The Bottom Line: Stephen Kindler, Jr.
Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the October issue, the conversation features Stephen Kindler, Jr., the president of National Fitness Partners.
1. What led you to Planet Fitness/National Fitness Partners?
My family has been in the fitness industry for over 50 years operating multiple platforms, and converted to Planet Fitness 15 years ago. As we were going through a growth phase, I was graduating college and decided to jump into the business. My first position was as a front desk associate in 2008 and I’ve been hooked on our brand ever since.
2. What are you most proud of concerning your organization’s success?
Providing career opportunities for our group of leaders who drive our business from the front lines. With the large growth trajectory our business has been on over the last five years, we have been able to place our top performers into senior roles where they can impact the business and their teams at all levels. Seeing the expression on their faces when they earn a promotion is one of the most gratifying parts of my job.
3. What’s your favorite part of being in the fitness industry?
The interaction with people from all different ages, races, religious convictions and socioeconomic standings. Our great industry has no restrictions and is extremely inclusive to anyone and everyone. Having the ability to meet and create long-lasting relationships with people, that had it not been for the fitness industry I would have never crossed paths with, is one of the best things about working within our industry.
4. What’s your favorite leadership book and why?
“The Servant” by James C. Hunter. This book resonates with me as it outlines five key principles of servant leadership and reinforces the fact that as the leader of your company, your purpose is to serve your team members. Building the relationships with your team plays a critical role in the success of a leader. It’s a quick read and a great book to pick up at any moment and get a refresher on what our purpose should be.
5. What is the best piece of leadership advice you’ve ever been given?
Never forget what got you to the position you are in. I think this holds true with any level of our business.
6. If you weren’t in the position you’re in now, what job do you think you’d be doing?
I would have continued my education and hopefully would have become a physical therapist, with a specialty working with athletes and their injury recovery.
7. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Being 33-years-old and in the fortunate position to be leading our business as president and CEO, I oftentimes am questioned whether or not I am old enough to be in my position.
8. And how have you overcome that challenge?
I have tried to lead by example and practice what I preach. I am a firm believer that everyone in the organization should be held accountable for the work that is produced, and that starts with me. I ask our team members to provide me with honest feedback on the work I am doing and how I can better serve them to drive their success. One thing that has greatly helped is building the “sweat equity” with our team members by working side-by-side with them, learning about who they are and what motivates them, and having the ability to place them in the best possible position to be successful.
9. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to take the risk you’re contemplating in your mind. Life is short and you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, because it’s all small.
10. What’s a fitness trend you’re keeping an eye on right now?
I am dialed in on the rapidly growing competitive landscape. There are a bunch of new brands and concepts that have been developed by great minds. In addition, the influx of private equity sponsorship has changed the growth trajectory for some brands, and that is a trend I like to keep my eye on.