Club Insider

Continuing Education

The Gamechanger of a Career

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Justin CatesJustin Cates

We spend years in general and specialized education: K-12, college, post-graduate, doctoral, etc. No matter what the level we may achieve, one thing is common between all of these levels: At the time of their achievement, they are the aggregate of past knowledge. More important is what occurs afterwards. Education is not a start to finish spectrum; it is start, then never finish. Moving from education into a career, the gamechanger that will make or break the success of that career is continuing education.

Within the health and fitness club industry, the number of sources that exist to enable continuing education is incredible. This month, Club Insider will attempt to provide information about a chunk of those resources. We won't be able to cover them all, but via those that will be covered, you will find even more to utilize.

Continuing education in the health and fitness club industry is an ever-increasing web of options. And, as you utilize more and more of them, you will find the same people in your path over and over again. Those are the people with whom you want to connect. They thirst for knowledge and success as you do. And, together, those connections, the most important thing that can come from continuing education, are made.

If you're new to this industry, I welcome you to read on and utilize these resources. If you're a seasoned pro, read on as well, and try something new as soon as you can, even if it is not mentioned in this article. I guarantee something you've never seen or experienced before is out there. And, of course, thank you for reading Club Insider!

Conferences and Trade Shows

The most obvious and visible sources for continuing education are the industry's Conferences and Trade Shows. Here's some of the one's you definitely want to check out.


IHRSAIHRSA's educational events provide an array of speakers on business and strategy, instructional sessions for management success, peer-to-peer networking opportunities, and spectacular trade shows. Attending an IHRSA event will help grow your business:

  • Trade Shows - Don't miss the opportunity to test out the latest equipment, products and services from the industry's top suppliers, many of which unveil new offerings at IHRSA's trade shows.
  • Education - From sessions to intimate roundtables to hands-on workshops, IHRSA's education is designed to fit many learning styles and levels of professional development.
  • Keynotes - IHRSA's eclectic keynote speakers, from both inside and outside the industry, share inspiring and motivating perspectives that will leave you invigorated.
  • Networking - Lifelong relationships are born through IHRSA events when members connect with their peers in an environment that encourages education through communication.

Some of IHRSA's U.S. Events Include:

The International Convention & Trade Show

The IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show is world-renowned for its vibrant Trade Show, motivational keynote speakers, expert educational sessions and buzzing networking events. The event features more than 400 Trade Show exhibitors from around the globe, as well as over 100 education sessions taught by some of the industry's most successful individuals.

Save the date for next year: March 10 - 13, 2021 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, NV!

IHRSA Institute

Take your career to the next level by attending The IHRSA Institute. The exclusive, executive-level event is designed to provide a strong overall base for anyone working in the fitness industry. You'll learn from industry experts and college level professors in an intimate setting. Real-life examples and in-depth conversations with faculty and students, in the classroom and beyond, will help you run a better club.

Two full scholarships are offered to attend The IHRSA Institute: The John McCarthy Scholarship, named for IHRSA's first Executive Director, and The Curt & Jane Beusman Scholarship, named for two of IHRSA's early and most passionate founders. Qualified candidates should be able to demonstrate their passion for, and absolute commitment to, the health club industry's future and their service, sales and leadership skills. Learn more at

IHRSA Women's Leadership Summit

Share best practices, network and develop your career at The IHRSA Women's Leadership Summit, hosted by Athletic Business Magazine. For over 10 years, IHRSA has led the way by bringing women in the health and fitness industry together to learn, share ideas and grow professionally. This forum includes a keynote presentation, industry panel and social activities all designed to help you strengthen your network, expertise, and influence.

Club Industry Show

Club Industry ShowGrow Your Business and Build Your Career - The Club Industry Show is a must-attend event for you and your team. The leaders. The innovators. The hardworking staff. The people who make things happen... It's you, the fitness and wellness professionals, who make this a can't miss event for the fitness industry year after year. Club Industry has a one-of-a-kind show planned.

At the Club Industry Show Conference, you will learn the newest concepts, unique approaches and strategies that will impact your business. The Club Industry Show is the only fitness conference focused on the business of fitness. This year's Club Industry Show is giving you the platform to increase your knowledge through a skills-elevating conference with seven tracks and 90+ sessions. The conference is designed to help you in your business and to build your client base, inspire personal growth and provide insight into the changes in the industry.

