William Bui from Draco explains what to look for in a Dispenser

I first met John over the phone in 2008. At the time, I just started with Draco with no sales experience and lack the personality. John was the most enthusiastic person I had ever spoken to. Little did I know that Petra had already been doing business with us for 10 years but John spoke to me like he had known me for all those years.

When we think of sales, what does that mean? Certainly, you need to be proud of your products and act as if it’s best thing in world. However sometimes we forget that it’s about solving problem and listening to your customer’s needs. Just offering a price is not sales. Knowing your customers and figuring out what are your advantages is true sales. When someone in my staff tells me a customer is not interested, I always ask why. If you dissect the phrase “they’re not interested”, is it because you gave price and they said no. Or did you take time to find out more about the company, who they buy from, who are the right people to talk to and what problems they are currently facing. Of course we must also find the right customer as well. Once you do, help them grow as best as you can, making money will be a byproduct that will naturally happen.

Check out our first commercial!

Team Mickelson gets a new member!

Dear Valued Petra-1 Customer,

We are pleased to announce the expansion of Team Mickelson. That’s right, John is getting some support to ensure you are looked after in a prompt and efficient manner.

John will still have an active role in your account but Nancy Anderson will be handling much of your day to day inquiries and requests. Many of you may already know Nancy through her excellent work in the past. We are now making her role as part of Team Mickelson official. Continue reading “Team Mickelson gets a new member!”

The Wizard – Soap Made Easy


Just push the button on the Wizard IV Soap Station and you are ready to use the Petra line of premium body wash, shampoo or hand soap.

Petra’s Super Concentrates provide excellent body and hair cleansing performance while being mild enough to use multiple times daily. They are available in a variety of popular colors and fragrances while The Wizard II Soap Station can customize the product to a desired richness and thickness.

The Wizard IV is a wall mounted soap station, unit similar to a chemical station. In fact, for convenience, it can be linked to an existing chemical station or directly to your water source.

John Mickelson     Inventor of the Wizard

Wizard Soap Stations are available in a number of configurations to best suit your needs including a two button unit for multi-product mixing.

Save time, save space and save money with Petra’s Super Concentrates and the Wizard IV Soap Station.

Wizard cost savings calculator (US)

Wizard cost savings calculator (CDN)

PetrA-1 Joins Tom Johnston for Global Wellness Day!


Dear SoapBox Readers,

We are changing things up a bit in this May Soapbox Newsletter. This month we feature two individuals that have a strong desire to make things better for those around them. Tom Johnston has a desire to help change the world and Dan Lopez has a passion to change and evolve his facilities for a better membership experience.

I was introduced to Tom Johnston through a mutual friend. Tom is the Chief Operating Officer for American Leisure with a passion for promoting and championing Global Wellness Day (GWD). As explained in the content shown below, GWD started as a grass roots movement that has now spread around the world. June 11th will be the 4th year anniversary and it so happens that Tom is the GWD Ambassador for the United States. I’m sure many of you have questions and perhaps have a desire to become involved with GWD. I encourage you to contact Tom via his email and he will be more than happy to answer all your questions. Thank you Tom for sharing your passion to make the world a much better place.

Our second featured author is Dan Lopez who is the operations/facility officer for the Spare Time Clubs in Sacramento. A large portion of our readers are involved in the actual “nuts and bolts” of facility management. Its our hope you will find Dan’s insight into club operations of interest. Dan brings a number of disciplines to his role at Spare Time and is one of the few people I know that loves to share his knowledge and experience with others. Have you experienced challenges or issues in managing your facility or facilities? How can you reduce pool expenditures, how about the best form of indoor or outdoor lighting, Dan is the man that has the answers. Over the years, Dan has been able to succeed in providing the savings that ownership has needed yet has improved the membership experience. I marvel as I walk through his clubs and the logistics that take place to make his facilities safe, fun and profitable. As with Tom, Dan’s contact info is listed at the end of his article and I encourage you to contact him for words of wisdom.

We cherish our readership and it’s a pleasure and privilege to serve you.We welcome your questions, comments and concerns and if there is a favorite topic you feel passionate about, please let us know. We are here for you and would love to hear from you

John Mickelson

Tom Johnston photoMeet our Featured Contributor
Tom Johnston, Chief Operating Officer of American Leisure and GWD Ambassador
Recognized for overseeing operations of innovative lifestyle amenity spaces for prominent real estate developers. Tom has a consistent record driving increased membership and sales revenue in the health and fitness industry. You can connect with Tom via email.


Global Wellness Day: Saturday, June 11, 2016

This information brought to the SoapBox by Tom Johnston
(You can read the full press release here)

Saturday, June 11, 2016 will mark the fourth Global Wellness Day (GWD) being celebrated around the world. GWD’s international network of over 70 Global Wellness Day Ambassadors report that they are on target to have over 3,000 properties & locations in 100 countries organize complimentary wellness activities like yoga/Pilates/dance workshops; breathing & mindfulness sessions and nutrition & beauty classes to help millions realize that “One day can change your whole life.” In fact, GWD events will be held around the world on the second Saturday in June, from sunrise in New Zealand until sunset in Hawaii.

Global Wellness Day LogoTaking away the barriers of exclusivity, this year’s rallying cry for GWD is “Wellness for Everyone!’’ with a range of cities, tourism boards, health clinics and even national dance companies offering are workshops and classes to educate & inspire the public about the benefits of proactive wellness and mind-body fitness. Waterfront communities from Asbury Park New Jersey to Imperial Beach, California, and both Jacksonville and Boca Raton, Florida, are organizing a day of family friendly wellness activities. AltaMed, the largest community health center in the nation based in California, understands wellness extends beyond healthcare and will be championing wellness opportunities for its employees and the communities it serves on June 11 in order to fully advocate equal access health & wellness services. And in Arizona, the Mountain Vista Medical Center will promote GWD activities at their Women’s Wellness Expo and the Sedona Golf Resort will hold the state’s first Wellness Golf Tournament, followed by a Community Wellness Fair at The Collective Sedona, a food/shopping/art/wellness center, with over 10 local spas holding classes and events.

