Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the April issue, we sat down with Keeth Smart, the regional general manager at Chelsea Piers Fitness.
1. How did you get started in the fitness industry?
I was an Olympic fencer and competed in three Olympic Games — 2000, 2004 and 2008 — therefore I suppose you could say I have been in the fitness industry my entire life. It is part of the fabric of who I am. I joined Chelsea Piers Fitness (CP Fitness) in November 2017 prior to the Brooklyn facility opening.
2.What’s been a key to your organization’s success? What are you most proud of?
CP Fitness is a remarkably nimble company. I am incredibly proud of our ability to work as a team through a very rough period for the industry and continue to be creative and grow.
3. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
The successful opening of CP Fitness Brooklyn has been a major accomplishment. I was involved with all facets of the launch process, and to see how quickly the club became popular once we opened was an incredible feeling — especially since I was born and raised in Brooklyn and have witnessed the borough go through major changes.
4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career? And how did you overcome it?
I suspect the answer will be the same for most everyone: COVID-19. There wasn’t a single element of the business that didn’t change and with little to no notice. And even once we reopened, the operations had drastically changed and continued to evolve as vaccine and mask rules were modified. Communication and flexibility were critical to our recovery.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other fitness professionals can learn from?
I have learned people can grow and learn. Training in a single field or area is not critical to success in another area. Many of the staff have reenvisioned their jobs. We have done things we never thought possible — launched an online portal for workouts from home, built outdoor fitness spaces in parking lots, created member events online and more.
6. Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know.
I won an Olympic silver medal in fencing in 2008.
To learn more about Keeth Smart, connect with him on LinkedIn.