Club Insider

Norm's Notes for October 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 322nd monthly edition! Folks, I'm hoping and praying this finds you, your family, your employees and your members making it through this wild time in our world today and having been able to avoid the coronavirus! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!

Is America a GREAT COUNTRY or what!? It's encouraging and amazing to see how Americans across the land are coping with the Pandemic of 2020, which may go down in history as one of the worst threats to our country in the entire history of our America since she was Founded in 1776. GOD BLESS AMERICA!

TAKE 5! Today, I lead with a Norm's Note about the excellent job that BRENT DARDEN, IHRSA's Interim President and CEO, and his IHRSA Team did with the launch of the new IHRSA TAKE 5 Report. And, let me tip my hat to Brent and his great IHRSA Team in Boston and say, "Well Done," on all fronts as ya'll deal with the tough hand that you've been dealt! On October 7, the very SPECIAL Inaugural TAKE 5 included the following news:

  • Legislation to Save the Health and Fitness Industry - The Health and Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 (H.R. 8485): Now is the first time we have actually had a "Stand Alone" Industry Relief Bill. It's a great Public Relations move, and it will also open the necessary doors to get the Federal Government to help our industry survive financially in these difficult times. We hope you will support us with that. We're excited about this and urge you to write to your Congressmen and urge them to support this new Legislation sponsored by Republican Congressman, BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA), and Democrat Congressman, MICHAEL QUIGLEY (D-IL). Check out the Press Release on Page #6.
  • Become Involved in a State Alliance: Currently, there are 16 State Alliances across the USA, and if you do not have an Alliance in your State, we encourage you to step up and lead an effort to do that. If you want to start a State Alliance, we support that, and IHRSA will help you. Right now, IHRSA is sort of the "Collection Point" for all U.S. State Alliances and is serving as kind of the hub of the wheel for U.S. State Alliances. We've developed a "How To Build A State Alliance Toolkit," and it's now available to provide guidance by contacting IHRSA's Meredith Poppler at
  • Announcing a Strategic Partnership with the Medical Fitness Association: We're also announcing a new Partnership with the MFA, a/k/a The Medical Fitness Association and The Medical Health and Science Advisory Council.
  • Research Study out of the University of Florida Tests Air Quality: JOE CIRULLI's Gainesville Health and Fitness Clubs in Gainesville, Florida are participating in an ongoing study with researchers at University of Florida. More on this is available at
  • Industry Leadership Council Renamed National Health & Fitness Alliance: More BIG NEWS is that we're changing the name of the Industry Leadership Council (ILC) to a new name: The National Health and Fitness Alliance.
  • IHRSA 2021 Is Moving: Last, and really BIG NEWS is the announcement that IHRSA's 40th Anniversary Convention and Trade Show will be held September 20 - 22, 2021 in Los Angeles. Brent commented: "Collectively, we all decided that, by September 2021, it will definitely be about time to get everybody back together, and that date will actually be exactly 40 years from the first IRSA Convention held in Las Vegas in September, 1981!"

Brent Darden commented on the launch of TAKE 5, "Every Wednesday, we will be sharing the latest info on what's going on at IHRSA and elsewhere in our industry. We invite you to tune in every week on Wednesday, when we will give you highlights, and then, you can go to for details."

Stay Tuned Folks, and AMEN BROTHER BRENT!

■These IHRSA news items were announced by BRENT DARDEN and Team IHRSA before the launch of Take 5, so I'm covering it here for anybody who may have missed them:

IHRSA Announces 2020 European Congress Virtual Edition Dates: The 2020 IHRSA European Congress is moving to virtual and celebrating its 20th anniversary, November 18 - 20, 2020. The event will build on the popular elements of the in-person gathering, such as offering six language translations and tours of some of the most interesting health clubs in the world. The event, structured over three half days, will consist of two days of approximately four hours of programming, with global club tours complete with interactive Q&A. On the third day, sessions and discussion groups will be translated from English into six languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian and Russian. Given the nature of virtual events, this year's edition will not only allow us to connect with our European members but also our global audience, which reflects IHRSA's vast international membership from over 70 countries and multiple language offerings.

