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New IHRSA Europe office is damaging to the sector, says Stalker

IHRSA’s decision to open an office in Brussels has come under fire from former ukactive CEO David Stalker, who believes the move is divisive for the health and fitness industry and will dilute the sector’s voice within the European Union.

In a letter to Health Club Management, Stalker said IHRSA’s new office in Brussels – which will be operated by management company MCI – is an unnecessary duplication of the role played by EuropeActive in furthering the sector’s cause within European parliament.

He wrote: “The sector has limited bandwidth in which to be heard in Brussels and its chances of being well received are best served by the message being delivered by the representative body of the European sector with a unifying mission of representing the whole sector, not marginalising it through focusing on negative in fighting between commercial and non-commercial providers which has been the mainstay of IHRSA in the States.”

Stalker remains chair of ukactive’s membership Board and during his recent tenure as CEO, the organisation’s policy was that European matters should be handled by EuropeActive. It is understood that ukactive – Europe’s largest national health and fitness association – wasn’t consulted on the new office and has taken the decision to not co-ordinate a trip to IHRSA’s 2016 US trade show for the second year in a row, opting instead to focus on FIBO.

The ukactive move chimes with Stalker’s assertion that the European sector is best served by its own regional body. He said the void left by former IHRSA director of Europe Hans Muench’s recent departure was an opportunity to support the European industry through EuropeActive, but added he feared “that moment has been lost.”

“The bottom line is that Europe is now a bigger market than the US. It deserves to be served by a body dedicated to its cause, not one that sees the continent of Europe solely as a market for expansion,” added Stalker.

“Time and time again IHRSA show themselves to be as globally minded as the World Series of Baseball. It is time for a fundamental rethink of its strategy and position, or a decision by the European sector as to its continued relevance in the future trajectory of our business in Europe.”

Writing to Health Club Management in response to Stalker’s letter, IHRSA VP of marketing and international operations Cathy McNeil said the decision to work with MCI was borne out of the need for greater capacity in IHRSA’s European operations, through multi-lingual team members with diverse skills.

She wrote: “Overall, response from our membership to the opening of the new office has been enthusiastic. IHRSA is confident that this new increased level of support in Europe will be beneficial to the entire industry.”

McNeil added that IHRSA would additionally continue working with its network of partners, federations and ambassadors across Europe to “engage members and grow membership.”

“We will also continue to collaborate with other organisations that serve the broader fitness industry wherever it is beneficial to the organisations involved as well as to the industry as a whole,” she said.

“For example, IHRSA is a financial sponsor of the 2016 European Market Research Report being compiled by Deloitte for EuropeActive.”

Read the letters in full below

From David Stalker, 3/2/16

Based on my near 10 years of service in representing this sector and over 25 years working in it, I read with disappointment that IHRSA have announced plans to open an office in Brussels.

First, the move is a unnecessary duplication of the role played by EuropeActive in furthering the sector’s cause in Brussels.

Secondly, the sector has limited bandwidth in which to be heard in Brussels and its chances of being well received are best served by the message being delivered by the representative body of the European sector with a unifying mission of representing the whole sector not marginalising it through focusing on negative in-fighting between commercial and non-commercial providers which has been the mainstay of IHRSA in the States.

Thirdly, the announcement is plainly misleading. Whilst I hope accidental, I suspect that recruiting of a management agency (MCI) which serves a variety of sectors and positioning it as a strategic investment in dedicated IHRSA employees has been deliberately portrayed and is totally misleading to the sector. My hunch is that this is a net saving on the previous operating expenditure in Europe disguised as a strategic investment, with more profit returning to the U.S. as a result. The European industry is not stupid and it will see through this.

The bottom line is that Europe is now a bigger market than the U.S. It deserves to be served by a body dedicated to its cause, not one that sees the continent of Europe solely as a market for expansion.

Time and time again IHRSA show themselves to be as globally minded as the World Series of Baseball. It is time for a fundamental rethink of its strategy and position, or a decision by the European sector as to its continued relevance in the future trajectory of our business in Europe. This was a unique moment in time to join forces with and support the European industry through EuropeActive. Instead I fear that moment has been lost.

I wonder whether the leading European operators attending the largest trade show in the world at FIBO would also agree that this is a waste of everyone's time?

