IHRSA 2024: The Place Where Everything Changed

Change was the name of the game at the historic IHRSA 2024 Convention & Trade Show March 6-8, 2024, in Los Angeles.

This is the event everyone will remember. The IHRSA 2024 Convention & Trade Show in Los Angeles on March 6-8 will go down in history as the moment when an exciting new era began for the association.

On March 6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, President and CEO Liz Clark announced that, 43 years after its founding, IHRSA would now be known as the Health & Fitness Association. This celebratory moment, which came with a flurry of bouncing beach balls emblazoned with the new moniker, was the culmination of months of planning by Clark and the association board as they finished what many had attempted over the years.

The name change was met with ecstatic approval. No less than Norm Cates, IHRSA co-founder and current publisher of Club Insider, said: “I love it. Before we were dealing with a public that didn’t have any idea what IHRSA stands for, but now they’re going to learn what we’re all about in one fell swoop.”

He wasn’t the only one impressed. As word spread to those outside of the convention hall, it became clear the straightforward clarity of the new name was a welcome change. People from nearly 80 countries attended the event, and many of them were in the packed first-day keynote address to hear this announcement in person.

“The feedback we have received from around the world has been overwhelmingly positive, as we are THE Health & Fitness Association,” Clark said.

While the announcement was the highlight of the show, it certainly wasn’t the only memorable moment. This was the event that finally reached numbers from the pre-pandemic years. Nearly 9,000 attendees visited the more than 350 exhibitor booths and took in sessions, panels, and keynote addresses that featured more than 150 speakers.

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During the second-day keynote, Mark Mastrov, principal of New Evolution Ventures, responded to questions posed by Health & Fitness Association President and CEO Liz Clark.


The three keynotes each brought unique insights from their successful careers and personal experiences.

Mark Mastrov. In a Q&A session hosted by Liz Clark, Mastrov, one of the architects of the modern health club industry, shared his knowledge about building a brand and taking risks as he did when he turned 24 Hour Fitness into a global industry leader. An engaging, thoughtful speaker, he continues to influence the global fitness sector and has mentored a number of current industry leaders. His success continues as principal of New Evolution Ventures, where he’s helped develop Crunch franchising and other projects. His appearance was sponsored by Keiser.

Mariana Atencio. An award-winning journalist and best-selling author of Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real, Atencio delivered a spirited address complete with audience participation to demonstrate the power of her philosophy of authenticity. A news anchor who made the rare crossover from Spanish-language television to American network broadcasting, Atencio showed why she’s a widely sought speaker at events all over the world. Her appearance was sponsored by ABC Fitness.

Will Guidara. A restaurateur and best-selling author of Unreasonable Hospitality, Guidara delivered an entertaining presentation, where he shared his sometimes-counterintuitive strategy for marketing, promotion, and product development. His approach of “transforming ordinary experiences into extraordinary experiences” made an impact on the packed convention hall. His appearance was sponsored by Matrix Fitness.

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(Left to right) Alan Leach, Lynne Brick, and Kevin McHugh were honored at IHRSA 2024 for their service to the health and fitness industry.


The convention honored individuals who have displayed tremendous leadership over the years.

The John Holsinger Global Leadership Award

Alan Leach, CEO of Dublin-based The West Wood Clubs, took this honor for his tireless work in promoting the industry around the world. Leach is also well regarded for his humanitarian efforts, which include donating equipment and other supplies to rehabilitation centers in Ukraine to aid those injured in the war there (see March 2024 CBI for more on this). This award was created in honor of former IHRSA Asia-Pacific Director John Holsinger, who died tragically two years ago.

The Woman Leader Award in Honor of Julie Main

Named after industry icon Main, who passed away of cancer in 2009, this award was earned by Lynne Brick, cofounder of Brick Bodies and one of the largest franchisees of Planet Fitness. Brick is well known for championing mental health causes with her husband, Victor Brick. The two created the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation, where they develop programs, research, and educational materials to promote mental wellness.

The Jim Worthington Advocate of the Year Award

Kevin McHugh, COO of The Atlantic Club, has volunteered his time and resources to aid the association’s advocacy agenda, both in his home state of New Jersey and as a representative of the NHFA (National Health & Fitness Advisory Council) and Project 435. The award was inspired by Jim Worthington, owner of Newtown Athletic Club and a driving force in building the association’s advocacy movement.


Next year, the 2025 Health & Fitness Association Convention & Trade Show is coming to Las Vegas on March 12-14, 2025. We’ll have much more information on registration and other details in the coming weeks.

Read more of the recap of IHRSA 2024 in the April 2024 digital edition of Club Business International.

Author avatar

Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is Editor-in-Chief of Club Business International.