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My Interview With Anytime Fitness CEO Chuck Runyon (A Giveaway Post)

Posted Feb 25 2012 1:55pm

 

There have been a lot of reviews on the book “Working Out Sucks” by CEO of Anytime Fitness Chuck Runyon in the weight loss blogging world.

I loved the book. I thought that it simplified a lot of things for people who are new to fitness and it also debunked some myths that people have. It is an easy read and I guarantee that once you read it, you will learn at least one new concept.

I an not going to review the book. Instead I was very lucky to be able to interview the CEO of Anytime Fitness Chuck Runyon. I have never done an interview before where I was the one asking questions. I tried to make the questions a little fun.

Enjoy the interview and at the end I will tell you how you can win one of four personally autographed copies of the book!

I loved the book Working Out Sucks. What prompted you to write the book?

It’s great to hear that you enjoyed the book, Tony. My motivation behind writing it is actually right on par with the Anti-Jared’s mission of changing the way people look at weight loss. I wanted to re-energize the debate in this country on the obesity crisis and what it’s going to take to reverse the epidemic, and the only way to do that is to cut through the BS and get real: Yes, Working Out Sucks , but the alternatives suck so much more. Being unhealthy affects every single aspect of your life: self-esteem, productivity, relationships, sex life, your pets – everything!

And, believe me, after 20 years in the fitness industry and over 1,800 Anytime Fitness clubs, I’ve heard every excuse you can imagine why it’s easier to stay on the couch. But, this book will hit you on an emotional level with some tough love, and gives you not only a supersized dose of motivation, but practical tools to help you change bad habits and make healthier food choices.  Consider it as a personal fitness intervention!

What was your take on the whole “fat” controversy your PR email sparked? Do you think it was good for promoting the book?

Well, first of all, I want to thank you for coming to my defense when the controversy ignited. I was humbled by your kind words, and appreciate that you shared an honest perspective with your readers.

Let’s face it, anytime you use the “F” word it’s going to spark some level of controversy, and it just so happens that one of the chapters in the book is titled “Money is Allergic to Fat People.” Yes, this is a provocative title, but it originated from real life statistics that overweight individuals are more likely to make less money than colleagues of a normal weight. Once again my goal in writing the book wasn’t to incite anger or offend anyone, but to get people talking openly and honestly about the current state of our health, and I think the controversy inadvertently achieved that.

More importantly, we posed the question Is “fat” a bad word? to the Anytime Health community, which created some great discussion. And for every response we received, we made a donation to Limbs for Life , a charity that provides prosethics to those who cannot afford them. We did something similar with you and Carla donated over $5,000 in total.

I saw that Tony Horton wrote a real nice review of the book. Do you have to make an X with your arms every time you see him

I was grateful to Tony Horton for writing such a great review. The guy’s a rock star — P90x is the best selling workout program in the nation. Tony has been an ally of Anytime Fitness, and was a guest on Anytime Health Radio. I’ve never actually met Tony in person but when I see him, I’ll give him the “X”.

How many people contributed to writing this book?

I was fortunate to have two outstanding co-authors help write the book. Rebecca DeRossett a psychologist with years of experience helping people achieve positive behavior change, and Brian Zehetner , a nutritionist, strength expert, and overall Chief Science guy at Anytime Fitness provided expert advice that anyone can adopt for their lifestyle.

I think it is awesome that every dime goes to charity. Limbs For Life is a fantastic charity. What other charities does Anytime Fitness contribute to?

At Anytime Fitness, we often say “we bleed purple, but we also bleed purpose.” Giving back is an essential part of our company’s DNA, and that philanthropic attitude resonates across the board – at corporate, down to the franchisees, to the members in neighborhoods all around the world. Last year at corporate, our employees participated in raising funds for several organizations such as making meals for the Feed My Starving Children, donating blood to the Memorial Blood Center, providing contributions to military families, cleaning up ravaged neighborhoods from natural disasters, and building homes for Habitat for Humanity.  Limbs for Life is another organization that has inspired me because we can help people achieve mobility and to lead a healthy, active life by providing them with a prosthetic limb.

