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Presenting IHRSA’s 2020 Women Who Inspire

IHRSA and CBI are proud to highlight 20 women who have made the industry what it is today and are defining what it will be tomorrow.

Last year, IHRSA introduced “Women Who Inspire,” an editorial complement to its established Women’s Leadership Summit, which takes place during its annual international convention and trade show, and its fresh spinoff, the sister Summit at the Athletic Business Show.

This year, CBI returns to this ever-inspiring topic and highlights 20 more women who have excelled in the field of health and fitness.

It includes, among others, industry pioneers; club founders, owners, and operators; serial entrepreneurs; franchisees; market makers; executive directors, presidents, CEOs, and COOs; fitness professionals; consultants; a government relations pro; an association executive; a trade show producer; and at least one “chief visionary officer.”

And they’ve made their unique contributions in every corner of the world—the U.S., Canada, Norway, China.

And without much ado, here are this year’s honorees:

Lynne Brick
President & Partner
Planet Fitness Growth Partners, LLC,
Miami Beach, FL

In 1982, while still employed as a shock trauma nurse, Lynne Brick began teaching aerobic dance classes on racquetball courts she rented in local health clubs. And the rest, as they say, is history. In 1985, she and her husband, Victor, purchased their first club, in Timonium, MD, and rebranded it as Brick Bodies. “Since then, we’ve never looked back, and feel blessed to have been able to combine the things we love,” she reflects. Today, Brick Bodies encompasses three co-ed clubs and one women-only facility, Lynne Brick’s Women’s Health and Fitness, in Baltimore. In 2007, the Bricks became Planet Fitness franchisees, and now operate units throughout the U.S., that serve some 600,000 members. Brick also chairs the brand’s PE@PF (small-group training) committee, and is part of the First 1000 Days Global Wellness Institute’s Key Initiative Committee. An author, a motivational speaker, and the winner of multiple awards, she served as a member of IHRSA’s board of directors and helped create the IHRSA Woman Leader Award. She also was seated on “The Leading Edge” roundtable, a group composed of the world’s most successful health club owners and operators.

“The perfect blend of strength, talent, gratitude, compassion, and humility, Lynne leads by example, and helps people believe in themselves so they can improve their lives. Her positive attitude is infectious.”

C. Victor Brick, Founder & CEO

Planet Fitness Growth Partners, LLC

Casey Conrad
President
Communication Consultants, WBS, Inc.
Wakefield, RI

Casey Conrad, who was once described as the “Energizer bunny” of the fitness industry, marched into the fitness industry in 1986 at Spa Lady, a regional chain serving the Washington, D.C., area. In just three years, she transitioned from sales representative to the position of sales trainer. “I fell in love with the fitness industry and never looked back,” she recalls. She’s also rarely slowed down. In 1989, Conrad launched her consulting business, and has since written seven books, and presented at countless industry events in 24 countries, including IHRSA’s Annual International Convention & Trade Show In 2000, recognizing that people often join clubs to lose weight, and that many facilities lacked a weight-loss program, Conrad founded Healthy Inspirations, an international weight-loss franchise for women. She grew the business to 122 locations before selling it in 2008. She also created the Take It Off Weight Loss Program franchise for co-ed clubs in North America, and sold it in 2013. A member of the REX Roundtable, Conrad is certified in neuro-associative conditioning and is a master practitioner in neuro-linguistic programming.

“Casey is a trailblazer who’s creative and innovative, able to think outside the box, anticipate industry changes, and remake herself to address industry needs.”

Florence Auld, Retired Founder

The Women’s Club Fitness Center & Day Spa

Cindy Curley
CEO
Orchard Hills Athletic Club
Lancaster, MA

Cindy Curley’s athletic and professional achievements are impressive. She was a former captain of the U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team, a USA Hockey Athlete of the Year, a USA Hockey Hall of Fame member, and a U.S. Olympic Committee board member. She’s applied the same energy, insistence on excellence, and team philosophy to her fitness career. Curley joined the Orchard Hills Athletic Club, a 65,000-square-foot, 4,200-member facility, in 1985, in the dual capacity of senior manager and accountant. Since then, she’s overseen new acquisitions and several expansion and construction projects, and now serves as CEO. She’s proud of the club’s achievements and the honors it’s received, among them, the Wachusett Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year, and the Shine for Mental Health award for community support. For more than 15 years, Orchard Hills has hosted the Year of Hope, a benefit for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “I love our team and members, and can’t imagine working anywhere else,” she enthuses. For the past three years, Curley also has served on NEHRSA’s board of directors.