Setting aside the second Saturday of June to provide complimentary, educational and experiential wellness activities to the public to promote good physical and mental health was the brainchild of Belgin Aksoy, owner of Turkey’s only destination spa and herself a cancer survivor. An idea whose time had come, Global Wellness Day was quickly embraced by the wellness industry and, amazingly, only one year later GWD was celebrated in 74 different countries at over 600 spas, hotels & destinations!

So our question to you is…What should the SoapBox do for GWD??
Submit your ideas today and we will highlight them in next month’s publication! Let’s get our local club members AND employees motivated with global ideas that think local. Click here to share your idea.

GWD American Leisure Team

The GWD American Leisure Team

John’s Testimonials: Hear What Our Customers Are Saying!

Customer: Dan Lopez, Corporate Facilities Director with Spare Time Clubs

Dan Lopez photoWhen John asked me to contribute to The Soapbox I was honored. John and Petra have been a part of my Spare Time team for 14 years. He and Petra are a vital part of our daily business. Petra is not just a vendor they are a team member that contributes to the over all success of our company. I mention this because as a Facilities Director managing multiple locations I depend on many people to help me maintain our clubs to the highest standards.

A critical key to finding a quality vendor or solving a difficult facility issue is to seek out Quality Information before making Any Decision. When it comes to making decisions on a particular product or vendor we usually have plenty of time to gather information and investigate the products or companies before making a decision. This principal must be applied in all of our decisions, even when we are dealing with time sensitive repairs that effect our daily operation and most importantly our members. I find that many people in the repair and service industry makes decision based on their experience, that is a vital piece to understanding a problem and implementing a solution, however it is not the only piece. There are other factors. Following is a guideline that I use when making any decisions for my facilities. The challenge is to not ignore this process for time sake, because a hasty uninformed decision only leads to further problems and longer and more costly repair times.

The First piece of Quality Information needed- What is the problem?  Sounds simple, however many times it is not. Really understanding what the issue is a critical step in making a Quality Decision. Asking many questions will eliminate many rabbit trails and cut down dramatically on the time it takes to solve the issue. “A quick decision leads quickly to more problems.”

The Second piece of Quality Information needed- What are the solutions? Once you have a clear understanding of the problem you must know decide how to resolve it. The key here is to once again have good information. It may be that the simple inexpensive fix may not be the right fix. The real questions are what have I spent in the past, what I will need to spend in the future and how does the down time affect my members. “A cheap fix may cost you more”

The Third piece of Quality Information needed- How do I prevent this from happening again? This is the piece that gets left out in many of our decision making process, however it is a critical function that I use to reduce both down time and cost of repairs at our clubs. If I fully understand the reasons for the failures I can put in place procedures to prevent it from happening again. This is a win win for our members and our bottom line. “Am I fixing it for today or forever?”

I strongly encourage companies to use some type of asset tracking software. I use it on a daily basis when deciding to repair or replace a particular asset such as a pool heater. It is very important that all repairs get imputed to the software so you can make an informed decision. If anyone has questions about asset tracking software, I would be happy to discuss my experience and knowledge with you.

What does the Petra and A-1 merger mean for you and your company?

Dear Soapbox Readers,

March is always the busiest month of the year as it’s the month IHRSA which is the “World Series” of events for our industry takes place . This year, the IHRSA convention was Petra’s best ever, besides a new booth, we also announced our merger with A-1 Textiles. PetrA-1 is the new name for what is now the largest provider (in the athletic club and sports industry) of towels and textiles in the United States and Canada. The content regarding the merger for this Soapbox issue was furnished by the two owners of PetrA-1, Sam Maduri and Ben Whitham.

Our IHRSA booth was brand new, giving us more display room for the new towel offerings, textiles, dispensers, liquids, equipment wipes and included a “selfie section”. Selfie photos are posted below for review. It was a lot of fun and we appreciate all the attendees that stopped by.

Special gift offered to our Soapbox readers in California. In April, PetrA-1 is participating in the CCD Spring Symposium and Trade Show taking place in Palm Springs (April 19-21). Details are posted below. I’ve secured a limited number of free passes for this event. If you have given thought to attending and haven’t yet purchased your passes, please contact me.Passes will be awarded per a “drawing” to be held later this week. Just emailme or call me and I’ll enter you into the drawing.

To help support the CCD Spring Symposium and Trade Show, PetrA-1 is sponsoring Bill McBride (president and CEO of Active Wellness & BMC3) in a keynote address. The CCD Spring Symposium and Trade Show is an opportunity for independent athletic clubs in California to come together and hear from icons and leaders on industry trends that will impact the profitability of their facility(s). This event is certainly worthy of your attendance. I look forward to meeting everyone that drops by our booth.

Thank you for your faithful readership and as always, it’s a pleasure and privilege to be a part of this wonderful and healthy industry.


Building Partnerships: Petra Hygienic Systems and A-1 Textiles
Written By Sam Maduri and Ben Whitham of PetrA-1
We are pleased to announce that Petra Hygienic Systems and A-1 Textiles have agreed to a strategic merger of the two companies Fitness Divisions which will create a new company called PetrA-1. This merger is expected to be formalized in the following months. PetrA-1 will be the largest provider of locker room amenities and towels in the USA. Both companies express excitement for the future, especially because of following benefits to customers:

  • Fastest Delivery Times: PetrA-1 will have 6 warehouses across the United States enabling the quickest delivery times in the industry.  Locations: California, Nevada, Texas, Atlanta, Indiana and Hawaii;
  • One-stop shop: PetrA-1 will offer the widest variety of liquid amenities, soap dispensers, wipes and towels;
  • Better Customer Service: PetrA-1 will have sales and customer service offices on both the East and West coast, meaning longer hours and better access to company representatives.
  • Continued Innovation: PetrA-1 will have the resources to increase our investment in product development and innovation to reflect the current trends and needs of the industry.

