Stephen Tharrett is Remembered as Fitness Industry Icon

Stephen Tharrett

By FitBizWeekly Staff

The fitness industry has lost a legend.


Stephen Tharrett – author, leader, mentor, commentator, teacher, industry advocate and inspiration – passed away suddenly on December 22, 2020. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Denise, and children Travis and Alyssa.


Tharrett was a co-founder of ClubIntel, president of Club Industry Consulting, and a past president of IHRSA. For 30-plus years, he worked in the U.S. and internationally, holding senior leadership positions in various club and organizational settings. He was a member of the Faust Roundtable Group, the first such group for club industry executives and managers, established to improve the success of industry leaders and their organizations.


“Steve had so much passion for the club industry,” said longtime friend Rick Caro, president of consulting firm Management Vision. “He shared willingly and was never aware of his impact on the industry. When I reminisced with a few business friends, they shared their insights to me. Steve was a great industry leader, an industry legend, an industry historian, someone respected by all, a gifted researcher, a deep thinker, a prolific market researcher and a great sharer of breakthrough industry information.”


Tharrett and his business partner Mark Williamson specialized in strategic planning, new business development, brand creation, market research, employee development, member behavior and demographics, operating standards and organizational development.


Tharrett wrote numerous groundbreaking books and training texts that guided those working in the health, fitness, golf and country club industry, including Legends of Fitness, Fitness Management, Entrepreneurial Excellence – Nine Lessons from the Art of Bonaid, and the ACE Fitness and Business Forms Handbook. He edited the ACSM Standards and Guidelines for the industry, and was a frequent presenter at U.S. and international industry conferences.


David Hardy, longtime industry veteran and former president of Fitness Industry Canada, had this to say: “Stephen was a visionary with foresight about the changes our industry would and did experience. I have followed his work for years and worked with him and his partner Mark, both true professionals. Stephen was always available to share his time and had a true commitment to the fitness business. Our industry has lost a true patriot.”


Tharett’s Linkedin page was flooded with tributes, a fitting testament to a Lao Tzu proverb posted on the site:  “Love is the greatest link that we have with those who have temporarily left us.”


Tharrett’s family has asked that anyone who wishes to share words, photos or videos can post to Donation information will be available in the memorial video post.

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