Fragale thinks her discussion is perfect for the setting. And being the opening keynote, it should be a great lead-in to an informative four days.

“I think this is a great keynote. It definitely fits in with the framework (of the Institute),” she said. “The first thing that came to mind was how motivation is a central topic when trying to get people to exercise. (Attendees) can take this and use it for their managerial processes.” 

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


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