Norm Cates, publisher of Club Insider, will be the recipient of Club Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 Club Industry Show on Oct. 5 at the Hilton Chicago.
Cates will be the 15th recipient of the award, which the magazine first gave in 2003 to Joe Weider of Weider Publishing. Other recipients have included Joe Gold, founder of Gold's Gym and World Gym; Jack LaLanne, a former health club owner and early TV fitness pioneer; Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of Cooper Aerobics Institute; Alan Schwartz, co-founder of Midtown Athletic Clubs; Judi Sheppard Missett, founder of Jazzercise; and Augie Nieto, co-founder of Life Fitness.
When notified he would be receiving the award, Cates indicated he was stunned and honored. He and his son, Justin Cates, who is assistant publisher of Club Insider, a monthly tabloid for health club operators, said they were grateful for and extend their sincere thanks and appreciation to all their readers, contributing authors and advertisers.
"Club Industry is honored to award Norm the Lifetime Achievement Award as he epitomizes what the award represents," said Marty McCallen, managing director and brand manager for Club Industry. "The real winner is our industry because it has had Norm as one of its leaders."
For more than 40 years, Cates has served in various capacities in the health and fitness industry. In 1976, he and his three partners—Rich Boggs, Ray Irwin and Fred Streck—created a group of racquetball-oriented clubs called CourtSouth. Over time, the clubs, which were in Atlanta and the Southeast, were reconfigured into multisport facilities.
Cates gave back to the industry by serving as president of the National Court Clubs Association in 1980 before that association combined with another to become the International Racquet Sportsclub Association (IRSA), a group that he co-founded. He then served as that group's first president in 1981. IRSA eventually became the International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). In 2001, Cates received the first annual Dale Dibble Distinguished Service Award from IHRSA.
In 1993, Cates moved into the publishing world when he started Club Insider. The goal of the brand was and still is to help the industry improve its reputation. His son Justin Cates, who grew up with the publication, has now joined Cates in working on the brand.
The brand will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2018, but an early anniversary celebration is being discussed for occurring at the 2017 Club Industry Show in conjunction with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Rick Caro, president of New York-based health club consulting company Management Vision, is a longtime associate and friend of Cates. He said that Club Insider featured a lot of clubs that no one knew about and highlighted many unsung heroes in the industry.
"He was not afraid to take positions where he felt others had hurt the industry and damaged customers, violated laws or were causing great harm to the industry," Caro said. "He was known for 'telling it like it is.'"
Caro said that Cates has taken positions when all other publications have not.
Caro added, "He is full of passion about the industry. In fact, many say that he 'bleeds the health club industry.'"
The Club Industry Show is Oct. 4-6 at the Hilton Chicago. Cates will be given the award at 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 5 prior to the keynote address by Nick Sarillo of Nick's Pizza and Pub.