Augie Nieto will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from Club Industry on Oct. 8 at the Club Industry Show in Chicago.
Nieto created the Lifecycle and co-founded Life Fitness, a company he ran for 25 years. He is now chairman of Octane Fitness, serves as an operating advisor to private equity firm North Castle Partners, and is on the board of Curves and Jenny Craig. Club Industry will honor him for his work in the fitness industry but also for his work outside of it, which has brought together the fitness industry.
"We typically reserve this award for fitness facility owners and operators rather than people who have worked on the vendor side," said Pamela Kufahl, director of content and engagement for Club Industry. "However, Augie's accomplishments at Life Fitness and Octane have been matched by his ability to bring together competing health club operators to fight for one cause: finding a cure for ALS. The way he applied the drive, dedication and marketing expertise that helped him build Life Fitness to get the fitness community to rally behind this cause is more than admirable."
Nieto was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, 10 years ago. Not long after, he founded Augie's Quest, a foundation that raises money for ALS research.
One of the biggest fundraisers for the organization is the Augie's Bash that is held each year at the IHRSA conference. At that fundraiser, owners and CEOs of some of the largest commercial club companies and fitness equipment and services vendors come together and pledge money to the cause. So far, the organization has raised more than $44 million to fund research at the ALS Therapy Development Institute, an organization of which Nieto is chairman of the board. ALS Therapy Development Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the world's largest ALS-dedicated drug development organization.
As his ALS progressed, Nieto lost his ability to move anything but some toes and was confined to a wheelchair. However, through medicine, exercise and physical therapy (part of it at Project Walk at the Claremont Club in Claremont, California), Nieto now is able to move more of his body, even walking his daughter down the wedding aisle last summer and walking onto the stage at the Augie's Bash that spring (on both occasions assisted by a harness).
"It will be two years next month that I have been a client of Project Walk," Nieto noted in an email to Club Industry. "I’m working out 14-plus hours a week, nine hours with Project Walk specialists. Project Walk has given me the hope and, now, the expectation of a full recovery in five years. As a marketing guy, I have branded it…..2020 Vision!"
Nieto also has written (typing with his toes) two books: "Augie's Quest: One Man's Journey from Success to Significance" and "Reciprocity, Incorporated."
He also has been featured in numerous newspaper articles, on television shows such as "The Today Show," "Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman," and "CBS News Los Angeles." He appeared on the MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon from 2005 through 2013.
More details about the presentation to Nieto will be released closer to the Club Industry Show, which will occur Oct. 7-9 at McCormick Place in Chicago.