This week we had the honor to interview Alex Zimmerman, VP of Personal Training, Programming & Development at Equinox, the leading operator of luxury fitness clubs. The company takes an integrative approach to high-performance living, incorporating all aspects of movement, nutrition, and regeneration, to help members maximize their potential.
? Show Notes: Through this interview, we touched on his background, his role at Equinox, some of the trends out there, and the future of fitness. We also talked about the importance of technologies to Equinox, as well as Equinox’s personal training talent development program.
Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Alex:
- On his background: “I actually started in Equinox in 2002. I had played collegiate sports. I was doing software development for a couple of years. Then 9/11 happened, the world turned upside-down a bit, and I found my way back into a passion for fitness, strength, conditioning, and nutrition”.
- On how he ended up working for Equinox: “I found that Equinox was a premier opportunity for delivering health and fitness to our members. It has been for the better part of the last 19 years. I have been with Equinox and have had various roles, where I am continuing to grow and develop my career. In 2009, I went back to school and I got my Master’s in Motor Learning. I have very much a passion for how people learn new skills, and the study of skill acquisition. I am passionate about it from a motor perspective, which is learning how to do a new physical skill, or it could be from a behavioral aspect, and how people like to learn. That’s very important to me, and that has served me very well. I’m grateful for that developmental process, and I have a passion for that. That has very much weaved its way into the developmental process for all here at Equinox”.
- How he took a larger role at Equinox during COVID-19: “During COVID I took on a larger role. I am responsible for driving the continued evolution of the members’ experience here at Equinox, from a personal training perspective and beyond. Personal training is not just personal training. It’s a very cross-functional approach with other department leaders in this organization to drive the continued experience, and in conjunction with that, the developmental process that’s associated with delivering that experience as best-in-class for our members”.
- On the future of fitness: “I’m happy to see that fitness is evolving very quickly. We’ve watched the industry shift from Jane Fonda, to Arnold Schwarzenegger, to Richard Simmons, to Muscle Beach. It has evolved so much where you see that everybody has their hand in this space, whether you are a hotel, a food company, or a wearable company and we’re seeing there is a focus on driving personalization. I think that personalization is really the future of fitness. It is about how we are capturing information in a way that allows us to personalize your experience at the highest possible level. For example, Amazon is getting a sense of how you are operating, and then it gives you additional information to help support your decision-making process, to improve your experience and help you identify what it is you need. You can’t just go to a swap meet (a large marketplace), with no plan and walk in and say, “What do I need? How do I organize this experience? How do I take in all the information I have available to me? And what do I do with it in a way that is efficient, effective, and holistic, and has my health and my goal in mind?”.
- On how important technologies are to Equinox: “Technology is very important to us. We have a dedicated team of experts that allow us to go out and vet, and explore the best of the best. We are continually testing and learning, and we are continually partnering. We want to go out and identify what is absolutely going to contribute to our clients as it relates to high-performance living. Whether that is from a developmental perspective, whether that is from a programmatic perspective, or whether that is from a product perspective. And how you strip down what they actually need, how that becomes relevant, and how that becomes actionable. I think that’s where the challenge lies at times, where you get engaged with the wearable, and it changes your behavior temporarily, and then once that behavior is changed, then it’s on to the next wearable”.
- On Equinox’s focus on providing a holistic experience to its members: “In terms of our ability to curate exactly what is needed, and then continue to troubleshoot from an application perspective. How do we action that information in a way that’s relevant to them and their goal? What we have as a distinct advantage in terms of the Equinox experience. This is where we have always won from a physical perspective. Equinox is an absolute premier physical experience that delivers best-in-class programming and experts in the way of Pilates, personal training, group fitness, spa, et cetera. That holistic experience is inherent in the Equinox experience. Now, our ability to deliver that digitally, and then curate very specific, salient, data points that are relevant to your results is where we deliver a one-of-a-kind experience”.
- On Equinox’s talent development program (EFTI): “We’re very proud of EFTI, which is our Equinox Fitness Training Institute. It’s been around for the better part of the last 25 years. It is very robust in our ability to convert personal trainers into high-performance living coaches. We believe that’s an important distinction as it relates to meeting our members where they are. We have a very educated consumer base. We have a very health-oriented consumer base”.