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Lessons in Fitness Leadership: People Make the Difference

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership.

Steve Capezzone
Healthtrax International
Glastonbury, CT

What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?

Being in a leadership position and having the opportunity to be a change agent is so important. To me, leadership means being directly involved in influencing public policy initiatives, having access to other operators to learn from and network with, and having the ability to call upon other leaders to help make an impact on the industry.

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?

I can’t just pick one piece of advice because I have found that there are many strategies that—if implemented correctly—can help a person improve their leadership abilities.

First, people make the difference! A lot of people talk about new clubs and equipment and that’s important, but what really makes a difference in this business is the people. They create the stickiness for our members and create the environment that can make or break your work.

So, surround yourself with the best people you can. It makes work more enjoyable and has a huge impact on your bottom line. 

Second, have a realistic view of your own strengths and weaknesses. Then make sure you surround yourself with people who are better than you and balance your organization. Better people bring the whole group up to a new level—they will push you up and won’t push you out.

Third, don’t get stuck in your four walls. You have to get outside your facility and create a group of industry folks to network with. And get to IHRSA, to shows, and to regional events. If we’re not learning, growing, and expanding, we will get stale and die. 

And finally, sales is not a four letter word. Sales is a big part of what drives our business. When I interview people they are scared of the word. Sales is perfecting an influential communication style. You’re seeing it more in the fitness industry now. Do whatever you can to perfect your persuasion and communication skills. 

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)?

Advocacy has always been in my DNA, I’ve always had an interest in politics, policy and legislation. And as an ILC and Public Policy Committee member, I’m looking forward to the experiences I will have working to promote and protect the industry.

Capezzone and other IHRSA board members presenting the IHRSA Get Active Leadership Award to Rep. Ron Kind

There are so many important issues that I can help support and work toward as an ILC member. I want to see WHIP & PHIT passed. We recently had an event in D.C. where Congressmen Kind and Dold said many nice things about the progress we are making. We are continuing to build momentum there.

And steering state legislation is critical. For example, the effort to stop the Pennsylvania sales tax last year saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That’s why I want to be involved at a grassroots level: to promote our industry and protect our centers.

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