The Special Events at the Club Industry Show bring together industry members from every segment of the fitness industry. One of the best parts of attending the Club Industry Show is the opportunity to network. Hundreds of your peers will be there to celebrate, connect and have some fun at the Club Industry Show.

The Club Industry Show Exhibit Hall brings together must-see exhibitors displaying innovative fitness products, technology and equipment. Experience the newest products, services and trends all in one venue.

This year's show will take place October 14 - 16, 2020 in St. Louis, MO. To register, go to

Athletic Business Show

Athletic Business ShowThe Athletic Business Show (AB Show) is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals. No matter where you are in your career or the types of projects you're working on, AB Show's leading educational conference has sessions that will provide you with actionable insights, unique solutions and new ideas you can implement right away. Plus, Ab Show's expo hall features 250+ exhibiting companies offering all the products you need to manage successful programs and facilities.

Your success is AB Show's number one priority. That's why, each year, Athletic Business hosts 200+ exhibiting companies in the expo hall and 80+ industry experts who lead educational sessions. You can find the solutions you need to meet your goals. Plus, we have fun while we're at it! AB Show provides attendees and manufacturers the chance to make meaningful connections with like-minded professionals through engaging special events.

This year's show will take place November 3 - 6, 2020 in Baltimore, MD. To register, go to

Roundtables and Workshops

Known to have their own presence at conferences and trade shows, Roundtables and Workshops also take place independently across the country. These are much more intimate settings where professionals can learn the deep ins and outs of their craft.

REX - Roundtables for Executives

REXREX is a global organization that runs mastermind groups for club business owners and chief executives, including over 135 of the top clubs and organizations (2,000+ clubs) in the industry. REX currently runs 13 groups of owners, executives and senior staff.

REX is designed specifically for business owners and club leaders who are passionate about getting better and achieving dramatically better results in four areas:

  • The performance of their business;
  • Their leadership and management skills;
  • Personal and corporate relationship to the community;
  • Balance and quality of their personal lives.

With no competitors in the room, REX creates a climate of exceptional honesty and openness. Members report that the direct, straightforward communication they routinely get from REX is not available to them anywhere else in their work or personal lives.

Comments From Eddie Tock

Eddie TockEddie Tock

Club Insider (C.I.) - What are your thoughts on the importance of continuing education within the health and fitness club industry?
Eddie Tock (ET) - One of the best things about life is that we never have to stop learning. There are always new skills to learn and techniques for us to adopt. When you look at the most successful people in the world, they understand this. The best entrepreneurs in the world don't act like they know everything. They all understand the fact that they have to continuously learn to be successful. 'It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.' - John Wooden

C.I. - In your view, where does your organization fit into that prism?
ET - Benefits that a mastermind group like REX Roundtables can provide:

  • 1. Accountability.
  • 2. Regular connection.
  • 3. Networks beyond your own to tap into (REX has 2,700 clubs, over 250 members in 25 Countries).
  • 4. A trusted circle of colleagues to help you make decisions.
  • 5. A chance to learn from other businesses and leaders.
  • 6. A confidential space to discuss challenges and problems.
  • 7. A laboratory to learn and experiment.
  • 8. A reflection of your own wisdom and expertise as you help others. At REX, our purpose is to improve the performance of your business and the quality of your life!

C.I. - What do participants of your content gain that they cannot find anywhere else?
ET - I'd like some of them to answer that for themselves (

To learn more about Roundtables for Executives, go to

SCW Fitness Education

SCWSCW Fitness Education has been in business for 35 years and is the largest provider of continuing education conferences in the world, focusing on Group Fitness and Personal Training with an emphasis on execution, leadership and management. With eight regional shows spanning 32 years, MANIA Conferences are held in Washington D.C., California (San Francisco), Florida (Orlando), Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, Midwest (Chicago) and Boston annually. SCW reaches over 8,500 fitness professionals in face-to-face contacts, 70,000 via our email list and another 200,000+ in virtual connections. MANIA Conventions offer 17 sessions running every hour on all different aspects of the fitness and wellness industry (HIIT, Functional Training, Cycling, Mind/Body, Barre, Dance, Aqua, Nutrition, Recovery, Business & Leadership). SCW MANIA is unparalleled in its provision of certifications, continuing education courses and fitness professional conventions in multiple disciplines, both live and online.

