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Fitness Together boss says be brave, not perfect


“I quote ‘Friends’ all the time. I think any business situation can be related back to ‘Friends’.” — Stephanie Hu, CEO, Fitness Together

Who would play you in the biopic about your life?

I’d say Julia Roberts—I have a huge smile like Julia Roberts. Then I’d mix her characters from ‘Erin Brockovich’—I’m super ambitious and want to change the world—and then you’d mix it in with her character from ‘Pretty Woman,’ the scene in the bathtub singing Prince. I can be pretty goofy and just like to have fun. Also her character from the movie ‘Wonder,’ that’s the caretaker in me.

What’s your favorite franchise brand that’s not your own?

Chick-fil-A. It’s grilled chicken they’re serving but what I love is they have a brand purpose and culture that’s very clear. They put people first. And that they can get high school kids to care about serving a chicken sandwich … I’d love to get a peek at their playbook.

If you weren’t in franchising, what else would you do?

I love fitness. I’d start my own health and wellness studio on the beach in California. Eventually when I retire, I’ll have a yoga studio and surf shop on the beach. This Iowa girl needs some warmth and sunshine.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

When I went to Japan I ate a goldfish raw. My husband is Korean … we went to Japan and Korea and everyone else was eating it so I just did it. The eyeballs are just staring at you; it was awful. I think I ended up swallowing it whole.

What’s something not many people know about you?

This is for people who’ve met me later in my life. I’m a huge thrill-seeker, but I’m terrified to do these things. I went skydiving when I was 18. I watched ‘Jaws’ at way too young of an age and am terrified of sharks but I went great white shark cage diving in South Africa. Also, in South Africa, I went bungee jumping in something like the world’s second largest gorge. I love being able to say I did it.

What is something you would stockpile if you found out it wasn’t going to be sold anymore?

Well my guilty pleasure is pizza and beer … my favorite beer is Todd the Axe Man, it’s a Surly beer. I love hoppy beer. On the can it says ‘a beer to shred your face.’

If you could be a member of any TV show family, which would it be?

My favorite of all time is ‘Friends.’ I quote ‘Friends’ all the time. I think any business situation can be related back to ‘Friends.’ Or ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.’ She’s just so smart and witty.

Laura Michaels

Editor Laura Michaels asks the tough questions—What superhero power would you most like to have? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?—to show a side of franchising execs you don’t normally see. To suggest an industry professional, email lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.

What superhero power would you most like to have?

Right now, because I’m having to travel so much, to be able to fly. I’m always getting a middle seat and because I’m friendly and I smile at people, everyone always wants to talk, they tell me their life stories. My husband got me those big Bose headphones and said to put them on getting on the plane. They give the vibe of don’t talk to me (laughs).

What’s your favorite travel destination?

My favorite trip of all time was South Africa, by far. Being able to do a safari was one of the most incredible experiences in my life.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

This goes back to my parents talking about it—to be brave and not perfect. It’s so important in female empowerment, pushing boundaries and not being afraid to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing yourself.

With whom would you most like to spend a day?

It’s between Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it’s amazing, she’s this iconic leader but she’s actually very quiet and reserved. Also, Malala [Yousafzai]. I read the book with my girls. Talk about being brave at a young age. Each of them has broken through different types of barriers.

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