10 questions with Don Allen, the CEO of Tampa Fitness Partners and area developer of Orangetheory Fitness Gulf Coast Region.
1. What drew you to the health and fitness industry? Like many of us in the industry, I’ve been “working out” since I was in my early teens after a severe knee injury. Being forced to work throughout college at The University of Florida, I took a job at Gainesville Health and Fitness. Joe Cirulli showed me that a career in the field was possible and the rest is history.
2. Throughout your time in the industry, what is one of the biggest changes or evolutions you’ve seen? It’s very hard to choose one. I would say the advent of month-to-month memberships, the rise of the budget chains and finally the explosion in popularity of the boutiques.
3. What is one accomplishment you’re most proud of? I realize it’s cliché, but my God, my wife, my son and my family are by far and away what I’m most proud. Life balance is important, professional accomplishment is great, but you’ve got to have the foundations in place.
4. What gets you most excited to come to work every day? Many years ago, I became frustrated with the fitness industry. I remember saying to my wife, AnnLee, “I think I’m supposed to be doing something else, something more important.” She very wisely replied, “Maybe your fitness career is just the vehicle for you to do important things. Get busy.” She was right. We are so blessed in our industry to have the opportunity to leverage our business to help people change their lives for the better. Not just our members, but our teammates and the community as a whole.
5. What is one lesson you’ve learned that other health club professionals can learn from? There are highly successful and high integrity operators out there to learn from, work for and with whom to partner in the business. Honesty and high sales performance are not mutually exclusive attributes. Always be honest, humble and kind.
6. What is one key thing you think Orangetheory Fitness does great that other clubs could learn from? Orangetheory has bottled the magic of hyper-passionate and obsessed members. It starts with how well you take care of your employees first, but most operators skip this step and only focus on the members — big mistake. We also not only mix business with pleasure, but we strive to make the business a pleasure every day for ourselves and our teams.
7. What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome? Four years ago I left the comfortable bubble of multi-unit management and started a small group training consulting company. Nothing is harder than starting your own business, as I know many of Club Solutions’ readers can understand.
8. How did you overcome that challenge? In hindsight, I realize throughout the tough times I was able to keep my eyes both on the business, but at the same time kept an eye up on the changing landscape of the industry. Of course, my industry mentors are the real heroes that kept me going and guided me.
9. If you weren’t at your current job, what occupation would you have? I would either be a veterinarian or a college professor of history.
10. Tell us one fun fact about yourself that others may not know. I have an extensive library of primarily military history books which I’ve read and I’m also a competitive tactical pistol shooter.