Petra Hygienic Systems has been the leading provider of liquid soaps, amenities and towels to the fitness industry, while A-1 Textiles has been leading the Hospitality industry for over 25 years. Together, PetrA-1 will create an even stronger supplier that will provide unparalleled products and service for all your locker room needs.
Your business is extremely valuable to us and we thank you for your loyal patronage. We strongly believe this merger will improve our service to you and hope you feel so too.

For your information we have developed a Customer Fact Sheet and Q&A document to address any questions you may have. If you have additional inquiries, please reach out to John Mickelson via email or at 775-530-7133.

Ben and Sam of PetrA-1Meet the PetrA-1 Leaders
Ben Whitham, VP of Sales/Owner
(pictured left)

Sam Maduri, President/Owner
(pictured right)



Featured IHRSA Trade Show Photos!

(Click here to see all the selfies from the Petra booth)

IHRSA Conference 2016 IHRSA Conference 2016 3 IHRSA Conference 2016 2

IHRSA Conference 2016









You Won’t Want to Miss this Upcoming IHRSA Regional Trade Show!

CCD Logo

*SoapBox Reader Exclusive Pricing*
Spring Symposium & Trade Show!

John is now offering SoapBox readers exclusive two-day passes for only $89! There will be many well known speakers to learn from and network with. See details in the event brochure here.

Trade Show will be held April 19-21, 2016 at the Renaissance by Marriott Palm Springs Hotel, located at the foot of the dramatic San Jacinto Mountains.CCD Symposium room rate per night is $159. The rate is extended to the night before the event (April 18) and the night after the event (April 21). Contact Renaissance and ask for CCD Symposium rate, 760-322-6000. You can view hotel accommodations by clicking here.

Contact John via email

Towel Retention Improves Productivity and Your Bottom Line!

Dear Soapbox Readers,

Just a reminder, come by the best and newest Petra booth at this year’s IHRSA Trade Show in Orlando! We’ll be handing out special prizes to those who stop by to see us at booth #1249. Get your free passes here when using promo code EXHFL.

Last month we talked membership levels, did you try the “Petra Challenge” to let your members decide what they like best?? Remember, as part of the “Petra Challenge”, we furnish complimentary product to install in both the men’s and women’s shower and vanity areas and we will know within a few days which products the membership prefer. This way your members feel a sense of gratitude that you want to provide the best locker room products available and that you value their opinion. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Again, I would encourage you to implement the same kind of program with other vendors, the cost is typically zero and something so simple can endear your membership in your desire to be a progressive and forward thinking facility. If you have questions or comments, please contact me. As the Soapbox is a forum for all things that help your facility grow and help change the lives of your membership for the better.

Towel Retention Improves Productivity and Your Bottom Line!

Poor towel retention can negatively effect many aspects of day to day operations. This can many times genuinely frustrate members, employees, and managers! Towel retention is an important aspect of running a fitness or health club.

Matthew Anderson GM PetraMeet our Contributing Author, Matthew Clayton Anderson, General Manager for Petra Soap, Inc.
Matthew has been a part of the Petra team for 7 years and has spent a decade working in the fitness and healthy club industry over all. Read on to learn about his towel retention research, experience, and recommendations. You can contact Matthew via Email or on LinkedIn.

“Back in 2005, I had a predicament that I had run out of storage space for all of the workout towels that I had inadvertently taken from my local gym.  I decided that I would locate all of the towels from my house and return them to the club during my next workout.  I thought I should speak to the General Manager of the club, and quickly learned how much theft occurred at my club.

Follow-up research found that most clubs face similar losses when it comes to towels. 80% of towels ordered by clubs in our industry end up leaving the club one way or another. This leaves the wear and tear rate at or below 20%! This seemed insane to me, and so I decided to do something about it.

AT Towel ImageFast forward a decade, Petra Hygienic Systems has become the industries leading towel company, and most of our success comes from the AT (anti-theft) Towel System.”

I partnered with ADT Sensormatic (now Tyco) at the time to research and develop a fool proof systems that would help reduce the towel loss in the health and fitness industry.  After many years of trial and error, we finally produced a working system in 2010.  With our special patented tag, our AT Towels will remind club guest to return the towels before exiting the club.

We now have over 100 customers that utilize the AT towel system included LA Fitness, GoodLife Fitness, Gold’s Gym and True Fitness in Singapore.  On average, our customers see a better than 40% savings on their annual towel spend because towels are staying in the club.

It has been a fun adventure over the years, and I am proud to have provided a product that helps support the fitness industry and is ultimately good for our environment.”


Discover the New Ways People Buy with Bill McBride

Dear Soapbox Readers,

Have you experienced a plateauing of your membership levels, or perhaps a decrease in membership? Have you really given thought of how you need to separate your facility from others that seem to be doing it better, offering more programs or equipment options than your facility?

Why have you not given thought to working with your manufacturer representatives? I can’t speak for others but its not uncommon for me to be in at least half a dozen facilities a week. My knowledge base of club facilities allows me to be able to know within 5 minutes of setting foot on the premises if the club is in growth mode or is struggling to make ends meet.

A simple suggestion for your consideration, develop a relationship with a team of manufacturer sales reps, let them provide you an assessment of what you have and what you could implement for a more user friendly facility.

When visiting a facility and I’m asked about suggestions on improving the membership experience, I always start with a facility walkthrough. If the facility is a customer, I’ll make suggestions on areas that could lower their cost but at the same time provide a membership experience that exceeds their expectations. If the facility is not a current Petra products user, I suggest they Take the “Petra Challenge”, let the members decide what they like best, after all, they pay the dues so let them make the decision on what products they find to their liking. The “Petra Challenge”, we furnish complimentary product to install in both the men’s and women’s shower and vanity areas and we will know within a few days which products the membership prefer. This way your members feel a sense of gratitude that you want to provide the best locker room products available and that you value their opinion. It’s a win-win for everyone.

I would encourage you to implement the same kind of program with other vendors, the cost is typically zero and something so simple can endear your membership in your desire to be a progressive and forward thinking facility.

