General manager, US Fitness Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C.
Todd Cynecki, a 19-year fitness industry veteran who is now the general manager of the newly opend US Fitness Charlotte, in Charlotte, N.C. Here’s what he has to say about his new venture and his background in the industry.
How long has the store opening been in the works?
We decided to open around the time of the [HFB] show in Las Vegas.
What made you decide to open the store?
The decision was made to open because we felt that the market fit the demographics for a successful store, in addition to that we got the support from a couple key vendors that made it an easy decision.
When did you officially open?
December 1  was our first day. We had a preview store during the month of December while our permanent space was being renovated. We moved into the permanent location January 15.
Tell me about your background in the fitness industry?
My industry background goes back to the early ’90s with a company called Image. I started out as a sales assistant and worked my way up to the sales representative. The company dissolved our office in Ohio, and I moved to California to start my own independent rep company. I stayed in California for three years and then moved back to Ohio in 2000 to work as a territory manager for Bodycraft. I stayed there until 2011. I had a short stint in New York with Fitness Showrooms as the company’s vice president and left that position for this opportunity in North Carolina with US Fitness Charlotte
How will your background help you with this new venture?
My experience in this industry as a manufacturer rep will be a huge help for us here in Charlotte. Calling on retailers for almost 20 years gives you a great insight into the success and failures of other companies. I believe we will mirror some of my successful accounts in many ways with your own ideas weaved into the plan. In the end it is a very simple plan, offer the customer an opportunity to shop in a clean, well-merchandised store, give them an informative presentation based on their needs or goals and deliver what you promise.
What makes yours different from other specialty fitness retailers out there?
Our company’s tagline is, “The difference is us.” So we believe that people make the difference. Specialty fitness retail stores are all cut from the same cloth, we all sell treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and home gyms. The way you can rise above the others is through your dedication to the customer’s experience. One of the things we are doing is keeping the delivery and installs under our roof to ensure that we control the customers experience rather than subcontracting that work out.
Another way I think we will differ from other retailers is in the strength category. The industry has changed so much in the past 10 years in the ratio of strength to cardio sales. Having worked for a strength equipment manufacturers at Bodycraft that was frustrating to see. So I am on a personal mission to bring strength sales back. I believe the cardio customers coming in the stores need strength training in their routines, so we simply ask them, “What are you doing for strength?” From that point the conversation begins and you take it from there.
Why did you choose Charlotte, N.C.?
I personally chose Charlotte for a couple of reasons, having lived above the Mason Dixon line for the majority of my life, I simply could not go through another winter. The Charlotte climate, while it is not quite tropical, is a great change for me. The ability to get on the golf course in January is never a bad thing. The other reason is I had a tremendous belief in my ownership to provide me with all of the tools I would need to succeed. Their ability to provide me with a beautiful store, great lines and the green light to make vertical market sales made this an easy decision.
What are some of the machines/equipment you are focused on selling?
We sell Life Fitness, Octane, Bodycraft, Lifespan, Lifecore and Powerblock. Our focus will be supporting the lines that have agreed to support us.
What are some of your goals for the future of the store?
Growth and profitability are the goals for our future. I believe we can accomplish those goals one customer at a time. We want to build a business that has both retail and commercial sales in addition to service. If we can get all three phases working at a high level our longterm goals will be met.
What is the significance behind the store’s name?
Well, we don’t live in Canada.