In the November issue, we sat down with Sean Todman, the president and owner at Renaissance Athletic Club.
1. How did you get started in the fitness industry?
As a collegiate athlete aspiring to be a career athlete, I was at a disadvantage training in my hometown compared to my peers because there were few resources and facilities to support my aspirations. After hearing my complaints, my dad challenged me to “do something about it.” So, I got a group of friends together and started planning what became Renaissance Athletic Club (RAC).
2. What’s been a key to your organization’s success? What are you most proud of?
A key to our success is culture. Our mission is to have every member leave RAC feeling better than they did when they entered. To do this, we maintain an inviting and encouraging atmosphere. That is accomplished by having a genuine culture of inclusion and support consistently demonstrated through action.
3. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
RAC’s longevity, given the local business climate, is my biggest accomplishment. We operate a high-level, full-service facility in a rural, middle-class community. This is challenging because we don’t have the market available to most clubs like ours. Because our pricing must fit our market, our earning potential is lower. Despite these challenges, RAC provides exceptional service and a welcoming culture. Neighboring a Fortune 100 company headquarters, we have many guests who have visited fitness facilities all over the world and who note — I am proud to say — that RAC is one of, if not their favorite, clubs to visit.
4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career? And how did you overcome it?
My biggest career challenge has been to identify the right club leadership — leaders who support an inclusive, welcoming and supportive culture. I had to be uncompromising in prioritizing club culture and be confident in knowing what is best for our business. This has meant accepting very experienced and talented people were not always right for RAC. It took us seven years, six general managers and a leadership overhaul to find RAC’s best leader and leadership team. Though it was a very painful process, our present and future are much brighter as a result.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other fitness professionals can learn from?
Be careful not to overestimate the value of experience. Experience is key to success. But experience can cause closed mindedness and reluctance to entertain new ideas, strategies or even pivots, putting you at a disadvantage. The fitness industry is fast paced and requires constant innovation. As you gain valuable experience, be mindful to leave room for new ideas, innovation and leaders to continue and/or accelerate your growth.
6. Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know.
Because I was born is Sweden, I had the opportunity to become a Swedish citizen at 18. I maintained my American citizenship, but I hope to visit Stockholm sometime soon.
Connect with Sean Todman on LinkedIn.