If you have questions or comments, please contact me. As the Soapbox is a forum for all things that help your facility grow and help change the lives of your membership for the better.

– John Mickelson


Join Bill McBride for an IHRSA Webinar This Thursday
February 11, 2016 from 11am to 12pm PST

Transitioning from primarily sales & marketing to programs and results is a big transition. Specialized studios and focused offerings are selling fitness experiences, energy and results. Group camaraderie with HR technology is also proving to be an amazing motivator. Based on the book Unselling by Scott Stratten & Alison Kramer.

What You Will Learn:

  • Customer Pulse:  Ecstatic, Static, Vulnerable (Not too different from Net Promoter, Neutral, Detractor)
  • The problems with “Scrambling To Save” (Cause:  Over promising & Under Delivering)
  • What Customers Want – They want getting what they pay for
  • Great experiences – not only Great, but HERE at our Club/Site
  • Feedback requires Action – The Customer Rules.  You can’t ask then not respond and address
  • Social Media – “The Customer Strikes Back” – Business Problems or Negative Social Media?  A lot of a Club’s Social Media problems are really business problems
  • Discover how people now buy and learn how to enroll customers
  • Explore adaptation versus re-creation
  • Gain insight on coaching versus selling
  • Learn how to optimize prospect motivation
  • Learn how to find & enroll your best customers
  • Air Canada versus West Jet
    • VP of Operations (all execs should espouse)
    • Everybody matters
    • 2 planes going to the same place – I’m going with the one that has a better experience
    • Carey Smith quote:  “You treat your customers and your employees and your vendors all the same with the utmost respect and the utmost care and that will pay you back in spades”
  • Treat everyone as your customers.  It’s not just about customers
  • If something goes wrong, you can talk to vendors, employees and clients to make things work out – Don’t take anything for granted
  • Permission Marketing – Seth Godin

Bill McBride profile

Bill is a health club industry veteran with over 25 years of experience leading and managing all aspects of commercial health clubs, medical fitness centers, residential, community, multi-tenant and corporate fitness sites.  He co-founded Active Sports Clubs and Active Wellness, LLC and owns a health club consultancy – BMC3. Bill has served as Chairman of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) Board of Directors, President of the Mid-Atlantic Club Management Association (MACMA) and served on the Industry Advisory Board for the American Council of Exercise (ACE).  He is actively engaged as an author on industry education, serves on several Advisory Boards and speaks regularly on industry topics throughout the world.

Technology Revolutions along with Upcoming FREE Consulting Offers

Welcome to the November Edition of the SoapBox!

First we want to thank all our Donation Nomination participants for sharing their stories with us. Learning about and helping support these wonderful organizations has been a highlight for all of us working on the SoapBox, and we couldn’t do it without you.

Next month we have big, BIG news. We have an offer that has never been provided before. The only hint you’ll get are these four names we think you’ll recognize!

1. Bill McBride
2. Sal Pellegrino
3. Brent Darden
4. Bryan O’ Rourke

Stay tuned next month to see what we have in store! This month, we dive deeper into the technological revolution in the Fitness and Health Club industry with Bryan O’ Rourke.

Thank you all for making this newsletter a success,

John & Katy

How Technology Is Revolutionizing Fitness and the Health Club Industry

By: Bryan O’ Rourke
In his epic work, The Singularity Is Near, author and futurist Ray Kurzweil wrote, “Most long-range forecasts of what is technically feasible in future time periods dramatically underestimate the power of future developments because they are based on what I call the “intuitive linear” view of history rather than the “historical exponential” view.”

Indeed Kurzweil is correct the pace of change is exponential and not linear and therefore the rate of change resulting from technology is accelerating and most leaders do not gauge the impact this will really have. As a result technology sneaks up on us, revolutionizing industries, wrecking havoc on the unprepared while creating glorious opportunities for others.

The fitness and health club industries are no exception. Consider that the modern “health club” industry is only about 50 years old. A lot has changed in the past five decades and the implications to our industry,as a result, are tremendous.

Today we live in a world of constant connectivity, mobile networks, ubiquitous sensors and other technologies that did not exist only a decade ago. Netpulse recently created a great report on the health club of 2020 which demonstrates some of the implications of these technology trends. Access to information about people’s behaviors from sleep and activity levels to mood and food consumption is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

The Club of 2020: How technology is changing the fitness industry by NetpulseConsumers in general are becoming accustomed to solutions and services based on advanced technologies in other industries and they will expect this from fitness and clubs increasingly. Given these realities and what is to come fitness professionals must reconsider everything about their business models not because they should but because their very survival and ultimate success hangs in the balance.

Looking at the music industry is instructive when considering how technology is and will revolutionize fitness and health clubs. The advent of MP3 technology completely changed how people enjoyed music, how it was sold and how musicians could publish their work. Some in the music business still think, however, that a decade of iTunes singles, which digital music made available, killed the music industry. Those that think this way were the “pigs at the trough”, making profits on an inefficient distribution model which rewarded a few at the expense of others. They are the naysayers and pessimist who did not see the silver lining in the dark clouds. By un-tethering music from a rigid distribution model around proprietary formats, music enjoyment and sales exploded. From 2000 to 2010, global growth in live performances and album sales both tripled. The new digital music environment and industry creates opportunities previously unimaginable. Technology grew the pie substantially and will continue to do so for the music business. Parallels exist in health, fitness and wellness. We see the industry tripling in size in the next decade as a result.

Ultimately technologies are great enablers of innovation. During a recent speech at the 2014 HCI-DC conference, author Malcolm Gladwell shared his thoughts, which fitness professionals and leaders need to keep in mind, “Sometimes when we look at innovation we make the mistake of thinking that innovation is specific to an individual invention or device. But all of those [individual] views miss the greatest transformation that’s brought about by technology — and that’s when you bring these various pieces and have them work together in combination — it’s the synergies between these tools that bring about the greatest changes in the world that we live in.” When evaluating the impact of technology on the health, fitness and wellness market professionals must integrate these evolving tools into their innovation efforts because they have the potential to significantly increase the number of people that can be engaged and serviced to adopt healthier lifestyles.

