The Dawn of the Fitness Industry
With the formation of John F. Kennedy’s President’s Council on Physical Fitness in the 1960s, a new era in exercise science and technology began. America’s early obsession with physical fitness had people jogging, bicycling, swimming and weight lifting at home—as the regional YMCA was the only sort of gym facility available. By 1981 however, the obsession was in full display as the aerobics craze swept the nation to the tune of Olivia Newton John’s hit single, Physical.
Fitness had become an industry.
But even as health clubs continued to pop up across the country, traditional insurance providers viewed them as a highly speculative, niche market. As owners struggled to insure their clubs, a man named Glynne Simpson stepped in to fill the void.
Origins of SFIC
With a small staff of…2, Simpson’s company was the original insurer for the manufacturer of Nautilus brand exercise equipment. With the help of Nautilus’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, John Urmston, the visionary CEO designed the first policies that would be sold by his new company, Sports & Fitness Insurance Corporation, founded in 1985.
When Nautilus salespeople began recommending the company as a preferred insurer to their clients, Simpson began to realize the potential of this new industry. So he headed to New York City and the first conference of the International Racquet Sports Association (IRSA) to see what other business he could drum up.
He showed up at the Hilton with nothing but a card table and a white poster board with the word Insurance written on it. That humble tactic paid off in a big way. For more than a decade, SFIC was the only general liability provider recommended by what is now known as the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).
Still Going Strong…
Today, SFIC is one of the largest fitness underwriting companies in the nation, with about 30 people on staff at the company headquarters in Madison, Mississippi as well as an office in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is licensed in all 50 states, has over 14,000 active policies for health clubs and individual trainers & yoga instructors nationwide, and is endorsed by Curves for Women—the largest fitness franchise in the world.
John Urmston’s daughter, Jennifer Urmston Lowe, remains with SFIC as their National Accounts Manager, and Glynne Simpson is still active in the business he started, now joined by his children.
Continue exploring our website to learn more about what our history in the fitness industry means for you.