A Note from Brent Darden

Who would ever have thought the words “go fund me page” and Brent Darden would ever be in the same sentence? Amazing what the right motivation will do.

Knowing that I live in Texas, many people have been reaching out to me with concern related to the ongoing damage from Hurricane Harvey. The following clubs were impacted to varying degrees – temporary club closings, power outages, increased membership cancellations, requests for memberships to be placed on hold, flooding, facility and equipment damages, cancelled programs / classes (affecting staff earning and member spending), inability of staff and members to access the clubs due to bridge and road closings, etc. Of course in time, insurance will hopefully cover many of these business losses.

However, an immediate need is taking care of affected staff members (especially front-line employees) that may not have the resources to cope with this catastrophe.

Clubs impacted include:

  • Corpus Christie Athletic Club – Lisa Gorsline
  • Golds Gym Houston – Bryan Murphy
  • Houstonian – Cher Harris (are establishing their own “Houstonian Employee Assistance Fund” for Houstonian employees)
  • Memorial Athletic Club – Dave Cardone
  • Villa Sport – Cypress & Woodlands – Laurie Smith

Continue reading “A Note from Brent Darden”

Hurricane Harvey

By John’s Musings


The devastation is of biblical proportion affecting millions of people in the Houston, Corpus Christie and southern/coastal communities of Texas. We have all seen the heart-wrenching images and in our heart, theres a desire to do something. On Sunday morning, IHRSA icon Brent Darden sent me an email sharing with me the text below on how we can do the right thing and make a difference. Fitness facilities in the areas mentioned above need our help! Yes, with Brent leading the charge, we can make a difference.

Besides Brent’s content, we have video of Villa Sport – Cypress & Woodlands facility and the flooding that occurred.

Finally, Dave Cardone from Memorial Athletic Club and his “first hand” account on how hurricane Harvey is effecting our “first liners” at these facilities is another snapshot about the human impact Hurricane Harvey has had.

Continue reading “Hurricane Harvey”

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”

Join Thunderclap to #PassPhit

by Meredith Poppler

What is Thunderclap?
In our digital age, it is hard to be heard and capture people’s attention above all the noise. One person tweeting, calling or emailing can be the same as a person yelling across a full stadium to get the attention of someone on the other side. It is simply drowned out. But when the entire stadium yells the same message at the same time, not only is it heard, but it reverberates for miles. Thunderclap is a digital version of the entire stadium yelling the same message at the same time.

How Does Thunderclap Work? Continue reading “Join Thunderclap to #PassPhit”

Supporting PHIT

Legislation That Will Make Physical Activity More Affordable and Accessible

Physical inactivity is the cause of 1 in 10 deaths worldwide. We are in the midst of an inactivity and obesity crisis which is costing billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare expenditures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 86% of nationwide healthcare costs are used to diagnose and treat chronic diseases. Needless to say, something has to change! Decades of research prove that leading a physically active lifestyle is integral to good health. Simply put, an investment in staying physically active is an investment in staying well. And good health means lower healthcare costs. At a time when Americans are carrying the growing weight of their healthcare costs, they should have greater choice in how their healthcare dollars are spent. While America’s healthcare dilemma is complex and will require many solutions, passing PHIT will make staying physically active an easier and more affordable choice.

“The PHIT Act would make it easier for Americans and their families to prioritize health and wellness – and hopefully save money on future doctor visits.”

– PHIT co-sponsor Senator John Thune (R-SD)

The Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT – H.R.1267 and S.482) will allow Americans to use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for health club memberships, fitness equipment, exercise videos, and youth sports leagues. If passed, it will allow individuals to use up to $1,000 per year to cover these expenses and families to use up to $2,000 per year.

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Continue reading “Supporting PHIT”

Mickelson Musings – The Real Superbowl, Chocolate, and Free IHRSA Passes, and more!

IHRSA is almost here. The Superbowl of tradeshows. An opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. I’ll be in the Petra-1 booth (booth 617) looking forward to meeting all of you who stop by. It’s all about the relationships and it’s pleasure and privilege to spend time with you when you take time out of your busy schedule to stop by. We even made it easy to attend by providing free entry into the tradeshow. Click on the graphic below this write-up, fill in the blanks and you will receive confirmation that you are signed-up and ready to go. Just another example of how John Mickelson makes things easy for you.

As most of you know from past issues of the Soapbox, we like to give back. Continue reading “Mickelson Musings – The Real Superbowl, Chocolate, and Free IHRSA Passes, and more!”

A Healthier Population and Increased Recognition for Club-Based Wellness Programs

by Meredith Poppler of IHRSA >>>

Despite the many proven health benefits of exercise; physical inactivity, obesity, and chronic disease continue to be growing problems. And still, policy-makers, insurers, and the medical community are slow to embrace the solutions the health and fitness club industry provides.

IHRSA and its members have consistently worked to lay the groundwork for a world that views physical activity and the benefits that health clubs provide with increased importance. With that end-goal in mind, IHRSA has created a mechanism through which our industry’s efforts to fight chronic disease through exercise can be amplified.

The lofty but achievable goals of The IHRSA Foundation are to demonstrate the impact health clubs have on helping people effectively improve and manage their health, and then promote those benefits to increase the physically active population and improve wellness across the globe.

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Specifically, the IHRSA Foundation seeks to:

  • Conduct and support research on health outcomes related to participation in club-based wellness programs,

  • Provide educational resources and support to IHRSA member clubs in their efforts to improve the health of their communities, and

  • Promote evidence-based programs that encourage healthy lifestyles.

Currently, the IHRSA Foundation is building a collection of wellness through exercise programs which stress physical activity as an effective means of managing conditions like cancer, chronic disease prevention and management, diabetes, and physical and mental disabilities.

To support the IHRSA Foundation, please:

The IHRSA Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.


Vice President of Communication and Leadership Engagement at IHRSA
Meredith Poppler puts her 20+ year career in the industry to work protecting and promoting health clubs by raising awareness of and funding for important policy issues, and encouraging advocacy, collaboration and leadership within the industry. And as IHRSA’s Media liaison, Poppler communicates the importance of physical activity and the benefits that health clubs provide to their communities.  @PopplerMeredith
Meredith Poppler puts her 20+ year career in the industry to work protecting and promoting health clubs by raising awareness of and funding for important policy issues, and encouraging advocacy, collaboration and leadership within the industry. And as IHRSA’s Media liaison, Poppler communicates the importance of physical activity and the benefits that health clubs provide to their communities.  @PopplerMeredithVice President of Communication and Leadership Engagement at IHRSA