A new world of innovation is emerging in the health club and fitness space right now and substantiates the tsunami of change that is upon our industry. Pure digital service models that provide on-demand coaching like Rise are in the marketplace. Class Pass, which has obtained over $50 Million in venture capital, is now a global mobile booking business for studios, and it did not even exist three years ago. Soul Cycle with its robust mobile app is delivering an outstanding digital – physical consumer experience around their cycling offering.

Meanwhile, the Internet of Everything is driving adoption of low cost connectivity to monitor equipment with solutions like www.myecofit.com, delivering member intelligence and ultimately improving user experience.

How can brands adapt in this current environment of change brought on by technology? A recent report presented by technology solutions provided by Club Excerp, a leading enterprise software provider, addresses this when referencing the role of the CIO in the health club industry (read it here). It includes some compelling thoughts from health club leaders in Europe on the subject of technology and its implications.

  1. Organization needs leadership that understands the potential available through technology but more importantly that potential must be defined around the member experience.
  2. Brands need the right partners who understand this new era of technology and can share meaningful insights, advice, options and thoughtful paths to solutions. We are seeing major fitness and health club brands trying to reorient their models or launch completely new models in order to address a changing landscape where consumer experience will determine success or failure.

Regardless of the industry, business model or organization, technology is revolutionizing everything. The fitness and health club industries are no exception. Ultimately technology will grow the marketplace significantly. It is essential that leaders dial into key trends and reflect on their business models and the implications of technologies to their customers. The future belongs to the brave who have a vision of how to make things better using new tools. To be successful in the fitness and health club industry you must be brave and take advantage of the future that has already arrived. Our industry and its success depends on it.

Watch these three video clips which I have prepared in the past year in connection with keynotes delivered around the world on the implication of technology for inspiration:

If I can be of any help to you or your organization please let me know via bryan@integerus.com.

About the author: Bryan O’Rourke is an experienced CEO, strategist, and adviser who helps organizations and professionals realize their full potential and solve their biggest challenges. With a track record of building teams and growing global brands, his network of associates and partners have served organizations large and small. His present focus is on fitness, wellness, health clubs, technology, innovation, finance, marketing and business development, but his expertise and consultancy extends to a number of disciplines and industries. He is an owner and CSO of Fitmarc, which serves over 1,000 fitness facilities and over 5,000 instructor professionals. As President of the Fitness Industry Technology Council, he is working to create interoperability standards in the fitness space. He is considered a leading expert on technology, consumer and business trends and his views have been published in periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Inc. Magazine, and CBI among others. Bryan delivers customized keynotes and strategic working sessions and is a highly sought after speaker and facilitator who has delivered his message at industry conferences and organizational events on four continents. Via his firm Integerus, Bryan advises a number of high profile entrepreneurs, their families and leading brands on a host of business matters both domestically and internationally. To learn more visit bryankorourke.com.

Featured Petra Product of the Month!

Petra Soap DispensersPetra’s extensive line of dispensers provides a solution for every need from wall mount to counter top, spray bottles to bag dispensers and foaming soap to lotion dispensers. We offer a wide range of colors custom branded labels, and quick delivery. Ask you Petra representative about our Free Dispenser Program. Learn more >>

September 2015

Welcome to the September Edition of the SoapBox!

Last month was one our most popular edition! Thank you to all our faithful SoapBox readers, we truly hope you enjoyed hearing the story behind Augie Nieto of Augie’s Quest and finding out about our Donation Nomination winners.

This month, we are diving into WHY we get active.

We want our bodies fit and healthy to prevent illness or injury. To help us introduce this topic, we are very excited to have Brent Darden, IHRSA Past Chairman of the Board, to share his personal story of why staying active is so important to him and his family.

Our Featured Guest

Brent Dardin

Brent Darden
IHRSHA Past Chairman of the Board

Contact Brent



‘Why Get Active’ from Brent Darden

Why indeed? The answer seems self-evident to those of us who have made careers founded on the premise of physical activity.

The indisputable evidence and ongoing avalanche of research supporting the benefits of an active lifestyle are endless. Hopefully you have seen, and perhaps even participated, in IHRSA’s “Why Get Active” campaign aimed at helping to reverse the epidemic of physical inactivity. This is a cause I am extremely passionate about. It’s very personal to me. Not only “why” get active, but “how”.

When asked recently to scribble a few words on a small whiteboard to answer this question and pose for a photo with the sign, I was at a loss. Not because I didn’t have an answer, but because my response was so much deeper than I could possibly communicate in such brevity. I could have defaulted to the typical, and very appropriate reasons such as; to stay young, to feel better, to look better, to be healthy, and to manage my stress.

Or, I could have been more pragmatic and shared that I am “scared straight” to exercise because of my genetic predisposition that includes a family history of; high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, gout, shingles, and dementia.

Of course, as a former club owner and current industry consultant, I preach the message of regular exercise – almost always conjoined with the encouragement to join health clubs. After all, our best clubs offer a supportive and empathetic environment filled with resources to help individuals reach their wellness goals. But, to reach the masses of the uncommitted, we must remember that activity itself is the ultimate goal – wherever, whenever, and however it occurs.

As health and fitness professionals, we “know” intellectually (in our mind) that exercise is good for everyone. As human beings, we “feel” instinctively (in our gut) that movement is good for people. To expand our influence, we must realize that as leaders of this effort we need to “show” others (in our heart) that we sincerely care about helping them lead an active life-style. Although as club operators we frequently lament the proliferation of increased competition on all fronts, we hopefully will never lose sight of the stark reality that our offering can not, and will not, be the answer for everyone.

