Highlights from the 37th FitLife Summer Conference

This was the  37th year for the Fitlife Summer Conference (held in Bend Oregon), which rivals IHRSA as the longest running conference in our industry. The conference addressed issues of change which seem to be everywhere. Topics like growing a facility’s membership base, dealing with new categories of clubs/studios that are eroding membership and managing the “Rapids of Change” that permeates the fitness industry were highlighted.

Presenters like Bill McBride from Active Wellness/BMC3 keynoted a presentation on “People Performance” and Sal Pellegrino from Precor presented on “How to Sell and Succeed in Competitive Markets in 2017”. If you ever get a chance to hear these guys present at a conference or event, they will exceed your expectations.

Please keep in mind the FitLife Conference is open to all independently owned facilities, no matter where your facility is located.

For further attendance info, please contact Neal Simpson (neal@fitlifeclubs.com).

John’s August Musings

Next to the month of March when IHRSA occurs, I find July to be the second busiest month of the year. Summer Conferences for regional IHRSA organizations like MACMA and Fitlife take place and provide excellent venues to refresh and learn the latest information to provide a better membership experience. And along with the summer conferences, prospects and customers want me to drop by and do a “walk-through of their facility. Three weeks on the road and I finally get to come home for a bit.

Fitlife is the regional conference held in Bend Oregon. Bill McBride was one of the key-note speakers and of course was sponsored by Petra-1. Bill spoke about “People Management”, finding the right people to work “with”, “manage” and “lead”.  We also welcomed Sal Pellegrino from Precor who presented an overview of key trends and how “low Cost”, “big box” and “boutique” expansion is effecting the marketplace. He provided case studies of how facilities hes involved with made adjustments and thrived in their respective marketplace.

The Fitlife conference is open to all “non-corporate” fitness facilities, not only will you find the conference informative but also relaxing as the venue is nestled along five garden-like acres on the banks of the tantalizing Deschutes River.

Continue reading “John’s August Musings”

John’s Musings, By John Mickelson

Soapbox readers

Next to the month of March where we all attend IHRSA, July has become the month for all IHRSA regional conferences and events. MACMA (covers the states of Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, Delaware and Pennsylvania and New Jersey) and Fitlife (covers the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana) are regional IHRSA organizations that provide conferences that educate and provide a tradeshow venue to view the latest items for improving your membership experience. If you are not a member of these organizations, please email me and I’ll provide you all the contact info.

This month, Will Phillips (Founder, REX Roundtables  will@rexroundtables.com ) has shared with us his perspective on hiring….you hire for attitude, and train for skills. I believe its one of the best written articles on what to look for when hiring a new employee. In being a preferred vendor for the REX Roundtables organization, we have found REX to be an organization where you receive much more than you give. It truly does change lives. If you are not a member, you need to talk with Will or Eddie Tock ((914) 643-3207) about how your facility would benefit by joining.

Bill McBride and Brent Darden have been regular contributors to the Soapbox. Both Bill and Brent along with Allison Flatley will be presenting at Club Industry (October 4-6) the topic of “Leadership Mastery, Leadership – The Direction & Strategy”. We have included a copy of the speaking notes and itinerary. If you haven’t experienced a session where Brent and Bill are presenting together, you need to make sure you attend. Add Allison Flatley of Corporate Fitness Works talking about “Service & Member Experience” into the presentation and you have three industry icons that will exceed your expectations.

Brent Darden – brent@brentdarden.com  Allison Flatley- allisonflatley85@gmail.com Bill McBride – BillMcBride@BMC3.com…

Continue reading “John’s Musings, By John Mickelson”

The Creative Destruction of the Fitness Industry

FitLife will present some new research on fitness trends discussing the various business models, focusing on studios and boutique clubs.

A focus will be on studios and boutique clubs and why they work with the new wave of consumers. We will introduce the subject with some facts on what’s happening now in fitness.  Included are details on the new wave of fitness users (Millennials) including how they are spending their money in our industry. (10 minutes)  The good news they spend much more money of fitness than the baby boomers!  The challenge is delivering how they pursue fitness in a traditional club environment.

Members of the round table were chosen as they represent different types of clubs in our industry and inside the Fitlife Club Network.  Each Round Table Member will discuss what they are doing to offer a unique functional, boutique studio type experience within their business.