“Cindy’s passion and drive for excellence have never wavered since she was a pioneer in women’s hockey. A dedicated, hands-on leader, she makes her team feel valued.”

Sandy Sauta, Assistant General Manager

Orchard Hills Athletic Club

María Angeles de Santiago Restoy
Founder & Owner
Management Around Sports
Madrid, Spain

A ballerina from a young age, María Angeles de Santiago Restoy leapt at the opportunity to combine her twin passions—business and physical activity. After serving as the human resources director at Fitness First, she established her own training, consulting, and event business, Management Around Sports (MAS). The firm collaborates with IHRSA, FIBO, and Rimini Wellness to develop Spain’s health club industry, in part, by arranging trips to IHRSA’s Annual International Convention & Trade Show, the IHRSA European Congress, and other events. MAS also produces an annual report on the status of the Spanish industry. A speaker at both the convention and the congress and at universities in Spain, Angeles de Santiago Restoy is a 15-year member of the IHRSA European Council. She also participates in Mlider, a professional group for women who manage fitness facilities in Spain. “I’m very proud that I’ve been able to connect with, and empower, so many people and companies,” she says.

“María has strength of character, an eye on the future, and a unique ability to connect with people, which enables her to adapt to the industry’s changing environment.”

Joseph Viladot, CEO

Holmes Place - Spain

Sally Edwards
Founder & CEO
Heart Zones, Inc.
Sacramento, CA

It’s easy to see why Sally Edwards is known as a “whirlwind.” Now 72, she’s earned two master’s degrees; founded four businesses; written 24 books on fitness and sports; finished the Ironman triathlon in the top five in her division 16 times; and competed in the Danskin Women’s Triathlon 140 times, also serving as its national spokesperson for 22 years. In 1976, she launched Fleet Feet Sports, in Sacramento, CA, and grew the company to 40 retail locations and $20 million in sales before selling it in 1993. She then founded Heart Zones, Inc., an international fitness technology, training, and education company that’s dedicated to helping people get fit, which she still operates. A founder of USA Triathlon, Edwards was inducted into the Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2012, and the Sacramento Running Hall of Fame in 2015, and has served as a board member of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “I’ve still got a lot to do,” she insists, as she assesses the future.

“Always 20 years ahead of her time, and with unparalleled passion and commitment, Sally has stood unwavering for decades, always promoting new ways to ‘Get America Fit.’”

Kathy Kent O’Toole, Fitness Director

Sun City Community Association of Huntley

Sally Goldman
Founder & Owner
Weymouth Club
Weymouth, MA

It’s been more than three decades since Sally Goldman and her husband, Steve, bought the Weymouth Club, but, in many ways, it doesn’t seem that any time has passed. The enthusiasm, ambition, passionate commitment, and tireless work ethic that she brought to bear on behalf of the club are still apparent. One of her first innovative ventures was creating a successful tennis, fitness, and arts camp for children: she enrolled her three young children then, and, today, 31 years later, her grandchildren participate. “I have the privilege of coaching and working with kids each year,” she says. “Seeing them develop is the ultimate honor.” In the early 1990s, the Goldmans added a fitness center and group exercise studio to the tennis facility, and, since then, have overseen 20 other construction projects. Today, the premier multipurpose facility occupies 185,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. Once the No. 1 New England Women’s Open player, Goldman is a USPTA-certified tennis professional, and coaches a high school team. She’s active in IHRSA, NEHRSA, and the REX Roundtables, and is an industry consultant. “This is a true labor of love,” she says.

“Sally is very passionate about our industry, and driven to research and learn. She instinctively understands what appeals to families, and how providing it can sustain the business.”

Jeff Linn, Executive Director

Weymouth Club

Lisa Gorsline
President & General Manager
Corpus Christi Athletic Club
Corpus Christi, Texas

Over the past 35 years, Lisa Gorsline has shone in virtually every club position she’s held, and her personal strengths and professional performance have paid dividends for all. She began her career as a $4.25-per-hour fitness technician in a women-only facility. Three years later, she joined the Corpus Christi Athletic Club (CCAC) in the capacity of group X instructor. Over the years, she assumed a number of other roles: membership representative, marketing/membership director, assistant general manager, and, finally, president. “As a leader, it’s important to have walked in your employees’ shoes,” she reflects. “It keeps me grounded, compassionate, and understanding.” Today, she oversees the 110,000-square-foot facility and its 200 employees, who serve nearly 15,000 members. Gorsline also is the former chairman of the Texas Health Racquet Sports Association, a presenter at IHRSA’s Annual International Convention & Trade Show, an IHRSA Institute alumna, and a REX Roundtable member. She loves the industry, she explains, because its practitioners are so eager to share their experiences and expertise with one another. “It feels great to pay it forward.”

