CEO Forum at IHRSA stresses need for industry unity

In a short meeting of five industry leaders, the CEO Forum at IHRSA attracted a standing-room only crowd as the company heads discussed the need for an industry alliance and grassroots promotion.
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In a short meeting of five industry leaders, the CEO Forum at IHRSA attracted a standing-room only crowd with its theme of "Where We Are, Where We're Headed, and What We Can Do to Stimulate Industry Growth."

Speakers were John Aglialoro, Cybex; Claudio Bellini, Technogym; Paul Byrne, Precor; Kevin Grodzki, Life Fitness; Kevin Lamar, Nautilus Group; and Jim McPartland, Star Trac.

The messages delivered by most included an emphasis on building an alliance of some sort in the fitness industry that would help deliver the fitness message to that 80-plus percent of the population that doesn't do enough to do any good, the push to get youth moving, and the need to make and keep fitness fun and therefore more attractive.

"We hold in our hands a building block called fitness," Grodzki said. "If we can think more aggressively about building alliances ... that would go a long way to increasing the level of participation and the level of retention in the long term."

Byrne also said: "We are a small industry. Unless we can come together, it's difficult to maintain the message."

Lamar talked about the need for creative and grassroots marketing to help deliver the fitness message, perhaps in the form of infomercials. That could also help teach people how to get fit since "you'd be amazed there is so little information on how to get fit out there."

Feeling good while doing something is what McPartland said was a message that was key. "People do what they do because they want to feel good," he said. One basic is for clubs to make sure front desk people and other staffers actually smile and greet members.

The problem in the case of all the suggestions and thoughts is the need for a vehicle to implement them, Grodzki said; execution is what's needed.

SNEWS View: We agree that execution is needed. It's fine and dandy for the company heads to come together once a year and talk about these global and lofty needs. But wouldn't it be grand if somebody took one of the ideas and made it happen? The industry, if it could set aside egos and come together, could make a huge difference. We'd like to see that happen.

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