On a very personal level, this idea has been reinforced through those closest to me. I love the health club business and have an affinity in particular for luxury level, multi-purpose clubs, since that has been my background throughout most of my career. Naturally, my family has been afforded the opportunity to use these facilities over the years and have enjoyed the experience. However, over the last year, my two grown sons have moved away and joined a budget club (Planet Fitness), a boutique studio (Yoga), and a training studio (Crossfit). Meanwhile, unable to drive very far from home due to progressing Alzheimer’s, my mother now belongs to a nearby boutique Pilates Studio. All of these offerings once regarded as “lesser” fitness options and relegated to “second class” consideration, are now effectively serving the needs of Very Important People – at least to me. I’m absolutely thrilled that they are all continuing to be active and beyond thankful that the diversification of our great industry is providing such a variety of options.

Herein lies the underlying essence of the Why Get Active campaign – reversing physical inactivity will be accomplished only through meeting individuals where they are, and embracing the broad spectrum of activity through any and all mediums. Together, let’s celebrate the simple victory of activity with as many others as possible!

Anti Theft Towel LogoFeatured Petra Product

This is our second installment of five feature products. This month, our feature demonstrates an effective use of technology in the interest of quality service.

Introducing the Anti-Theft Towel System: Developed specifically for the health and fitness industry, this system solves the problem and expense of towel theft at your facility.Through membership and guest compliance, your towel budget will shrink without compromising quality of service. The AT Towel System pays for itself and puts money back into the club…guaranteed.
Learn more >>

Donation Nomination Winner Knight Cancer Institute: You are part of an unstoppable movement against cancer

Earlier this summer, we honored every single one of you at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland with a domino art installation that read: “One billion dollars raised. We fight cancer differently.” The crowd cheered as 10,000 dominoes fell, one by one, and the word “cancer” collapsed in a heap. Thank you for all you have done for the Knight Cancer Institute. This is merely the beginning. We are moving forward-into new realms of research and discovery. We will take down cancer. Together.

Donating money over an increasing graphYour Donation Nomination Matters!

It is through your personal and professional networks that we are able to give.

The nonprofit organizations we have been introduced to from all across the West Coast have truly been blessings. Send us the nonprofit story that has touched your life.

If selected, they will receive a $500 donation in your name. Send in your Donation Nomination here.

August 2015

Welcome to the August Edition of the SoapBox!

Last month we wrapped up our Water Conservation features with exclusive SolarShield SoapBox reader pricing.

This month, it’s all about giving thanks. We’re announcing our Donation Nomination winners for the second quarter AND we’re featuring one of last quarter’s winners: Augie’s Quest.

Augie Nieto of Augies’s Quest Talks the Truth About Living with ALS

When Bill McBride chose Augie’s Quest as his Donation Nomination, he chose wisely. Augie is the real deal, and his story may hit close to home.

“I am often asked, ‘What has it been like living with ALS for ten years?’ To be frank, it’s been f%*#ing nuts.

Living with ALS for a decade has been a tidal wave of emotions and experiences – much too hard to sum up in one blog post, but I’m going to take a stab at it.

Before my diagnosis, I lived the fast life. I would drive my Ferrari down Pacific Coast Highway like greased lightning. My wife, Lynne, says she always knew when I was home because she could hear the sound of the engine revving down the driveway.

Life pumped the breaks, and now, I’m riding around in a wheelchair accessible mini-van. How life changes. Before ALS, things like a Ferrari mattered to me – showing success through material things.” Read More >>

Featured Petra Product of the Month

For the next 5 months, we will be featuring a Petra Soap product here on the SoapBox. This is your opportunity for a virtual demonstration of the latest and greatest products for your fitness/health club’s success.

Wizard IV

Introducing the Wizard IV: Just push the button on the Wizard IV Soap Station and you are ready to start saving with Petra Super Concentrates. The Wizard IV is a wall mounted soap station (similar to a chemical station) and liquids are available in a variety of popular colors and fragrances.

Save time, save space and save money with Petra Super Concentrates and the Wizard IV Soap Station. Learn more >>

Featured Partnership Update: FitLife

FitLife Photo from Tradeshow

The Fitlife Summer Conference was a huge success! Here is a recap of the event from Neal Simpson of  FitLife: “Fitlife is back and moving forward. 5 new clubs joining this year with several more looking. 6 New associate members/vendors who did really well. Lot’s of networking, making new friends and catching up with old friends.” Email Neal

July 2015

Feeling the pressure of water restrictions?

Reduce water evaporation up to 30% a month with a new product from Sea Klear now available through Ecolab.

In our last edition, we talked about how it was up to us to rise to the challenge of meeting water use reduction goals while maintaining member satisfaction in a cost effective manner. We are rising to that challenge.

Introducing the Revolutionary New Product: Solar Shield!

SolarShieldBottleThis newly released product helps reduce pool water evaporation and heat loss to save you money and reduce water usage. Solar Shield forms an ultra-thin, invisible barrier on the surface of the water that is safe for swimmers and is a simple alternative to traditional pool covers.

The long-lasting product can provide protection up to 30 days between doses, saving you time. Solar Shield is also compatible with saline systems, allowing you to apply it wherever you need it most.

A reader with a 45,000 gallon pool could expect to use a gallon of Solar Shield over a 2-3 month period, translating into approximately $50 a month to reduce water loss (usage rates and cost per treatment will vary by pool size).

Contact your Ecolab representative at
1-800 EL CLEAN to order.


Did you know?

PoolThe EPA estimates a 15,000 gallon outdoor pool can lose over 45,000 gallons of water during the course of a year to evaporation?

Readers, we want to help you with water conservation and your day-to-day needs, but we need your feedback. Ask us a question and we will find an industry leader to offer a helpful answer.

Send in your questions here.

Featured Partnership of the Month: FitLife

FitLife fights for independent health club ownership and gathers experts to support their 77 Pacific Northwest clubs by hosting the Fitlife Summer Conference, where you come to learn, grow, share and have fun! Email Neal for registration information to attend the convention.

Neal with FitLifeThis summer marks the 35th annual summer conference. “..we have one of the best line-ups...‘Customer Service, Re-energized! Bill McBride, Eddie Tock, Robert Brewster, Brent Darden and more are also presenting.”- Neal Simpson, Executive Director of the FitLife Club Network, who has dedicated over 30 years to FitLife and 40 years to the industry!