“Inspiring with her loyalty and positive energy, Lisa motivates our staff to continue to grow, and constantly seeks opportunities to learn, and share, with her team.”

Danielle Herring, Administrative Assistant

Corpus Christi Athletic Club

Cher Harris
Club General Manager
The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
Houston, Texas

Determined to make a positive difference, every day, in the health and lives of others, Cher Harris prepared to do so by earning a master’s degree in kinesiology. While still a student—at Indiana University and, subsequently, the University of Florida—she served in a variety of recreation and fitness training capacities. Over the years, she’s earned a total of eight certifications in CPR, aerobics, group exercise, personal training, health fitness, and sports conditioning. In 2007, she joined The Houstonian Club as its fitness director. Quickly promoted to the position of assistant general manager, she managed the $39-million budget and 315 employees of the upscale, 175,000-square-foot facility. As the first female general manager of The Houstonian Club, she personifies its values of being inclusive and welcoming, and of demonstrating integrity, progress, service, and stewardship. She thrives, colleagues say, on exceeding the expectations of members, guests, clients—and employees— in order to ensure an exceptional experience. “Our employees are our most valuable asset, and their commitment and passion for making lives better have made us an extraordinary facility,” she says with pride.

“Fair, kind, and compassionate, Cher is generous and selfless with her staff, leading by example. She stands firmly behind her decisions and owns the outcomes.”

Kelley Bettis, Assistant General Manager

The Houstonian Club

Jennifer Hutchinson
Director of Trade Shows and Events
ABC Financial Services
Sherwood, AR

Known as the “Queen of Logistics,” Jennifer Hutchinson is respected for her incredible attention to detail, her highly analytical thinking, and her results-driven problem-solving skills. These attributes make her ideally suited for the demanding role of director of trade shows and events. Each year, she coordinates exhibits and activities at more than 40 trade shows and other commercial gatherings. Her wide-ranging responsibilities encompass ordering booth essentials; equipping the sales team; planning meetings, dinners, and accommodations; overseeing the shipment of booths; and much more. Now in her 11th year at ABC Financial, Hutchinson also has applied her talents on the firm’s behalf as an executive assistant, marketing coordinator, marketing manager, and corporate marketing director. Passionate about event planning, which she describes as “managing thousands of spokes on a massive wheel,” she’s developed hundreds of productive relationships and an extensive network. “My connections are like family, and one of my favorite times of the year is when I see everyone at the IHRSA convention,” she says.

“Jennifer embodies integrity and kindness. She builds others up, and combines intuition and industry relationships with tactical execution to always deliver her best, producing meaningful outcomes.”

Kelly Card, Chief Engagement Officer

ABC Financial Services

Christin Kalve
Owner & CEO
Sport-Treff Health & Spa Club
Stord, Hordaland, Norway

If there’s an aspect of the fitness industry that Christin Kalve hasn’t explored, it’s probably because she hasn’t had the time. In 1989, at the age of 19, she moved from Norway to Germany, and was certified as a group exercise instructor by the Swiss Academy of Fitness and Sports. Just two years later, she was named the manager of Sport-Tress Poppelsdorf, a local health club. Then, in 1995, with her father’s financial support, she fulfilled a dream when she opened the Sport-Treff Health & Spa Club in her hometown of Stord, Norway. “We’ve created a magic space where members, supported and encouraged, are happy,” Kalve says. In addition to inspiring students in the classes she still teaches, she founded an international aerobic and fitness festival in Norway to teach instructors, producing the event for 10 years; and, in 2013, became a consultant for Jomfrureiser, a Norwegian travel company. In that capacity, she leads women’s exercise retreats throughout the world. Calling her abundant energy “a gift,” she explains, “My purpose in life is to inspire people to be the best they can be.”

“A courageous adventurer, Christin has a deep, intuitive awareness of her clients’ abilities, needs, and wants, and is able to engage their bodies, minds, and souls.”

