Prior to the pandemic, Gold’s Gym already had a digital fitness product in place within our domestic business. This product — Gold’s AMP — was a platform that I developed with my team during my time as CIO of Gold’s Gym, a role I held previously in my career before returning to the brand as its CEO. But we needed to do even more to help our members despite the pandemic, so we also launched a video on demand (VOD) workout platform for our global member community within 10 days after the lockdowns began.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Zeitsiff of Intelivideo.
Adam is a visionary global executive with 25 years of successful leadership in technology and multi-unit business environments. He thrives on helping companies accelerate growth through his extensive capabilities in the areas of strategy, innovation and execution. Previously, Adam served as the global President & CEO of Gold’s Gym, where he led the resurgence of the world’s most recognized fitness brand. Adam draws upon his 15+ years of fitness technology and club operating experience to guide Intelivideo to a leadership position as a trusted partner to gyms and health clubs worldwide.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in southeastern Massachusetts. My mother is a nurse and my father is a pharmacist, so I grew up in a house of parents coming and going either to a hospital or to a health clinic at all times. I have one younger brother who now resides in the Denver area, and both my parents still live in our childhood home in Massachusetts. My mom is retired, and my dad still works full time in a hospital pharmacy in Providence.
I grew up idolizing my grandfather. An Army veteran turned entrepreneur who owned a successful lighting design and manufacturing company located about 20 minutes from my house. I was in awe of how he was able to start his own business, how he employed so many people, and how they looked up to and appreciated him for everything that he did for his employees and the community. I spent countless hours hanging around his shop and listening to him talk to customers and team members, and I clearly remember wanting to grow up and do the same thing. My grandfather is a huge part of why I became an entrepreneur myself, and he is a big reason I’m where I am today.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Only a person who risks is free,” from the anonymous poem of the same title. This is something I stumbled on in my early 20s and made a decision right there that I would live by this life lesson/mantra, letting it guide my decision-making process throughout my career. It has helped me in many areas, both in starting companies from the ground up and running/operating major organizations. It is a quote/poem that I refer back to and often reference in my daily life.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The 1980 film The Jazz Singer, starring one of my (still) favorite singers, Neil Diamond. I was seven years old when I first watched it with my parents, and I’ve watched it dozens of times since. The fact that Diamond’s character wanted something so badly for his life and career that he would defy family and religious tradition to achieve his dreams has always stuck with me as inspirational in both my personal and professional life.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
At the start of the pandemic, I was at the helm of the world’s most iconic fitness brand as the global President & CEO of Gold’s Gym. My team and I were in the middle of a tremendous business turnaround both in the U.S. and internationally. We had a well-planned business pivot strategy underway and already proving successful when the pandemic hit. By late March, we basically had to bring our global business to a complete standstill in response to the health crisis. We shut down all of both our company-owned and franchised locations around the world, we had to furlough tens of thousands of employees globally and laid off hundreds more. e had to act quickly while prioritizing everyone’s health and safety above all as we figured out the best course of action.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, Gold’s Gym already had a digital fitness product in place within our domestic business. This product — Gold’s AMP — was a platform that I developed with my team during my time as CIO of Gold’s Gym, a role I held previously in my career before returning to the brand as its CEO. But we needed to do even more to help our members despite the pandemic, so we also launched a video on demand (VOD) workout platform for our global member community within 10 days after the lockdowns began. We rallied all of our gyms and franchise locations worldwide to help create and record video workouts for our members. e edited, produced and deployed those workouts from our newly launched VOD digital fitness platform. Ironically, that VOD platform we created for Gold’s Gym is powered by the company I now work for, Intelivideo.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
Given how trying the pandemic and the resulting gym lockdown was on the organization, the Gold’s Gym ownership group decided to restructure the company by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. My team and I managed this process throughout the summer of the pandemic while simultaneously overseeing the slow but steady reopening of our gyms across the U.S. and around the world, as well as ensuring that we continued positively positioning the Gold’s Gym brand in the eyes of our members and the media so that we could emerge from the structuring stronger than ever. As the final part of the restructuring process, a new owner purchased Gold’s Gym and consequently refocused most of the company’s executive leadership and strategic management to a new team. As a result, my tenure at Gold’s Gym came to an end. My passion for the global fitness industry and for the hybridization of brick-and-mortar and digital fitness was stronger than ever, which made my decision to join Intelivideo as the company’s new President & CEO an easy and exciting one.
