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Mike Gelfgot Photo courtesy Mike Gelfgot.
Mike Gelfgot (pictured) and his business partner John Spence operate 23 Anytime Fitness locations in the United States and have won numerous industry awards for their clubs' success.

Cutting Through Fitness's White Noise: Q&A with Club Industry Brand Ambassador Mike Gelfgot

Mike Gelfgot has spent more than a decade working as a personal trainer and an Anytime Fitness franchise partner—now operating 23 locations in the United States. We caught up with Gelfgot about being named a Club Industry brand ambassador and why he believes marketing is the secret to competing with low-price and boutique clubs alike.

Mike Gelfgot attended his first Club Industry Show at age 21 and hasn't missed a year since. 

During the last 14 years, his role has evolved to that of session speaker, contributing columnist and, fittingly, a newly named Club Industry brand ambassador.

Gelfgot and his business partner John Spence operate 23 Anytime Fitness locations in the United States and have won numerous industry awards for their clubs' success. This includes Gelfgot receiving Anytime Fitness' Personal Trainer of the Year award in 2012.

Gelfgot is sharing his insight as a longtime trainer and franchise partner at this year's Club Industry Show (Oct. 24-26, Hilton Chicago) in the form of his 2:15 p.m., Oct. 24 session, "Cooperative Marketing: An Untapped Opportunity."

Below, we caught up with Gelfgot about being named a Club Industry brand ambassador, why he's eager to present on marketing at this year's show and what keeps him coming back to Chicago year after year.

Q: How were you first introduced to Club Industry?

MG: Club Industry was the very first professional fitness conference that I ever went to. I was inspired to see so many people making a massive difference in other people's lives through exercise programming, marketing, sales, technology and equipment. I didn't realize how big the fitness industry really was. I was only 21 years old.

Q: Since then, how has the Club Industry Show personally helped you and your business positively evolve?

MG: Since then, my business partners and I have attended Club Industry every year. Sometimes you need to get out of the weeds and take a look at the industry as a whole and ask yourself, "Where is it going, and how am I leading the way?" I've always found the speakers and the content extremely relevant to what I am currently dealing with in our facilities. In the past few years, my business partners and I made some really solid connections that will lead to solid friendships and industry transformation.  

Q: Why should health and wellness professionals attend Club Industry? What sets Club apart from other trade shows and conferences?

MG: Health and wellness professionals must attend Club Industry because of the networking and the content-driven conference. The relationships that are built there will transform your business because, now, it’s not only you who's dealing with a certain challenge—it's you and the buddy you just met. Most people don't have like-minded individuals to bounce ideas off of, people who have been in the business long enough, and Club provides that. The educational content is relevant and up-to-date because the majority of Club Industry speakers are in the weeds, so to speak, working in the business, every day. Taking advice from someone who hasn’t been inside a facility in a long time might be detrimental to your business.  

MG: I am most excited about this opportunity because I will get a chance to spread the word about the very first fitness conference that I attended and how much it has helped me grow as a fitness professional. I am looking forward to bringing new people to the conference. With the industry exploding, more and more people are interested in working in our field. On the downside, there is a tremendous amount of noise out there as far as education and content goes. I am proud to say that Club is the music among that noise. The messages at Club Industry are exactly what industry rookies need to hear if they want to contend and lead people to a healthier place.

Q: Can you talk about your role at this year’s show? How did you decide on your session topic, and why do you believe it is relevant to attendees?

MG: I am super excited about this year's conference and my session topic: "Cooperative Marketing: An Untapped Opportunity" (2:15 p.m., Oct. 24, Lake Erie). First, here are some interesting facts to note. As of 2016, there were 60-plus million members of fitness facilities. The low-budget clubs are exploding and squeezing from the bottom of the market. Boutiques, meanwhile, are booming and squeezing from the top. How do you thrive in this market? In my session, I will be talking about three strategies that we have implemented inside of our 20-plus facilities that allow one to compete with anyone in the marketplace. This will be a very interesting and relevant workshop because it covers what most people are dealing with on a regular basis. Participants will leave with tangible things they can implement right away to recoup lost revenue due to an overwhelming amount of competition.

Q: Finally, summarize Club Industry in one sentence.

MG: Club Industry is a professional development super-house that will allow you to thrive and profit in this volatile market place.

Don't miss Mike Gelfgot's session at the 2018 Club Industry Show: "Cooperative Marketing: An Untapped Opportunity" (2:15 p.m., Oct. 24, Lake Erie Hilton Chicago).

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