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Keynote Speakers

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MICHAËL AGUILAR

Sales Specialist & Author, France

Sponsored by Technogym

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CASPAR CRAVEN

Adventurer & Entrepreneur, United Kingdom

Sponsored by Technogym

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SHIVVY JERVIS

Award-Winning Innovation Futurist,
United Kingdom

Sponsored by Les Mills International

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JAY ABLONDI

Executive Vice President of Global Products, IHRSA, USA

Jay Ablondi began his career at IHRSA in 1990 in the association’s public policy division. In 2000, he took over the association’s publishing responsibilities, spearheading the redesign of Club Business International magazine. In addition, Jay leads IHRSA's research initiatives such as the annual IHRSA Global Report, Health Club Consumer Report, multiple international reports, and the Industry Data Survey that provide key financial data on club performance and illustrate consumer trends.

In 2014, Jay authored and published Active from A to Z, IHRSA’s first children’s book promoting early educational learning and physical activity. As EVP of Global Products, Jay currently oversees the research, publishing, education, convention, trade show, online media marketing, and information technology departments.

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MICHAËL AGUILAR

Sales Specialist & Author, France

Michaël Aguilar has spoken professionally since 2005 and has delivered over 1,300 sessions. Michaël is the author of 12 books, translated into seven languages. Two of his books include Elite Seller and The Art of Motivating.

Michaël is also the founder of Sellers of Elite, a specialized firm in training and consulting in commercial efficiency, persuasion, and commercial management.

Michaël is a lecturer at HEC Paris and University La Sorbonne.

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AHMAR AZAM

CEO, Leejam Sports Company, Saudi Arabia 

Ahmar Azam joined Leejam Sports Company in 2014. He has been the CEO of Leejam for the past year. He previously served as the CFO, where he led the IPO and corporate transformation of Leejam.

He has over 20 years of experience in leadership positions, including executive management, finance, strategy, and risk management for both private and public companies, as well as Big Four audit firms in the U.K. and the United States.

Ahmar is a Fellow Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. He holds an Honors Degree in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science in the U.K.

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FLORIAN CARTOUX

Director, IHRSA Europe, Belgium

Florian Cartoux is the European director of IHRSA.

He has been in the position for the last 3 years, overseeing a team of four people, growing the basis of European club members in Europe, strengthening IHRSA's collaboration with local partners, and supporting the organisation of IHRSA's annual European Congress and other events.

His background is in public policy, and he has worked and represented several sport organisations in the past.

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CATHERINE CARTY

Manager, UNESCO Chair in Physical Education, Sport, Fitness & Recreation, Ireland

Catherine Carty is the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Physical Education, Sport, Fitness & Recreation Project Manager.

This interdisciplinary initiative spans from children to older adults and from rehabilitation to elite performance across education and training, the arts, research, health, technology, and justice. It involves multiple integrated and segregated research and development initiatives. Growing a research team is a key role, through the Chair partnership, Horizon 2020, Erasmus +, philanthropy.

Catherine is also coordinator of the EU Commission-funded project "UFIT," or Universal Fitness Inclusion Training Project, developing training and multimedia education and awareness campaigns. 

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KATE CRACKNELL

Freelance Journalist, Copywriter & Editor, United Kingdom

As the former editor of Health Club Management magazine, and one of the fitness sector’s leading journalists, Kate Cracknell combines extensive industry knowledge and insight with an ability to harness the power of words to the benefit of her clients.

Her word-smithing services span the breadth of journalism, copywriting, and editing. From magazine articles to news releases, blogs, and LinkedIn posts to marketing collateral, Kate helps businesses create fresh, compelling content that keeps their brands relevant, engaging, and front-of-mind.

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CASPAR CRAVEN

Adventurer & Entrepreneur, United Kingdom

From entrepreneur to corporate team management and to yachtsman, Caspar Craven has over 30 years experience in building teams to make things happen. After university, he spent eight years in the corporate world—first as a chartered accountant and then as an investment banker at KPMG.

