Club Insider

Norm's Notes for April 2021

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Norm CatesNorm Cates

Hello Everybody! This is your Club Insider Founder and Tribal Leader Since 1993 checking in with our 328th monthly edition of Club Insider! Please read on as I have an important message for our great industry and its future!

Is America a great country, or what? I hope this finds you, your family and your team avoiding the Coronavirus like the plague it is! GOD Bless America!

I'm very sad today that I must do the one part of my job that I hate, and that's when I must inform you all about our friends in the industry who have passed away. Today, I'm very saddened to report that my great friend, the one and only, BOB PROVOST, 85, of Greenville, South Carolina, passed away on March 25, 2021. Bob was born on February 15, 1936. Bob was predeceased two months ago by LORRIE, his beloved wife of 63 years, and his son, EDWARD. Bob is survived by his children: JOANNE COGGINS; BOB PROVOST, JR.; THOMAS PROVOST; MARY BETH PROVOST and ALLYSON LEWIS POPPER.

Bob and his daughter, MARY BETH PROVOST, were the Cover Story Subjects for our December 1998 edition. To say The BOB PROVOST Story is a wonderful story about a truly great man, our friend, Bob Provost, would be an understatement. I urge you to read his Cover Story, which is among 327 other Club Insider editions you will find at Sadly, we all know that old saying, "We've all got to go sometime." While that's true, I sure wish Bob had stayed with us longer. I met Bob in 1980 when RICH BOGGS, the late RAY IRWIN and the late FRED STRECK, and I were partners in CourtSouth in Marietta, Georgia. Bob had opened a 48,000 square-foot indoor tennis center in Greenville in 1976. It wasn't long before Bob decided to convert some of his indoor tennis courts to racquetball courts, and he added Nautilus machines, free weight workout areas, Lifecycles and an indoor track and other amenities in the converted tennis court space. We assisted Bob in that endeavor because we were already in the process of converting some of our racquetball courts in Atlanta to multipurpose amenities. To access Bob's Cover Story, go to May Bob Rest In Peace.

BILLY ROBINSON, 69, of Brimfield, Ohio died unexpectedly on March 21, 2021. Born in Akron, Ohio. Billy was a successful entrepreneur who's passion for health and fitness carried him throughout his career. Billy's mentor, JERRY ALLES, and others, aided Billy during the most significant time of his career as Vice President of Sports Life Inc. in Atlanta. Billy was preceded in death by both parents, JEFF and EVELYN ROBINSON; brother, JEFFREY ROBINSON; and sisters, CAROLEE and SHELLY. Also preceding him in death were father-in-law, ROBERT OSWALD; mother-in-law, EILEEN OSWALD; and brother-in-law, JANI LANE. Billy is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, MICHELLE, and his only son, ROBERT "BEAU" ROBINSON, brothers- and sisters-in-law, his beloved nieces, nephews and his extended family and friends. Billy was cremated and a memorial mass was scheduled to be held for him on Wednesday, March 31, 2021. May Billy Robinson REST IN ETERNAL PEACE.

Welcome Back to LA Fitness as they rejoin the Club Insider Advertising Team. Check out their Ad on Page #17.

■I want to Tip My Black Hat and say Sincere Thanks and Appreciation to EDDIE TOCK, our good friend who's very successfully running the REX Roundtables organization. We've chronicled that work in this month's must-read cover story. Don't miss reading it all because therein you will: (A) Learn a lot about what the top club owner/operators in the world are doing to improve their club operations, and (B) You'll also find multiple ideas you can use in your organization.

■I also want to Tip My Black Hat to BRENT DARDEN, IHRSA Interim CEO-President, and JAY ABLONDI, IHRSA's EVP of Global Products because Brent, Jay and their IHRSA Teammates have been trying like hell to get something done on Government funding via the GYMS Act. Brent's repeatedly urged all of us to maintain pressure on Congress to get the GYMS Act passed, and I want to echo Brent's urging to all of you to follow up today and contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them all to pass the GYMS Act, which will provide our industry with $30 billion badly needed dollars. The bill currently has 74 Co-Sponsors, but it needs more! To learn more about and help get this bill in front of Congress, go to

■Folks, let me get down to some extremely important business here. Let me start by saying that what I'm about to say here applies to ALL OF US IN THE INDUSTRY THAT WE ALL LOVE no matter what political inclination you may have as an American. This is VERY IMPORTANT because it is about your business!

