The Bottom Line: 10 Questions with Tom Hatten

Tom Hatten

Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the February issue, the conversation features Tom Hatten, the founder of Mountainside Fitness.

1. You just recently published a book titled “Dream On: The inspirational memoir from the founder of Arizona’s leading fitness empire.” How did the book come about?

The book came about during a significant event that was happening in my life at the time. I just started writing, and thinking about how I had gotten to this point both in life and in business. Five years later I actually put the pen down and felt like “OK, this is complete.” The book is not a “how to,” as I didn’t think the world was waiting for my advice on starting a fitness center. But it is a story of incredible ups and downs and events in starting Mountainside Fitness and in my life that are almost unbelievable if not for the actual fact it has all happened. I hoped there was something everyone could relate to in my story, not just entrepreneurs and fitness enthusiasts. 

2. How does it feel to have the book finally in circulation?

Excited and scared a little bit, as I was putting my life “all out there” for the world to see. It’s currently for sale on Amazon and Amazon Kindle and soon to be in bookstores, with all proceeds going to Make A Wish and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

3. What are some of the key lessons you’d like readers to take away from the book?

I think the main theme is “belief and effort.” How far can those two words take you in life and what can they get you through? My story has so many twists and turns, it seems like I always came back to belief and effort.

4. You founded Mountainside Fitness at just 22 years old — what advice could you give to other young entrepreneurs looking to make their mark?

I have never really heard of anyone “liking” something into a success. Make sure you are “passionate”  about what you are about to do. You need to love it. It will test you in ways you’ve never thought possible and you will need to call on that passion or love to keep you going. 

5. What has been one of the biggest keys to Mountainside Fitness’ success?

For us the ability to be progressive and evolve at all times was and is key. When you grow and you have an industry such as fitness that is ever-changing, I believe this allows for a long lifespan. Some things we never want to nor will change, like free towel service, smiling and saying “thank you.” Those are a must. But today’s fitness industry certainly is light years away from 30 years ago. Every day that has to be on our mind. 

6. What’s ahead for Mountainside Fitness?

Certainly new clubs are on the way, as well as some different concepts of Mountainside Fitness and making sure we are the best version of the company along the way. I have never had a set limit on any amount of clubs, as I felt it would determine itself as time went on. But to not grow I think is certain extinction for a business, so growth will always be a part of who we are. 

7. What industry trends are you currently keeping an eye on?

Watch what is happening in your clubs, almost in micro ways. Your members are telling you what they are liking and not liking. From that information, look out at the industry to see what makes sense for your club to move forward with. 

8. Can you share one of your role models, and why you look up to them?

Really no one person comes to mind, but more of a collection of back stories of how various people — famous and not-so famous — started and grew their businesses, and what they went through. Also, the stories of the kids I see in Make a Wish or Special Olympics that deal with life-and-death issues on a daily basis. I guess both of those examples resonate more with me and how my career has gone. 

9. What’s a leadership book you’d recommend and why?

“Wins, Losses and Lessons” by Lou Holtz.

10. What’s a fun fact others may not know about you?

I am shy in small groups of people, and would have loved a career as a fighter pilot. I enjoy watching shows about the universe.

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