A Testimonial from Neal…

“Thank you Petra and John Mickelson for all you do to support Fitlife. Our member clubs enjoy your prompt attention to detail and great products and service. Looking forward to seeing you at our summer conference and trade show in Bend, Oregon this July. Your sponsorship of Bill McBride is always one [of] the highlights of our conference. John with Petra, I am truly glad I met ya!” – Neal

Petra is sponsoring the one and only Bill McBride for the third year in a row for a reason.

Bill McBride, SpeakerHe’s an amazing speaker who knows what he’s talking about. 

You can get a sneakpeak from Bill in the all new Fitness Business Podcast as he talks purchasing behavior, management criteria, business strategy, and more!

May 2015

Welcome to May Edition of the SoapBox!

Last month, we were able to enrich the lives of many people (and animals!) thanks to your Donation Nominations!

All our winners received the $500 donations made in their nominators’ names. The surprise and joy on the other end of the telephone was what made this experience truly special. But there are more Donation Nominations to be made! Make your submission today by using the form at the bottom of this post.

Our guest today is Dr. Stacey Naito, a truly remarkable woman who has dedicated the last 25 years of her life to health and fitness. Dr. Naito is offering valuable tips for the special needs of women so health club and fitness facility owners can provide this powerful demographic with the support they need to meet their health and wellness goals. Until next time…John & Katy

Meet Our Contributing Author Dr. Stacey Naito

DrStaceyNaitoDr. Naito is the Medical Director for Urban Med, a company she has been with for the last 4 years. She has 11 years of experience in medicine and 25 years in fitness/health. You can email Stacey at in2neuro [at] yahoo.com

Favorite Quote…”Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.” ~ David McCullough

Women’s Health & Fitness:

Relationship-based solutions for female clientele of any age

By Dr. Stacey Naito

Many women can often be intimidated by health club or gym environments for a multitude of reasons. Women who don’t have a clue how to use unfamiliar exercise machines may find the experience of navigating through a whole collection of them rather terrifying.

As if that isn’t enough, some women question their ability to perform exercises with the necessary degree of coordination, balance and strength. Other women may hold onto the common misconception that lifting weights will make them extremely muscular and masculine, so they will shy away from free weights and weight machines, opting instead for more aerobic style activities. What is remarkable is that once these women are educated on the importance of regular exercise and proper nutrition, they experience profound health benefits which impact every aspect of their lives.

Gym owners who are willing to make an effort to address the unique concerns of women have a wonderful opportunity to build trust in their female clients, while also potentially increasing revenue by offering classes, training packages, classes, supplements and apparel which are designed for women.

If one-on-one training is offered at your facility, make sure to develop a group of trainers which can motivate female clients and address their unique concerns without making them feel inadequate or overwhelmed. Women also tend to have more questions about how to eat healthy, and often practice chronic caloric restriction which their bodies eventually adapt to, making it more difficult to drop those last few pounds, so it also makes sense to offer nutritional advice or refer female clients out to a dietician or nutritionist who is affiliated with your facility. Once the clients begin to experience physical and mental transformations, they become great cheerleaders for the gyms in which they train.

One of Dr. Naito’s favorite exercises, the Leg Curl.

On a personal note, I am a proponent of weight training and supportive nutrition, especially in older individuals. One of the cruel consequences of aging is that a progressive loss of muscle occurs, beginning as early as one’s 20’s. I explain to clients that resistance training and an increase in protein intake are both critical for combating the insidious deflation of muscle and sagging skin which are the dreaded signs of advancing age.

It is important to make clients aware of the fact that resistance training will increase muscle-fiber diameter and overall strength, as well as naturally boost growth hormone and testosterone levels in the body.

Such hormonal and metabolic boosts can be incredible blessings for a menopausal woman who has been riding the unpredictable and often uncomfortable wave of hormonal decline, which is fraught with hot flashes, mood swings and, insomnia.

Basically, it is never too late to begin strength training!

For more information on age-related muscle loss in older women, please read my feature article in the September 2014 issue of Muscle & Body Magazine.

 Make Your 2nd Quarter Donation Nomination!

March 2015

Water DropsThe California and Nevada drought has caused many business owners and residents to practice water-use reduction.

Athletic club fitness leaders are doing the same. EcoLab’s Aquanomic Laundry Program is reducing water usage in the wash cycle by 40 percent. Watch this two minute video to learn more: http://video.ecolab.com/videos/lodging

9 Steps to Cleaner, Whiter, Softer Towels

We all know there is more to the wash cycle than water reduction, which is why we’re bringing you ‘Nine Steps to Cleaner, Whiter, Softer Towels’ courtesy of our contributing authors Mike Mcilhargey and Adam Elkin.

Step 1: Par levels

Facilities should have a 1.5 par supply of towels to allow 24 hours rest time between use and washes.

  • Down time extends linen life and allows for proper wash/contact time in the washing machines
Step 2: Extra Soils

Encourage members to not use provided towels to clean shoes, training equipment, or spills.

  • Additional soils can cause permanent staining and result in increased reject rates however there are programs to prevent these issues
Step 3: Water Quality

Water hardness should be softened above 5 grains; iron levels above .3PPM should be neutralized in the laundry wheel.

  • Industry trained vendor partners can provide an onsite evaluation and make recommendations
Step 4: Time

An 8 minute wash bath is recommended to allow detergents to emulsify soils and bleach out stains during the contact time.

Woman Getting a Massage

Step 5: Temp

90 degree with low temp soaps or 130 degree with traditional soaps is recommended to:

  • Active chemistry and emulsify body and spa oils, tanning lotions, and sun screens
Step 6: Mechanical Action

Proper load levels in the laundry machine is necessary to drive soils out of the towels

  • Over loading reduces soap and temp efficiencies in the laundering process

Under loading can cause machine damage and increases utility costs

Step 7: Chemical Action

Balanced chemistry is a key factor in protecting your towel investment and maximizing clean, white and soft results.