My message about YOUR business is this: If you are in the club business in any way, shape or form, as a club owner/operator or a vendor of any product to clubs, you need to get with Team IHRSA on this very important effort, and contact your elected representatives to tell them: How dare you pass a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and provide ZERO assistance to our industry, one that is part of the solution and not the problem!

WE GOT SNUBBED, folks, plain and simple. BUT, what we can do is keep at it, hard and heavy, to help Brent Darden, Jay Ablondi and the IHRSA Team finally crack through this total ignoring of our industry and get the GYMS ACT PASSED NOW! Again, the legislation will provide our industry with $30 billion in very badly needed funds. There are currently 74 Co-Sponsors signed on to support the GYMS Act, but folks, let's PUSH HARD and GET THIS DONE! Go to and do your part to help!

■Read on folks, as the following news should be ample evidence to support my writing that OUR GREAT INDUSTRY BADLY NEEDS FINANCIAL HELP! If you're in our industry and don't think this matter is URGENT, then you have your head in the sand! Here are excerpts Club Industry provided from a recent report filed by IHRSA (See the Full Report beginning on Page #3):

U.S. health club revenue fell $20 billion in 2020, a 58% decrease from its all-time high in 2019 of $35 billion, according to estimates from IHRSA. The industry lost $5.5 billion in revenue in April and May, 2020 alone! IHRSA shared a rundown of some of the losses the industry faced in 2020 due to the temporary closures of health clubs and studios caused by COVID-19. Those closures lasted for a few months for many states, but states such as California, Oregon and Washington faced almost a full year of closures or restrictions on capacity and indoor workouts. As of December 31, 2020, 19% of boutique studios and 14% of health clubs had closed permanently, according to data that IHRSA collected from payment processing companies. And, eight major health club brands have filed for bankruptcy: 24 Hour Fitness, Gold's Gym, Town Sports International, In-Shape Health Clubs, YouFit, Cyc Fitness, YogaWorks and Flywheel. The pandemic also affected employment with 1.4 million people, or 44% of the fitness industry workforce, losing their jobs in 2020, according to IHRSA. Visits to health clubs also decreased last year, particularly in the second quarter of 2020, down 80% for some of the largest brands (compared to the second quarter of 2019), according to data from Placer Ai, a firm that analyzes foot traffic and also creates consumer profiles. Visits were also lower in the third quarter by 50% and in the fourth quarter by 38%.

Folks, the evidence is clear, so third times the charm. Please go to to learn what you can do to help pass the GYMS Act!

■I'm totally fired up and looking forward to attending IHRSA's 40th Anniversary Convention and Trade Show with my partner, son and Club Insider Publisher, JUSTIN CATES. With the event slated for September 20 - 22, 2021 in Los Angeles, California, it's coming fast! YAHOO! This is going to be an IHRSA Convention and Trade Show for the AGES, and if you miss this one, you will never forgive yourself! SO... MAKE PLANS RIGHT NOW TO BE THERE with BRENT DARDEN and Team IHRSA, as well as Justin and me, and of course, folks and friends from all over the world. If you've not yet booked your flights, do it now to save some money. And, check back here each month for the latest IHRSA40 news!

