Merry Christmas! Our gift to you: free expert consulting!

Welcome to the December Edition of the SoapBox!

Dear Soapbox Readers, What a year 2015 has been! With the December Soapbox, we conclude our last 2015 issue. With the help of IHRSA industry icons, Bill McBride, Brent Darden, Bryan O’Rourke and Sal Pellegrino, our Soapbox newsletter has grown beyond our expectations and has brought valuable information to our ever expanding readership. We have truly been blessed in so many ways.

As we look forward to the December holidays, the season for giving and “giving thanks”….We are going to do something that has never been done before, at least I’m not aware of. We are going to give back to our readers. We are going to offer our readers a complimentary “one on one” consultation session (30 minute session) with Bill, Brent, Bryan and Sal. If you have a desire to talk with Sal about industry trends, we will arrange a free session with him. If you are interested in a discussion in retaining members or any other topic with Brent, we can make it happen. How about social media questions and concerns, Bryan can provide “one on one” expertise and finally, Bill McBride is able to work with you on strategy, sales & marketing or organizational structure. You can choose one, two, three or all four members to discuss your club’s questions or concerns. All provided to you at no charge. We are not talking about a webinar, we are talking about each of the individuals mentioned above talking directly to you, your management staff or administrative staff, its up to you who you include in the “one on one” 30 minute conference call.

I mentioned to several club managers our “Season To Give Back” program and was always asked, “whats the catch?” The beauty of the above offer is, there is no catch! Each of the content contributors have a heart to give back to our readers and help each of you to be a stronger presence in your community and lets not forget, more profitable…Its that simple.

If you are interested in participating in our “Season To Give Back” program, contact John here and we will take care of the rest. Its that easy. We also invite you to share this special offer with other club owners and managers. This offer is good through January 2016. We want everyone to succeed, and can’t think of a better way to facilitate this goal than with the help of Bill McBride, Brent Darden, Bryan O’Rourke and Sal Pellegrino.

Its our hope the “Season To Give Back” program will bring you some holiday cheer and we welcome your participation, your questions, comments and suggestions. May you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

– John Mickelson

Email John here for a free consulting offer good through January 2016.


Bill McBride profileBill McBride, President & Chief Executive Officer, Active Wellness, Active Sports Clubs & BMC3

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.

Bryan O'Rourke ProfileBryan O’Rourke, Business, TechnoIogy & Wellness Leader. Speaker, Consultant & CEO

Bryan O’Rourke is an experienced CEO, strategist, deal maker 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. As the current 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, CBI and many others.

Brent Dardin ProfileBrent Darden, Principal at Brent Darden Consulting, Chairman of the Board for IHRSA, and Chairman of REX Executive Roundtables

The club industry has labeled Brent Darden a “Texas Talent” and “Industry Treasure” – “part preacher, part teacher, and part reacher”. For over three decades, the former IHRSA Board of Directors Chairman has amassed a wealth of knowledge about the industry and continues to share his experiences around the world through speaking and consulting. His messages have reached audiences across nine continents and been translated into seven different languages. In addition to his consulting practice, Brent also Chairs several industry REX Roundtables. Website:

Sal Pelligrino ProfileSal Pelligrino, Senior Vice President of Client Management at ABC Financial Services

Sal Pellegrino is an experienced presenter at many industry events, Gold’s Gym Convention, Club Industry, IHRSA, World Gym convention, Medical Fitness Association and the JCC Association. Sal is a wealth of industry knowledge and has a keen eye for creative industry trends. His experience ranges from owning two fitness centers for seven years and thirty years of vendor experience with a number of large fitness equipment and service companies (StairMaster, Precor, Star Trac and Les Mills). During these many years of experience he focused on large national and regional chains where he observed many new trends, creative programs and facility design elements. He lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife and daughter and is known to play a pretty good guitar. Recently, Sal has accepted a position with ABC Financial as the SVP of Client Management.


Fitlife Update: Winter Retreat!

Feb 21-22, 2016 at the Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, WA featuring roundtable discussions with Dr. Gerry Faust. Two days only $99!!

Call 888.591.9077 using Reservation Code: Fitlife

CCD Update: Spring Symposium & Trade Show!

April 19-21, 2016 at theRenaissance by Marriott Palm Springs Hotelfeaturing keynote speakers, networking activities, and education. Two days only $189for members and $239 for non-members when you register by Feb. 25.

Contact Lin Conrad at 510-243-1532 or via email for more information.