Step 8: Procedures

Proper handling in the “linen flow” process from dryer to member and back to the laundry machine is part of a successful towel service and should be evaluated by industry trained vendor partners.

Step 9: Dry Times

Over drying of towels can dramatically reduce linen life and overall softness:

  • 160-180 degree for 20-25 min
  • 5 min cool down

John is donating $500 to the nonprofits you vote for each quarter this year!

We’re accepting submissions for your nonprofit nominations. Selections are based on your story: Tell us why you think your nonprofit nominee deserves to win, how they improve their community, and the impact they have made on your life.

We’ll select the most compelling stories for you to vote on next month! Remember, this is the first of four donations John will be giving this year, we encourage you to submit a nomination each quarter!

Send Us Your Submission Here

February 2015

Club Cleanliness a timely subject. This year more than ever.

Colds and flus are wrecking havoc on everyone–even more with our seniors, which John recently experienced firsthand. Proper disinfection has always been a crucial piece of the cleaning puzzle, particularly in health club facilities. In fact, John recently contributed to CBI Magazine’s “Cleanliness is key to Healthiness” feature (You can see a digital version of CBI Magazine in it’s entirety by clicking here, the Cleanliness article is on page 64, you can enter the page number to go directly to the article) which he touches on in this month’s edition of the SoapBox.

A message from John…

I recently learned firsthand how quickly super bugs and pathogens can get out of control. My mom resides in an independent living facility where they try to keep up on cleaning and disinfecting. But once several residents came down with a cold and flu bug, there was no way to prevent the number of illnesses that occurred.

My mom ended up in the hospital and at 85 years of age, there was a day or two where we didn’t know if she would recover.

There is good news though. I work with a number of regional and national janitor supply companies that have the products and knowledge to help keep your club clean and sanitized. Making sure you have a strong relationship with a trusted janitor supply rep is one of the most important ways to lower your chances of being a gateway for transferring pathogens to your members. I encourage you to dialog with a trusted janitor supply rep, they typically are very knowledgeable and their advice is free. If you need help on finding a rep, let me know, I have a huge network of qualified people that I can recommend. Most important, besides keeping your club and equipment clean and sanitized, encourage everyone to wash their hands, use non-alcohol foaming hand sanitizers and if your budget allows, provide antiseptic equipment wipes.

If you want to know how clean your club is, use a portable, battery powered ultraviolet light which allows you to actually see the pathogens and other not so nice things in your facility. Seeing is believing. I have an inexpensive unit available if you are unable to source.

As to mom, she is on the mend. Each day she becomes stronger and in several weeks, we look forward to having her back to being normal. Enjoy the article from CBI Magazine (don’t forget the Cleanliness article is on page 64) and let me know how I can be of assistance to you and your facility. Be well my friends and lets make life fun and bring happiness to everyone we come in contact with. John

January 2015

Bill McBride is an icon in the health club industry.

If we were to list all the accomplishments he has earned working with a number of prominent athletic clubs, we wouldn’t have time for anything else!

  • Co-Founder, President & CEO of Active Sports Clubs
  • Founder, President & CEO of BMC3
  • International Presenter
  • Industry-recognized expert in retention, club operations, and more

Areas of Experience:

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Leadership and Management
  • Member experience
  • Operations

A message from John…

Over the years I’ve worked with Bill on assorted projects and have enjoyed every moment we were together. Bill is very approachable, personable, fun, well informed, likes a good cigar and glass of wine and has insight in areas we don’t even know exist.

All the items mentioned above are Bill’s “life work”. He is committed to making a positive difference in people’s lives through a profitable fitness/preventative wellness delivery system. He sees the positive impact this industry can play on the quality and longevity of our population.

Bill McBride’s Nuggets of Wisdom…

When John asked me to write for {the} Soapbox, I was honored…Working together makes everyone better and John with the Petra team has made BMC3 and Active Sports Clubs better.

I’ve always believed that if you have a high attention to detail on all of the small things, you will usually have the big things right as well.  Focus and attention to detail are cornerstone principles for operating clubs at the highest level.  Retention is all about the “touch points” our members have with our clubs.  Poor retention usually isn’t the result of one thing, it’s “death by a thousand cuts”.

Towels & Locker Room consumables aren’t commodities; they are true differentiators to the brand.  

One of the biggest impact items a club can do is have great lobbies and great locker rooms.  The locker room is the personal space for our members.  It’s where they store their stuff, sit, get undressed, shower, get ready and generally “sort them selves out”.

The attention to towels being clean with no tatters or stains, folded neatly (Tri-Fold with band visible recommended), the presentation of amenities and dispensers, the quality of the liquid products and the contentiousness of the club towards the environment all play significant roles in positive touch points with our members.

A great exercise is to have your team walk through your property and write down every conceivable touch point.  Start from the exterior of the building and work through every conceivable touch point.

  • Parking Lot – clean, safe, well lit
  • Entry – windows, doors and handles clean with organized communications
  • Lobby / Desk / Travel Path
  • Locker Room entry / Inside & outside of lockers
  • Scales / Blow Dryers / Curling Irons / Ironing Boards / Etc.– All working and clean
  • Carpets clean – any tatters or strings trimmed
  • Walls clean without scuffs
  • Fitness Center / Fitness Equipment spotless (detailed not just clean) including cup holders and steps
  • Studios spotless with equipment stored/staged neatly
  • Wet Areas / Pools – clean with everything organized (hooks for towels/keys/Etc.)
  • Member spaces clean and welcoming
  • Offices immaculate and professional
  • Staff in uniform
  • Clean Stations available and neat (Hand Sanitizer with Wipes) throughout the club

You get the idea… every touch point

Have your team do this exercise independently, compile the lists into one and do a team walk through discussing all the individual ways your members interact and experience your club.  This drill will be eye opening and educational for the team on looking at the club in a much more detailed fashion.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic or any other topic on Club Operations, Sales, Retention, Management, feel free to reach out to me via email or check out our website.

Bill McBride, President & CEO
50 Crestridge Court, Danville, CA 94506
(415) 299-9482