In 2000, Caspar left the corporate world for a brand new team and he signed up for the BT Global Challenge (called the World’s Toughest Yacht Race). He joined “Yacht Quadstone” as the youngest crew member onboard. After winning trophies around the world and building a team as watch captain, he returned to KPMG to run a technology and telecoms team. In 2001, he returned to entrepreneurial life as an e-commerce entrepreneur.

Throughout his career as both a family man and entrepreneur, he’s built multiple successful businesses from scratch and sold one for a seven-figure sum...whilst sailing the Pacific Ocean.

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BRENT DARDEN

CEO, Brent Darden Consulting, USA

The club industry has labeled Brent Darden a "Texas Talent" and "Industry Treasure"—"part preacher, part teacher, and part reacher." For over three decades, the former IHRSA Board of Directors chairman has openly shared his insights and ideas to help businesses and individuals perform their best and continues to share his experiences around the world through speaking and consulting. Brent’s messages have reached audiences in a dozen countries and have been translated into seven different languages.

Most recently, Brent was the owner-operator of TELOS Fitness Center, an award-winning multipurpose luxury brand in Dallas, TX. Telos was recognized as the "Dallas Business of the Year" and earned a litany of industry awards. Previously, he was vice president of the renowned Cooper Aerobics Center, and was named IHRSA’s inaugural General Manager of the Year. Brent also chairs several industry REX Executive Roundtables.

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FRANCINE DAVIS

CSO, Pure Gym, United Kingdom

Francine Davis joined Pure Gym in 2015 and currently serves as the chief strategy officer.

Prior to this, she was commercial director for the Snow and Rock Group and has over 25 years experience in general management including holding senior roles at Bunzl plc and Cardale Investments, as well as running family office-backed businesses across a broad range of sectors.

Francine regularly competes and coaches in triathlons and cycling events.

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SANDRA DUNNE

Operations Director, Gym Plus, Ireland

Sandra Dunne is a customer-focused fitness industry leader with a wealth of experience spanning the U.K. and Ireland over the last 16 years.

Renowned and respected for her commitment to the highest possible standards in all aspects of customer care, she loves meeting with members and celebrating their successes with them. She enjoys seeing the results of strategic changes that she drives across the group reflected in the positive experiences her members share with her.

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KILIAN FISHER

International Public Policy Advisor, IHRSA, Ireland

Kilian Fisher is IHRSA’s international public policy advisor and UFIT global industry lead. Kilian has always had a passionate interest in improving lives through inclusive society. Kilian has managed fitness, sports, and leisure clubs in London and Dublin, has been a consultant and CEO of the Irish National Leisure Industry body.

Kilian served on the IHRSA Board for four years, including chairing IHRSA’s membership and standards committee. He represents IHRSA at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) health task force. Kilian led the development of the "White Flag Standard" for the industry in Ireland, including the Disability Award. Kilian set up the Register for Exercise Professionals in Ireland (REPS Ireland) as Ireland's national register for fitness professionals. He facilitated the memorandum of understanding between IHRSA and the International Confederation of Registers for Exercise Professionals (ICREPS).

Kilian now leads the IHRSA group on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Sport Sector Dialogue, and has been instrumental in the collaboration between IHRSA, WHO, UNESCO, and other key international stakeholders.

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SONDRE GRAVIR

CEO, SATS Group, Norway

Sondre Gravir joined SATS Group as CEO in 2018. Sondre has previously held positions as CEO in two Norwegian media companies, Aftenposten and Bergens Tidende. Sondre was the CEO of the online classified service FINN.no in Norway, and his last position was CEO of Schibsted Marketplaces, a global online classified company with operations in 20 countries globally, headquartered in Barcelona. He is also a board member in the airline company Norwegian.

Sondre holds a master’s of science in economics and business administration from the Norwegian School of Economics and the National University of Singapore.

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SHIVVY JERVIS

Award-Winning Innovation Futurist, United Kingdom

Voted one of Europe’s most trailblazing women in digital, Shivvy Jervis is an award-winning innovation futurist, advisor, and broadcaster.

