13 May Sal Pellegrino, Senior Strategic Account Manager, Precor
Pete Moore: This is Pete Moore on HALO Talks NYC. I have the pleasure of having a trusted advisor or friend and legend in the halo sector coming in from North Carolina needs no introduction, but we’ll give him one, Sal Pellegrino. Welcome to the show.
Sal Pellegrino: Hey Peter, thank you so much. I am so excited to be here and I appreciate everything that you’re doing for our industry at integrity sprayer as well at the halo Academy. So I’m honored to be here. Thank you.
Pete Moore: Great. So the three people that don’t know your background, I’ve never heard of Sal. Pellegrino why don’t we do the necessary preamble on your bio. And then we’ll kick off with a a hit list of questions I have here for you.
Sal Pellegrino: Cool, perfect. Hey, I’ve been in this industry since 1979 as a club owner. And then in 1984, 85, I started selling commercial fitness equipment. And I think that experience that I had as a club owner really helped me succeed 35 35 plus years as an advisor in the commercial fitness space. I think the best thing that, that, that I’ve learned over the years is you have to put yourself in the position of the customer and that has served me well. I treat my customers like I I’m a partner of theirs and I care about their interests. So I think that’s really, really helped me over time club owner, good advisor. It comes up every day in every situation. And I think that’s helped me tremendously over the years, Peter.
Pete Moore: Gotcha. So over the years, pre pandemic when I would go to a club chain and visited for some advisory purpose, you know, they usually would say, Oh, Sal Pellegrino was here last week. So I felt like kind of Hansel and Gretel following you around. Obviously you’re a guy who is as social as they come and also want to be there in person use every excuse to be on the road in a good way. So, you know, talk about your re-entry into go into meeting people in person as a road warrior and you know, what kind of receptivity you received and how excited you are to kind of get back to normal.
Sal Pellegrino: Yeah, cool. Yeah. You know what? I always you know, believe that you got to be hands-on and you got to see what’s happening in the field. You know, you can read about worldwide trends every year that the fitness trends come out, but you also need to, to have boots on the ground and you need to see what the heck the customers are doing, what their competitors are doing and what’s happening in the marketplace. And I think that’s really, really critical over the last, you know, 12 to 14 months that’s that came to a grinding halt. And, and honestly, Pete, I just came back from my first six day road trip from Northern Virginia DC up to New York city. And it felt fantastic to be back with my clients.
Pete Moore: So what is some of the things that you believe benefited the bricks and mortar as everyone had time to stop and think about their business, whether that’s from a staffing standpoint potentially some of the operational changes that are made such as, you know, do I need to give somebody a key card anymore and actually physically hand it to someone at the front desk versus using mobile and technology? Maybe the understanding of clubs to say, Hey I actually am the authority in my area. I should also be the authority on some component of digital or some component of connectivity with my members, whether it’s fitness, nutrition, mental health what are some of your key takeaways that you feel have benefited us as we’ve come out of the a pandemic year?
Sal Pellegrino: Well, you know, I think that the first thing that happened when the pandemic first started, I think everyone adapted to technology amazingly quickly you know, that at a base station to virtual, to communicating with their members in a better way to, you know, all of a sudden becoming a zoom specialist, right? I mean, that’s what I did. I must have, I must have done six or seven webinars every week and member owners were on those as well. And, and that kind of led me to, to my little weekly summaries that I did peep. So I think that adaptation of technology is the first thing. I think the second thing is I think people have a much better understanding of the customer. All right, because that now they’re not only competing with the club down the street, they’re competing with home fitness, they’re competing with people buying equipment back in their homes.
Sal Pellegrino: They’re competing with the Peloton, the echelon, the mirrors. So, you know, you really gotta be smart in terms of how to, how to really tackle that, that information with your customer. But I think the deep knowledge of the customer and that communication and being transparent, those are the things and let me back up transparent, not only for the members, but also for the staff. I mean, those are some things that I, that I, that I saw. And the, the other thing that I noticed when I went back on the road, is it, the people were working harder than I’ve ever worked before. The, the owners that have survived this, it almost brought me back to 1990s when our industry was really on that heavy growth curve through that nineties, when the owners and managers, they did everything. And that’s what I saw that my customers doing again, I mean, they’re cleaning, they’re doing this, they’re moving stuff outdoors for outdoor fitness. I thought that was really, really interesting. And and then really looking at what programs are profitable or not. I think we did things and even though they lost money. So I think that evaluating, you know, profit centers make sure that there’s a return on investment. I had a number of discussions about that, which I thought was pretty, pretty interesting,
Pete Moore: Just sticking on the equipment side and the group exercise programming, since you’re on the front lines here and almost like the advanced team, if you will what are you seeing as some of the trends that are going to emerge over the next six to 12 months inside the clubs?