ANASTASIA YUSINA, IHRSA Board Member and Founder and CEO of FITSPACE Studios and Strata Fitness Holding in Moscow, and a former recipient of IHRSA's European Club Leadership Award, notes, "As we experienced with the recent IHRSA Innovation Summit, club operators and industry suppliers really appreciate the opportunity to come together to exchange ideas and share best practices."

ALAN LEACH, IHRSA Board Member and CEO of West Wood Clubs in Dublin, agrees. "The IHRSA Congress has always been a great return on investment. Our managers and staff value the vast amount of knowledge and experiences that IHRSA offers. Best of all, there are no travel costs, and we can send more managers and staff!"

IHRSA's experience with virtual events, combined with the Association's relationship with MCI Benelux, the hosting platform, will ensure that the Congress is a high-caliber affair. The event will be user-friendly and easily facilitate global networking opportunities. IHRSA's Interim President and CEO, BRENT DARDEN, commented, "It was great to see the participation of so many industry leaders and stakeholders in the development of this year's Congress program. I'm really looking forward to it!"

Additional details of the IHRSA European Congress Virtual Edition will be announced over the coming weeks. To register or learn more, please visit

IHRSA Foundation, ACE Obtains Funding to Improve Exercise Inclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities - The IHRSA Foundation and the American Council on Exercise (ACE), supported by the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Fitness, Sport & Recreation, PE, have had a first joint project approved by Special Olympics with funding through their Inclusive Health Innovation Grant. The grant, supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aims to support organizations in making practices more inclusive and tip the balance toward a fully inclusive world where people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are fully and intentionally included in mainstream fitness programs and services.

"The IHRSA Foundation is excited to advance this project with the support of the Inclusive Health Grant," says Brent Darden, Interim President of the IHRSA Foundation. "Physical activity is a key factor in promoting physical and mental health and wellbeing. This funding will enable us to help facilitate the inclusion of more people with intellectual disability in mainstream fitness, exercise, and physical activity opportunities."

■This news from my friend, PETE BROWN's Athletic Business Online Report, written by JASON SCOTT, and I quote Jason:

Hundreds of owners of fitness studios in New York City have joined together to sue mayor Bill de Blasio for his decision to bar them from reopening, even as other gyms were allowed to do so last week. The New York Post reports that the lawsuit, filed by members of a newly formed group called the Boutique Fitness Alliance, as well as the New York Fitness Coalition, argues that they have been stripped of "their liberty and property interests without due process."

CNN reports that gyms that followed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's coronavirus safety measures were given the green light to reopen last week, but de Blasio intervened to say that group class facilities were excluded, citing a higher risk of spreading the virus. Leaders of the Boutique Fitness Alliance and the New York Fitness Coalition argue that there's no evidence to support the notion that group fitness classes spread the virus more than standard gyms and that de Blasio's order gives an advantage to larger, corporate-owned gyms as opposed to smaller studios run by small business owners.

A spokesperson for de Blasio's office said that city public health experts identified indoor fitness classes as a high-risk activity, and that the mayor's top priority was preventing the virus's resurgence in New York. "Other cities have shown us how quickly COVID-19 can return, and we're determined to heed those warnings," de Blasio's Deputy Press Secretary, Mitch Schwartz, told CNN. "For now, that means avoiding high-risk activities that involve concentrations of people, breathing heavily, in small spaces."

