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.
Respect That Everyone Has a Different Fitness Vision
Helping to make members’ lives better is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry, says Universal Athletic Club’s Rick Casselbury.
Group fitness class at Universal Athletic Club.
Universal Athletic Club
What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?
We have a great deal of influence on making our members’ lives better, and we’re always working on creating a better mechanism for improving members’ results.
For me personally, it’s the interaction with the staff and the ability to actually influence our employees to help them become better people—through reading, videos, and other educational tools. They’re the ones out there on the front lines making the difference. Taking the time to influence, mentor, and educate the employees in turn benefits the members even more.
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?
[I would tell myself] that everybody’s needs and goals are uniquely different and that your vision of fitness and health can be significantly different than anyone else’s. Through experience, I’ve learned it’s important to lead by providing a variety of activities for the body and mind for all interests, fitness levels, and ages. For example, a place for our senior members to play cards together, or a place for kids to be active and have fun.
Social activities can be even more beneficial than physical programs for many people. Being able to understand that and provide that—especially as more Baby Boomers are trying to stay more healthy—is extremely important.
What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council?
While running our own club and being so invested in what we’re doing in our own local area, it’s vital that someone is looking out for the big picture. You really don’t realize that until something big happens. Through the ILC, I’ve learned what I can do outside of owning a business that will help protect and promote our industry.
What has been your most memorable experience as part of the ILC?
[My most memorable experience with the] ILC was creating the awareness of potential taxing of health club memberships in Pennsylvania and being instrumental in bringing in numerous clubs that encouraged members to contact their local representatives to let them know what an unfair decision that would be.
“While running our own club and being so invested in what we’re doing in our own local area, it’s vital that someone is looking out for the big picture. You really don’t realize that until something big happens.”
Rick Casselbury, Owner
Universal Athletic Club - Lancaster, PA
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?
Everyone knows that prevention is key to overall healthcare affordability for everyone. What the PHIT bill does is lower the barrier to entry for many people so that they can afford to belong to more “full service” fitness facilities. This allows a whole new group of people to begin the process of being healthy.
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?
There’s no question that we wouldn’t be where we are without IHRSA. The wealth of knowledge and expertise IHRSA has given has been instrumental in every aspect of our operations. From educating and training staff to sharing best practices to facilitating thousands of club operators from around the world to get together to exchange ideas regarding our similar interests. I truly believe that, without IHRSA, our industry would be nowhere near where it is today, and this would have a profound effect on the overall health and well-being of everyone!
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.