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Stimulating Change I

Jeff McCarrol, ORC General Manager

n 2012, North American health, racquet and fitness club memberships reached 52 mil- lion. Yet for all the great news of club participation, and with reams of statistical and empirical data on the benefits of a healthy active lifestyle, less than 25% of our population engages in the required amount of daily physical activity. We are still seeing a rise in the inactivity/junk-food/obesity epidemic for all ages and our health care costs continue to

skyrocket out of control, with chronic disease evermore prevalent. Why is this and what can be done to enact positive change to the population en masse? Our club industry reveals we have made some remarkable changes and that our efforts to communicate, inform and respond to prospective and existing club members is gaining. Wit- ness the change in club vision from the late 60s and early 70s. At that time, North America experienced the largest proliferation of indoor club construction, helping spur on tennis participation to unparalleled levels (fitness was not on the radar yet). ORC was one of those clubs, opening its doors in 1975, offering unique active recreational and social activities, pri- marily for racquet enthusiasts. A recession in the early 80s produced a survival of the fittest scenario for all clubs; however those with solid member centric and amenity focused vision survived and thrived and created stronger ties in the community. This was also the time when the fitness craze began, where clubs played a pivotal role in

developing and informing consumers on the benefits of a healthy active lifestyle. Racquet clubs like ORC recognized this new trend and modified their facilities to include a large fitness component to help fill the need. As the demand for fitness grew, so did the smaller mom and pop mall franchises, and other, larger “chain” fitness only facilities. A large contin- gent of these began to sprout up in every neighborhood, thus creating greater awareness and community participation with easy access in terms of no frill fees and travel time from home. However like so many other new industries that emerged in a consumer market, the early

fitness years were like a wild west, with very little governance. Fortunately, many clubs like ORC played an integral part in laying the groundwork for our now worldwide governing in- dustry association, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. IHRSA, along with other leading health, racquet and fitness clubs, helped to cultivate and forge ethi- cal and operational standards for clubs, professional fitness certification programs, employee and employer policies, training methodologies for the sedentary market, and a plethora of other service and training programs that are used as the founding principles of reputable clubs today. Consumers also helped dictate the changes in club activities and amenities. The fast

paced, hectic society that we now live in challenges clubs to offer more than just fitness, they need to be a respite from the daily stresses in life, and cater to the needs of the mind, body and spirit. At ORC we take great pride in offering unique and enriching programs from meditation to nutrition, rehabilitative to high performance, and from spa life to boot camps. We have been very fortunate and successful over the last 37 years in helping stimulate

change within our membership base and in the community. "It takes a village," speaks to many aspects of club life. In many ways, with over 4400 members, we are like a small town and represent families and individuals sharing a common bond and goal. We invest in each other, from supporting the goals and vision of our members to being actively involved in community charities, or environmental issues like hosting the NO Power Plant Rally. In turn, our members act as connectors, stimulating change by spreading the word in the community and helping encourage others to engage and experience an incredibly rewarding lifestyle. There is no better time for change than the present. Get active!

Yours in good health,

Jeff McCarrol


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