4 Fitness Business Leadership Strategies from IHRSA 2017

The IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show brings together influential health and fitness industry leaders every year, where they share tips and tricks on leading the field and your company to the top.

There was no shortage of influential health and fitness industry leaders at IHRSA 2017 leadership track sessions last month in Los Angeles, and presenters and attendees alike were ready to share their tips and tricks to maintaining leadership practices.

Here are the top fitness business leadership strategies we gleaned from the best of the best.

Lesson 1: Leadership is Like Exercise

In a statement perfectly crafted to her “Sustainable Leadership” session audience, Maureen “Mo” Hagan, vice president of program innovation and fitness development at GoodLife Fitness, said, “Leadership is like exercise—some days it needs to hurt a little to know it’s working.”

As the 2016 winner of the Julie Main Woman Leader Award, Hagan is well-versed in being a great leader. She describes sustainable leadership as:

  • The ability to transform an average team of individuals into superstars
  • The act of inspiring greatness each and every day
  • The skillfulness to share vision so that others will follow willingly
  • The art of influencing others by your character, humility, and example

“Leadership is like exercise—some days it needs to hurt a little to know it’s working.”

Maureen “Mo” Hagan, Vice President of Program Innovation and Fitness Development

GoodLife Fitness

Lesson 2: Leadership by Observation

Martin Lindstrom, author, change agent, and brand futurist, spoke about the importance of seemingly insignificant observations, causations, and emotions in a world obsessed with “big data” during his keynote presentation.

The most effective health club leaders are tuned-in to the small data in their clubs, he said. It’s easy to gloss over the small data when you are responsible for the big data—finances, employees, member retention—the list goes on.

Lindstrom said not to discount the small data—each little piece is an essential function of the operation of your business. When was the last time you ran the front desk of your club, replaced towels in the locker rooms, or participated in a group X class from the perspective of a member? What do you think you’d notice if you spent an hour a week alongside your cleaning staff, in your café, or walking the outside perimeter of your building?

According to Lindstrom, that kind of small data-gather will make quite a difference.

Lesson 3: Lead by Following Through

Keynote Seth Mattison’s leadership skill tip from his keynote, “Relationship Revolution: Building Better Connections in the Digital Age” was to “do what you say you’re going to do 100% of the time.”

Does your team know, and have you clearly communicated to them, exactly what they can expect from you every single day? Mattison suggests building up your team from a position of influence by refining your communication skills.

Lesson 4: Leadership Starts at Home

A recurring theme in each IHRSA 2017 session on leadership was that your personal wellness is the first step towards developing and sustaining leadership skills.

Most effective leaders have a healthy sleep, diet, and exercise routine that is complemented by daily meditation and gratitude practices. Managing stress, committing to ongoing personal and professional development, and supporting fellow leaders are key strategies that will ensure your leadership skills continue to grow and influence those around you.

Author avatar

Carolynn Jordan

Carolynn Jordan previously served as IHRSA's Member Communication Specialist—a position that developed outreach for IHRSA members to gain knowledge on how to best use their benefits and stay engaged in the IHRSA community.