Chris Clawson Returns to Life Fitness as CEO

Chris Clawson
(Photo courtesy Life Fitness.) Chris Clawson is back at Life Fitness as CEO.

Life Fitness, Rosemont, Illinois, has appointed Chris Clawson as its CEO replacing Jason Worthy, the company announced on July 8. The change is effective immediately.

The company also appointed Steve Klyn as chief financial officer and will add Life Fitness founder Augie Nieto to its board of directors.

Clawson has a long history with Life Fitness. His first stint with the company began in 1994 in a product development role. He left after 10 years to serve in several fitness industry leadership roles, including as president of Matrix Fitness Systems. He was hired back at Life Fitness in 2010 as president, a role he remained in until his departure in January 2017. At that time, Jaime Irick took on the president role until he was replaced in October 2018 by Worthy. Most recently, Clawson was chairman of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.

Clawson’s fitness industry and leadership experience positions Clawson to once again lead Life Fitness and help the company succeed, Jay Bernstein, a partner at KPS Capital Partners, Life Fitness' majority shareholder, said in the announcement.

KPS Capital Partners, New York, bought Life Fitness from Brunswick Corp. in May 2019 for $490 million. Life Fitness includes the brands Life Fitness, Hammer Strength, Cybex, Indoor Cycling Group, SCIFIT and Brunswick Billiards.

Life Fitness' 2018 revenue of $1.03 billion was virtually flat compared to 2017, according to financial filings from the publicly traded Brunswick Corp. prior to selling Life Fitness. Its fourth quarter 2018 revenue decreased by 5.6 percent, and its first quarter 2019 revenue decreased by 7.8 percent compared to the same quarters the prior year. 

Joining Clawson are Klyn and Nieto. Klyn has worked with KPS since 2012 as CFO of one of its portfolio companies, International Equipment Solutions, a manufacturer of engineered equipment.

Nieto will be a co-investor in the business and will be appointed to its board of directors. Nieto served as president of Life Fitness from 1977 to 2000 and helped transform the company from a single-product business to a market leader in the commercial fitness equipment industry.

"We are thrilled to bring Augie back as an investor and a strategic partner,” Bernstein said. “We are confident that his experience and vision will help Life Fitness build on its leadership position and drive forward its legacy of being a strong, focused, and innovative global market leader."

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