I wonder whether the IHRSA Board were fully aware either of this decision or its consequences, I hope so because this is definitely a strategic decision that should be ratified by the Board and particularly its European representatives?

We have seen global bodies such as FIFA and IAAF in the spotlight for serious reform. Our sector now needs that at the global level.

Yours,

David Stalker

Ex-CEO UKactiveChair, UKactive Membership Council & NED

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

From IHRSA’s Cathy McNeil 3/2/16

In the months prior to the departure of IHRSA’s European Director, Hans Muench, we looked at different options for serving our membership, which comprises commercial health club operators and owners as well as companies that supply products and services to the industry.

It was clear that the job had become bigger than one person could handle. We needed more help at the operational level. We determined that we needed additional infrastructure in Europe to better serve the needs of our current membership as well as to continue to grow membership. We needed more multi-lingual team members with diverse skills.

To that end, we chose to work with MCI (www.mci-group.com), an experienced association management company, which works with more than 100 associations worldwide. Leading the team are Jeroen van Liempd as IHRSA Europe Director and Angela Meurer as IHRSA Europe General Manager. Jeroen, Angela and their team will serve as an extension of the IHRSA staff in developing and carrying out our operational plan. The full IHRSA Europe team is listed on www.ihrsa.org/europe.

In addition to the new team in Brussels, we will continue to work with an extensive network of partners, federations and ambassadors in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and Russia to engage members and grow membership.

We will also continue to collaborate with other organizations that serve the broader fitness industry wherever it is beneficial to the organizations involved as well as to the industry as a whole. For example, IHRSA is a financial sponsor of the 2016 European Market Research Report being compiled by Deloitte for Europe Active.

Overall, response from our membership to the opening of the new office has been enthusiastic. IHRSA is confident that this new increased level of support in Europe will be beneficial to the entire industry.

Sincerely,

Cathy McNeil

Vice President of Marketing & International OperationsIHRSA

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IHRSA’s decision to open an office in Brussels has come under fire from former ukactive CEO David Stalker, who believes the move is divisive for the health and fitness industry and will dilute the sector’s voice within the European Union.
HAF,FIT,IND,PHR
93278_794976.jpg
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News

New IHRSA Europe office is damaging to the sector, says Stalker

IHRSA’s decision to open an office in Brussels has come under fire from former ukactive CEO David Stalker, who believes the move is divisive for the health and fitness industry and will dilute the sector’s voice within the European Union.

In a letter to Health Club Management, Stalker said IHRSA’s new office in Brussels – which will be operated by management company MCI – is an unnecessary duplication of the role played by EuropeActive in furthering the sector’s cause within European parliament.

He wrote: “The sector has limited bandwidth in which to be heard in Brussels and its chances of being well received are best served by the message being delivered by the representative body of the European sector with a unifying mission of representing the whole sector, not marginalising it through focusing on negative in fighting between commercial and non-commercial providers which has been the mainstay of IHRSA in the States.”

Stalker remains chair of ukactive’s membership Board and during his recent tenure as CEO, the organisation’s policy was that European matters should be handled by EuropeActive. It is understood that ukactive – Europe’s largest national health and fitness association – wasn’t consulted on the new office and has taken the decision to not co-ordinate a trip to IHRSA’s 2016 US trade show for the second year in a row, opting instead to focus on FIBO.

The ukactive move chimes with Stalker’s assertion that the European sector is best served by its own regional body. He said the void left by former IHRSA director of Europe Hans Muench’s recent departure was an opportunity to support the European industry through EuropeActive, but added he feared “that moment has been lost.”

“The bottom line is that Europe is now a bigger market than the US. It deserves to be served by a body dedicated to its cause, not one that sees the continent of Europe solely as a market for expansion,” added Stalker.

“Time and time again IHRSA show themselves to be as globally minded as the World Series of Baseball. It is time for a fundamental rethink of its strategy and position, or a decision by the European sector as to its continued relevance in the future trajectory of our business in Europe.”

Writing to Health Club Management in response to Stalker’s letter, IHRSA VP of marketing and international operations Cathy McNeil said the decision to work with MCI was borne out of the need for greater capacity in IHRSA’s European operations, through multi-lingual team members with diverse skills.

She wrote: “Overall, response from our membership to the opening of the new office has been enthusiastic. IHRSA is confident that this new increased level of support in Europe will be beneficial to the entire industry.”

