Arlington Sports Conditioning - Pete Leibman

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Hiring Trends in Fitness Tech

Fitness tech is a growing and increasingly competitive sector. My executive search firm, Stronger Talent, recently analyzed the backgrounds of more than 300 fitness tech executives in order to provide insights into hiring trends and recruiting strategies for the sector. Our research led to our publication of The Fitness Tech Leadership Report. This article features some of the key findings from our research.


We analyzed the backgrounds of fitness tech CEO’s, other C-suite executives (i.e. CFO, COO, CTO, CMO, CHRO, etc.), Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senior Directors, and Directors.

The leaders in our study represent a variety of functions, including sales, marketing, strategy, business development, product management, technology, finance, operations, and human resources.

Our study focused exclusively on executives based in the U.S., although a small percentage of the executives in our study work for companies that are headquartered outside the U.S.

At the time of our study, the executives that we analyzed were employed by more than 50 of the world’s top fitness tech companies- across the fitness tech sub-categories of fitness wearables, connected fitness, streaming fitness, and fitness apps. This group of companies includes:

  • Fitness tech start-ups of various sizes and stages
  • Fitness tech companies that are more mature and/or publicly-traded
  • Fitness tech business units inside of larger organizations

The Top Four Fitness Tech Hubs in the U.S.

Our research indicates that there are four primary hubs in the U.S. where the large majority of fitness tech companies and executives are based. Over 75% of the executives in our study were based in one of these four areas. In addition, over 68% of the companies in our study have their global headquarters or U.S. headquarters in one of these areas:

  1. New York Metro Area
  2. San Francisco Bay Area
  3. Greater Los Angeles Area
  4. Greater Boston Area
Figure 1. The top four fitness tech hubs in the U.S.

Less than 25% of the executives in our study (in total) were based in all other U.S. cities combined.

Men Greatly Outnumber Women in Fitness Tech

Our research indicates that men greatly outnumber women in fitness tech, especially as you move up in many companies. Over 68% of all executives identified in our study were men. Women only made up about 40% of the Directors, Senior Directors, and Vice Presidents. In addition, less than 25% of C-Suite and SVP positions were occupied by women, and less than 16% of CEO positions were occupied by women.

Figure 2. Gender diversity of different levels of leadership in fitness tech.

Our findings on gender diversity are pretty consistent with McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2019, the most comprehensive, annual study of the state of women in corporate America. Across all industries combined, McKinsey found that women only occupy 21% of C-Suite roles, 26% of SVP roles, and 30-34% of VP and Director roles.

Most Fitness Tech Executives Don’t Come from Fitness or Sports

Our research indicates that the large majority of fitness tech executives had no prior full-time work experience in the fitness or sports industries before joining their current fitness tech company.

Over 88% of the CEO’s in our study (most of whom are also Founders) had no prior full-time work experience in the fitness or sports industries. As for the other executives in our study, over 80% of them had no prior full-time work experience in fitness or sports.

Figure 3. Percentage of fitness tech executives with prior work experience in the fitness or sports industries.

Where Do Executives Usually Work Before Fitness Tech?

Most executives do not work in the fitness or sports industries before getting into fitness tech. So, we analyzed which companies and industries the executives in our study had worked in during the last ten years (including their current employer).

Our study found that fitness tech executives come from a wide variety of industries. However, two industries definitely stand out as the most common:

  1. Consumer Internet: This includes e-commerce businesses, mobile apps (including fitness apps), and social media platforms.
  2. Consumer Electronics: This includes companies that make devices used for communications, recreation, and entertainment. Companies that make fitness hardware (i.e. fitness trackers and connected fitness products) also fit into the broader category of consumer electronics.

There was a significant drop-off in the frequency of industry experience after consumer internet and consumer electronics. After those two industries, the next five most common industries were Media and Entertainment, Healthcare, Enterprise Software, Consulting and Advisory Services, and Financial Services and Private Equity.

Only about 5% of the executives in our study had recent full-time work experience in Health Clubs or Boutique Fitness, and only about 5% of the executives in our study had recent full-time work experience in Sporting Goods or Fitness Equipment. Other industries that showed up but were not common include Retail and Apparel, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), and Hospitality and Leisure (HL).

Figure 4. Recent industry experience before executives work in fitness tech. The larger the circle, the more common the experience is.


Fitness tech is poised for significant growth and competition in the years to come, especially as tech giants like Google, Apple, and Amazon increase their participation in fitness.

Companies that are able to attract and retain the best people will be well-positioned for future success, while companies that fail to attract and retain the best people will struggle to survive. While our full report provides much more extensive recommendations, here are three quick tips for fitness tech companies, based on our research and experience:

Make diversity a bigger priority.

Diversity is not only a social and moral cause. Research has shown that a more diverse workforce is also correlated with more innovation (due to the differences in perspective), higher employee engagement scores (since employees perceive the company to be fairer), and greater profitability.

Expand your recruiting geography for certain roles.

The COVID-19 shutdown has made many people more comfortable with remote work. In addition to local recruiting, target top performers in regions where your company does not have any physical office locations. If your company presents a compelling value proposition, you might attract some outstanding people who would have been unattainable before the shutdown. 

Pursue candidates from new talent pools.

Many fitness tech companies recruit primarily from their personal referral networks and from other talent pools that are fairly narrow. However, there is tremendous value in expanding your efforts. Identify some additional industries, categories, and companies where your company will begin searching for candidates as well.

Our full report provides many additional suggestions for fitness tech companies who want to recruit exceptional people. You can also contact me directly to schedule a call to discuss my recruiting recommendations for your particular company.

About the author: As the Founder of Stronger Talent, Pete Leibman recruits exceptional leaders for innovative sports, fitness, and wellness companies. Throughout his career, Pete has helped clients recruit exceptional leaders at the Board, C-Suite, Senior Vice President, Vice President, General Manager, Managing Director, and Director levels. Pete’s work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and, and he is the author of two books and over 250 articles on career management, peak performance, and executive recruiting.