Shivvy has garnered an astonishing 22 pieces of industry recognition. This includes a national outstanding achiever award, being nominated a "Woman of the Year" by public vote, and named one of Britain's 10 most influential South Asian women.

A seasoned broadcaster, Shivvy currently discusses hot-button industry themes on the NextTech Insider series, hosts live debate broadcasts, called Ringside Sessions, and is fronting a bold new documentary. Shivvy also contributes as an independent expert to IBM's Global C-Suite Study Advisory Board and is called on extensively by organisations to make sense of the dizzying pace of innovation and identify which advances are best suited to their needs. She is currently authoring Future, Now, an ambitious book for which she is scouring the globe for the most powerful advances and people meaningfully shaping the next decade.

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PELLE JOHANSSON

CEO, Hagabadet, Sweden

Pelle Johansson started his first studio in 1995 and became a spinning instructor and personal trainer in 1996. With a growing interest in marketing and sales, he attended IHM Business School in Gothenburg from 1998-2000.

Starting in Sweden, Pelle has since worked as a marketing manager and moved up to CEO for World Class. After the IPO of World Class International, Pelle moved into a regional role as vice president for the regions of Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium, and France.

With experience in consulting, managing massive teams, and working independently, Pelle boasts a wide range of executive experience. Pelle has been recognized numerous times for his leadership and managerial skills.

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ALAN LEACH

CEO & Director of Marketing, West Wood Clubs, Ireland

Alan Leach currently serves as general manager, sales trainer, and head of sales and marketing for the West Wood Club in Dublin, Ireland. He uses his 32 years of health club and sales management experience to serve more than 33,000 health club members at West Wood Club and Crunch Fitness locations in Ireland and Bosnia.

Leach has been an avid supporter of the industry for years. At the start of his career, he grew an individual club’s membership from 700 to 3,100—establishing the club as one of the most profitable facilities in Europe. He continues to promote physical activity and the global industry as a regular speaker at countless events for fitness professionals.

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DAG LEE

Fitness Industry Executive & Board Member, United Kingdom

Dag Lee has had the pleasure of working in the fitness industry as an executive or board member since 2000. The brands include SATS, the largest fitness chain in the Nordics, where Dag was part of a five-person-strong management buy-out team acquiring SATS in 2002 with private equity firm, Nordic Capital.

Dag has also served on the boards of pan European chains ACTIC and later Fitness World, both alongside private equity firm FSN Capital.

Dag is the chairman of Vancouver, BC, based InTouch Technology, a SaaS CRM platform for the global fitness industry. Dag is also an active investor and business adviser, working with entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital firms, covering sectors such as technology, health and financial services. Dag currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he oversees Nile—a strategic design consultancy.

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CONN McCLUSKEY

CEO, Ireland Active, Ireland

Conn McCluskey joined Ireland Active in 2016 having worked previously with the Federation of Irish Sport for almost four years. A qualified architect, from working on large-scale commercial projects for 12 years, he completed a masters in sport and exercise management at University College Dublin and started working in the sport and fitness sector in 2012.

Conn has served as a member of the National Physical Activity Plan Working Group and CEN European Fitness Centre Standards Group. He currently sits on the Sports Leadership Group in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport which is tasked with advising the department on the new national sports policy.

Conn leads the executive team in Ireland Active, which aims to deliver on the strategic objectives of advocating for and supporting member interests and getting more people more active, more often.

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JOE MOORE

President & CEO, IHRSA, USA

Joe Moore is president and CEO of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). Joe became president and CEO of IHRSA on July 1, 2006, after serving as interim CEO for six months. Moore has been in the industry for over 30 years.

A former club owner, beginning with his first commercial facility in 1972 to developing a 20-club, three-state chain that he sold in 2004, Joe plays a prominent role in public policy and coalition building for the industry. Under his leadership, IHRSA is co-leader, along with the American Heart Association and the American Council on Exercise, of the Business and Industry Sector of the National Physical Activity Plan; is an Organization Affiliate of the plan; is an organizational member of the National Coalition to Promote Physical Activity (NCPPA); is a partner with HHS in promoting the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines; is a Network Member of the Exercise is Medicine initiative; is on the advisory council of the Campaign to End Obesity; and is a member of the advisory board of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.

