In January 2017, Life Fitness welcomed a new president of its fitness division. Jaime Irick, 42, succeeded former Life Fitness president Christopher E. Clawson. Previously, Irick served 14 years at GE, where he worked in a variety of roles and across several business units. Irick is a veteran, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and is a qualified Airborne Ranger. He also earned his MBA from Harvard Business School.
At this year’s IHRSA Convention and Trade Show, CS Editor Rachel Zabonick sat down with Irick to discuss his vision for Life Fitness and what club owners should expect moving forward.
CS: What is your vision for Life Fitness over the next 5 years?
JI: We’ve communicated to our investors and our shareholders that we’re going to [reach] $1.5 billion by 2020. In order to do that, part of that growth is going to be organic and part of that growth is going to be inorganic. Organically, it’s about continuing to provide our customers with phenomenal products and services. I think that will come from hardware, more increasingly software and services.
On the inorganic side, which you’ve seen us do in the past two years, we’ve made three very strategic acquisitions that have strengthened our position in market adjacencies. [The acquisition of] ICG, in particular, to get into group exercise, as well as some of the technology they have around Coach By Color — we think will be transferable to different products that we have. And then [the acquisition of] SCIFIT, to get into active aging. Both of those [acquisitions] give us tremendous new markets that we can go after and benefit. And you’ll continue to see us do acquisitions that will strengthen our core and improve our ability to serve our adjacencies.
CS: What should club owners be paying attention to at Life Fitness?
JI: We have the biggest fitness equipment company, but also the broadest and deepest across the board. For fitness clubs we think we have something for everyone, from our cardio to our strength and just our legacy products that have been so phenomenally strong, such as Life Fitness Hammer Strength. And then adding the complementary products of Cybex, ICG and SCIFIT (recent acquisitions), I think that breadth of depth and having distinctive products that offer more value — with the best reliability in the industry and branding — is something we’ll continue to offer our customers.
Then it’s about innovating going forward. I think our LFconnect platform is a great example of innovation going forward. If you talk to customers — and I spend half my time in the field talking to customers — they want to be able to create new member experiences, they want to be able to reduce their costs or control them, and they want to be able to create new revenue streams. We’ve got products that do all three of those. The LFconnect platform in particular has asset management capabilities that will allow clubs to help equipment utilization, so if you have a club with 100 treadmills as an example, in the past you really didn’t know equipment and asset utilization. With our software and analytics, we’ll be able to tell clubs which products are being used more or less so they can actually rotate which areas are being more populated by frequent exercisers. That technology is going to help.
Eventually, we want to be able to provide sources of revenue and new revenue streams for our customers, which we’re working on that, too.
CS: What’s an interesting thing about you most people don’t know?
JI: As much as I love to think I’ve done well, my wife, Myah, is really the most talented one in the family. She has an amazing career of her own at JP Morgan private bank, where she’s an executive director. We’re a dual-employed family, but my wife probably does the lion’s share of work with our kids, so I’m increasing my participation there. My wife is really the talent in the family. My friends who know me well know that, but not everybody does.