Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the June issue, we sat down with Christopher Montoya, the President at Valley Fitness.
1. How did you get started in the fitness industry?
When I was 19 years old, I walked into a club looking for work and what I found was so much more. The owner was bigger than life and he opened my eyes to what was possible if I just worked hard. I started out when the sales teams were commission-only with no base pay. The structure of having to put out lead bowls and collect my own leads, call for appointments, and make sales to pay the bills gives you a good insight to risk/reward and how far your limits are. So many lessons from those days helped me along my entrepreneurial journey.
2. What’s been a key to your organization’s success? What are you most proud of?
We are constantly pushing ourselves to progress and improve daily. Our goal is to see how good we can become as a group. We have a list of initiatives we continually work through. I don’t believe we will ever be done with the list because we are constantly auditing and adjusting it. This helps us be innovative and constantly test ourselves for the best outcomes.
3. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
Tough question. I think my 24 years of marriage, raising our two boys and balancing a business that has many lives we are responsible for — i.e. staff and members — and giving value to all.
Many days I know I failed or fell short, but I think I have won more days than I lost. When my career is over this is how I will judge myself.
4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career? And how did you overcome it?
For sure COVID-19 was the biggest challenge I have faced in my career. The uncertainty of the future and with no past playbook to fall back on had us in uncharted territory. Not to mention having a large group of employees who are looking to you for guidance and answers to so many questions that were out in the public. We worked really hard at our communication with our staff as well as our members. A quick example was when California first shut down in 2020 we were inundated with thousands of emails, so we created an email response team and responded individually to every email within 48 hours. The members were so thankful and knew we were there for them. We came together as an organization and made sure we took care of each other. COVID-19 was the great human experience of struggle, loss, uncertainty, fear and ultimately triumph.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other fitness professionals can learn from?
If you focus on making a positive impact on everyone you come in contact with you are already ahead of most people.
6. Tell us one fact about yourself others may not know.
When I was 20 I had the opportunity to be in the movie City Slicker with Billy Crystal. It was the running of the bull’s opening scene. At the club I was working at there were some rodeo guys who were contacted to be in the scene and they asked if I wanted to tag along. Being young and not knowing I was way out of my element, I said yes. I spent two weeks at Universal Studios and survived — barely. And yes, you can pause it on me in a few different shots. No autographs please.
Connect with Christopher Montoya on LinkedIn.