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President and CEO
What are some of your current top sellers and why do you think they’re so popular?
We’re redirecting some of our focus to consulting, and are finding that a lot of people who call us are opening up small facilities – 3,000 to 5,000 square feet. They’re calling us because they’re starting up their own businesses and trying to create their own jobs. That’s one of the most popular things: People calling us to open up a turnkey business. And that’s where we come in and do the consulting on the operating systems. We help them with supplements and nutrition and everything else to help them run a successful business.
From an equipment standpoint, obviously treadmills have always been the No. 1 seller. Treadmills are our biggest requested item. But it seems to me, when we do the analytics of this our searches on our website, the most clicked-on item is the Tread Climber. They’re obsolete items, and we don’t like to sell them because you can’t get parts for them, they’re hard to fix and they weigh 700 pounds. [The same customers might] like the new one Star Trac is revamping.
What kind of consulting do you do and who is your target customer?
We do turnkey consulting. My background is business and I’ve started many companies from scratch. Business structure and operations is our main focus in any business, but we target the fitness industry and health clubs. Our main target right now would be that 2,500 to 7,500-square-foot facility, studios or corporate — just smaller clubs.
What is your favorite piece of technology coming out and why?
It’s a tough question because it’s still kind of new, but Star Trac has a cool interactive system. The technology has been out for a long time — originally Life Fitness had it — and you can go around anywhere with a chip and plug it into a Star Trac unit to go into their custom programs. I do like that. You can go in and you can have your own training system with your custom program, your music, your favorite TV system and everything. It’s pretty cool.
What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry and how can we overcome it?
I would say the corporate facilities are getting too big too fast, and that’s taking away what the fitness industry is all about — which is to get fit, get healthy and have fun. The industry is growing corporately, and it’s becoming a big business so everything is about money. Everything is about: Get [the customer] in, get their money, get them out. It’s about sell, sell, sell. The whole fitness industry has lost that personal touch. There’s no nostalgic feeling any more like in the original days when everything was about personality and people actually cared about the customers.
What do you think specialty fitness retailers need to do to remain relevant in the future?
They need to be more versatile. They need to offer more than just one thing.
In my 18 years in this business, I instill in my sales people that it’s not just about selling fitness equipment, it’s about the personal touch, it’s about taking care of the customer, it’s about the trust factor and it is about the price.
It’s no different than the restaurant business. It wasn’t the location and the food that made my experience with a restaurant successful, it was the atmosphere. I want people to be comfortable and be happy and go out and say, “This is a cool place.”
First, you have to attract [customers], and then you have to gain their trust. Then everything else is easy. It doesn’t become about just the equipment, it becomes them saying, “I like you, I trust you and I want to do business with you.”