Club Insider

Norm's Notes for June 2020

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Norm CatesNorm Cates

Hello Everybody! This is your Club Insider Founder and Tribal Leader Since 1993 checking in with our 318th monthly edition of Club Insider.

Is America a great country, or what!? Yes, I know... I'm only guessing, but right about now, there are some of you sitting out there reading this and saying to yourself something like, "WOW! Has Norm gone back to the sauce?" Ha Ha! No, folks, I have NOT! And, the absolute truth is I've not had a single drop of alcohol, beer or wine to drink since November 26, 2000, and I'm rapidly approaching my 20th Anniversary of zero firewater! My liver and I celebrate every day! Thinking back on it... this was a very good and the correct decision for me personally, as well as for my family, and I are very glad I did it. And, I'm more than happy that I've stuck to it. But, I digress...

Back to my original thought, when I look at the world we're all living in and sharing now, I can only speculate about how tough it is out there for all of you who own and operate one or more clubs. God Bless You All as you deal with the bizarre world in which we are living. Not only are you having to fight COVID-19 and dealing with all the problems this awful pandemic is bringing your way, many of you are in cities where protests have been going on for multiple weeks in the wake of the sad and public murder of GEORGE FLOYD by former Minneapolis Policeman, DEREK CHAUVIN. I don't think our wonderful United States of America will EVER be the same after this combination of disasters, but I know this country will grow and change in positive ways because of it. That is why, this month, I say, "Is America a great country, or what!?"

■As you all probably know by now, JUSTIN CATES is my terrific Son and Partner in Club Insider. Justin has worked for Club Insider since high school, and over the years, he's done every aspect of every job within this company. To say that Justin does truly excellent work every month would be a significant understatement. Club Insider, and our great industry, could not be more blessed. When my eye problems struck me on March 2nd, Justin took over the Club Insider operation entirely as its Publisher, and he's done a truly magnificent job on each of our last three monthly editions. So, I want to say THANK YOU and heap a TON of PRAISE on JUSTIN CATES. YAHOO, Ya'll! WAY TO GO, JUSTIN CATES! You 'Da Man!

■As you've most likely noticed, the company logos of the Club Insider Advertising Team are on our cover this month. The purpose of this Norm's Note is to express our very sincere Thanks and Appreciation to all of our Advertisers: Premium Positions: Crunch Franchising, Integrity Square, MOSSA and Workout Anytime; Regular Positions: Business Finance Depot, Club Industry, IHRSA, LA Fitness, iGo Figure, Iron Grip Barbell Company, JLR Associates, Sports & Fitness Insurance Corporation, UpSwell, Visual Fitness Planner, Wealth of Wellness and Zeamo. As you prepare for your club(s)' re-opening or are already re-opened, know that these great companies are OPEN FOR BUSINESS and READY TO ASSIST YOURS. So, I urge you to read our Cover Story this month, and I encourage you to do business with these members of the Club Insider Advertiser Team.

■While we are talking about our great Club Insider Advertising Team, if you have a product or service that can assist health and fitness club owners and managers operate their businesses, I want to take a moment to invite you to join the team! And, now is the best time there has ever been to do so. That is because we have cut all advertising rates 50% across the board. In addition to a print ad, all rates include a plethora of online exposure features. To learn more about advertising with Club Insider, please go to to download our Media Kit. Then, give JUSTIN CATES a call at (423) 314 - 4310 or email at You'll be glad you did!

■I'm thrilled to report that, on June 10, 2020, I'm checking in following an appointment with my eye doctor, the amazing and talented DR. JOHN COBB, of the World Class Thomas Eye Group in Sandy Springs, Georgia. DR. COBB is my HERO FOR LIFE because he's the man who has saved the vision in my eyes after the combination of a Retinal Stroke, which pretty much blinded me in my right eye on the morning of March 2nd, and severe fogging in my left eye. This combination essentially left me blind for almost three months.

On May 14th, his cataract surgery restored the vision in my left eye! Plus, there's more possibly great news... During my follow-up appointment, Dr. Cobb told me that we're going to wait three months, and then, he's going to perform cataract surgery on my right eye, which is actually a surgery I had planned on for my right eye before I had the Retinal Stroke on March 2nd.

Candidly, Dr. Cobb told me that I should NOT get my expectations too high for my right eye because cataract surgery will not produce the clarity and 20/25 vision I'm now enjoying in my left eye. My right eye has only about 15% vision now, but he explained that the upcoming surgery will be like taking off sunglasses once it's done. That will be a huge improvement since I'm now functioning and typing this with just one eye functioning and with no help at all from my right eye. I will keep you all posted. SO... Stay Tuned, Folks!

■I owe one more sincere expression of Thanks and Appreciation here, and that is to my Dear WIFE, ILENA, my beloved wife of 38 years. Ilena and I got married at the 2nd IRSA Convention in Las Vegas in 1982. I'm thanking and expressing appreciation to her because, for almost three months now, she's helped me by applying a regimen of eye drops my eye doctor, Dr. Cobb, prescribed. Thank You so very much, ILENA! I appreciate you more than you will ever know!

■It was great seeing JIM ROWLEY, Crunch CEO, on the Cover of CBI's May/June Edition! For sure, while I'm commenting on this, JUSTIN and I WANT to express our sincere Thanks and Appreciation to BEN MIDGLEY and JIM ROWLEY for their advertising support of Club Insider for many years. Thank you very much, guys!

