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Ep 3: Chris Clawson – Life Fitness


Chris Clawson, President of Life Fitness

Life Fitness' Chris Clawson Joins The Podcast To Talk About Everything From His Rise To The Top, To High School Pranks In His '70 Chevelle Ss Convertible

When Chris Clawson’s hopes for a professional baseball career wound down, he found another passion – sales. In this episode of "Gym Class: Heroes of Fitness," Clawson, the president of Life Fitness, the world’s leading fitness manufacturer, chats with Hossein and Leigh about his thoughts on product marketing, cars, what he learned from Augie Nieto and the future of fitness. 

LISTEN to Chris Clawson's episode on iTunes

"I started at Life Fitness as a product manager of the treadmill business. Not quite a year and a half later when my boss moved on to another job, they came to me and said, 'We want you take over the cardio business,' which at the time was 96 percent of our revenue and it was an interim position. And I said, 'Ok, that's great.'

Probably less than a week later, Augie [Nieto] comes into my office and said, 'The interim position is bullshit. Either you can do the job or you can't do this job. I'm going to get rid of this interim title but I want you to look at me and tell me you can do this job.' And I said, 'Absolutely I can do this job.'"

- Chris Clawson on his rise at Life Fitness


Life in Minor League Baseball - 2:00

Business lessons learned from baseball - 4:56

First job in fitness? A summer job during baseball season - 6:37

A budding career in TV ads - 8:50

Going to work for Diversified Products, the largest fitness manufacturer in the world at the time - 13:10

Meeting Augie Nieto and first impressions of him - 14:35

What felt different about working at Life Fitness (and the flaws of retail) - 18:22

First big decision that put Clawson on the map - 21:17

Making Life Fitness more market-focused and other changes - 24:52

Worst decision ever made? (ex-girlfriends not included) - 28:00

How a catastrophic failure on front drive ellipticals in late 1990s ended up to be a good thing - 29:12

Luckiest moment in his career? - 30:25

How a passion for cars influences his view of business - 33:35

A car guy’s favorite car - 35:26

Piece of equipment you wish you invented? - 39:28

Why spinning has become so popular - 40:19

Biggest void in the fitness industry right now? - 41:03

The responsibility of health in America and being responsible for your own actions - 44:08

"What made America and most of the world successful for a millenia is people taking responsibility for themselves and for their families. Now people are trying to make it society's responsibility for somebody to be fit or be healthy. Not even fit, be healthy. It's an individual. The individual's the one who decides, 'What am I going to eat? How much of it am I going to eat? What am I going to do? How much of it am I going to do? What am I not going to do?' It's a combination of taking individual responsibility and reinforcing that in society.

- Chris Clawson

Technology’s role in health and fitness - 48:22

The low-cost club model vs. high-priced competitors - 51:27

Why he never wanted to start his own business - 54:57

Quick answers - 56:39

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