January has become a traditional time for new beginnings and re-evaluation, perhaps even more so this year as owners determine that they must be more creative in operating their businesses if they want to succeed. Our magazine's franchise is no different. For us to prosper, we must meet your needs. Many of you have depended on our publication for 25 years, and we want to ensure that our magazine, Web site, e-newsletters and trade shows continue serving you.

With that in mind, I have several additions to tell you about. We are adding Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness, and Julie Main, co-owner and president of West Coast Athletic Clubs, to our editorial advisory board, which we've had in place since the magazine began 25 years ago. (View the list of our editorial advisory board members.) The advisory board is a resource and sounding board for us when it comes to developing stories and making changes to the franchise.

Mark founded 24 Hour Fitness in 1983 and built it into the largest and most profitable club company in the country. He was one of the first to introduce around-the-clock access, month-to-month memberships and electronic monthly billing. He also started 24 Hour's partnerships with celebrities to open co-branded clubs and the partnership with NBC's reality television program "The Biggest Loser." After leaving 24 Hour last year, Mark is now involved with his investments in five continents and is seeking opportunities as an investor and operator in the industry. Starting in February, Mark will write a column for the magazine on a regular basis.

Julie has been in the fitness business since 1987. She has served as president of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), has spoken at several IHRSA conventions and has been a judge in our Best of the Best contest for the past two years. She co-founded the Cancer WellFit Program, an exercise program for cancer patients. She also is the co-writer and co-publisher of "The Cancer WellFit Manual," which is being sold internationally to health clubs and medical facilities.

New advisory board members aren't our only change. A few months ago, our senior associate editor, Jennipher Shaver, left the magazine, and now we welcome Stephanie Bloyd to the staff in that role. Stephanie brings with her a journalism degree and more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, including coverage of the food and health industries. I am looking forward to the valuable contribution she will make to the franchise.

Our changes extend beyond adding new people. In the next month, we will add articles to our Web site about how to survive a tough economy. The articles, most of which will be written by experts in the industry, focus on topics such as cutting costs, retaining members, attracting new members, increasing ancillary revenue and securing financing. I encourage you to go to this page (www.fitnessbusinesspro.com/economy) and read these articles as you prepare for the year ahead.

We also are partnering with Casey Conrad to provide teleseminars to our readers (see www.fitnessbusinesspro.com/webinar/ for upcoming topics), and we plan to add forums to our Web site later this year.

As you and your members start anew this month with hope and trepidation about the future, we join with you in hopes of making this year a successful one for everyone. Please let me know how else we can help you meet your goals this year.