McNeil added that IHRSA would additionally continue working with its network of partners, federations and ambassadors across Europe to “engage members and grow membership.”

“We will also continue to collaborate with other organisations that serve the broader fitness industry wherever it is beneficial to the organisations involved as well as to the industry as a whole,” she said.

“For example, IHRSA is a financial sponsor of the 2016 European Market Research Report being compiled by Deloitte for EuropeActive.”

Read the letters in full below

From David Stalker, 3/2/16

Based on my near 10 years of service in representing this sector and over 25 years working in it, I read with disappointment that IHRSA have announced plans to open an office in Brussels.

First, the move is a unnecessary duplication of the role played by EuropeActive in furthering the sector’s cause in Brussels.

Secondly, the sector has limited bandwidth in which to be heard in Brussels and its chances of being well received are best served by the message being delivered by the representative body of the European sector with a unifying mission of representing the whole sector not marginalising it through focusing on negative in-fighting between commercial and non-commercial providers which has been the mainstay of IHRSA in the States.

Thirdly, the announcement is plainly misleading. Whilst I hope accidental, I suspect that recruiting of a management agency (MCI) which serves a variety of sectors and positioning it as a strategic investment in dedicated IHRSA employees has been deliberately portrayed and is totally misleading to the sector. My hunch is that this is a net saving on the previous operating expenditure in Europe disguised as a strategic investment, with more profit returning to the U.S. as a result. The European industry is not stupid and it will see through this.

The bottom line is that Europe is now a bigger market than the U.S. It deserves to be served by a body dedicated to its cause, not one that sees the continent of Europe solely as a market for expansion.

Time and time again IHRSA show themselves to be as globally minded as the World Series of Baseball. It is time for a fundamental rethink of its strategy and position, or a decision by the European sector as to its continued relevance in the future trajectory of our business in Europe. This was a unique moment in time to join forces with and support the European industry through EuropeActive. Instead I fear that moment has been lost.

I wonder whether the leading European operators attending the largest trade show in the world at FIBO would also agree that this is a waste of everyone's time?

I wonder whether the IHRSA Board were fully aware either of this decision or its consequences, I hope so because this is definitely a strategic decision that should be ratified by the Board and particularly its European representatives?

We have seen global bodies such as FIFA and IAAF in the spotlight for serious reform. Our sector now needs that at the global level.

Yours,

David Stalker

Ex-CEO UKactiveChair, UKactive Membership Council & NED

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

From IHRSA’s Cathy McNeil 3/2/16

In the months prior to the departure of IHRSA’s European Director, Hans Muench, we looked at different options for serving our membership, which comprises commercial health club operators and owners as well as companies that supply products and services to the industry.

It was clear that the job had become bigger than one person could handle. We needed more help at the operational level. We determined that we needed additional infrastructure in Europe to better serve the needs of our current membership as well as to continue to grow membership. We needed more multi-lingual team members with diverse skills.

To that end, we chose to work with MCI (www.mci-group.com), an experienced association management company, which works with more than 100 associations worldwide. Leading the team are Jeroen van Liempd as IHRSA Europe Director and Angela Meurer as IHRSA Europe General Manager. Jeroen, Angela and their team will serve as an extension of the IHRSA staff in developing and carrying out our operational plan. The full IHRSA Europe team is listed on www.ihrsa.org/europe.

In addition to the new team in Brussels, we will continue to work with an extensive network of partners, federations and ambassadors in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and Russia to engage members and grow membership.

We will also continue to collaborate with other organizations that serve the broader fitness industry wherever it is beneficial to the organizations involved as well as to the industry as a whole. For example, IHRSA is a financial sponsor of the 2016 European Market Research Report being compiled by Deloitte for Europe Active.

Overall, response from our membership to the opening of the new office has been enthusiastic. IHRSA is confident that this new increased level of support in Europe will be beneficial to the entire industry.

Sincerely,

Cathy McNeil

Vice President of Marketing & International OperationsIHRSA

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
IHRSA’s decision to open an office in Brussels has come under fire from former ukactive CEO David Stalker, who believes the move is divisive for the health and fitness industry and will dilute the sector’s voice within the European Union.
HAF,FIT,IND,PHR
93278_794976.jpg

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