Snap Fitness Parent’s New CEO Preps for Life After Covid
Ty Menzies has been doing a lot of listening over the last few weeks. As the new CEO of Chanhassen-based Lift Brands, parent company of Snap Fitness, he’s been grappling with how the global fitness brand can move forward during a worldwide health crisis.
For him, the answers will come from listening to not just top brass, but also club franchisees and employees. The only way forward, he says, is embracing a “one team” approach. That means ensuring that all voices are heard.
“We’re all aligned,” Menzies said in a Thursday interview. “Without our franchisees being successful, we as a franchisor aren’t successful. It really is as simple as that.”
So, for the past four weeks, Menzies has been sitting on calls with franchisees from around the globe. The goal: Figure out the company’s brand strategy coming out of Covid, he says. His approach to leadership isn’t entirely surprising; before he rose through the ranks in Lift Brands, he was a franchisee himself. He even got his start in the fitness industry working on the front lines as a personal trainer. “I know the business front and back,” he says.
Menzies officially stepped into the role of CEO on June 1, though the transition had been in the works before then. He took over for Weldon Spangler, who held the position for less than a year. (Spangler, a longtime restaurant industry exec, recently left for a VP role with Subway.)
The company held off on announcing the move until this week to coincide with a senior leadership shuffle organized by Menzies. Before the promotion, Menzies was working as CEO of Lift Brands’ Asia-Pacific region in his native Australia. Lift Brands now counts five fitness brands around the world, with a presence in about 26 countries.
Menzies said the gym industry is, all in all, a fairly simple business: The ultimate goal is to continue selling more memberships while retaining existing ones. But during a global health crisis when many people prefer to stay indoors, the selling process is a bit more complicated. That’s why Menzies is taking as many steps as he can to make the business as recession-proof as he can.
For one, he’s betting big on technology. Menzies said the company is working on a custom app-based platform that will eventually enable virtual workouts and personal training. Whether folks work out at home or in a gym, Menzies wants to keep them connected to Lift Brands.
“That needs to be facilitated by technology,” he said. “We are talking very significantly about the rollout of a bespoke technology for Lift Brands and in particular Snap Fitness, which will tie into a global strategy around member experience.”
Menzies is also installing the company’s first chief product and innovation officer, a role that will be held by his former colleague.
Still, Menzies isn’t totally giving up on brick-and-mortar gyms. For now, they’re still a key part of the company’s business model. To continue selling memberships the old-fashioned way, Lift Brands is doing what it can to boost consumer confidence. That will ultimately determine whether folks decide to return to the gym, Menzies said. Like other retail businesses, Lift Brands is emphasizing cleanliness and sanitation in its gyms. It’s something the company is highlighting on its social media channels, and in a forthcoming PR campaign created with partners and competitors alike.
“It all comes back to consumer confidence,” Menzies said.