John’s May Musings

REX Roundtable, if you are not aquatinted with this organization, you should be. Will Phillips the founder of REX Roundtable has written a brief blurb on what to expect from entry-level employees coming into the workforce. I believe you will find his content of interest.

Since joining the REX Roundtable family (as a vendor), I can’t say enough good things about the organization. The quality of clubs, the owners and managers, all with the purpose of helping each other and improving their clubs. The transparency of the REX members is truly inspiring. I encourage you to go to their website ( ) to learn more.

Continue reading “John’s May Musings”

Petra Towels – Essentials

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PetrA-1 is uniquely positioned as a manufacturer and distributor of our own linen products.  These products include bath, hand and wash towels, bar mops, sheets, blankets, aprons and various other items.   Our owned and operated manufacturing allows us to develop specialized, dedicated linen programs for our customers.   Through our various Golden Mills lines which include Classic Terry, Golden Camelot, Golden Jewel, Golden Cam and Golden Touch, we are able to offer products for various uses and budgets.  Each line offers a consistent, quality product which is governed by strict quality controls.    These products are distributed through our nationwide two-day delivery network and stocked in seven warehouses.       Continue reading “Petra Towels – Essentials”

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.”


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.

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:

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

December 2014

Welcome to the inaugural issue of John Mickelson’s soapbox!

Lets get busy and start with a facility right here in the Reno area.

St. Mary’s Center for Health & Fitness,
Wellness Center Owned and Operated by St. Mary’s Hospital

Loren Beccard, Facility Engineer

Key Issue: Towel Service

Towel Service is a huge responsibility in their operation. They have between 1500-2000 member usages per day, their towel usage is huge, with the washers and dryers operating from opening till closing.

As you might have heard, Nevada and California are in the middle of a “history making” draught. Water is as precious as gold or silver and water municipalities are ever raising their water rates. Loren’s task was to reduce water usage, improve cleanliness of towels, make sure the towels are soft to the touch, find a way to extend the towel life expectancy and lower laundry chemical expenses.

Working with the folks from EcoLab, samples of Petra towels were sent back to their research lab for testing and research. Results from their research allowed Loren to produce a protocol that accomplished the following:

  1. Reduce wash water by almost half
  2. Increase the cleanliness of the laundry, also able to remove make-up and shoe polish versus conventional laundry systems
  3. Adjust drying procedures so towels were never overheated eliminating the crispy feel of the towels
  4. Proper cleaning and drying protocol increased the towel life expectancy by 20% – 25%
  5. Implementing the above protocols provided a total dollar savings of about 20%

The towel system has reduced my replacement cost from almost $20,000 per year to just above $10,000 ….along with reducing wash temperatures …measurable energy savings from not having to heat the reduced wash water” adds to the savings.

We hope you have found this brief expose’ of interest. Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Loren Beccard at or feel free to e-mail and I’ll be happy to assist.