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Eric Schmitz: The Bottom Line

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Eric Schmitz


Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the December issue, we sat down with Eric Schmitz, the president of California Athletic Clubs.

1. How did you get started in the fitness industry?

I was an undergrad studying at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW) and saw a flyer for a local triathlon. During the process of training for the race, I learned there was a major in Exercise Physiology at UW. I went on to major in it and moved to Santa Barbara, California, after graduating in 1987. The timing and location of my move was perfect as the field of personal training was really taking off. I started working at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club in 1988 on the fitness floor and now am the president of California Athletic Clubs. We have seven large multipurpose athletic clubs. I have truly enjoyed being a positive role model for our staff and love providing exceptional locations for our members to incorporate fitness into their lives.

2. What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of our commitment to having a positive and supportive culture for our staff and members. We are a very values-driven organization and try to base all of our business decisions on our core values of integrity, caring, passion, creativity and excellence.

3. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?

In 2019, two of our clubs finished in the top 10 rankings of over 700 MXM nationwide locations. Winning two of the MXM Location of Excellence Awards was truly an amazing accomplishment for us. It was a result of many years of our teams delivering exceptional customer service.

4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?

Transitioning from leadership at one club to leading seven clubs has been a big opportunity and challenge at the same time. I overcame the transition by constantly learning and getting out of my comfort zone. Climbing the ladder of leadership can be very demanding and super rewarding at the same time. Another big help overcoming my challenges has been being part of my REX roundtable called the Crew. The members of my roundtable are exceptional in so many ways. Learning from what they have gone through has been such a great help when facing obstacles.

5. What is one lesson you have learned that other fitness professionals can learn from?

Never stop learning. Create a personal development plan each year and devote a considerable part of your finances and time implementing it. This is the best practice for any growing professional, but especially fitness professionals now with all of the challenges from COVID-19. 

6. Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know.

I am really into meditation. I have meditated every day for a long time. The benefits of daily meditation are a real game changer in your life. There is no perfect technique, just start and allow your mind to be quiet for a few minutes daily.  

To learn more about Eric Schmitz and his journey as a fitness industry leader, connect with him on LinkedIn.

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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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