Club Insider

Norm's Notes for January 2021

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Norm CatesNorm Cates

Hello Everybody! This is your Club Insider Founder and Tribal Leader Since 1993 checking in with our 325th monthly edition of Club Insider! WOW! We made it to the New Year of 2021, and it couldn't have happened sooner! Thank GOD we've put the "2020 Year from Hell" squarely behind us. Let's ALL PRAY to GOD that this horror show, the pandemic disaster of 2020, we've all been living through can somehow be stymied by the citizens of this great country through the combination of masks, social distancing and vaccinations. As we enter our 28th year of publishing Club Insider, I must again emphasize that our monthly production has only been made possible because of your support as a reader and because you are one who reaches out to and does business with our wonderful and very dedicated group of Club Insider Advertisers. Were it not for YOU and THEM, Club Insider would not be in front of you right now. So, thank you, and may 2021 be a happier, healthier New Year!

Is America a GREAT COUNTRY, or what!? When I think of how our great country is struggling to survive this pandemic disaster, a struggle I believe history will someday show was the most difficult time in our country's history, it brought tears to my eyes in the early days of this debacle. But, like you, we battened down the hatches, and we are thankful for Club Insider to be in a position to survive the COVID-19 pandemic! Let me state that, though it hasn't been easy for us, we are aware of how much more difficult it has been for the club owners in this country and around the world! But, one thing is for sure... PEOPLE WHO REALLY CARE... FIGHT HARDER than THOSE WHO DON'T! And, I know YOU CARE. And, when I tell you JUSTIN and I CARE ABOUT YOU ALL, you can take that to the BANK! I want to hear from you any time you might feel like sharing any aspect of your battles with me. My phone number is (770) 635 - 7578, and my email address is

The Late Stephen TharrettThe Late Stephen Tharrett

I'm extremely SAD to report to you that industry veteran and my good friend, STEPHEN THARRETT, passed away on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. Stephen died of complications from a heart attack he suffered on December 20th. MAY STEPHEN THARRETT REST IN PEACE. Stephen Tharrett, was one of the greatest and most dedicated teachers and educators in the history of our industry. Stephen's vast depth of knowledge and the vast breadth of his contributions to our industry, an industry that he loved so very much, is rivaled by a very tiny few in our industry. Stephen was partners with MARK WILLIAMSON in a company they called CLUBINTEL. When I say these guys, Stephen Tharrett and Mark Williamson, working together in their multiple approaches towards industry education and teaching, were true TITANS in our industry, I'm not exaggerating.

JOHN MCCARTHY, former 25-year Executive Director of IHRSA, had this to say about Stephen: "I first met Steve when he was the Senior Vice President of ClubCorp where he was instrumental in bringing all of ClubCorp's athletic and fitness clubs, then about 40 clubs, into IHRSA. Shortly thereafter, he joined IHRSA'S Board of Directors, from which he was ultimately elected to serve as IHRSA's President. Steve was hugely instrumental in leading IHRSA's global outreach, especially after he had begun his tenure as CEO of the Russian Fitness Group, which involved him living and working in Russia for several years. A man of prodigious productivity, he found time to write ten books on the fitness industry, some of which are used as textbooks at over 30 major colleges and universities. He spoke to large audiences at numerous IHRSA and other conventions both in the U.S. and abroad. Steve was admired by all for his friendliness, as well as for his warmth, generosity and humility. He has left us far, far too soon..."

Justin and I wish to extend our very sincere condolences to Stephen's family, and to his business partner and friend, Mark Williamson. Sadly, this news arrived at the last moment before our deadline for this edition, limiting our coverage, but we will be producing a complete story for our February 2021 Edition of Club Insider. Stay Tuned, folks!

Welcome Back to Bonnie Patrick Mattalian as she rejoins the Club Insider Contributing Author Team. Check out her new Article, Ten Things Every Fitness Center Operator Must Do Moving Into 2021, on Page #18.