■This item is also from our friend, PETE BROWN's Online Report, written by JASON SCOTT, and I quote Jason:

Quoting the the original article from The RUTLAND HERALD: Judge Tosses Gym Owner's Lawsuit Over COVID Closure - A civil court judge dismissed a gym owner's lawsuit against the State of Vermont seeking damages over Governor Phil Scott's order that his business be closed as part of the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Rutland Herald, Sean Manovill, Owner of Club Fitness, sued the State, the Governor and Attorney General T.J. Donovan, arguing that they should pay for damages his business incurred when he was forced to close from March through June. The suit argued that the closure was "unconstitutional" and represented "unlawful taking." Judge Robert Mello upheld the state's action in a September 24th ruling, writing, "COVID-19 swept the country in a short period of time, forcing Governors and health officials to act quickly and diligently to protect the population. In a Tennessee case, the court determined that the COVID-19 closure 'was not for a public use but was instead a valid exercise of the broad police powers bestowed upon State and local officials to prevent detrimental public harms by restricting plaintiffs' use of their property. It is unlikely such action would require compensation under the 'Takings Clause.'"

Scott ordered that certain businesses be closed amid the pandemic in order to slow the spread of the virus. Manovill opened his gym in defiance of the Governor's order in May and was subsequently sued by Donovan's office and the subject of a preliminary injunction. Ella Spotswood of the Civil Division within the Attorney General's office pursued action that would both close the gym and seek penalties for its defiance of the Governor's order. Manovill said at the time that he was seeking to reopen for the sake of health and wellness. After the ruling, Manovill said he planned to meet with his lawyer to discuss his options. "This is just the beginning," Manovill told the Rutland Herald.

■I appreciated recently being in touch with my long-time friend, and Club Insider Contributing Author, THOMAS PLUMMER. Thom is truly one of our industry's greatest educators. Every year, for many years now, Thom has conducted numerous club business workshops all across the country. I've attended several of Thom's super two-day events here in Atlanta, and the ones I've attended had 55 - 60 attendees. I can tell you all firsthand that Thomas Plummer's two-day workshops are truly world class, and he teaches in-depth lessons on our industry from the ground up. Thomas recently informed me that his in-person seminar program has pretty much dried up due to the pandemic. Out of the 20 workshops he had scheduled for this year, he's had only one so far. And, he said it's looking like he will not have any next year. Thom also reminded me, as always, he's booking consulting opportunities by telephone for club owners/operators who need help, and he provided me with his contact information for that purpose. We've placed that at the end of the following brief message from Thomas to club owners:

If You Are Hurt in Business, Reach Out and Ask for Help... There is someone you can talk to about your business who can get you the answers you need to stay in business and to go forward in the ever-changing gym industry. The year 2019 is gone. The gym business is never going back. How you have to do business going forward is entirely a new path you need to prepare for now. You adapt, evolve and embrace the new way of doing business, or you fail... get ready now for 2021 and the way business will be for the future. This has been a tough year in the fitness industry. Thirty percent of all the gyms in this country will fail. But, there is a way forward for your business, and there is someone you can talk to who will listen and guide you to the next step. Please contact, or you can call directly at (508) 776 - 8940.

CONGRATULATIONS to KEN McALLISTER, a USPTA Master Professional and 45-year member, who on October 2, was presented with the GEORGE BASCO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD at the 2020 USPTA World Conference Virtual Event. "We are honored to present Ken with this award in recognition of his incredible contributions to our sport and Association over the last 50 years," USPTA CEO, JOHN EMBREE, said. "Ken's indomitable spirit and enthusiasm for tennis has touched countless lives across multiple generations."

McAllister was instrumental in developing the original USPTA Certification Exam in the 1970s. McAllister was the USPTA Head Tester in Texas for just under 20 years before becoming the Executive Director of the Texas Tennis Association, which eventually became USTA Texas. McAllister details these stories and more in his book, Cattle to Courts: A History of Tennis in Texas. In 2008, McAllister created the Community Tennis Association plan to give power of running tennis in Texas to local communities. McAllister also served on the USPTA National Board of Directors in 2016 and '17. He is an accomplished USTA Adult League player and also served as a USTA Chair umpire, including as a base linesman at the 1973 "Battle of the Sexes" between BOBBY RIGGS and BILLIE JEAN KING in Houston.