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JAN SPATICCHIA

Chairman, énergie Group, United Kingdom

Jan is the chairman, CEO, and co-founder of the énergie Group. With a widespread reputation for his entrepreneurial flair, leadership, and vision, Jan has over 24 years experience in the health, fitness, and leisure industry.

In this time, he has taken several businesses from initial concept to successful established brands. As a highly sought-after international speaker, Jan has presented at major events in 15 countries around the world focusing on business development, entrepreneurship, motivation, and management of change. A well-respected industry leader with an eye for what makes a business tick, Jan has an impressive and demonstrable record of achievement.

Jan graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a B.A. and honors, and was a finalist in the 2001 and 2006 U.K. entrepreneur of the year awards.

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LEILA TIMERGALEEVA

Ambassador to Russia, IHRSA, USA/Russia

Leila Timergaleeva has a degree in law from the State University of Russia and has six years experience practicing civil law in Russia.

In 2002, Leila began her employment with Gold's Gym-Moscow as a sales consultant and in eight months was promoted to sales director. Moving on from Gold's Gym, her last foreign employment was with FitnessMania as the managing director of a 9,000-square-meter club.

Since 2008, she has represented IHRSA in Russia, and has become an active IHRSA member in the United States. She was previously the regional manager at Complete Body and Spa in New York. Between 2015-2018, Leila was the general manager and CEO at TMPL Gym in NYC (David Barton’s new gym).

Leila is currently working with a brand new project, with details to come.

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BAHAR UÇANLAR

CEO, Mars Sportif, Turkey

Bahar Uçanlar is the CEO of Mars Sportif, the largest health club chain in Turkey with 91 clubs. Bahar has a B.A. from Boğaziçi University, and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan.

After she graduated from business school, she joined Bain & Company as a management consultant in the Chicago office. She continued her career at PepsiCo USA as director of marketing and strategy. She returned to Turkey as the CMO of Mondelez Turkey, managing six different categories. Afterward, she joined the largest telecommunications company in Turkey, Turkcell, as the marketing communications and youth segment director. Later, she became charged with leading Kantar Insight’s commercial business operations in 28 European countries.

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GERARD YÉLAMOS

Global Coordinator, UFIT, Germay

Gerard Masdeu Yélamos is the UFIT global coordinator and researcher at the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Physical Education, Sport, Fitness and Recreation. Gerard oversees the development and implementation of the UFIT initiative across the globe, providing capacity building opportunities for health clubs committed to create opportunities for people with disabilities and chronic diseases.

As a researcher and Ph.D. student, he is involved in mapping and developing monitoring mechanisms of human rights in and through sport. He holds a bachelor’s of science from University of Lleida in sport sciences, a bachelor’s of science in psychology from the Open University of Catalonia, and a master’s by research in inclusive fitness management from the Institute of Technology Tralee.

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ANASTASIA YUSINA

President, Strata Fitness Holding, Russia

Anastasia Yusina graduated from Moscow University, Paris Institute of Political Sciences, and Moscow International Relations Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in economics. Anastasia is president of Strata Fitness Holding, founder of Orange Fitness and City Fitness health clubs, and FITSPACE Boutique Fitness Studios concept in the United States.

She is a member of the IHRSA European Council and was awarded the 2011 IHRSA European Club Leadership Award.

“Since it began, the IHRSA European Congress has been a huge success, providing a great opportunity to promote and develop our industry. It is also a great opportunity to make new friends, meet old acquaintances and discover new European cities and clubs!”

Mikel Urdangarin, Fundacion Estadio Fundazioa, Spain

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The IHRSA European Congress features presentations delivered by executives from inside and outside the health club industry, providing thought-provoking commentary on trends that are shaping business and the fitness industry. Networking events, focus group discussions, afternoon and evening receptions provide the opportunity to build relationships with colleagues from across Europe.

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