  1. Describe what’s new in their business that addresses fitness industry trends/ fitness business models.
  2. What’s working: (Best Practices) and its effect on member attraction, retention, ancillary revenue and operations.
  3. What’s not working (Lessons Learned)
  4. What are you changing to adapt (What’s next)
  5. Open discussion with the audience.

Continue reading “The Creative Destruction of the Fitness Industry”

Panel Discussion at Fitlife with Greg Dearholt

Medical Fitness Education Foundation will be launching a Medical Fitness Tour, with the help of Fitness Fest (event planner) in February 2018, in Phoenix, AZ. With the goal to travel to all 50 states at some point.

The “Tour” will offer fitness & allied health professionals two, 1-day full workshops and 8 non-competing workshops. Attendees will be granted a one-year professional membership to the MFN (MFN members will be given a large discount)

Topics may include and not be limited to: Active Aging, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Autism, Cancer, Diabetes, working with those with Disabilities, Fall Prevention, Fibromyalgia, Heart Disease, Joint Replacement, Mental Health Challenges, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Osteoporosis, Respiratory Disease, Stroke and women’s health issues including pre & postpartum care.

MFN is offering presenters a free opportunity to promote themselves, their course/workshops via a 90-minute workshop and a free vendor table at these events. FitnessFest will have CEC’s set up for the Tour.  Attendees will be granted a one-year professional membership to the MFN (MFN members will be given a large discount)

MFN is looking for venues to donate their location for this educational event. We have a few large fitness clubs, a country club in Boston interested as well as being part of Club Industry Tradeshow fall 2018.

Our vision is to spread this type of education around the country and continue to build the MFN registry of qualified professionals in the area of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of chronic disease/medical conditions.

Sal Pallegrino’s notes for Fitlife presentation

By Sal Pellegrino

A general overview of key trends and how low cost, big box and boutique expansion is effecting the marketplace. We all have more competition than ever, but I will share case studies of four successful Gold’s Gym owners who have made adjustments and thrived nicely in their respective markets. They share unique strategies on, marketing, customer engagement, group exercise, small group training, social media success and re-investment. Sal will finish with a summary of best practices and share a number of ideas as a result of his numerous club visits in 2017. This session is essential for owners, directors, and managers hoping to preemptively prepare for inevitable changes. Don’t miss this informative session with one of the industry’s finest suppliers.
Continue reading “Sal Pallegrino’s notes for Fitlife presentation”

Bill McBride, Brent Darden & Allison Flatley to speak at Club Industry regarding Leadership Mastery

Track Title:  Leadership Mastery

FitLife will lead with the Leadership Mastery Track title at the Club Industry Show in Chicago, IL on October 4-6, 2017.

The Club Industry Show allows you to meet and network with other industry leaders as well as the people behind the products, face-to-face, and have fun with a community of other like-minded professionals on the exhibit hall floor, in educational sessions and at networking events.

Here are the details of the Leadership Mastery track title:


  • Brent Darden – brent@brentdarden.com
  • Allison Flatley – allisonflatley85@gmail.com
  • Bill McBride – BillMcBride@BMC3.com

Agenda / Sessions:

  • Quick Introduction of all the Track Presenters prior to the first session
  • Invitation for any that want to ask additional questions of all 3 presenters to be in the room at the conclusion of the final session. This option will be shared prior to each session. 15 Minutes or so of Presenters “Hanging Out” – Informal not an official panel – “Meet & Greet”.

Track Sessions (5) – 4 at 75 Minutes / 1 (Lunch at 60 Minutes) 

  1. Leadership – “The Direction & Strategy” – (Brent & Bill)
    1. What Is It? It’s not Management!
    2. High Level. Traits & Characteristics.  Personal Leadership.
    3. Leading in the Future – Trends, Fads & Core
  2. Management – “The Operating Plan” (Allison)
    1. Where the “Rubber Meets the Road”
    2. Alignment / Standards
    3. Manager roles & responsibilities
    4. Accountability & Responsibility for Results
    5. The next generation of workforce
  3. People / Performance – “The Secret Sauce” (Brent)
    1. Finding Candidates
    2. Hiring
    3. Training
    4. Accountability to Standards
    5. Performance Management
    6. Incentive Pay, Rewards & Recognition
  4. Sales & Marketing – “The Engine” (Bill)
    1. Brand Position
    2. Sales Design
    3. Marketing Strategy
    4. Sales & Marketing Alignment
    5. Sales Results
  5. Service & Member Experience – “The Product” (Allison & Brent & Bill)
    1. People (Allison)
    2. Product (Bill)
    3. Process (Brent)
  6. Speaker Meet & Greet – Optional – 15-20 Minutes (All)

Continue reading “Bill McBride, Brent Darden & Allison Flatley to speak at Club Industry regarding Leadership Mastery”

2017 FitLife Summer Conference & Trade Show

Dear Soapbox readers:

Information shown below provides you a quick reference on the Fitlife Summer Conference next month in Bend Oregon. My good friend Bill McBride will be returning and I’ll have the opportunity to perform the introduction to his presentation. Every year the Fitlife event gets bigger and better.

