Interview: Anytime Fitness on '100 Best'

Media specialist Tara Dosh explains what makes Anytime Fitness one of the '100 Best' places to work

By Tom Johnson

Note: Anytime Fitness was the top winner in the Large Companies category in the 2012 '100 Best Companies to Work For' awards. Nominations for this year's event close on January 15. Make a submission today.

How did being recognized at last year's event affect your business?

Dosh: We’ve received many awards and accolades over the last 10 years, but being ranked as the No. 1place to work in Minnesota is one of the most meaningful because it reinforces the fact that happy, healthy employees drive the overall health and productivity of the business.

We’re confident our ranking helped in our recruitment efforts. We actually added 45 new employees in 2012!

What makes your company one of the best to work for?

Anytime Fitness places great emphasis on fostering a culture that is highly innovative, collaborative, creative, competitive, and fun. The company invests time and money into enriching the lives of employees by promoting a healthy work/life balance and active lifestyles, offering personal-growth opportunities, encouraging charity work, and providing onsite learning experiences.

In 2012, Anytime Fitness employees took part in over 28 classes, wellness initiatives, activities, and charity programs, including: onsite fitness boot camps, weight loss competitions, nutrition education, skydiving, a “mud pit” scavenger hunt, Halloween costume party, paintball, blood drive, gardening, spring BBQ, volunteering at Second Harvest Heartland food bank and at Ks95’s Children’s Cancer & Gillette Hospital phone bank -– to name just a few!

Another great tradition at Anytime Fitness is the annual conference, which gathers our franchisees, corporate staff, vendors, and members from all over the world for a few days of education, inspiration, motivation, and endless fun! Attendees are given the opportunity to attend tailor-made classes taught by experts in the field, share tips/advice with others in similar roles, and honor the exemplary achievements of their peers during a special award ceremony. Chicago played host to this year’s 10th Anniversary Conference, in which we set a record for attendance -– over 1,100!

Why is it important to invest in being a great place to work? 

running manWe spend nearly a third of our lives at work, so why should it be a miserable experience? At Anytime Fitness, we've replaced the old business paradigm of ROI with ROEI -– return on emotional investment. We believe that personal growth ultimately leads to business growth. Our employees are the strongest assets we have -- their passion, energy, and commitment contributes to a great working environment. And, it’s important that our employees improve their lives physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually because they serve as the human conduits to changing, and even saving others’ lives.

Stories of a young boy with cerebral palsy walking across a stage unassisted because he had an iron will to strengthen his mind and body at the gym, or of a 71-year-old woman who broke a planking record, will never appear on our balance sheet, but the currency of purpose has taken our business to a place far beyond the typical measurements for success.

Our investment in emotional capital has fostered robust brand evangelism. Employee satisfaction and commitment to Anytime Fitness is so strong that over 36 of our corporate staffers have the company logo -- a purple "Running Man" -– tattooed on their skin (over 1,000 franchisees and personal trainers have joined the movement!) What other company inspires that kind of loyalty?

What is a key element to providing a healthy work environment?

Making culture a top priority! Our belief is that if we get the culture right, brand success will follow. As we continue to grow and hire new people, we make sure they inherently believe in our mission and share our DNA (core values), characterized as passion, purpose, personal, empathy, accessibility, creativity, balance, heart, courage, forward, bandwidth, and play.

We invest in the physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being of our corporate staff. Excellence is never a part-time commitment; the Anytime Fitness staff knows that they need to be “all in” in order for us to thrive.

Though you're already considered one of the '100 Best,' does your company have any plans to further improve your work environment?

We’re always looking for ways to improve and enhance our company culture, and to provide personal and professional growth opportunities for our employees.

This year we’re revamping our “Hero of the Month” Program in which corporate staffers nominate a co-worker who has done exemplary work. The “hero” is recognized internally with a plaque on our “wall of fame” and receives a prime parking spot at the office (great perk during Minnesota winters!) In a new twist, our hero will receive a “traveling trophy” and “pay it forward” to a co-worker they feel is deserving of the award. All of the year’s heroes will be eligible to win a “grand prize” provided by the company’s founders.

We’re also implementing a peer lunch program in which, by virtue of a name drawing, employees are paired up with a co-worker who they do not interact with on a daily basis for an off-site lunch. This is a great way to develop new relationships, and an opportunity to learn more about facets of the business they may not be familiar with.