Comments From Sara Kooperman, JD

Sara Kooperman, JDSara Kooperman, JD

Club Insider (C.I.) - What are your thoughts on the importance of continuing education within the health and fitness club industry?
Sara Kooperman, JD (SK) - I think that continuing education within the health and fitness club industry is extremely important. SCW is committed to not only certifying instructors but providing continuing education through our Mania fitness instructor training conventions, our specialized certifications, our on-demand video program and our video CEC program. It is imperative that instructors stay up-to-date to provide creative and safe programming options to our clients. Now, more than ever, we need to entice people to return to our facilities and stay committed to healthy regimes. Without entertaining and diverse exercise options, we worry that our students will become bored and discontinue exercise. It is imperative that we help our customers continue with their fitness regimes as this promotes healthy immune systems.

C.I. - In your view, where does your organization fit into that prism?
SK - SCW Fitness Education has been offering continuing education programs for over 35 years. We have been running conferences, certifications and video programs for over 25 years. During the pandemic, we pivoted quickly and have offered live streaming certification since October 2019. We also build our own technology to be able to offer over 150 zoom sessions at our live stream conference. We were the first ever conference to be able to supply nine sessions running simultaneously, allowing the instructors and trainers, owners and managers, to drift from session to session easily and efficiently. It is our commitment to the industry to continue to provide high-quality, affordable fitness education and bring it into people's cities, their clubs and their homes.

C.I. - What do participants of your content gain that they cannot find anywhere else?
SK - Participants who enjoy our live streaming conferences and certifications are able to safely enjoy education and community from their own homes. Further, this allows access to international presenters that otherwise might be unavailable. Not having to deal with flights, hotels and incidental travel expenses, such as meals, makes the event an entirely more flexible and affordable educational offering.


Since the advent of the printing press, there have been publications across every topic. Technology has changed the game, but after hundreds of years, the original form still exists.

Club Business International (CBI)

Club Business InternationalEvery month, IHRSA publishes Club Business International (CBI), one of the health club industry's leading trade publications. CBI features industry news and stories on successful practices in sales, marketing, operations and programming from around the world. The wide range of areas covered each month can be as relevant to front desk staff as to club owners and managers.

To read CBI, go to

Club Industry

Club IndustryHaving gone fully digital in 2014, Club Industry is a trusted voice in the fitness and wellness community. As a leading digital trade media source, Club Industry is helping to bring news and education to fitness facility owners, managers and professionals.

Comments From Pamela Kufahl
Director of Content for Club Industry

Pamela KufahlPamela Kufahl

Club Insider (C.I.) - What are your thoughts on the importance of continuing education within the health and fitness club industry?
Pamela Kufahl (PK) - Many people believe the future of the fitness industry is in integration with the healthcare industry. For the health and wellness industry to partner to a greater extent with the healthcare community, the fitness industry must make continuing education a top priority. The medical community puts a premium on continuing education, and they expect the industries they work with to do the same.

C.I. - In your view, where does your organization fit into that prism?
PK - As a news and education brand, we offer education with our news stories, our special reports on topics such as trends to watch, the future of technology in the industry, the integration of healthcare and fitness and more. We also offer our monthly Master Class Webinars on topics such as dealing with the effects of COVID-19 on the industry, retention, leadership, qualities of a Top 100 club and more. And, for 35 years, we have hosted the Club Industry Show, which educates and connects members of the health and wellness community. The ability to get continuing education in-person will always be important, but the virtual option for that is growing, too, and we have the virtual education platform required to deliver continuing education online in a robust manner.