How are things going with this new initiative?
As I’m talking to you now, I’m currently on my 62nd day on the job, and things are going fantastic! Intelivideo is busier than ever, with a clear mission and message for the fitness industry. We are working diligently to partner with health clubs and gyms to complement their in-club/in-person offerings with an on-demand, live streaming and digital fitness solution from Intelivideo. We are growing rapidly, and because our customers realize that hybridization is here to stay — even after the pandemic ends — the future is extremely bright for us.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would say first and foremost would be my grandfather for mentoring me and inspiring me to want to be an entrepreneur and a business leader. He instilled so much in me at an early age, and it has stuck with me through these years. I am grateful for his influence every day.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
Keep in mind I’m only about 60 days into transitioning into my leading role at Intelivideo, but I would say one of my most memorable moments so far is the- early morning workout I had with Shannon and Heather Hudson, the founders and CEO and COO respectively of 9Round Fitness, a client of Intelivideo. They led me through an intense workout in the first 9Round studio they ever opened, based in Greenville, South Carolina. I’ve known the 9Round team through the industry for nearly a decade now, so seeing firsthand the studio that started it all for this now 700-location global franchise and working out alongside the entrepreneurs that built it made for a really cool “full-circle” moment. I was a bit intimidated, especially given Shannon himself is a world champion kickboxer, but it ended up being a really fun way to connect with some of our Intelivideo clients in a way that I know I’ll remember for the rest of my career. Best of all, now my team and I get to play a role in the next chapter of their success story as we continue to build their 9RoundNOW VOD fitness platform. I can’t wait to see how much we accomplish together between now and our next group workout!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I don’t have 5….but here are a few:
- “You will pivot at least 8 or 10 times a day as a tech CEO” — I forgot how fast-paced and rapid-fire running a small and quickly growing technology company can be. I love every minute of jumping from one thing to another, but man, oh man, I’m exhausted by 7 p.m.!
- “Take 10 minutes twice a day to breath” — For my first month or so with Intelivideo, I was going 12+ hours a day with little to no breaks other than a run to the restroom. I forgot how important a quick break twice a day can be to your mindset and your ability to function at a high level. A quick walk outside, a few minutes of running around chasing my infant daughter as she crawls around the house — I now try to look for anything that can quickly “reset” my mind and get me engaged for another round of focus.
- “Focus even more than usual on your team.” Although I consider myself a very people-focused, servant-hearted leader, making the transition to a new company that is growing so quickly in the middle of a pandemic requires an even stronger focus on bonding with your team. Yes, it’s important to make strides and accomplish new things quickly when stepping into the CEO role in this scenario, but getting to know your people as fast as possible and earning their trust is a critical component as well.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
It took me a while to get there, but I eventually just stopped fixating on the news. For the first 6- 8 weeks of the pandemic, I never turned off the news, and I was constantly scrolling through my Twitter feed to keep up with the latest happenings. I soon realized that this was not good for my mental wellness, so I began limiting my news intake to just a few times a week.
In addition, I have picked up my fitness routine a bit more — from 4 to 5 workouts a week to now 5 to 6 days a week -which has been a big help in relieving stress and keeping me on an even keel during all this craziness. And by the way, the extra one or two days aren’t always made up of kick-butt, rigorous workouts; sometimes just a 45-minute, fast-paced walk around my neighborhood with my dog is enough to get my heart rate up, give me some uninterrupted time to think, and to return feeling refreshed.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If I had to pinpoint one thing, it would be in the area of giving back to help someone or something else. I’d love to find a way to rally people together to do something for others on a consistent — perhaps even weekly — basis. Whether it’s making a small donation to your favorite charity, dropping off some food at the local food bank, or volunteering for 30 minutes to walk some dogs at the shelter… Imagine how much good could be done in this world if everyone committed to doing “one selfless act per week for a full year.” The positive effects on our society and our world as a whole could be astounding.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
That’s an easy one… Neil Diamond. I admire his personal and professional story, and his music inspires me. I would love the chance to tell him face-to-face one day how much this has meant to me over the years.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adam-zeitsiff/ and Twitter: @adamzeit.