Ep 1: Ron Hemelgarn


Ron Hemelgarn, Fitness Entrepreneur, Health Club Owner, Indy 500 Winner

Ron Hemelgarn Went From Cleaning Toilets To Being The Owner Of The Winning Team At The Indianapolis 500Ron Hemelgarn is the true American success story. In the inaugural episode of "Gym Class: Heroes of Fitness," he joins Hossein and Leigh for a look back at his life and career in fitness. From earning money collecting scraps as a kid, to getting his first job in the industry by fixing equipment, you’ll hear how he built one of the largest chains of health clubs in the world based on out-servicing the competition and fulfilled a boyhood dream of winning the Indy 500.

LISTEN to Ron Hemelgarn's episode on iTunes

"I was hired on [at a health club] as a maintenance man and janitor. I could clean the toilets better than anybody else and fix the nuts and bolts and whatever. That's basically how I got into the fitness business itself."

- Ron Hemelgarn on his introduction to the fitness industry


Getting into the fitness business - :45

The roots of a passion for being in gyms - 2:19

Better service leads to more money - even on a paper route - 4:35

Determination to be the best in his first business - 9:07

Taking bankrupt clubs and giving better service - 11:31

The first big thing: Selling Spa Lady - 16:00

How has the industry changed since you started - 18:48

When did you realize you had done something big in the industry? - 20:51

Luckiest thing ever - Winning the Indy 500 thanks to Marketing his gym - 24:00

No bad decisions, just learning experiences - 25:47

What idea do you wish was your own? - 27:50

Advice for young people in the industry - 31:07

Having a mentor and a partner - 35:15

If you can only do one workout of the rest of your life, what is it? - 37:10

One piece of equipment every gym should have - 38:50

What's the last thing you saw that was "super cool?" - 43:18

Fastest you've ever driven an Indy Car? - 45:39

Why use racing to market your gyms? - 47:00

Something nobody knows about you - 50:57

Word association - 52:18

What's next? - 53:48

Next Episode: Colin Irving >>

Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2023 in Baltimore
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Nov 1-4, 2023
Learn More
AB Show 2023