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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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.

Gustavo Borges brings a profound knowledge of aquatics, competition, club ownership, licensing, and the Brazilian market to the board.

A swimming sensation in his native Brazil, Borges won a silver medal in the 100-meter freestyle event at the 1992 Barcelona Sum- mer Olympics. He competed in the Olympic Games three more times - in Atlanta (1996); Sydney (2000); and Athens (2004), where he won four additional medals. He also participated in the Pan American Games.

Borges currently serves on the Brazilian Olympic Committee; owns and operates five Academia Gustavo Borges swim clubs; and has issued nearly 300 licensees for his swimming program, Metodologia Gustavo Borges.

“I think my experience with high-level sports could make a major contribution to the board,” he says. “The serious athlete has some qualities that are very relevant to entrepreneurs - for example, having a goal and working, with excellence, to achieve a particular result. I’d also like to share my business experience, and some of what I’ve learned while running my operation in Brazil.”

While he resides in São Paulo, Borges is very familiar with the U.S., having attended the University of Michigan in the mid-1990s, where, as one might expect, he swam for the university’s team before graduating with a degree in economics.

Borges feels that his knowledge, both of Brazil and the U.S., will be a major plus for the board. “Richard Bilton, the owner of Companhia Athletica, the Brazilian chain, served on the board for four years, and that was great,” he points out. “I think that,
for an international organization such as IHRSA, having board members representing different parts of the world is an important step toward creating a comprehensive, all-encompassing synergy.”

Derek Gallup recalls falling in love with fitness at the age of six, when he was the youngest participant in a five-mile race in his home- town of Honolulu. A career in fitness seemed a natural, perhaps inevitable choice.

Gallup serves as senior vice president of fitness and retail for New Evolution Ventures (NeV), a private equity firm based in Lafayette, Calif.. Among the club brands in NeV’s extensive portfolio are Crunch, UFC Gym, Hard Candy Fitness, Steve Nash Fitness World, Yoga Works, One Life Fitness, Barre, and Alex Rodriguez Energy Fitness. He’s also the president of Personal Training Evolution, a personal training out-sourcing company.

Having attended 20 IHRSA convention and trade shows Gallup has some definite opinions about the industry’s current status, and where it needs to go.

“I truly enjoyed keynoter Gary Vaynerchuk’s presentation on social media at the recent IHRSA convention in San Diego,” he recalls. “Social media allows IHRSA members to foster relationships with their prospects and members, as well as with key influencers around the globe. However, comments about a business can just as easily be negative as positive; failure to address negative messages can be a concern for both your facility and the industry.”

Gallup says it’s important for clubs to acknowledge that, today, people have a wide range of exercise options other than those offered by IHRSA member facilities - from online training, to outdoor boot camps, to Tough Mudder runs. “Develop your own style of fitness experience - one that engages members both inside and outside of your facility,” he advises.

Finally, Gallup urges the industry to focus on new technologies––and the change they can usher in. “Uber, for example, is really shaking up the transportation industry with a groundbreaking approach to providing a safe, reliable alternative to taxis or limos,” he offers by way of example. “The fitness industry needs to be poised to adapt to a mar- ket environment that can change just as quickly.”

Jim Zupancic is another individual who understands what it takes to run a successful entrepreneurial enterprise, having started his first business at the age of 16, but he’s also familiar with the ways of major corporations.

Not only is he the founder of the Stafford Hills Club, located near Portland, Ore., but he’s also been a practicing attorney for 35 years, specializing in business and real estate law - two areas of expertise that are critical to health clubs. In that capacity, he’s assisted a number of large companies - including Intel, Toshiba, and Sumitomo - as they expanded their businesses both domestically and internationally.

“I’ve lived through the cycles of up markets and down markets,” he explains, and what I’ve discovered is that the only thing that’s predictable is change. I also understand that our industry needs real estate and capital to grow and maintain our businesses. Perhaps my knowledge of those areas can benefit club owners and operators, and help them to better understand how to access and, then, utilize these assets to their highest and best use.”

Having experienced a heart attack in 2011, Zupancic is keenly aware of the value of what IHRSA clubs do - help people live healthier and happier lives.

He also realizes that it’s important to focus on what matters most - a busy and varied personal life. Zupancic is the father of five grown children and the grandfather of five active grandchildren; he and his wife, Marla, recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. 

– Patricia Amend can be reached at



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