Will Phillips, Founder

REX Roundtables

Carina Kuo
Chief Operations Officer
SportsArt
Mukilteo, WA

Given the fact that her parents had founded SportsArt in 1977, it would have been natural for Carina Kuo to follow in their footsteps, but initially she was reluctant to join the company. She preferred, instead, to learn as much as she could on her own. She earned a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering technology, and subsequently worked in the aerospace, manufacturing, and fashion industries in a variety of capacities, including those of manufacturing engineer, industrial engineer, and supply chain analyst. Over time, recognizing that her expertise held value for her family’s business, Kuo joined SportsArt in 2014, becoming vice president of operations. Serving as general manager from 2015 to 2018, she improved communication across the company’s global branches and reduced operating costs by 20%. Championing staff growth and celebrating individual contributions, Kuo has cultivated a collaborative team environment among employees at all levels, creating a family-like culture in which Baby Boomers and Millennials work together seamlessly. Considering the future, Kuo says, “I look forward to sustainable fitness becoming more mainstream. … Our industry can make a huge impact on our planet.”

“Carina has a friendly, disarming personality, incredible maturity, and an ability to really listen, but is steadfast in her decisions and determination to get things done.”

—Rick Reading, Director of Dealer Sales

SportsArt

Lori Lowell
Co-founder & Chief Visionary Officer
Gold’s Gym NOVA Group; Lowell Management Company, LLC; Drishti Beats, LLC; and Moi Cycle
Aspen, CO

In 1982, Lori Lowell, who had already acquired an impressive background in dance and music, immersed herself wholly, heart and soul, in the fitness industry. A born innovator and natural entrepreneur, she became a yoga instructor; a group exercise instructor and director; and, in partnership with her husband, Jeremy, the co-owner of nine Gold’s Gyms in Northern Virginia and Wisconsin. She also served as the national group fitness director for Gold’s Gym International (GGI) for nine years, directing the programs for its 65 corporate-owned facilities. In 2012, she co-founded Moi Cycle, LLC, a measurable heart-rate training program; and, in 2014, while earning her Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 accreditation, co-founded Drishti Beats, LLC, which offers a live-music, Vinyasa Flow yoga class. Lowell holds numerous fitness certifications; and is a presenter and trainer for Les Mills International, a speaker at SCW Mania Conventions, and the winner of several major awards. She received the GGI Franchisee of the Year Award in 2010 and 2019, the GGI President’s Award in 2012, and IHRSA’s 2015 Woman Leader Award.

“Leading by example, Lori challenges her team to strive for more and gives back by inspiring the next generation. She has tremendous drive and a true passion for the industry.”

Sal Pellegrino, Senior Manager, Strategic Accounts

Precor, Inc.

Linda Mitchell
Director of Public and Government Relations
Newtown Athletic Club
Newtown, PA

Today, 38 years after she was hired to teach aerobics, Linda Mitchell has become nearly synonymous with the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC). She soon was named director of the club’s fledgling aerobics program, transforming it into a valuable asset. Since then, she’s taken on a variety of diverse and increasingly significant roles. In 1994, she was named sales and marketing director, and assumed responsibility for NAC’s public relations and charitable initiatives. Today, she oversees millions of dollars in donations and services for local and national charities via NAC’s Have a Heart Foundation, an official 501(c)(3) organization. As the club expanded, becoming a sprawling, 275,000-square-foot complex on 26 acres, she hired and trained a full-time marketing team. Mitchell also developed a financial aid program so that more people in the community could join NAC. Active on the political front, she was instrumental in warding off a state sales tax on Pennsylvania health clubs; promoted the passage of the federal Right to Try Bill, which safeguards the rights of terminally ill Americans; and is currently promoting passage of the PHIT bill. The 2012 winner of IHRSA’s Woman Leader Award, Mitchell eagerly embraces new challenges.

“Linda is admired and emulated by everyone because of her impressive achievements and the dignity and class she exudes every day. She’s a respected and highly regarded role model.”