■Here's a really good one for those of you who are, or aspire to being, a "BOSS." These Seven Traits of Truly Horrible Bosses" were written by JACK FEHR, and the article was originally published on October 27, 2015 and updated on August 26, 2019, courtesy of The Hartford. So, here goes:

Seven Traits of Truly Horrible Bosses - If you own a small business, chances are you're not only a business owner but a Boss. Whether you have employees or are managing vendors, managing people is part of your job description. If you're striving to grow your business or reevaluating how to manage one, you can increase your chances of success by avoiding these Seven Traits of Truly Horrible Bosses:

  1. 1. They fail to communicate.
  2. 2. They refuse to get the help they need.
  3. 3. They are insecure.
  4. 4. They are bullies.
  5. 5. They micromanage their employees.
  6. 6. They overwork everyone. And...
  7. 7. They don't acknowledge employee success.

If you would like to learn more about each trait, you can read the full article at

■Folks, I'm writing this Norm's Note in order to follow-up on a PLEDGE I made to MYSELF, and to YOU ALL... just a few months ago. My PLEDGE was that, after getting my eyesight back after the COMPLETELY HORRIFIC EXPERIENCE OF GOING BLIND and STAYING BLIND in BOTH EYES for two and a half months, an experience I would not recommend to anyone, I was going to do anything and everything I could possibly do to help people who're blind or who've already been suffering from being blind.

I was recently watching the CBS Network's 60 Minutes, and one of the items on the show that night was truly amazing to me. It was about a fellow named CHRIS DOWNEY, AIA in San Francisco, California who suffered brain cancer ten years ago, when he was 45. Fortunately, the 10+ hour surgery on his brain rid him of the brain cancer. But, unfortunately, one day later, the surgery robbed him entirely of his ability to see in either eye, leaving him totally blind for the rest of his life!

CBS News' longtime anchor, LESLEY STAHL, reported this story, and they interviewed Chris, who shared some amazing feelings about this bizarre experience that started ten years ago. Produced by CBS' SHARI FINKLESTEIN and JAIME WOODS, this 13-minute piece follows Chris' journey through his brain cancer surgery, the subsequent total blindness it caused, and then, the truly amazing story of how he regained his confidence and his status as a veteran working architect!

This story is nothing short of incredible. The video's first action scene showed Chris with three other crew members rowing a boat in unison with them, such as you would see athletes in the Olympics do. It also showed Chris, even though he was blind in both eyes, playing baseball with his son. And, to continue his career as an architect, Downey found a Braile printing machine that would produce documents where he, via the feeling in his fingertips, was actually able to mentally see the drawings he needed to see in order to continue his profession as an architect! The video went on to illustrate how, when he would go outdoors walking, he had begun to "hear" buildings and that he knew exactly where he was because the buildings walls and the sidewalks below them would actually transmit sounds back to him as he touched their wall surfaces and sidewalks to "mentally see" where he was going.

Here's a special quote from Chris Downey: "When I lost my vision, the first thing I had to learn was non-visual coping skills. Rehabilitation teaches you about things like how to travel on mass transit, but there was no training on how to be a blind architect. But, why not? After all, Beethoven wrote some of his best music after going deaf. We're not shut out of architecture."

Folks, I sure do hope that, someday, there is a movie about Chris Downey. And, I from this still half blind man, a TRULY GRATEFUL MAN WHO'S HOPING and PRAYING to get his vision back in his right eye on October 27 via another surgery done by the one and only DR. JOHN COBB at The Thomas Eye Group in Sandy Springs, Georgia, urge you all to see the story about the AMAZING MAN named CHRIS DOWNEY! I promise that you will be amazed, and you will really be glad you did. So, to close this Note, let me suggest to any of you who're interested in the amazing story of how 55-year old blind architect, Chris Downey is living life, go to, and you will find the entire 13-minute 60 Minutes story.

I hope and pray that ALL of you, your family, your staff and your members are all doing well and have not been afflicted with the Coronavirus.

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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