Lessons in Fitness Leadership: Great People Deliver Great Experiences

To deliver experiences that go beyond members’ expectations, you need to first cultivate a team of great people, says Derek Gallup, EVP of GFORCES at UFC Gym.

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.

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Derek Gallup speaking before the keynote session at IHRSA 2018.

Derek Gallup

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

Every day I wake up and launch out of bed energized knowing that I get to work with fitness professionals who are inspiring and passionate about helping others live healthier, more energetic and longer lives by incorporating fitness into them. We have products and services that are not just good for people, they are the closest thing to the fountain of youth that we have ever found.

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?

This business is always about people. From the importance of finding great people to add to your team, to constantly training and developing to the best days of our careers where you have members on your team get promoted. Great people on your team will deliver experiences to your members beyond their expectations.

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?

The work IHRSA does in advocacy benefits fitness club operators in so many ways. IHRSA fights (and typically wins) when fighting to stop a sales tax on memberships and personal training. IHRSA is also very involved in ensuring there is clear and fair messaging in legislation pertaining to business done via EFT. There are so many ways that IHRSA’s advocacy efforts are helping fitness business owners, the biggest challenge is in communicating about all of the great work being done.

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)?

I joined the ILC because I wanted to help grow and protect this important industry that I love. My most memorable experiences with ILC has been bringing fitness leaders in my circle of influence into ILC events, and having them be so moved that they take action and join the ILC themselves.

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

I believe that the PHIT Act may be the most important legislation for the fitness industry to be introduced during my 23-year career in fitness. The PHIT Act will not only allow people to pay for membership and personal training with pre-tax dollars from a flex spending account like a medical FSA, it will demonstrate the importance of fitness as preventative healthcare.

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Emily Gluck

Emily Gluck is IHRSA's Executive Assistant. On average, her job consists of scheduling, supporting the executive team, and planning events, while the best part of her job is getting to work with a great team on a daily basis. If Emily is out of the office you can typically find her kayaking, hiking in a national park, or rafting on a remote river—ideally, she likes to get out of cell phone range.