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interview


High rise perspective: The Sports Club LA in Boston offers a rooftop terrace with views of the city


before, with so many different types of club concepts compared to even just 10 years ago. The growth of the industry internationally has also been enormous recently, but do we have the right value proposition for the international member versus what we can do for the North American member? “Now is the time to ask a lot of the


hard questions and decide how to move forward into the next decade of the association – what services are no longer relevant, what new services need to be developed, how and what will we fi ne-tune? All of this needs to be done while still staying true to our mission: to grow, protect and promote the industry.” The FIA was clear in its message to


the EHFA national associations forum in November: that any association truly wanting to get more people more active, should embrace all sectors – private and public (see HCM Jan 11, p76). Might IHRSA move away from its traditional standpoint of representing for-profi t clubs only? “That’s a good question. It’s always


been not only a cornerstone for IHRSA but an emotional issue in the US in particular, but also in Canada. But it’s interesting – when I’ve gone to the UK for example, the involvement of the public sector there is a given. It’s part of the fabric of the industry.


“Already, over recent years, one of


the things IHRSA has done is become part of large coalitions that include organisations such as the YMCA, working together to infl uence public policy and promote healthier lifestyles. It’s baby steps, but if we can get comfortable with that, maybe it will lead to other things. “At the end of the day, if as an


industry we’re really going to have an impact on healthcare reform, we have to set aside a lot of these competitive differences, as well as some philosophical differences, and focus on the things we hold in common. We have to evolve and become a more inclusive, co-operative industry to grow the market. And I believe that ultimately everyone will then benefi t and get their share of the pie. “If we don’t do that, I think we’ll be


condemned to moving around the same core group of members – people who’ll shift from one club to the next – without really creating any substantial new marketplace. “We have a long way to go in terms of standards and professionalism


As an industry we have to set aside competitive differences as well as philosophical differences


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to be accepted by the medical profession, and clubs wanting to get involved in the issue will need to be fully committed. But I think it’s an interesting opportunity for clubs that may be currently be struggling, caught in the middle ground, to differentiate themselves and broaden their market.”


a need to plan Curtis continues: “The problem is, I think as an industry we still tend to be more reactive than we are forward- thinking. The sector’s pretty creative


– it’s good at evolving and developing new products and services to fit diverse customer needs. But, although operators are very good at taking something from ground zero up to a certain point, they then tend to get content and stop moving forward until a new threat arrives. “There can also be a bit of a herd


mentality. The momentum starts going one way – budget clubs, for example, which no question is a very active sector – and everyone jumps on-board without really thinking through the consequences. We need to look ahead more, because things won’t be the same in fi ve or six years’ time and you have to chart your course now, before problems arise. That’s something the industry as a whole could do a lot better.”


healthclub@leisuremedia.com kate cracknell


april 2011 © cybertrek 2011


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