IHRSA Introduces Interim President & CEO Brent Darden

September 1, 2020

On August 21, the IHRSA Board of Directors announced the appointment of Brent Darden as interim president and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Although the role was not taken lightly, Darden has made it clear that he does not intend to serve as IHRSA president & CEO on a permanent basis.

“What moved me to accept the role as interim CEO is that I feel compelled and called to serve an industry that has been so good to me and continues to be so rewarding,” said Darden. “As the interim CEO, I look forward to reaffirming our value to the association’s members and bringing together the passion that our industry has to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Darden is a well-known advocate and leader in the fitness industry and has a vast background of experience. From an activities director at First Baptist Church of Waco Life Recreation Center to wellness director for Texas Instruments and Northern Telecom to vice president of the renowned Cooper Aerobic Enterprises and serving multiple roles on the IHRSA Board of Directors—Darden is a well-seasoned professional. He feels—as many in the industry do—that health and fitness facilities need to be taken more seriously in their role of providing vital health services.

“The pandemic has laid open the reality of how far we must go to earn a prominent place in the continuum of helping people lead healthier lifestyles,” said Darden. “Around the world, at a time when the benefits of regular exercise should be emphasized more than ever, they have been dismissed and deemed irrelevant. Collectively, we simply must do more if we want to play a significant role in the fight to reverse the trend of obesity, physical inactivity, and unfulfilled well-being.”

Changing pace does not come without challenges.

“Joe [Moore]’s departure reflects a decision by the IHRSA Board that it was time for a leadership change,” Darden said. “Over his 15 years as President and CEO, Joe made many contributions to the overall success of IHRSA. The Board of Directors and IHRSA staff are grateful for his service and commitment to fulfilling the mission of growing, protecting, and promoting the health and fitness industry. As the interim President and CEO, I look forward to continuing the great legacy of success our members and vendors have come to expect.”

Darden said, “The challenge that lies before us will be overcome through an obsession with the customers’ voice, authenticity, transparency, consensus building, and an unwavering commitment to balance the needs of stakeholders when making the hard decisions that await.”

Speaking on behalf of IHRSA’s future, Darden feels confident that evolution is necessary for the association to achieve sustainable success.

“IHRSA remains committed to its founding principles of growing, protecting, and promoting the health and fitness industry. As we look to the future, we must strengthen our resolve to live out these ideals in support of the global community we serve,” said Darden. “I believe the time has come for IHRSA and our industry to reimagine itself—to reset and set the stage for a revival that holds tremendous promise. While honoring our past, and being respectful of our present, the future requires that we evolve with a sense of urgency to survive and thrive.”