Jim Worthington, Founder, Owner, & President

Newtown Athletic Club

Carol Nalevanko
President
DMB Sports Clubs
Scottsdale, AZ

In 1979, after graduating from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, Carol Nalevanko embarked on what she describes as an “amazing journey” in the health and fitness industry. She began her career as the activities director for the Metro Sport & Health Club in Phoenix, AZ, which was subsequently acquired by DMB Sports Clubs. Now, four decades later, Nalevanko manages all four of the company’s upscale, family-oriented Village Health Clubs & Spas in the Phoenix area. “We’ve developed a unique model based on cultivating long-term relationships within a fun environment,” she says. The clubs are community-centric, and, under her direction, their employees and members have contributed generously to numerous charitable organizations. The company, for example, has raised more than $1.2 million for cancer research, hosting the annual Fitness for the Cure produced by TGen (the Translational Genomics Research Institute). Nalevanko has twice served as a member of IHRSA’s board of directors, and helped create both the association’s Woman Leader Award and its Women’s Leadership Summit. She’s also a member of the Faust Executive Group and the Arizona Business Leadership Group. “I still wake up every morning, and can’t wait to get to work,” she says. The amazing journey—continues.”

“For 40 years, Carol has stood in front, welcoming members, asking about their club experience, and proactively addressing any issues they’re concerned about. She keeps these clubs fresh, progressive, and relevant.”

Rick Erdenberger, Vice President, Operations & Golf Program

Village Health Clubs & Spas

Karen Raisch-Siegel
Executive Director
LifeWorks of Southwest General
Middleburg Heights, OH

Karen Raisch-Siegel had enjoyed a successful stint in finance and advertising, before she discovered a new and irresistible passion: that of fitness. In 2000, after having earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology, she joined LifeWorks of Southwest General as program coordinator. Just three years later, she was named executive director, giving her responsibility for the 84,000-square-foot, multipurpose facility that’s owned by Southwest General Hospital. Reviewing the highlights of her tenure at Lifeworks, she finds it hard to recall them all, but cites a few. Among them: hosting a club anniversary party for more than 800 members, taking a trip to Toronto with 108 members, creating the center’s Fitness Is Power program for breast cancer survivors, and developing a hip and knee pre-operation program. “The most important moments are those special times when a member just says, ‘Thanks for all you do here,’” she says. Raisch-Siegel also is a certified group X instructor, an IHRSA Institute alumna, a REX Roundtable member, a board member for several local chambers of commerce, and a certified First Responder for the State of Ohio.

“A hands-on manager, Karen possesses the experience, courage, creativity, and energy that inspire staff to aim high.”

Dr. Stacey Hancock, Clinical Psychologist & Group Exercise Coordinator

LifeWorks of Southwest General

Trisha Sarker
Executive Director
Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Trisha Sarker brings a unique combination of experience and expertise to her multifaceted role in the fitness industry. She’s both a student and an educator; has earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication; is pursuing a doctorate at Royal Roads University, in Colwood, British Columbia; and is adept at Bharatanatyam, a form of Indian classical dance. This mix of interests and skills has served her well as the executive director of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada(FIC). Providing strategic counsel for FIC’s corporate affairs, public policy, and communications efforts, she helped secure a fair tariff agreement between health clubs and music licensing organizations. She led a group of FIC members and medical and technology professionals that met with senators and ministers of the Canadian Parliament to promote the value of exercise. And she’s involved with Prescription to Get Active, National Health & Fitness Day, and attempts to secure tax credits for fitness activities. Sarker also is a member of the fine arts and communications faculty at MacEwan University in Edmonton; is researching the connection between physical exercise and academic success for her doctorate; and teaches East Indian dance as a fine arts instructor for the City of Edmonton.

“Trisha is the definition of a go-getter. She consistently achieves the maximum desired effect, and does so efficiently. She’s always thinking about ways to benefit our association and the industry.”

Scott Wildeman, President

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Zoe Veasey
Co-founder
Cedardale Health & Fitness
Haverhill, MA

In 1971, Zoe Veasey, her late husband, Ed, and two business partners, including the late Dale Dibble, acquired a modest, four-court tennis facility with a small fitness center in Haverhill, MA. Despite its humble beginnings, its accomplishments and contributions have had an indelible impact on the industry. Over the years, Cedardale Health & Fitness (CHF) became a legendary institution, one of the U.S. industry’s most iconic clubs, a model and mentor for many others. Today, despite a major fire in 2017, the resurrected, 48-acre complex includes 190,000-square-feet of indoor space, with 10 indoor tennis courts, three group X studios, three full-size basketball courts, and an indoor lap pool as well as an outdoor recreation area, and the Cedarland outdoor complex for children. Three generations of the Veasey family now participate in the business. Now in her 80s, Zoe Veasey was involved in the establishment of IRSA, the fledgling organization that eventually became IHRSA, and served on its board of directors for three years; she’s also served as the president of NERSA. Reflecting on Cedardale’s willingness to share with other clubs worldwide to facilitate mutual success, she credits the association’s contributions. “IHRSA,” she says, “has helped all of us do our best in this growing and fast-changing industry.”

