Location: Englewood, CO
*Second Year Honoree*
As a leader, Rich Nelsen believes in being true to the company’s brand values and guiding principles, doing the right things by each team member and being consistently transparent. As the CEO of VASA Fitness, these beliefs allowed the company to pivot and adjust to changing market conditions in the face of the 2020 pandemic.
“This year, I’ve learned the importance of listening,” said Nelsen. “As a leader, it’s very important to listen to the people who will be impacted by your decisions.” According to Nelsen, he and his leadership team have become listeners who take the time to ask questions and really understand how people are feeling and what they need.
“I’ve also learned that doing the right thing matters, even though it may not be the easiest path forward,” said Nelsen. “It has been a very challenging year business-wise, but we did our very best to maintain strong and trusting relationships with our members and business partners. We were honest and timely in our communications and I believe this approach has and will help us continue to grow.”
VASA Fitness has continued to grow with Nelsen as the CEO. The company is adding three new locations this year alone and piloting a new infrared yoga concept. “We’ve accomplished that by building out our amenities in phases as opposed to making them all available on day one,” he said.
Since 2020 was a year of change, the company was forced to reduce the size of its teams. “We were heartbroken to have to downsize our staff, but the leadership team stayed transparent in communicating what was happening and why, and we focused on taking action in a way that was true to our brand values and guiding principles,” said Nelsen. This included providing benefits when employees were furloughed and severance packages for those laid off.
Nelsen said his approach to change is inspired by Ghandi, who said “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.” When leading through change, Nelsen said it’s important for leaders to know where people are starting from, as well as the concerns, barriers, and potential obstacles on the journey. “I then create certainty about the outcome and the journey, not direction, not telling people what to do specifically, but certainty of why and certainty of where,” he said.
For Nelsen, it’s about making a difference in people’s lives – both his employees and his clients. “I want to create positive change for people who work with me,” he said. “Leaders must leave a legacy and take people with them.”
For his positive legacy at VASA Fitness, Nelsen has been named a Titan of industry
"I want to create positive change for people who work with me. Leaders must leave a legacy and take people with them."