You are the CEO. If you were ever on Undercover Boss, which type of CEO would you be? Would you be the generous one that gives away gyms at the end, or the cheap one that gives away $5000 to a charity in the employee’s name?

I’m actually going to answer this one with a little bit of a cliffhanger. Believe it or not, you’re going to get the chance to see me in a predicament like this on a show called Secret Millionaire . I can’t give away too many details, but it will be airing in the coming months and it showcases myself and business partner Dave Mortensen in extremely grueling conditions. It was physically and mentally challenging, and one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. Our hearts have more blisters than our hands. And, you may or may not see me cry on national television. So stay tuned!

Tell me a little about Anytime Health.

 Anytime Health is arguably the most robust health and wellness website out there. It’s essentially a one-stop shop for managing your health and fitness. You can plan meals, track workouts, get expert advice from virtual trainers, and connect with our amazing community. And, as you know, the Anytime Health blog is updated daily with healthy recipes, fitness tips, commentary, and inspiration from great bloggers such as yourself.

How many success stories have you read from your gyms? How does it make you feel to know you have built a place for people to work out 24 hours a day?

I’ve read countless success stories , you can’t put a number on it. I can honestly tell you that the reason I get up in the morning and go to work is because I know that Anytime Fitness is changing lives for the better. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t hear a story of a member that transformed their life in extraordinary ways – these people inspire me, energize me, and make me want to do better in my own life. Some of these very people are highlighted in the book. I’ve met each and every one of them, and they are all uniquely special and I know that their newfound health is positively affecting their family, friends and co-workers so our influence goes far deeper than we can measure.

It’s an incredible feeling to be the most convenient fitness option on the planet. That’s always been important to us – we want health and fitness to be accessible 24/7/365.

The reason why I love the book so much is because it is simplified. Do you think there are a lot of misconceptions out there in the fitness world?

Getting healthy isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense. Even the scientific information in the book is presented in a fun and easy to read format. Browse the internet or any bookshelf, and you’ll find thousands of “experts” claiming to have found the “magic bullet” for solving the health crisis – whether it be in the form of a pill, a theory, a new fitness gadget, or some other veiled promise. Working Out Sucks is an effort to “deprogram” the brainwashing we get from this type of misinformation. Brian Zehetner even tackles some nutrition and fitness myths head-on in the book.

Were you ever obese or overweight?

 No, I’ve never been called fat or considered obese but, I’ve never really been ripped either.  And although I’m CEO of a major fitness brand, I am just like one of our members that has to find 30-40 minutes to get a quick workout in 4-5 times per week.  Over the last year, I’ve been getting up at 5:30 to get a 45 minute program in before work.  I used to hate morning workouts—and I still fight the urge to stay in bed but if I don’t exercise in the morning, my schedule doesn’t allow me to be consistent in the afternoon.

However, I’ve spent enough time coaching members who struggle with obesity, poor nutrition, inactivity and excuses, so I do understand how their brains work against them.  I know that behavior change is tough, that we’re all busy and that the temptation to eat high caloric food is tempting throughout everyone’s day.  I’ve been a part of personal struggle and motivation every day for over 20 years and I know how to inspire people.

What has made Anytime Fitness such a successful franchise?

It starts with the fact that we are the innovators of the 24 hour, convenient, affordable gym concept, and I think it’s something that other health clubs simply can’t match. And beyond that, we view a great club culture as vital to our success. We provide members with all the tools they need to get an exceptional workout, and do it in a non-intimidating, supportive environment. We also adhere to the philosophy that you shouldn’t spend the majority of your time inside a gym facility – we want you to get in and get out, put in the time and effort and then go and live your life. But above all, we are successful because our mission statement isn’t about gaining market share, but about improving the self-esteem of the world.

Do you read health or weight loss blogs?

