DALLAS -- Mike Feinman has changed addresses in the health club industry but not his personal address. On Wednesday, Gold’s Gym International (GGI), Dallas, announced it has hired Feinman to serve as its chief operating officer. Feinman resigned from 24 Hour Fitness, San Ramon, CA, on Jan. 28 after serving as 24 Hour’s Dallas-based vice president.
“A big part of why I resigned was a wonderful opportunity with Gold’s, and frankly the opportunity also to stay in Dallas,” says Feinman, who started at GGI on Tuesday. “We’ve got two kids in high school, and it’s always painful to pull kids out.”
Feinman will oversee national operations for GGI’s 62 corporate-owned facilities and will report directly to David Schnabel, CEO of GGI. Feinman says he and Schnabel have known each other for years and added that discussions about Feinman’s possible employment at GGI intensified over the last six weeks.
“I’ve really believed in the Gold’s brand,” Feinman says. “To me, it’s the Harley Davidson of the fitness industry, the Hard Rock Café of the restaurant industry. It’s got an edge. It’s got a personality. For me, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Dave Reiseman, GGI spokesperson, says the company has not had someone in the position of chief operating officer for some time. Two vice presidents, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, will now report to Feinman, Reiseman says. Feinman will be in charge of all areas of GGI’s corporate-owned club operations, including membership sales, corporate sales, customer care, personal training and group exercise.
“We’ve known Mike for several years now and are excited to have him on board,” Schnabel said in a company statement. “We’ve admired his accomplishments from afar and look forward to having his expertise in-house. Mike will bring great energy, knowledge and capability to our organization.”
At 24 Hour, Feinman oversaw some of the company’s biggest initiatives. This included 24 Hour’s celebrity licensed clubs, such as those involving basketball star Shaquille O’Neal and cyclist Lance Armstrong, and new business ventures, such as the company’s smaller format facilities. Before becoming vice president, Feinman ran operations for the company’s 70-club central Midwest division and won a 24 Hour award for top performance in the company two years in a row.
Feinman, who spent a total of six years at 24 Hour, declined to comment specifically on the departures of three other 24 Hour executives. Tony Bakos, vice president and general counsel; Don Harbich, vice president; and Adam Loew, vice president of new club development, also left the company last week, a 24 Hour spokesperson confirmed. However, it is not clear whether the three executives were fired or resigned.
“It’s not my place,” Feinman says. “I was not on the receiving end of whatever that transaction was.”
Feinman does give praise to 24 Hour founder and former chairman Mark Mastrov, whose resignation was announced three weeks ago and took into effect last Thursday.
“Mark Mastrov is an amazing leader,” Feinman says. “Mark’s very, very happy, and that’s important to me. I continue to learn an incredible amount from Mark. Not only is he my mentor, but he’s also my friend.”
Prior to his time at 24 Hour, Feinman spent 18 years at Pepsico (now known as Yum Brands), owner of several fast food concepts. As a senior director, Feinman ran operations across 80 restaurant locations and led the Taco Bell training function for the 7,000 company, franchise, and license locations. He also developed customer feedback systems and a 30,000-restaurant operations evaluation system.
“There are some franchisors out there that spend their time just selling franchises, and I would never work for a company like that,” Feinman says. “I know that Keith Albright [GGI’s senior vice president of franchising] here is very focused on making sure that our franchisees are successful and are provided lots of support. This job is focused primarily right now on company [-owned stores], but I expect there will be a good amount of interaction with our franchisees, and I’m very, very excited about that.”