C.I. - What do participants of your content gain that they cannot find anywhere else?
PK - Club Industry offers some of the top presenters in the industry focused on the business of fitness. Our education focuses on leadership, retention, sales and marketing, programming, technology, trends and personal training. We also have two unique summits: Our Healthcare & Fitness Integration Summit has the goal of educating the fitness industry about the opportunities in partnering with the healthcare community, bringing in physicians and payors as attendees and presenters to allow for the groups to get to know each other better and develop relationships. Our CEO Summit is the only event where the owners and CEOs of the top revenue-generating commercial club companies in North America come together for education and networking. This invitation-only event (you have to qualify based on your company's revenue) is now in its ninth year. This year, we are offering two new summits. The Not-for-Profit Summit will focus on issues of special concern to the YMCAs, JCCs, parks and rec facilities and university rec centers. And, the Franchise Summit is specific to franchisors and the challenges they face in expanding their franchise businesses.

Club Insider

Club InsiderThe Mission of Club Insider is, "To help the owners and operators of health and fitness clubs professionalize their clubs and gain the trust and business of their community."

Club Insider is carefully read for many reasons including:

  • Sharing Great Stories of Club Success with monthly, Case-Study Cover Stories;
  • Educating Owners and Operators with articles by expert Contributing Authors;
  • "Telling-It-Like-It-Is" about important industry matters with periodic "Insider Speaks" Editorials;
  • Serving as the Watchdog of the health and fitness club industry with Norm's Notes.

All of this makes Club Insider The Pulse of the Health and Fitness Club Industry.

Comments from Norm Cates
Founder and Tribal Leader of Club Insider

Norm CatesNorm Cates

Justin Cates (JC) - What are your thoughts on the importance of continuing education within the health and fitness club industry?
Norm Cates (NC) - The health, racquet and sportsclub industry across America, and around the world, is filled with individuals who're seeking an easy path to financial independence and prosperity. Many of them enter our industry thinking that making lots of money in our business is a piece of cake. How badly they are mistaken with that simple view of our industry. Some folks enter our industry thinking that all they have to do is rent some space in a building somewhere, install a front desk and a reception area, rent some equipment and maybe allocate some space for group fitness classes. Then, start selling memberships and just sit back and rake in the moola. How badly they are mistaken.

For the record, to all of you out there thinking our health and fitness industry is a piece of cake to be successful in, I have some real true news for you. It is NOT. You should realize that opening a health and fitness club that's successful is a very tough, day-in and day-out, business challenge in which to engage. And, you should know that, to succeed, you must master many disciplines. Fortunately, our industry has help in many forms, many of which you are covering in this article.

JC - In your view, where does your organization fit into that prism?
NC - As a Key Leader of the health, racquet and sportsclub industry in the teaching and sharing of industry knowledge, experience, and very, very importantly, the realm of needed ethics and integrity disciplines.

JC - What do participants of your content gain that they cannot find anywhere else?
NC - First of all, and for sure, I, Norm Cates, as a 45+ year veteran of the club business and industry and the 1st President and a Co-Founder of IHRSA with my good friend, RICK CARO, and five others, Club Insider brings true 'Inside' information and commentary that you will find NOWHERE ELSE in our industry anywhere. PERIOD! Since 1993, over the 27+ years of Club Insider publishing, I have gone after crooks in our industry, people who are being deceitful in the things they do in the business and say about a variety of topics in our industry. I have stood up against wrongdoing in many areas.

In the editorial content of Club Insider, we have a voluntary lineup of Club Insider Contributing Authors who represent the most experienced and powerful lineup of experts in the entire industry worldwide. That list includes, but is not limited to: the ONE and ONLY IHRSA Co-Founder and former President, RICK CARO; JOHN McCARTHY, 25-year IHRSA CEO Emeritus; JOE MOORE, 14-year IHRSA President and CEO, as well as BILL McBRIDE, CASEY CONRAD, DARON ALLEN, DEREK BARTON, PAUL BEDARD, Esquire, and THOMAS PLUMMER, just to name a few of our highly esteemed Contributing Authors (See the Full List on Page #22). Importantly, our highly esteemed Club Insider Contributing Author Team provides true expertise in all disciplines and phases of the health, racquet and sportsclub industry. And, for sure, you can rely on the articles you read in Club Insider to have been written by the best experts in their disciplines in the entire world. This powerful and knowledgeable team gives our publication a leg up on all others and is a real resource of industry expertise for readers around the world.

