A decade ago, fitness centers had an image problem. They were, and are sometimes still, portrayed as overcrowded hangouts for narcissists more interested in voguing than health. New Year’s resolution makers, found themselves still trapped in contracts in July. In 1990, a young, former aspiring baseball player had a vision of a different type of fitness center. Arizona State University graduate Tom Hatten used his knowledge and skills, acquired as an architecture student, education member, teacher and coach, to open his first Mountainside Fitness in 1991.
That Mountainside Fitness, in Mountainside Plaza (thus the name) in Ahwatukee, Arizona, was only 4800 square feet. Desert Ridge Mountainside Fitness, which opened in February of 2015, has 40,000 square feet. The one which will open in Arrowhead, in November, will be his 13th.
While there are many competitors (e.g., LA Fitness, the new Orange Theory), Mountain Fitness is unique and far removed from the old stereotypes. First of all, there are no long-term contracts; customers pay month-to-month. There are huge numbers of treadmills and other state-of-the art machines: so no waiting for popular devices.
Mountainside Fitness stays abreast of trends, being the first in Arizona to have spin and Zumba classes. Hatten provides an exceptional experience, with amenities from free towel service to childcare. A parent can even watch his/her children in the kid zones via television monitors on each step machine. He has a partnership with Cox to provide the best technology. Mountainside Fitness provides one-stop shopping for everything from on-site massages and chiropractors to cafés and 80 classes/week.
In his 24th year as CEO, Hatten remains as fit, enthusiastic and proud of his centers as ever. He is personally involved in the design and oversight of every facility, including the five high-end Fit Republic studios, and the 15,000 square foot facility inside Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.
“We only hire outgoing, personable employees,” Hatten says, of how he maintains a competitive edge. “They have to be able to communicate well with our customers. Customers are loyal to our people, not the machines.” Hatten now employs 1100 people.
Hatten shares his successful strategies with others, like students at his alma mater, or entrepreneurs at events, like the ACG-Arizona Breakfast on October 13 at the Biltmore Resort. He has 51,000 loyal members now. With no limit to Hatten’s imagination or energy, we can expect to see him garner equally-loyal fans nationwide.