The Bottom Line: Joseph A. Harrison

Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the August issue, the conversation features Joseph A. Harrison, the COO and partner of Gold’s Gym Virginia and Wisconsin.

1. What led you to Gold’s Gym?

In 2002, I was at a crossroads in my career and was entertaining an offer to change career paths into a non-fitness sector when I met Lori and Jeremy Lowell, my friends and now business partners. They owned one gym at the time and were in pre-sale in their second location. I decided to give the fitness industry another shot — 17 years later our group owns and operates 13 locations and counting.

2. What are you most proud of concerning your business’ success?

I love watching our team members grow into great professionals. Some stay for a long time. With others, their time with us is a stepping stone to other opportunities. Either way I enjoy watching everyone grow and succeed.

3. What’s your favorite part of being in the fitness industry?

Changing people’s lives on a daily basis. The annual Gold’s Gym Challenge is a huge example of how we do that.

4. What’s your favorite leadership book and why?

Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why.” If you can give your team purpose in everything they do, you will always get a great result.

5. What is the best piece of leadership advice you’ve ever been given?

Leaders eat last. Also, you work for your team — your team does not work for you. 

6. If you weren’t in the position you’re in now, what job do you think you’d be doing?

I studied sports medicine in college, so probably an athletic trainer of some type.

7. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

I think in general, the biggest challenge when you make club operations a career is there is no proper education for this type of work. In any given day, you go from showing a new sales rep how to sell a membership to customer service training to handling a billing issue to answering a physiology question about a piece of equipment — and then have to know how to review profit and loss statements.

8. And how did you overcome that challenge?

Very patient and fantastic mentors. They have never been too busy to take the time to explain how or why we do something — that’s great leadership. And of course, some self education through industry conferences and industry periodicals, such as Club Solutions. 

9. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Take more business classes in college. I never thought I would need to apply as many business practices in the fitness industry as we do.

10. What’s a fitness trend you’re keeping an eye on right now?

Technology and workout tracking. I think the consumer is really embracing how data can help them in their fitness journey. 

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