Club Solutions Magazine

Club SolutionsClub Solutions Magazine is a leading business resource for the health and fitness industry. The mission of Club Solutions is to provide best practice, business resources that educate and empower health club professionals. The publication has aligned itself with the health club industry's top leaders to create the industry's most powerful advisory board. Club Solutions is read by health club owners, operators, presidents, general managers, managers and decision makers within the health club industry, and it provides many business ideas, strategies and solutions across its multimedia platform.

Athletic Business Magazine

Athletic Business MagazineBorn more than 40 years ago as a magazine devoted to a sports industry just beginning to think of itself as an industry, Athletic Business has grown to become an internationally-recognized multimedia brand. Athletic Business is read by individuals representing colleges and universities, high schools, park and recreation departments, military branches and bases, health clubs, YMCAs, professional sports teams, stadiums and arenas, sports architecture firms and hospital and corporate wellness centers. Readers turn to Athletic Business for award-winning editorial content, as well as to view products and services offered by leading advertisers.

Industry Reports


The IHRSA Global Report provides the most comprehensive overview of health club markets worldwide, making it a must-have resource for industry insiders, including club operators, investors, market analysts and other professionals. It includes data on revenue, number of facilities and number of club members for nearly 70 markets. For the U.S. market, there is a breakdown of data for the number of clubs by state and infographic insights for consumer growth and member visits. The company profiles section highlights approximately 300 leading health club companies from around the world, including number of facilities, number of members and annual revenue (when available).

IHRSA's Profiles of Success, based on data gathered in the annual Industry Data Survey (IDS), provides benchmarks and other operational and financial data for select leading clubs. Included are key metrics such as revenue, membership growth and retention, traffic, payroll, non-dues revenue and EBITDA. Club reinvestment and profit center analysis as well as income statement and balance sheet data are also provided.

The IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report provides club operators, suppliers and fitness professionals with the data and insights to better understand health club consumers and fitness participants. It provides demographics and health, sports and fitness participation data on America's health club consumers. New to this year's report is an in-depth analysis of Generation Z health club users. Also included is a snapshot of personal and small group training clients.

To access these reports and others, go to

Comments From Jay Ablondi
IHRSA Executive VP of Global Products

Jay AblondiJay Ablondi

I currently oversee the publishing, research, education, convention, trade show, online media, marketing and information technology departments of IHRSA.

As a leader in providing education for the industry, IHRSA has a long history of providing world class presenters at our events as well as discovering those operators in the industry who are exceptional in what they do and are thought leaders willing to share their best practices with the industry.

As you may know, many of the most sought-after presenters in the industry got their first big exposure at an IHRSA event and have gone on to become well known within the industry.

Over the past several years, IHRSA has hosted more than one hundred webinars on pertinent and relevant topics that club operators confront on a regular basis, such as member retention, staff training, digital marketing, sales, legal issues, just to name a few. These webinars are all available for free and on demand to IHRSA members.

In June, IHRSA launched a new series of on-demand educational video seminars from industry experts, many of whom have been our most popular presenters at the IHRSA International Convention as well as some emerging leaders in their fields. These classes are all free for members as well. A full listing is available at

For clubs that are not yet IHRSA members, classes and webinars can be purchased for a modest fee. It is important to note that IHRSA has made all COVID-19 related resources, which includes several webinars, free to all in order to aid as many clubs as possible during these challenging times. These resources can be found at In addition, IHRSA also has hundreds of audio recordings from past IHRSA convention sessions available at as well.

One exciting project we are currently working on is the new IHRSA Innovation Summit. This will be a one-day interactive, virtual event for health club operators and fitness professionals. The IHRSA Innovation Summit will be held on Thursday, September 17, 2020, and it is not to be missed, as it will be the one Fall online event that everyone will want to be a part of. Details will be available in early August. Stay Tuned! For those in Europe, IHRSA will also be hosting a virtual European Congress later this fall.

Of course, IHRSA will continue to host in-person events, such as IHRSA 2021, the IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show that will to be held March 10 - 13, 2021 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. As IHRSA's First President and Co-Founder with Rick Caro and five others, and Club Insider Founder, Norm Cates, knows firsthand, 2021 marks the 40th Anniversary of IHRSA, so this March will certainly be a time to celebrate the rebirth of the industry as we all emerge from this pandemic.