■This from MARIO BRAVOMALO, Founder, and DARON ALLEN, CEO, of Visual Fitness Planner, our long-time, good friends and Club Insider Advertisers (See VFPnext's Ad on Page #9):

VFPnext Waiver System Helps Clubs Reduce COVID-19 Liability

A COVID-19 member addendum, liability waiver, or even a member code of conduct is more than just a good idea. Only 90 days ago, no one needed a liability waiver to indemnify their club from a virus. But, today, it's a prudent requirement for all clubs. As health clubs across the country begin to open, more clubs are adding an individual waiver, member addendum or member code of conduct to their long list of waivers. A COVID-19 waiver is a good risk-mitigation strategy, at the same time reassuring your members that you are taking all precautions necessary to ensure their safety as they return to the clubs.

Clubs have found that composing, sending out, storing and running reports on who has already signed a waiver and who hasn't is just one more operational nightmare awaiting clubs as they re-open. This is where the flexibility and roll-up-your-sleeves and get-it-done partnership with VFPnext has been able to help clubs reduce the operational headache of obtaining waivers from all members and prospects.

If you're interested in reducing your liabilities and giving your members assurance by having a system to deliver a COVID-19 waiver, member addendum, code of conduct or any new liability waiver, just reach out to the VFP Team, and they can get you started immediately. Please visit for more information or email

■The other day, I received an email from CHUCK LEVE, one of three gentlemen to whom I give great credit for the existence and success of IRSA/IHRSA during its first 27 years. The other two gentlemen are: RICK CARO, with whom I teamed up to create IRSA, which is now known as IHRSA; and JOHN McCARTHY, a great gentleman we found through the help of our friend, DICK TRANT, in the Boston area. BIG JOHN, as I call him, was working with a tennis club in the Boston area when tennis club owner, Dick Trant, introduced him to Rick and me, as we were in the creation phase of IRSA.

Everybody in this industry owes BIG JOHN McCARTHY a HUGE THANK YOU for the wonderful 25 years of dedicated hard work and service to our industry that he put into IRSA/IHRSA. That work has given IHRSA a premier place in our industry worldwide. We also owe great THANKS and APPRECIATION to current IHRSA President/CEO JOE MOORE and his teammates, including ANITA LAWLER and TOM HUNT. Joe took the helm of IHRSA 14 years ago when Big John retired, and he has done a great job. All of us associated with IHRSA have been blessed to have Joe at the helm of the Association since Big John retired. And, for sure, similar Thanks are owed to CHUCK LEVE.

Now, for the latest on Chuck's health, it's definitely GOOD NEWS! Chuck recently wrote to some of us:

"Friends and Colleagues, I figured it was time for an update on my health, lest you waste time scouring the obituaries, where I'm pleased to report, you won't find me (at least not yet). My situation is generally good, although it took a long while to get here, and I'm by no means out of the woods... especially with COVID-19, if I am not very careful, a potential near-certain death sentence for me since I still lack a functioning immune system and will be immune-deficient for several months. As for me now, the bad news is... well, my cancer morphed again. You may recall I was first diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2013, which transformed into non-Hodgkins Follicular Lymphoma in 2015, and now, it's morphed into Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, a more aggressive form, which means... the good news is: I'm headed for a stem cell transplant, and I'm in the pre-transplant chemotherapy protocol now, which includes four rounds of treatment before the transplant. They'll blast me with chemo one more time, harvest my stem cells, drain my body of all immunity and then replace the cells. I'll be hospitalized and be a 'nearby outpatient' for 6 - 8 weeks. And, despite both my Northwestern oncology team and my UCLA team throwing around the word 'cure,' while the mortality rate is <1%, you never know!"

So folks, there you have the really good news from Chuck Leve about his health. Through all of this, Chuck is still active with his older son, JOSH, in the Association of Fitness Studios (AFS). And, I'm going to close with this: Kudos to you, Chuckie, for keeping your great sense of humor through the most difficult period of both you and Barb's life's, a period where you've bravely faced death head on for several years, and now, you've successfully continued your battle to the point where you're sharing today the really great news about your improving situation.

So, CHUCK, GOD BLESS YOU and your lovely wife, BARB! And, STAY TUNED, FOLKS!

This News from Monday morning, June 8th: "Reebok and other fitness companies are cutting ties with CrossFit after its CEO, GREG GLASSMAN, mocked the police killing of GEORGE FLOYD and the coronavirus pandemic in tweets over the weekend. Glassman, responding to an Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation tweet calling racism a public health issue, tweeted back: 'It's Floyd-19.' Glassman's follow-up tweet on Sunday didn't help matters. He wrote: 'Your failed model quarantined us, and now, you're going to model a solution to racism?' he wrote in his second reply." - Athletic Business Magazine

On June 10, it was announced that Glassman has stepped down as CEO, being replaced by DAVID CASTRO. Folks, all I have to say to you all about this Glassman news is: WOW and STAY TUNED!

■I came across a writing the other day that was commenting on the pandemic's impact on our industry. It said: "87% of gym members don't even know their gym is closed." Folks, that's one hell of a note! What it ALSO says to me is that our industry is not only going to have a very tough time surviving the pandemic and now the closures caused by the protests, it's going to have one hell of a time SURVIVING OURSELVES!

I, for one, do not want to give up on this fight. And, I want to urge you and your Team to establish a weekly focus on, "How can we get more of our members to show up regularly and exercise?" It's my belief that there are thousands and thousands of you out there who have good answers to this question. We need to somehow coalesce our many good ideas into a guide for club owner/operators to follow to get more and more of your members (and their friends) to show up at their clubs at least three days a week. This is important so they get what they are paying for, which is the opportunity to regularly use your clubs to improve their physical condition. STAY TUNED, Folks, because this is something that needs an intense focus, and I want to try to help facilitate that focus.

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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