Most business owners wear many different hats, especially when first starting. Owner and operator of Anytime Fitness, Jason Mack has worn a lot of hats, but in a different way.
Mack is a trained educator with a master’s degree in educational leadership, a coach, business owner, husband, and father. He is entering his fourteenth year in education and has experience in nearly every role, including substitute teacher, classroom teacher, assistant principal, dean of students, and principal. He currently serves as the Professional Development Facilitator for the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, which teaches the teachers in student engagement, classroom management, and technology integration.
Side hustles for educators
“Educators always have to have a side hustle,” said Mack. “Back in 2016, my side hustle was to own a food truck. We offered chicken and waffles and street tacos.”
On the weekends, he and his wife, Rebekah, a nurse, took the Mack Food Truck to high school band contests, soccer tournaments, and music festivals. During that time, he had other side hustles as well. “I would make a joke to people that I have a job for every kid that I have,” said the father of four. He was a school administrator, food truck operator, a referee for high school and college soccer games, and drove for Uber on holidays.
“Owning a restaurant or running a restaurant is a lot of work. And, whenever your restaurant is on wheels, you must worry about the maintenance of the vehicle and other stuff like that, so it became really challenging,” said Mack.
Filling a hole in Edmond’s fitness offerings
After they sold the food truck, they owned an online fulfillment business. But in 2018, after moving from the west side of Edmond to the east side, he noticed a lack of 24-hour fitness access.
“I would watch football games on Sundays and say to my family, ‘let’s go,’ but nothing was open in the evening. I guess I’ll just do some push-ups,” said Mack. “There has to be something better out there, but there wasn’t.”
He discovered Anytime Fitness, the largest fitness franchise with 4,600 locations on all seven continents that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “The process took about one year, and we opened seven days before 2020, which meant that two months later, we’re going to shut down for two months, unbeknownst to us,” recalled Mack.
Reacting to COVID-19
When asked what he has changed about the gym since Covid, he said mostly the layout of the machines. “Whenever we first started, we had lined up all our cardio equipment, but we spaced them out due to Covid. We just made sure there was about nine feet between all of the machines,” Mack said. “I don’t know that will go back to just having a row of treadmills and a row of ellipticals, just because they like it. People like the space, especially in Oklahoma.”
Mack’s gym has always used Purell Wipes on his equipment rather than a squirt bottle and towel. He doesn’t want his clients to worry about if the equipment was wiped down and disinfected. The other sanitization practices Anytime Fitness has—that were not new because of Covid—include using HIPAA filters in their HVAC to constantly circulate clean air and using dehumidifiers that lower the humidity.
“We’re thinking about the customer’s experience, so it is a lot of little decisions that make for an overall just great experience,” Mack said. “Especially whenever you’re in the gym – I don’t want to smell you, you shouldn’t have to smell me, so space is a good thing in an exercise environment.”
Building a gym he wants to use
Anytime Fitness does not have a sauna, hot tub, pool, or locker rooms. “My goal with this gym is to avoid naked people,” Mack said. They do have private showers in the restrooms.”
“I really wanted a gym that I want to use, that I want to go to, and then I figured if I like it then other people will like it too. People who come into our gym see the value in it pretty much immediately because it’s sparkling clean and everyone greets you with a smiling face.”
Mack’s favorite thing about owning a gym is meeting people. “I am in contact with a bunch of people all the time and interpersonal relationships are my bread and butter. I just love getting to know people and their families and helping them through difficult situations. I get to do that with this gym.”
“A lot of people don’t really understand how easy it is to get their health under control. It’s 80% diet and about 20% exercise,” said Mack. “My best advice is to start small. A lot of people get it in their head that they have to spend two hours at the gym in order to get results.”
Mack and his staff have people start with a food journal. “Write it all down for a week. Don’t change anything. Just live your life,” said Mack. Then they review it with their clients and coach them through making simple changes.
“If people make those smarter choices with their diet, they’ll be surprised at how fast they lose weight,” said Mack.
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About Tina Evans
Tina Evans is a leadership coach and consultant. As a certified 5 Voices and 100X Leader guide, Tina is passionate about helping leaders build organizations where everyone is empowered to bring their best and increase overall performance. She is a former senior leader for both local and statewide organizations and owns Tina Evans Coaching, LLC. She holds degrees in psychology and public relations and is certified in nonprofit management.