Lead and ‘Manage From a Position of Strength’ to Grow Your Fitness Business

Luke Carlson of Discover Strength tells us that "being a manager or a leader is ... the most important calling or work that we can engage in."

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership.

Luke Carlson
ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist, ACSM Cancer Exercise Trainer
Discover Strength

What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?

The most fulfilling part is that I have the opportunity to combine two incredible passions or callings. First, I think exercise and fitness is the most powerful method we have for broadly improving one’s self; as Dr. Stephen Covey says, exercise “sharpens the saw.” Being a manager or a leader is, in my opinion, the most important calling or work that we can engage in. To have the opportunity to be a business leader in an industry that I love and in a technical area that I am passionate about is incredibly meaningful to me. Every day I get to deepen my understanding of everything related to business as well as everything related to exercise.

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?

Be very careful when choosing a business partner! Just as important, focus on growing the business profitably from day one. Top line growth is important, but bottom line growth gives us freedom to manage from a position of strength.

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“I joined the ILC because I was passionate about providing financial support so that we can continue to advocate and be proactive around protecting and growing the industry.”

Luke Carlson, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist & ACSM Cancer Exercise Trainer

Discover Strength

IHRSA does a significant amount of advocacy work to Grow, Promote and Protect clubs across the country. How do you feel that work benefits your business or the industry at large?

IHRSA continues to lay the foundation for both fair competition and policy/legislation that promotes exercise and consumer access to our health club facilities. Each year, IHRSA identifies and confronts the key issues which allow me as an owner to continue to grow our business and serve our employees, customers, and communities.

The Personal Health Investment Today Act, or PHIT, is legislation that would make access to physical activity more affordable. How will passage of this bill help America get fit?

PHIT is the impetus for a reallocation of healthcare dollars toward the prevention side of the equation; which ultimately is better for our healthcare system, the patient (people!), and our health club facilities. This represents a multiple stakeholder “win.”

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council? Or what has been your most memorable experience as part of the ILC?

I joined the ILC because I was passionate about providing financial support so that we can continue to advocate and be proactive around protecting and growing the industry. I didn’t want to simply sit back and enjoy the benefits that IHRSA provides, I wanted to make sure that I was contributing to important work/advocacy efforts. Additionally, I have massively enjoyed the ILC education component offered at the annual IHRSA convention.

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Shannon Vogler @vogler_shannon

Shannon Vogler is the Communications and Public Relations Coordinator for IHRSA. Shannon writes articles, press releases, and the IHRSA Advocate newsletter to make IHRSA members aware of policy issues that impact health clubs. She also speaks with media influencers about the benefits of working out and joining a gym. When she's not writing, Shannon enjoys running and cheering for the New England Patriots.