One Big Idea: Meaning is the New Currency

Now more than ever organizations are committed to offering their employees something more than a place to put in the time and collect a paycheck. Anytime Fitness is no different, focusing on helping its employees and members alike live active, healthy lives both inside and outside the club.

Co-founder and CEO of Anytime Fitness, Chuck Runyon, recently spoke to a group of graduate business students, alumni and community members at the Opus College of Business. He shared the Anytime Fitness story, what the brand means and his vision for the future of the company.

Nine out of 10 gym goers only use 10 percent of the club. By scaling their model to focus on what members really want – weights and cardio – Anytime Fitness has created a franchise that affords flexibility. Clubs range from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet and attract a desirable demographic to the strip mall where they often make their home.

Technology is at the forefront of the business model and its future. In 2002, the idea of an unstaffed gym accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year was unheard of. While this concept is far more common today, technology is the opportunity. How can Anytime Fitness help its members be healthier outside the club?


The most interesting and broadly applicable idea shared by Runyon was a comment about “meaning as the new currency.” For many today, salary matters less if you are making a difference. Anytime Fitness is committed to having an impact and getting a “return on emotional investment.” This happens when one lives and works at the intersection of people, profits, purpose and play. What does he mean by this? At Anytime Fitness, it’s about perceived value:

  • People: Employees enrich clients through better health
  • Profit: It goes beyond dollars to a focus on wellness; important to provide balance
  • Purpose: Physical activity is a gateway to a better life
  • Play: There is a focus on having fun in all that the company does

One last interesting number from Runyon’s talk:


2,000 That’s the number of people with a tattoo of the Anytime Fitness running man. Consider what a brand has to mean to someone to have that brand permanently put on their body. Any employee who gets a running man tattoo (customized however they see fit) simply has to share their story and the company will reimburse for the cost of the tattoo.