Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the September issue, the conversation features Linda Mitchell, the director of public and government relations at Newtown Athletic Club.
1. What led you to Newtown Athletic Club (NAC)?
I came to the NAC in 1981 as a young, first-time mom who was looking for part-time work in a field related to my passion: dance education. What I found was a home in the early days of group exercise — think Jane Fonda and Jazzercize. I was hired to teach aerobic exercise classes and to develop a program for our then fledging racquetball and fitness club.
2. What are you most proud of concerning NAC’s success?
After 38 years in the industry and all of them at the NAC, I am most proud of how the NAC has evolved into a true lifestyle center that offers so much more than exercise opportunities. With the addition of the resort style outdoor pool complex, the indoor fieldhouse, two expanded fitness centers, a full component of youth programs, absolutely state-of-the-art group studio boutiques, a complete wellness center and a fully licensed preschool, we have created the ultimate in comprehensive healthy living. In addition to all of that, we have created a NAC foundation to raise funds for a wide variety of great charitable causes.
3. What’s your favorite part of being in the fitness industry?
My favorite part is the high level of positive energy exuded by practically everyone. I have come to the conclusion that when an individual places a premium on health and wellness in their own life, the result is one of positivity and energy that is unmatched.
4. What’s your favorite leadership book and why?
A read that has stuck with me is, “Darling, You Can’t Do Both and Other Noise to Ignore on Your Way Up.” I wish this book had been written years earlier when I was raising younger children and trying to balance everything.
5. What is the best piece of leadership advice you’ve ever been given?
NAC owner Jim Worthington has said countless times, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people could do, but choose not to.” This quote has always informed my decisions both large and small on a day-to-day basis.
6. What career did you dream of growing up?
I wanted to be a prima ballerina, a dream many little girls entertained. I did take that dream reasonably far, as I was a dance major in college and began my career in the dance studio teaching the principles of my craft and talent. You could maintain that I did take the desire to perform to the stage of the group exercise classroom. I think every good instructor needs to be a great performer in order to inspire their students to be successful.
7. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
When I took the leap into sales and marketing in the mid 1990s after having created and cultivated a very successful comprehensive group exercise program for 15 years, I was forging ahead in an area in which I had no formal training.
8. How did you overcome that challenge?
IHRSA and industry events were a great help, as I attended every sales and marketing seminar I could and implemented, slowly but surely, principles that were ultimately successful.
9. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
I would advise a younger self to find mentors to guide them through the intricacies and challenges of self-development in this industry. There is no formula that will work for everyone — a mentor can help customize your journey and save you potential wrong turns along the way.
10. What’s a fitness trend you’re keeping an eye on?
One is the concept of “Exercise as Medicine.” The federal government is becoming more proactive by encouraging participation in youth sports through the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition and directing the Health and Human Services Department to emphasize a healthy lifestyle as a necessary component for well-being. We are placing this concept front and center in our messaging as we develop our comprehensive wellness center. We believe the public is ready to adapt to the scientific knowledge that movement is life and if you stop moving your life is severely diminished.