Celebrating the Memory of a Lost CCD Friend

Our house is still without Hannah.  My long time Springer Spaniel sidekick and companion has gone to the other side.  We traveled all over California together, me with my work, her with her ball.  When not traveling we spent hours together in the CCD office.  She never let me spend too much time in the chair.  Her subtle shove of a ball in my direction would remind me it was time to take a break.  She was the best hiking dog; never leaving my side to wander off in the bushes or chase a coyote.  She understood her commitment and tried her best to uphold them.  I sit now in my office chair and wait for that ball to roll over into my feet…Our house is still without Hannah.

St. Mary’s Fitness Center Personal Trainer a Guinness World Record Holder!

Saint Mary’s Fitness Center hosted a fundraiser for the The SPCA of Northern Nevada and had the support of the local community as Reno resident Mark Zarubi (a Saint Mary’s Fitness Center Personal Trainer) broke the 12 and 24 hour Guinness World Record on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. You can see their promotional video here:

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, 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

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

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 >>

April 2015

Welcome to April Edition of the SoapBox!

This month we have a lot of great fun to share with you. First, a real sweet treat: John Harrison, America’s Ice Cream Taster, has joined us to share some of the knowledge he’s learned from 30 years with Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Company.

Disclaimer: LOTS of ice cream was devoured during the making of this newsletter

We’re also announcing our $500 donation nomination recipient…or should I say all three recipients!! We had so many wonderful submissions, John just couldn’t pick one.

As for the donation he made in my name, the Poppy Walk was a great success raising over $30,000!! We hope you are enjoying the SoapBox as much as we are. Until next time…Katy

John Harrison Ice Cream TesterMeet Our Contributing Author John Harrison…

“I had one of those unique positions that led to being the ‘national spokesman’ for America’s leading ice cream company. Like most things, it did not land in my lap overnight…” John Harrison (email)


5 Best Practices For Expertise in Any Field

Ice cream is in John Harrison’s blood: His Great Grandfather owned two candy and ice cream parlors, his grandfather started the first dairy co-op in Tennessee, and his father owned a dairy ingredient company.

If that wasn’t enough, his uncle owned a Wille Wanka ice cream factory in Memphis were he grew up spending the summer months making ice cream.

John’s taste buds have been insured for $1,000,000. He has done 17,300 interviews on ice cream: 10,000 radio interviews, 7,000 TV interviews, and 300 magazine and newspaper interviews.

Today, John is offering his best practices for expertise in any field.

I. Passion

A passion for the product is a must. In this case, a dairy science or food science degree is also needed in this mature US industry. My background is in colloidal chemistry, tree exudates, and water polymers such as sodium carboxymethel cellulose. Food grade ingredients that bind water and give viscosity. I traveled North and South America as a formulater, troubleshooter, and problem solver working with all the major ice cream manufacturing companies.

II. Focus

Always move forward. A set of circumstances took me away from the ice cream industry for a short period of time. I remained in the food industry as a head hunter. I consulted with a small ice cream company in the late 70’s which later became the largest company of its type in America. We got to know one another so I called them to see if they were looking for any key management personnel. Yes, there were looking for a Vice President level manager to oversee the corporate manufacturing operation. I filled the position with the person who later became my boss. Now, how often does that happen?

Dreyer's Ice Cream Cart

III. Flexibility

It was not long after this that I received a phone call from the Vice President of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Company in Oakland, CA offering me a position as Taster and Flavor Developer.

Over the next five years I developed 75 flavors that went to the marketplace. The most popular was Cookies N’ Cream, which soon became the fasted growing new flavor in the history of ice cream and is now in the top five selling flavors in the world! Not long after this, due to personnel changes, I was asked if I would, due to my product knowledge, be the “Corporate National Product Spokesman” for the Company where I spent the next twenty-five years.

Global Best Selling Top 5 Flavors:
1. 30% Vanilla
2. 10% Chocolate
3. 7% Neopolitan
4. 6% Butter Pecan
5. 5% Cookies ‘n Cream

The top 5 selling flavors represent 58% of the total volume sold.

IV. Creativity

I believe no one person has a “lock” on creative ideas. I do believe that new ideas are available for those who are open, expecting, and have a desire to see what is right before us that needs to be enhanced, changed or made simpler.

No matter the industry, good business practices will take you to the top. Ideas flow with an attitude of gratitude. I added the “gold spoon” to taste, the bow-tie, and the lab coat that set me apart (along with the million dollar taste buds) in a global industry.

Watch Mr. Harrison in action in this short video clip!

V. Servant Leader

You are a business and you can go as far as you desire. Be a Servant Leader and see if you won’t go to the top when you encourage others along the way.
Our sincere thanks and appreciation to John H. for sharing his 5 tips for success. Again, if you wish to contact John you can email him here. Let’s all take an attitude of gratitude this week!

Thank you again for joining us. If you haven’t signed up for the SoapBox so you receive it in your inbox each month, sign up now!