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In Print The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line: Doug Katona


Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the December issue, the conversation features Doug Katona, the COO and director of training and education at World Gym.

1. What do you love most about your role at World Gym? 

Being able to build strong teams and create success for our gyms and corporate staff. Secondly, having the freedom to build our “Fitness Truth” mantra — we sincerely feel the industry needs a dose of honest, science-based strength and conditioning for the masses. I wake up every day wanting to attack our long-term plan. It’s fun. And lastly, the strong relationships I get to cultivate with my contacts and friends.

2. What are you most proud of concerning World Gym as a fitness brand?

 It’s globally recognized and has a strong brand DNA. We are inspired to respect the history of the brand while we bring a new, powerful energy to it. It’s fun to hear stories from our franchisees that people will walk into a World Gym just to buy apparel with the Gorilla logo. Now with the great success of World Gym Athletics, it’s building a very loyal and inspired culture of coaches and members. World Gym is now making a comeback. We are almost like a seasoned start-up. It’s challenging, but fun, because we get to build something really cool and make a shift in the industry.

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

Being able to build a new approach in how people look at what it means to be truly fit. Coaching people, building loyal communities and being able to create while being entrepreneurially responsible, makes this industry a blast. It’s not 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., it’s 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and I love it.

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

I read about two books a month. I am reading “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman right now, and just finished “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr. 

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

I used to work for Leigh Steinberg (aka Jerry Maguire). We represented NFL players and dealt with a lot of pro athletes and high-level business leaders. Leigh is a masterful negotiator and does his job because he wants to make a difference. He also said do deals and conduct your business with honesty, integrity and efficiency. He’s right. I also believe you need to be a visionary while you ensure day-to-day success for your business. Don’t have a Plan B, get after your goals and play offense.

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

I’ve always been an athlete and still am. It’s important to have a competitive bias in business and in fitness. I would be continuing to pursue making a difference and giving back to sport and fitness. 

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

When I was a Cat 2 cyclist, I was in a nasty crash lining up for a sprint finish. I completely shattered my shoulder. The specialist told me I’d never raise my arm above my head. 

8. And how did you overcome that challenge?  

Based on my biomechanics background and athletic nature, I took that on as a challenge. I focused on it 24/7. Six months later, I was in my favorite coffee shop when I ran into the specialist who told me I would never raise my arm again. He asked me how I was “dealing with my shoulder.” I raised my coffee over my head and said, “It’s so bad I can only snatch 135 pounds right now.” That inspired me to take on Olympic lifting. But, it also showed me to stay focused on your vision and drive hard to “get ‘er” done. When I lecture to coaches and trainers, I tell that story. Don’t get in your own way or let others dictate your path. 

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

Have a relentless enthusiasm for what kind of impact you want to make. Be humbly confident, always excited to learn and build success by building a team. My idea of success at World Gym is to have a lot of people around me who are making good money, excited to go to work and not afraid to take a strategic risk.

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

All of them and none of them. I believe in being ahead of trends. If you try and follow a trend, you’re already behind and many times, you rush into a campaign without being thorough or strategic. We believe in being disruptive and doing what we know works because we have beta tested and proven the process. I would be careful of over “gamifying” with technology. People want to connect with people — that creates community and culture. 

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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