You won’t be surprised to know that I’m a regular reader of the AH blog. Beyond that, I come across numerous health and fitness resources all the time. But what sticks with me are the raw, honest, and heartfelt stories from people like you. Thank you once again for a being a great source of inspiration to our members.

Have you done the 21 day plan that is in your book?

No, because I currently track my eating habits on the Anytime Health Diet Tracker.  It’s a helpful tool to set up personalized meal plans and journal your food intake based on your gender, body size and resting metabolic rate. That may sound intimidating but the website makes it easy, and there are iPhone and Android apps. However, Brian did a fantastic job at creating the book’s meal plan with real, every day food that anyone can adopt and stick with – that’s the most important part!

I read that you love MILF’s (Mothers Into Lifelong Fitness). Does your wife work out?

Yes, she does and she’s in excellent shape, especially if you consider that she is a mother of 4 kids.  She is a MILF however; she does not enjoy working out.  In fact, she thinks it sucks but she does it to be a better mom, role model and to keep her husband running after her.

How many times does the word “Suck” appear in your book?

Not sure. It would suck to have to count them!

Where do you see the fitness industry in five years from now?

More fitness and nutrition options that cater to a person of any size, income and experience. And based on rising health care costs, personal trainers will play a vital role in getting people healthy.  I also believe that employer programs and health insurance that rewards healthy behaviors, along with government intervention – in the form of monetary incentives or consequences – will influence more people to get active.

Do you own a Shake Weight? (For men of course!)

I don’t know why the shake weight gets such a bad rap, it’s a very natural rhythm to get used to, and it really tones your arms! We have them around the office to relieve stress.

I also love the Tug Toner.  ;)

How many employees do you have at Anytime Fitness corporate?

We have about 100 corporate employees based in MN.

Who is your favorite Anytime Fitness success story?

It’s so hard to pick just one, but there is someone that stands out for me, and that’s Daniel Lowe . I’m not ashamed to admit that the first time I read his story, I got choked up.

Here’s a kid who was born with cerebral palsy, and struggled to walk properly for most of his young adult life. In advance of his graduation, he chose to have his hip broken so that he could walk across the stage on his own two feet to pick up his diploma. After the surgery, Daniel had to exercise to rehabilitate and gain the strength to walk across the stage but being from a single parent home, Daniel and his mother could not afford to make this happen. Thankfully, a local Anytime Fitness donated a membership and he met a trainer at Anytime Fitness named Doug Patton who was so moved by Daniel’s determination, that he trained Daniel for free. Over time Daniel grew even stronger in mind and body, and was able to accomplish his goal of walking across the stage to pick up his high school diploma. When he walked off the stage, he took a large sigh, and said “I’m a free man.”  How can you hear a story like that, and then say it’s too hard to get out of bed at 6am?

At our annual conference, he walked across the stage to pick up his Member Success Award and there was not a dry eye in the conference.  It was one of my favorite moments for Anytime Fitness.

How many Anytime Fitness gyms have you been to?

About the same number as the word “sucks” appears in WOS.

Thank you so much for the interview Chuck!

Now, I am giving away four personally signed copies of Working Out Sucks. Chuck is going to hand write a note for the winners in each book which is really cool!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog or on Facebook . Yes, the comments are open on this post. You can leave any comment, but I would love to know what is your favorite workout.

The chances are good for you to win! Usually I get around 100-150 entries, so you have pretty good odds. The contest will end on Thursday March 1st at 11:59pm Sunday March 4th and the winners will be chose on Friday March 2nd. Make that Monday March 5th!!!!!

Good luck and I am excited about reading your workouts!

Disclaimer- I am a blogger at Anytime Health and a member of Anytime Fitness. I also listen to the Christina Aguilera station on Pandora. I think that my Pinterests are very funny and after I realize they are not I delete them. I love shopping at Sam’s Club. I worry about my breath smelling funny a lot and I have a fear of ants. I enjoy old school rap and I now listen to country music because my boss makes me at work. I have heard the “Red Solo Cup” about 3 million times. I was not paid for this interview although a few bucks might be nice.

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