Just in case you missed it, the terrific Club Industry 2021 Future of Fitness global virtual event was held March 9 - 10, 2021, and it shared insights from experts about the most vital topics affecting the future of the industry. Over 4,000 attended. To view the entire presentation, go to

HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY to the ONE and ONLY DR. KENNETH COOPER, as he celebrated this landmark birthday on March 4. Born on that date in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1931, Dr. Cooper has made a TRULY HUGE MARK ON THIS EARTH! He's well known as the "Father of Aerobics," because years ago, he was the first person ever to define and promote the value of aerobic training for a healthy life. Dr. Cooper's father, a periodontist, instilled in him the idea and desire to practice preventive medicine. In 1968, America was introduced to a new word, and more importantly, a new concept. Dr. Cooper's first bestselling book, Aerobics, created a fitness revolution and subsequent preventative medicine research, persuasive public appearances and a series of inspiring books has motivated millions to change their lives and adopt a habit of regular exercise leading to a healthier lifestyle. The Cooper Institute was founded in 1970. Our April 2018 Cover Story about Dr. Cooper chronicled 50 years of aerobics, and our previous November 2008 Cover Story featured Dr. Cooper when he received Club Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award at its yearly show in Chicago. Early on in his career, Dr. Cooper believed it was as important to try to prevent disease as it was to treat and cure disease. Fifty years later, through meticulous research, that basic premise and vision has been reaffirmed and strengthened. What was once looked upon as "opinion" has become scientific reality. CONGRATULATIONS DR. KENNETH COOPER on your milestone 90th Birthday! You're now going on 91, and we CONGRATULATE YOU ON THAT, TOO!

■I received this news at my desk one day before our April Edition Deadline, so I'm happy to report this news about my friend's STEVE STRICKLAND and JOHN QUATROCCHI's Workout Anytime. And, I Tip My Black Hat to them on how they've created a really great group of clubs that have continued to perform well even as they, like all of us, have battled the dangerous Coronavirus. The following news about Workout Anytime comes courtesy of The ABS Company, and it reads:

Workout Anytime Approves The GluteCoaster For Clubs Nationwide! Workout Anytime (WOA) is taking glute training to the next level! The renowned WOA fitness chain has officially approved The GluteCoaster from The Abs Company as their newest booty training tool for their 160+ clubs. "We are very excited about the recent addition of the GluteCoaster to the approved products that will be featured in over 160 Workout Anytime locations," said MICHAEL RITTER, Vice President of The Abs Company. "Glute training is one of the hottest trends in fitness today, and we look forward to helping Workout Anytime continue to provide an amazing member experience by giving members what they want with the latest innovation to our equipment line." Many Workout Anytime clubs are already finding that the GluteCoaster is a big hit. "My members love it!" says LORNE SALTSMAN, Owner of Workout Anytime Glasgow, Bowling Green, and Campbellsville in Kentucky.

Folks, be sure to check out Workout Anytime's Full Page Ad on our Outside Back Page!

■The RSG Group, one of the world's leaders in innovation in fitness and lifestyle, has brought their John Reed Fitness Clubs to North America with their first location having opened on March 17, 2021 in Downtown Los Angeles. The new John Reed Fitness Club opened in the vibrant South Park neighborhood where modern high-rise residential towers, entertainment, sports and dining intersect. Spanning over 33,000 square feet, the new club is a symbiosis of fitness, music and design. Members receive unlimited training opportunities from free weights, cardio, functional and machine strength training with top-of-line equipment as well as an array of boutique-style classes with dedicated instructors leading Cycling, HIIT, Pilates, Barre, Dance, Yoga and more. Stay Tuned, Folks!

■As light is beginning to be seen at the end of the tunnel, and when it is safe to do so, WELCOME BACK PARTIES are an idea my son, Justin, came up with during his January 2021 Cover Story interview with me. Justin did a great job as the author of that cover story! I loved his idea, and together, we're passing it on to you here today. The idea is simple, and it's actually a "spin-off" of the monthly "Member Appreciation Parties" I've promoted to you for many years. When it is safe to do so, the idea is for club owners to begin monthly "Welcome Back Parties" to meet and greet your members and their family/friends. You would make the investment of providing food and adult beverages on a specific weeknight evening starting at around 7 or 8PM.

Your invitation would read something like this: "You, your family and friends are cordially invited to our special Welcome Back Party where we invite you to join us to enjoy some excellent complimentary food and adult beverages with our staff, friends and your fellow members. There is NO CHARGE, and this special party will last from 7 to 10PM (Or, 8 to 11). Of course, we still encourage social distancing and the wearing of a mask. See you soon!"