Another popular feature IHRSA launched earlier this year is the new IHRSA Forum (, a free online community where club operators discuss topics concerning their businesses.

Looking further ahead, the IHRSA Institute, a four-day executive-level event held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will return in August 2021 as well. The IHRSA Institute has been called one of the best kept secrets within the industry. This is a bit ironic in the sense that those that graduate from the IHRSA Institute are its greatest promoters and ambassadors. The intimate class sizes and university setting the Institute provides make for an ideal opportunity for those in the industry to forge lifelong business connections and friendships.

It is important to realize that IHRSA is a member-owned, non-profit association, and therefore, it is only as strong as its Membership. Because of this, IHRSA devotes a tremendous time and effort into providing club operators resources and networking opportunities to help them grow their careers and businesses. As Club Insider has reported extensively on, IHRSA is also the leading and most effective advocate for the industry at the Federal and State levels of government. Detailing all of those Herculean efforts would consume entire issues of Club Insider and Club Business International, too!


ClubIntelClubIntel is a brand and consumer insight firm serving the fitness and club industry. We are passionate about helping those involved in the fitness and club industry understand, appreciate and leverage the needs and wants of their respective audiences in delivering a uniquely differentiated and successful value proposition.

Comments from Stephen Tharrett and Mark Williamson
Principals of ClubIntel

Stephen TharrettStephen Tharrett

Club Insider (C.I.) - What are your thoughts on the importance of continuing education within the health and fitness club industry?
Stephen Tharrett and Mark Williamson (ST/MW) - Albert Einstein said two things: first, 'learn from yesterday' and second, '...The important thing is not to stop questioning.' I believe it's the statement about never stop questioning that speaks to the value of continuing education. Professionals not pursuing continuing education is akin to wading water in the face of a strong current; either you go backward, or you drown. Successful leaders and businesspeople never stop asking questions, and they never stop searching for new information. Knowledge is power, and you only get it by focusing on seeking out knowledge you don't have. I know that I would never have achieved what I have without constantly learning from a variety of resources.

Mark WilliamsonMark Williamson

C.I. - In your view, where does your organization fit into that prism?
ST/MW - Part of ClubIntel's mission is to 'educate the industry.' Our competitive advantage is grounded in our approach around educating our clients, the industry and individuals. Our whitepapers are educational as they bring forward information and ideas not commonly found in our industry. Our reports explore questions our industry has and then offers factual data and interpretation. When we work with clients, we are providing them with solutions to challenges and questions they have. When we do presentations and webinars for the industry or clients, it is about education and entertainment, making learning fun. Everything we do could be viewed through an educational prism.

C.I. - What do participants of your content gain that they cannot find anywhere else?
ST/MW - The individuals who access our resources will receive:

  1. 1. Thoroughly researched and sourced information on topics not always covered in our industry. We tend to focus on management, leadership, branding and innovation topics that are not frequently addressed by industry pundits. We try to draw insight and inspiration from thought leaders in other industries and translate them to meaningful and applicable insights for the fitness industry.
  2. 2. Our reports provide data and interpretation of data around topics of relevance to the industry, from our Annual Trend Report to our recent report on the Member Perspective on COVID-19 closure or even our authoring of reports for industry associations.

To read ClubIntel's Whitepapers and Reports, go to

Webinars and Virtual Town Halls

To close out this cover story on Continuing Education, I would be remiss were I not to mention Webinars and Virtual Town Halls. These have existed prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, but they have simply exploded since the virus took hold of the world. Almost all of the organizations covered in this story, and many others not covered, have featured this virtual information source in recent months, and what's even better, is a lot of them have built libraries featuring the ones they have already done. If you have not already done so, be sure you check out this form of continuing education! Start with IHRSA at and Club Industry at

• • •

Thank you to Eddie Tock, Jay Ablondi, Mark Williamson, Norm Cates, Pamela Kufahl, Sara Kooperman and Stephen Tharrett for their comments and contributions to this article. Enjoy the world of knowledge, and thanks for reading!

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