Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the January issue, we sat down with Ani Oksayan is the vice president of fitness at Chuze Fitness.
1. How did you get started in the fitness industry?
Shortly after falling in love with step aerobics in college in 1994, a good friend bought the gym where I worked out and offered to teach me how to be an instructor. I quickly changed career paths and dove into the fitness industry. As a group fitness instructor in Monterey, California, I taught most formats in the field. Not long after, I became personal training certified and grew my passion for building one-on-one relationships focused on enhancing personal fitness.
2. What’s been a key to your organization’s success? What are you most proud of?
I truly believe the key to our success at Chuze is our complete and unwavering commitment to the company culture — both member and employee facing. I am immensely proud of our organization-wide focus on giving each member a uniquely hospitable fitness experience grounded in kindness, value and community.
3. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
My most valued career accomplishment is the path I have taken with Chuze Fitness. When I began my time as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer with Chuze, we were a scrappy new organization with three clubs, tremendous heart and passion, and minimal industry know-how. Over 12 years we’ve grown to currently 33 clubs and have a line of sight to double in the next three years — truly unique progress. I have had the opportunity to grow with Chuze from a fitness instructor to Group X manager to district and company-wide roles to vice president of fitness.
4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career? And how did you overcome it?
The ability to grow, develop and modify leadership styles. As you encounter both success and adversity on your path, it feels crucial to maintain the ability to be coachable regardless of your place in your organization’s hierarchy. It’s only when I put aside any ego, pride and emotional reactiveness that I truly feel productive and effective toward the teams entrusted to me. It’s not easy to remain open to coaching, especially in higher levels of management, but not doing so becomes detrimental to both one’s career and the team’s success.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other fitness professionals can learn from?
Early in my career with Chuze Fitness, my CEO wisely advised me to surround myself with people who are “better” than me; a team of individuals who trust one another’s competencies as well as their passion and love for the business. He led me to build a team of fitness professionals who are one of the company’s greatest assets.
6. Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know.
I received a degree in political science with a minor in French language studies because my early aspiration was to work for the United Nations. Happily, I followed a completely different path — one that allows me to make a palpable difference in peoples’ lives.
Connect with Ani Oksayan LinkedIn.