Folks, it has been a tough, long year. Everyone is in need of some FUN, so BE THAT FUN in your member's lives.

GEOFF HAMPTON, an old friend and a long-time industry veteran, and I go way back. Geoff recently contacted me to tell me about a new initiative he's become involved with. He told me he had become involved in something that actually brought back a lot of memories for both Geoff and me. Geoff's Article on Page #23 is entitled: The Fight for Independent Club Operators... From The Battle of New Orleans to The Battle for Independents. The aforementioned memories his article brings back for both of us go back about 25 or 30 years or so ago when many of us IRSA Members conducted a big protest meeting at the IRSA Convention Hotel in New Orleans because there was a movement in play to admit the Bally Health Clubs into IRSA's Membership. Several hundred of us independent club owners attended that meeting, and the result of it was successful, because on that day, we stopped Bally from being admitted into IRSA! (And, in case you're thinking I'm screwing up and misspelling IHRSA... Nope... I'm not misspelling the IHRSA acronym because it was IRSA in those days before the word Health, and the letter H, added.) I do hope y'all will check out Geoff's interesting article on Page #23 of this edition.

■In keeping with something I started for the first time last month, here's the February 2021 list of Government Thrusts and Initiatives as reported by IHRSA's JAKE LANDRY. Folks, in the wild, wild world we all know, from coast to coast, and depending upon what your mindset is, this list could be good news or it could be bad news. But, one thing's for sure, this list is provided on a regular basis by IHRSA's Jake Landry, and it contains facts that you can trust to be true:

  • Missouri Considers Bill Regarding Gym Status in Health Emergencies;
  • Illinois Considers Bill to Amend Biometric Information Privacy Act;
  • Lawmakers in Connecticut Propose Bill Requiring AEDs in Health Clubs;
  • Utah to Consider Bill Impacting Bonding and Automatic Renewal;
  • Massachusetts to Consider Bill Requiring Trauma Kits;
  • Illinois to Consider Bill Regulating Automatically Renewing Contracts;
  • Maryland to Consider Bill Exempting Health Clubs from Local Tax;
  • New Hampshire to Consider Auto Renew Bill in Hearing;
  • Massachusetts to Consider Bill Requiring Posted Emergency Response Plan;
  • Connecticut to Hold Hearing on Bill Expanding Options for Cancellation of Health Club Contracts;
  • Kentucky Considers Bill Regulating Massage Therapy;
  • West Virginia Considers Bill Restricting Collection of Biometric Data;
  • West Virginia Lawmakers File Bill To Create Wellness Tax Credit;
  • Arizona Bill Expanding Options for Cancellation of Health Club Contracts Passes House;
  • Illinois Considers Bill to Amend Biometric Information Privacy Act;
  • Utah to Consider Bill Prohibiting Online Only Cancellation;
  • North Carolina to Consider Bill Changing Requirements of Auto-Renewing Contracts;
  • West Virginia Files Bill Requiring Notification Before Auto-Renewal;
  • Illinois to Consider Bill Changing Requirements of Auto-Renewing Contracts.

Thanks to Jake Landry and IHRSA!

■Well, colleagues, friends and neighbors, let me close this month's Norm's Notes with this: Muscles Have Memories. I'm happy to be reporting to you that, at the ripe old age of 75, I'm off and running on a new weightlifting program! In my youth, while I was playing football in high school and college, I did a lot of weightlifting, and for sure, my dedicated weight training helped me make 1st Team All Atlantic Coast Conference and Honorable Mention All American in football. BUT... that was a LONG TIME AGO! So, stay tuned next month for occasional updates on my renewed iron pumping!

JUSTIN and I want to say Thanks for reading Club Insider!

God bless our troops, airmen and sailors worldwide and keep them safe. Thank you, Congratulations and Welcome Home to all of our troops who have served around the world. God bless America's Policemen and women and Firemen and women; keep them safe. God bless our EMTs, first responders, nurses, doctors, lab technicians and anyone who is helping make Coronavirus a thing of the past. You and your families are our warriors. Finally, God bless you, your family, your club(s) and your members. God Bless America! Laus Deo!

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