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Discussing The Health Club Industry With Rick Caro Over Breakfast

It's been a great year thus far in the fitness industry. What has made it good for me, my partners and clients, is the improving economy and our getting a few things done together. Helping people makes me happy and this is a people business after all. So when I have the chance to spend quality time with noteworthy and acclaimed industry leaders,  like Rick Caro, I really love it. It's a privilege and I always learn a lot. I also enjoy sharing these experiences with people who kindly follow my writing; thanks to those that do.

Breakfast Near New York's Grand Central Station

Having scheduled financial meetings in New York during the week that began with the 4th of July, I didn't expect to hook up with industry veteran Rick Caro. After all, it's a popular time to be out of town on vacation. So when I received his email graciously accepting my offer to meet for breakfast on Friday July 8th, I was surprised. Rick had spoken to me several times and even attended one of my IHRSA talks this year. His reputation as one of the leading health club experts and a founding member of IHRSA proceeded him; I was glad we'd be able to sit together and visit. His suggestion was to meet at Grand Central Station and go to a local spot nearby.

"What's Going On Bryan ?", He Asked.

Rick explained he had just returned from a wonderful trip in France with his wife and a group of friends, who vacation every year together. He was relaxed, casual and full of wonderful stories. We chuckled when he commented, " if one more person asks me about the Gold's and Bally's deal...", to which I responded , " you noticed I didn't." We laughed again.

Obviously I can't give away the details of our long breakfast as it touched on a number of confidential topics . Fortunately, Rick and I both advise highly placed and influential people in the business. During our long relaxed meal we shared some very candid views. You can't buy those types of conversations; they're invaluable. What was most interesting though were a couple of key themes we touched upon during our time together. Perhaps these were a reflection of our similar experiences. Nevertheless, I was happy to learn that Rick  Caro and I shared common philosophies on some important matters and our talk left me with 3 items I think are important to share.

1. Mentoring: We discussed the need for the health club industry and it's organizations and participants to do more to mentor and help develop leadership. This is not a surprise from a founder of IHRSA;

2. We Don't Know Enough Yet: We agreed there is a tendency in industries to jump to conclusions about trends and the basis of these trends without having hard data. Hard data is good and thoughtful analysis is better;

3. The Health Club Industry Needs More Outsiders To Help It Evolve Forward: Many of the leaders of the health club industry are cut of the same cloth. The advent of new trends and business models requires skill sets from the outside to enable a prosperous progression.

Tell me, Bryan O'Rourke, do you agree with these three observations about the health club industry ? Please share your thoughts and comments and thank you Rick Caro, for taking the time to share your views and experiences with me over a nice breakfast in New York. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

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Reader Comments (3)

Hi Bryan,

Thank you very much for sharing the highlights of your breakfast meeting with Rick Caro!

1) I have implemented mentoring amongst staff however, prior to reading this post, hadn't considered leadership mentoring for participants. Would you please elaborate on this subject?

2) In my opinion, the fitness industry has a wonderful opportunity to initiate and lead the research and analysis of fitness trends. Clubs can partner with a local University's advanced Exercise Physiology professor and students. These students need to do research projects and their "subjects" are typically their peers. It often takes years for their studies to be reviewed and published before strength and conditioning specialists (our personal trainers) read and implement the science. Instead of science based on 20 year-olds and extrapolated years later to club members aged 50+, we can have trends studied and measured by a third party IN our clubs.

Our members will get value by being measured and closely monitored. Ideally, if the study involves supervised small group exercise, members will enjoy the social interaction and may pursue group classes or personal training following the study.

As an incentive, we could offer participants a partial membership rebate or a reduction on their next month's membership following their full completion of the 12-week study. I welcome responses...

3) Agreed.


P.S. Bryan: Where did you eat and what was on your breakfast plate?

July 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErica Jensen


Thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts.

As to mentoring, I think we were both sharing views on the need to have people help develop organizational leadership. Regarding this point, you might find this post of interest .

I like your views on item 2 very much and of course we simply agree on item 3.

As to what was on our plate, for me it was 2 scrambled eggs, water and a coffee. Rick had a nice bagel with some lox and water. We ate at a little place right across from the station. It was quite New York and I loved it.

Please keep in touch Erica and thanks again for taking the time to share your views.


July 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterBryan K. O'Rourke

Excellent post.I want to thank you for this informative read, I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your work.

January 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentershalini

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