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How a Pizza Industry Executive Found Success in Fitness

Andy Gundlach, owner of more than 30 Anytime Fitness gyms, shares his biggest tips for pursuing a passionate career.
How a Pizza Industry Executive Found Success in Fitness
Image credit: Anytime Fitness


Some of us merely dream of combining the work we do with our true passion in life. Andy Gundlach is actually living that dream.

After a decade at Pizza Hut, where Gundlach worked his way up from driver to regional director of operations, he took the leap and became his own boss. He'd always been passionate about health and fitness, so when he heard about a franchising opportunity with Anytime Fitness, he jumped at the chance.

He opened up one gym, then another, then two more. Soon, he quit his day job for good.

Today, Gundlach owns more than 30 Anytime Fitness locations and he’s a three-time Anytime Fitness Club Operator of the Year. More importantly, he's excited by his work. Here are three of his biggest tips for pursuing a passionate career.

1. Always recognize the benefits of your work.

No matter what kind of work you're doing, or the industry you’re in, don't obsess about what you don't like about your job, Gundlach says.

When Gundlach started working as a Pizza Hut delivery driver in his teens, he had no idea that, by the end of the next decade, he would run operations for all of the company’s restaurants in southern, Wis.  He wasn't a fast food lover; his real passion was health. It wasn't the food that kept him working at Pizza Hut—it was something else.

“I didn't go to school thinking I was going to make a career working in a fast food restaurant,” he says, “But I found what I did love, which was building teams, working with people, and watching them grow.”

It was at Pizza Hut that Gundlach learned how to build a people-centric organization. For any new business idea, he learned to ask two questions: “How is this going to affect the customer experience?” and, “How will this affect our employees?”

With Anytime Fitness, that customer-first approach helped him open four clubs in just a couple of years. Even if you don’t love everything about your current job, there are unique skills that you can develop and talents to discover.  What you gain on a personal-development level from your current position is what's going to help you take that next leap.

2. Be ‘risk-savvy’ in your pursuit of passion.

Gundlach didn't quit his day-job when he opened his first Anytime Fitness gym. It was only after opening his fourth gym that he finally committed to Anytime Fitness full-time.

Why did it take so long? Fear. There was work to be done setting up the gyms and marketing was needed to bring people in. Walking away from his steady paycheck wasn’t easy. 

Looking back, Gundlach says he wishes he’d taken the plunge much sooner. “Society conditions people to be intolerant of risk,” he says. Instead, people should be “risk-savvy,” he says. In other words, don’t let fear slow you down. Take a realistic view of the risks and then act in a rational, informed way.

3. Be honest about what you want and what you're willing to give up.

Entrepreneurs typically dream of having the freedom to do what they want and the authority to call all the shots. But franchising, like launching any business, requires more than just passion to be successful.

“Don't do it because you want freedom,” Gundlach says, “Don't do it to buy yourself a job. Make sure you know what you're getting into.”

Owning a franchise requires you to do whatever it takes to make that business successful. Sure, there comes a time when you can have flexibility in your schedule, but you don't dictate it. For instance, Gundlach might be able to work 20 hours a week most of the year, but there are still many times he’ll put in 60 or 70.

“That mindset of, 'I want to go to Florida, I want to be able to travel anywhere'—that is the wrong way to build a truly successful business,” he says.

Make it happen!

Gundlach is just like any of us. He was hesitant to go out on his own and give up a steady job. He felt like the risk might be too much.

But he made the decision and he succeeded. If you want to pursue your own passion, and you're willing to do what it takes to realize your dreams, then there's nothing lucky or magical about it. Success is the result of your own hard work and informed decision-making.

Like Gundlach, take stock of what you want, learn the risks, create a plan, and put it into action.

For information about Anytime Fitness franchise opportunities, visit AnytimeFitnessFranchise.com.

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