Each week, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden will bring you his most important topics of the moment in a short five-minute video as part of an ongoing series called “Take 5.”

IHRSA’s Take 5: A Heartfelt Thank You From Brent Darden [VIDEO]

IHRSA interim President & CEO Brent Darden gives an update on how IHRSA 2021 registration is going, looks back on projects and initiatives tackled by the industry since last year, and gives thanks to everyone who has helped IHRSA and the fitness industry through the difficult times, in this week’s Take 5.

  • June 30, 2021

The last 10 months have been very busy ones for IHRSA and the entire fitness industry. In the last installment of IHRSA's Take 5, Brent looks back on all that IHRSA and the industry have accomplished since August of last year.

He also gives another update on IHRSA 2021 registration and takes a moment to say thank you to all the headlight teams that have helped the fitness industry get through difficult times.

Watch the full video for all of the latest news. You can also read the transcript below.

  • 0:45 IHRSA 2021 Hotels Booking Fast

  • 1:25 Crisis Breeds Progress, Inventiveness, and Bold Strategies

  • 3:13 Thank You to Every Headlight Team Volunteer

Full Transcript

Thank you for joining me once again. This is the last week for what is my final Take 5 and I want to thank you for taking the journey with me as IHRSA's interim president and CEO for the last 10 months.

This period has been, of course, not very easy for the fitness industry, but the way the gyms, industry partners, and fitness professionals that come together with IHRSA to accomplish all that we have has really been nothing short of inspiring. So I want to use this opportunity to say thank you, share a few of the amazing things that we've collectively done together, and also a few that are on the horizon.

It's time for this week's IHRSA Take 5 sponsored by Precor.

IHRSA 2021 Hotels Booking Fast

First, just a quick reminder not to wait to book your hotel room for IHRSA 2021 in Dallas this October. Event registration is already off to a great start. So great, in fact, that Omni Hotel is fully sold out and the Aloft Hotel is also close to being sold out. We've added two more hotels to the list, but don't wait too long to register and reserve your room or you may miss out. You can register at ihrsa.org/2021registration and we'll see you in October hopefully.

Crisis Breeds Progress, Inventiveness, and Bold Strategies

Sadly, there isn't enough time to review everything IHRSA, along with all of you, and the fitness industry have accomplished in the last year. But recently, the IHRSA staff put together a great timeline that really shows all the projects and initiatives tackled since August of last year and I'd like to share it with all of you now.

As you can see, August and September were just the beginning of increased engagement with state alliances and the first headlight teams beginning their work. October through December, things really started to pick up with new research, alliances, and the launch of Active & Safe.

Things didn't slow down from January to March either. We launched Talks & Takes, got the GYMS Act introduced in Congress, which now, by the way, has 140 co-sponsors. And we also held the first United We Rise event bringing together our allies from around the industry. All while IHRSA headquarters was in the process of downsizing and moving.

In April, we restructured and improved our membership options. In May, we added new partnerships and announced IHRSA 2021 was moving to Dallas from LA.

And this month, we've updated guidelines and best practices and received a significant grant from the John W. Brick Foundation to assess and address awareness around the mental health benefits of exercise. I'm particularly excited about the John W. Brick project with the IHRSA Foundation because it's an opportunity to demonstrate the role the fitness industry, and industry health professionals, can play in improving mental wellbeing.

Thank You to Every Headlight Team Volunteer

Not that I'm counting, but it has been 308 days on the job, 1358 zoom meetings, over 50 videos, and 38 meetings with the board of directors and advisory councils. I was sharing with someone just the other day that I really was fortunate to be readily available and in the right place at the right time for this role when the board decided they wanted to make a change. And my friend corrected me saying 'no, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.' Well, perhaps it's a little bit of both.

So apparently, there were some in our industry who've made it known that they really didn't care much for, in their words, 'a country hick from Texas,' serving as a placeholder until a permanent CEO was in place. Well, shucks, I don't really know what to say about that. Guilty as charged, I suppose. But as I've shared with numerous people recently, although I may not have brought a lot of pedigree to the party, one thing I did bring was an abundance of relationships with really high character industry leaders that were willing to help out on short note. I called, they answered; I asked, and they said yes.

As we're all aware, it's in Vogue, or it's at least more frequently mentioned in conjunction with the younger workforce these days, that people want to pursue a career in which they feel that they can make a difference and that the sense of purpose often even supersedes the desire for great prosperity. Our industry is overflowing with this sentiment at every age, and I've personally seen it in your eyes, I've heard it in your voice, and most Importantly, I've witnessed it in your actions.

The headlight 111 is a representative sample of the best that our beloved industry has to offer. Members of headlight teams have been vital to an inclusive, integral, and effective strategy and the story of IHRSA's revival. Quite simply, the reimagination of our trade association would not have been possible without the volunteer groups included in total 111 spectacularly talented and unstoppably optimistic industry leaders, who without a doubt played a fundamental role in shaping a brighter future for all of us.

Let me just say publicly that it's been a blessing to work with all of you and I'm indebted to you for your support of myself, for IHRSA, and by extension, the broad health and fitness community, whether they're members of IHRSA or not. The outcomes that all of you achieved in a very short period of time have been extraordinary at a time when the association in our industry we're at a monumental crossroads.

In concert with the board of directors and IHRSA staff, a tremendous amount has been accomplished in a short period of time. So many have selflessly and graciously donated their time and talent without an expectation of remuneration or recognition. It's really an unfailing norm that in any movement to affect change, there rises this nucleus of passionate and driven individuals who stepped forward to lend a hand and to lead the way. Who shoulder the lion's share of responsibility that really isn't theirs to bear, but they do it out of their own sense of duty and willingness to serve. So thank you again.

And also, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Kaitlynn Anderson Fernandez and Katie Willis, who work with me at IHRSA behind the scenes and they have made these Take Five's possible each and every week.

In closing, there are no words that can express how sincerely grateful I am for the honor and privilege of standing in the gap until a permanent CEO was hired. I look forward to seeing you all on down the trail somewhere.

Live well and be the salt and the light wherever you go.

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Ofelia Martinez

Ofelia Martinez is a contributor to IHRSA.org.