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Attendees have hard time describing impact of IHRSA Institute

IHRSA Institute attendees got a lot out of the education sessions.IHRSA can write stories, blow up social media and get countless testimonials, but until you attend an event you can’t comprehend the breadth of the learning, networking and commiserating. 

This may not be any more true than during the IHRSA Institute - part because there is nothing like it anywhere in the industry, but also because it’s been five years since it was last offered.

The IHRSA Institute was held last week, Aug. 5-8,  at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler Business School.

“It was fan-tastic,” said Missy Moss, who paused for effect. “I am having a hard time finding the one word that can describe the entire week.”

Lisa Gorsline, general manager and president at Corpus Christi Athletic Club, attended the Institute for the third time

“It was an amazing experience,” Gorsline said. “I enjoyed the quality time with the vendors, as well as my peers. I established priceless business-to-business friendships that will last a lifetime!

“I can’t think of any other industry where people can get together and meet for the first time and already have so much in common. The group was eager to share, and we all had a high respect of one another.”

Michele Glaeser, a first-time attendee who attended as the John McCarthy Merit Scholarship winner, went in with open eyes since she is new to her general manager position and had never been to a fitness industry event.

“The Institute was great. It was well organized, the session topics were outstanding with a lot of variety that covered all of the avenues,” she said. “It was very worthwhile for me, especially being new to my management position.”

Moss, Glaeser and Gorsline all had been interviewed for stories leading up to the Institute. A few weeks ago they had talked about what they expected. Suffice to say, their expectations have been succeeded.

“From the time you arrived (on the campus) … it really set the stage for the week,” Moss said. “It was comfortable with not a lot of hassles.”

The logo swap networking event was a favorite. Here, Celeste Goakey and Sal Pellegrino make a deal.The beauty of the Institute is the education the attendees received could be implemented both immediately and of the long-term variety.

Moss, general manager at Nike Athletic Centers in Beaverton, Ore., is actually using much of what she absorbed in Bill McBride’s Strategic Planning for Club Executives education session for a meeting this week. 

“All of those things he hit on – designing plans and delivering, having a vision statement and mission statement, belief systems and core values – we identify with them (at Nike),” she explained. “He said they shouldn’t be things you look at every six months. He said to be sure to be living and breathing it every day.”

Glaeser also said she, too, will be taking what she learned in North Carolina and employing it at Adventure 212 Fitness in Stevens Point, Wis. Just from talking to colleagues she learned of some supplement options to offer at the facility. She has already talked to her sales staff for them to reach out and look into it.

One of the areas that could be overlooked are the roundtable sessions. Following education classes, industry leaders would lead discussions in specific club and fitness areas. They were great chances to hear similar stories, issues and successes from peers.

Glaeser said one that Justin Tamsett led on club opportunities and innovation really struck a chord with her.

“It really was an ‘a ha’ moment for me,” she said. “You don’t always have to look at things as a challenge but instead as opportunities to pave the road for the way your facility is going. You have to have a different mindset and think outside the box. To get ahead you need be more innovative and use challenges as opportunities to get ahead in the industry.”

All who attended - there were more than 70 attendees from nine different countries - had a favorite part of the event and went home with numerous ideas, networking connections, and even friends. 

An international moment during the off-campus dinner: Frank Lawrence of Little Rock, Ark., Sami Muranen of Finland, and Alejandro Gutierrez of Columnia.“It is definitely worthwhile – worth your time and the money,”  Glaeser said. “You will walk away with a group of people to network with that is invaluable. I definitely recommend if, whether you are new in the industry or have been in it for sometime.”

Gorsline concurred.

“In our industry we get bombarded with choices to make when it comes to webinars, conventions, and conferences, and it’s hard to determine which ones to attend. But the Institute offers a smaller setting of attendees so you get a lot of one on one with the speakers, vendors and attendees.”

For complete coverage, go to IHRSA Live. For all of the photos, visit the IHRSA Flickr page.


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