We also want to welcome Sal Pellegrino of Precor to this year’s event. I’ve seen him speak at a number of events and he always meets or exceed expectations.

Would love to see you at Fitlife and again, the tradition continues with Petra-1 having booth number “1”



What: 2017 FitLife Summer Conference & Trade Show

Where: Riverside Hotel and Conference Center in beautiful, Bend, Oregon

When: July 16-18, 2017

Who: Members and Non-Members invited. Exhibitors Encouraged

The mission of the FitLife Summer Conference is to create meaningful networking and educational opportunities for the owners, managers and staff of FitLife member clubs and the suppliers who support them. This is not a traditional tradeshow, but rather an opportunity to build real relationships with FitLife clubs owners and staff. As such, exhibitors are welcome and encouraged to attend ALL sessions, meals and events alongside attendees, in addition to working the tradeshow.

The FitLife Summer Conference includes the following events:

  • Sunday, July 16: Welcome, Educational Sessions and Blowout Tradeshow Party
  • Monday, July 17: Breakfast, Educational Sessions, Tradeshow Lunch, Tradeshow Happy Hour, Dinner
  • Tuesday, July 18: Breakfast, Educational Sessions, Lunch, Fitlife Business Meeting.

FitLife Club Owners/Managers Retreat-Lindsey Rainwater to Keynote

Join The FitLife Club Network for their annual Owners/Managers Retreat on April 30th -May 1st featuring top-notch training from industry professional Lindsey Rainwater.

The mission of the FitLife Summer Conference is to create meaningful networking and educational opportunities for the owners, managers, and staff of FitLife member clubs and the suppliers who support them.

Lindsey Rainwater, FitLife Keynote Speaker

Lindsey Rainwater, an experienced consultant and coach to the fitness and wellness industry will be discussing Social Media Made Simple for your Health Club; The What and the How Behind Hacking Social Media Management for Your Health Club.  Continue reading “FitLife Club Owners/Managers Retreat-Lindsey Rainwater to Keynote”

2016 Draws to a close… A FitLife Update

by Neal Simpson of FitLife Club Network >>

Well my friends, another year has come and gone. What will 2017 bring? The Board of Directors and I have a great year planned with several events and educational opportunities.

This year we will have our Owners/Managers retreat in April @ the Resort in CDA, Idaho. Watch for information coming in the next few weeks on this exciting program, featuring Lindsey Rainwater. Lindsey will explain and show us how we can take control of social media and use it to our benefit, without feeling overwhelmed.

The Summer Conference this year at the Riverhouse in Bend, OR. will be held on July 23-25, 2017, as we move back to our traditional days of Sunday through Tuesday. I have been contacted by several new companies that will be in the trade show. I can tell you we have secured as keynoters Chris Stevenson, (Stevenson Fitness) and Mark Matteson, “Get more of the Right Things Done in less Time!” I should have our 3rd keynoter secured by January 1st.

Another item on my list is to schedule a meeting in PDX to discuss providers such as Silver & Fit, Silver Sneakers, etc. We will meet in person but also have a “call in” feature so everyone can make it notwithstanding the weather. We need to have a plan as these type of “programs” will continue to eat away on our profitability and possibly losing members to other clubs that reduce their prices so low it is not feasible for us.

Read the entire FitLife Newsletter Here fitlife-dec2016


Neal Simpson is the Executive Director of the The FitLife Club Network, an association of independently-owned health and fitness clubs in the Pacific Northwest. Our reciprocity program gives each club’s members the ability to use approximately 80 different clubs in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming on a short-term basis while they are traveling.
Many of the clubs in the Network have been in business for more than 25 years now, so there is an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience among our group of owners and managers. Networking is a key benefit of membership in FitLife and a willingness to share ideas and information is a hallmark of our association’s reputation.

To learn more about joining FitLife, click here.