■Also, Welcome Back to Muscle Sport Productions, TG - The Gym, as they rejoin the Club Insider Advertising Team. Their Online Ads can be seen on our website and in our weekly and monthly eblasts. To learn more, go to

■Folks, I write this Norm's Note to give credit and very sincere Thanks and Appreciation to DEREK BARTON, one of our highly esteemed Club Insider Contributing Authors, for causing this month's special Cover Story celebrating my 75th birthday to happen. So, in Derek's honor and to recognize him for what Justin and I have concluded was a very helpful and good idea, I'm going to ask all of you for your participation in my 75th Birthday Celebration by reading ALL of this Special Cover Story. I emphasize READ ALL OF IT, because within these pages are 75 years of life experience and 47 years of professional experience in our wonderful industry that we've chronicled, not just for the purpose of celebrating my birthday, but to HELP YOU by providing lessons from my experiences so you can use them in your club business endeavors. I've learned a lot over the years, sometimes the hard way, so if I can help prevent any of you from having to learn something the hard way, the purpose of this month's cover story will have been fulfilled! So, I invite you to thoroughly read this 12,000-word cover story because it is laced with experiences and happenings throughout my life that will both entertain you and give you ideas that can be helpful to your club business. It begins on Page #3.

Almost 40 years ago, I was honored to be the 1st President of IHRSA. I'm very proud and honored to be able to say that, but just in case you don't read all of this month's interesting and educational cover story, in the Note that follows, I want to explain exactly how I became the 1st President, so the facts are clear in our industry as we move forward.

The REAL REASON IHRSA EXISTS is because of the vision of a brilliant guy named RICK CARO, whose name is now a household word in our industry. And, rightfully so. IHRSA was Rick's "Brainchild." The definition of brainchild is: An idea or invention which is considered to be a particular person's creation. This "particular person" was the one-and-only Rick Caro, and his "creation" was called IRSA in the beginning, and it's now called IHRSA.

I was involved from Day One with the creation and launch of IHRSA. In fact, Rick and I spent many hours on the phone calling back and forth between New York City and Atlanta working on the idea before we even launched it. And, as I mentioned, I was IHRSA's 1st President; however, that only happened because, as we were creating the Association, Rick was very busy dealing with a Northeastern group of eight indoor tennis clubs in which he was a partner.

So, Rick felt it was prudent to have someone else be the first President, and he nominated me to be the first President of the first Board of Directors. The Board then elected me, so my thanks goes to all of those Board Members! Needless to say, I was extremely honored to be the 1st President of IRSA (now IHRSA) in 1981!

Let me close this Note by saying it's important that you know Rick is the single best Club Consultant on Earth. So, IF you ever need help for your club business, you can take this to the bank folks: Hiring Rick will be a WISE investment.

BILL MCBRIDE of Team Active, and a Club Insider Contributing Author was honored on December 22nd by The Healthcare Technology Report when they selected Bill to be among The TOP 25 Consumer Health/Tech Executives of 2020! CONGRATULATIONS BILL! Also, check out Bill's Article, entitled, PANIC - PAIN - SUFFERING - OPTIMIZATION - OPPORTUNITY, on the Page #6.

■Our friends at IHRSA's Club Business International (CBI) have named a new Editor-in-Chief. JIM SCHMALTZ has assumed the role effective with their January 2021 Edition.

Happy Birthday to my great friend for close to 57 years now, ROBERT "QUAIL" WHITE! Also, check out Quail's comments in this month's cover story on Page #10.

Happy Birthday to Club Insider Publisher, and my Son, JUSTIN CATES, as he turns 36 on January 18th! Thanks for all you do, Justin!

■Given the length of this month's Cover Story on yours truly, I'm going to cut short this month's Norm's Notes here. As I sign off, Justin and I want to wish you a Happier, Healthier New Year and Thank You for reading Club Insider and for supporting our valuable Advertisers!

God bless our troops, airmen and sailors worldwide and keep them safe. Thank you, Congratulations and Welcome Home to all of our troops who have served around the world. God bless America's Policemen and women and Firemen and women; keep them safe. God bless our EMTs, first responders, nurses, doctors, lab technicians and anyone who is helping make Coronavirus a thing of the past. You and your families are our warriors. Finally, God bless you, your family, your club(s) and your members. God Bless America! Laus Deo!

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