“One-of-a-kind with respect to graciousness, steadfastness, professionalism, and family focus, Zoe was at the forefront of our industry, and regularly reimagined her club to make it—and keep it—one of the very best.”

Bill McBride, Co-founder, President, & CEO

Active Wellness

Peggy Vo
Global Marketing Director
Freemotion Fitness
Logan, UT

Her personal motto is “passionate about making a difference,” and Peggy Vo lives it, personifies it, every day. For more than 18 years, she’s created and overseen global marketing programs, product launches, brand rollouts, and integrated marketing campaigns. Her strategic marketing and brand-extension efforts are marked by her enthusiasm, high energy, tenacity, and innovative flair. She thrives, in particular, on identifying opportunities and building relationships across multifunctional and multicultural environments. After serving the marketing needs of Precor, Inc., for nearly eight years, both in the U.S. and U.K., Vo established her own marketing and business development consultancy, and subsequently in 2016 joined Freemotion. Her colleagues respect her for her high standards and deep understanding of the needs both of sales teams and customers. Vo is a member of The Chartered Institute of Marketing in the U.K., and passionate about volunteerism. For example, working with Building Beds, she’s helped provide nearly 500 beds for needy families in one Florida community.

“Peggy is the best marketing person in the industry. Committed and creative, she takes ideas proposed in conversations, and brings them to life, developing innovative solutions and producing excellent results.”

Dan Toigo, Senior Vice President & Managing Director

Freemotion Fitness

Loni Wang
Owner
Catic Wellness
Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China

In 1995, armed with a master’s degree in engineering and economics and a Ph.D. in management engineering, Loni Wang founded the Catic Wellness Group, the first club company to actively promote wellness in China. In 2010, the award-winning group also became the country’s first health and fitness provider to go public. Catic operates three club brands that offer a balanced mix of fitness, nutrition, wellness, anti-aging, and stress management services. Wang introduced Les Mills programming to the Chinese market, and serves as the exclusive Asian licensee for CMS Club Marketing and Management Systems, which works to increase the sophistication of the country’s wellness sector. To encourage people to attend to their well-being proactively, Wang developed the 4P Digital Health Management System, which provides guidance on, and monitors, prevention, prediction, participation, and personalization. Last year, Wang was the only representative of China at the World Health Organization’s 3rd Sports Sector Dialogue for GAPPA (the Global Action Plan for Physical Activity); she discussed plans to implement GAPPA in her country.

“It takes a special person to establish a new, untested line of business in a barren marketplace. Loni is the pioneer in fitness and wellness in China.”

Walter MacDonald, Fitness Operations Director

Catic Wellness Group

Kay Yuspeh
Co-founder & Former Owner
Elite Sports Clubs
Brookfield, WI

In 1986, Kay Yuspeh and her husband, Richard, purchased a bankrupt tennis club, made it profitable within a year, and, having managed that, converted it into a multipurpose facility. Since then, driven by strong entrepreneurial instincts, she’s rarely stopped going and growing. Over a 30-year period, she purchased four more fledgling clubs, and renovated them to focus on family fitness. This past November, she sold the business to a group led by Peter Goldman, who also owns two Lakeshore Sport & Fitness facilities in Chicago. Until then, Yuspeh had been the largest owner of private fitness and tennis clubs in Wisconsin. Elite currently has some 400 employees and 18,000 members. She’d also recently completed a $5 million project at her River Glen club, creating an innovative, 30,000-square-foot activities campus called The Quad. This unique venue can be transformed to accommodate various sports, interactive games, concerts, and performances, or to become a multi-level play structure. Yuspeh created the region’s first indoor tennis leagues; founded and was the first executive director of the Greater Milwaukee Indoor Tennis Association; and has raised more than $1 million for local charities and organizations, including Prevent Blindness Wisconsin and Cancer Control and Prevention.

“Kay’s creativity and forward-thinking have kept her at the forefront of the industry. An enthusiastic and tireless leader, she anticipates trends and opportunities to benefit the clubs and their members.”

Tom Karrels, Vice President

Elite Sports Clubs

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Julie King

Julie King is a contributor to Club Business International.