Chief Executive Officer
Industry: Health, Wellness & Fitness
Rich Nelsen is a rare find in the executive world. Never confusing leadership with being in charge, Nelsen strives to treat everyone with dignity and respect. A visionary in the health, wellness and fitness industry, Nelsen believes that instilling trust and confidence in his team will ultimately drive the business to continued success. Leading by example to achieve results, Nelsen makes sure to bring his people along to share the rewards with him on their shared journey to success.
“Your people are counting on you and until you support them and give them your trust, they can’t support others, your business or you,” Nelsen said.
Nelsen, CEO of VASA Fitness, has over 3,000 employees, yet he works tirelessly to nurture individual excellence both personally and professionally in order to achieve the high bar he has set for the company. He cares about people and leads with curiosity, empathy, honesty, awareness and love. Still, while humility is one of his key attributes, Nelsen certainly has a lot to be proud of.
With a strong history of inspiring high-performance teams, Nelsen also has a proven track record in rapid business growth. Nelsen was brought to VASA to lead the company based on his reputation to effect successful culture change while building great teams along with elevating service and delivering results. Nelsen is yet to tarnish his eminence. Many would agree that VASA has always been a great brand, but under Nelson’s leadership, the company has been able to push the envelope through innovation and drive transformational change within the company and the fitness industry itself.
In order to help him lead VASA to the next level, Nelsen hired the talented and diverse group of leaders it has today. One of his strengths is surrounding himself with people who are not only experts in their fields, but also good human beings. The executive team he has built over the past two years is a testament to the idea that people work for people, not companies. Additionally, Nelsen has successfully deployed VASA’s UPLIFT culture throughout the organization - with the goal of uplifting employees and clients in every aspect of their experiences with VASA by staying innovative and making fitness fun and approachable. For these reasons, it is no surprise that the future for VASA is unlimited.
“VASA has a vision to bring fun, innovative and affordable fitness to everyone by rapidly expanding its presence over the next five years,” said Nelsen. “In 2019, VASA grew to 45 locations and it has plans to be in 13 new locations including two new states by the end of 2020.”
Nelsen is truly an impressive leader who inspires greatness in those around him. In the past 12 months he has spearheaded VASA’s profit growth by 40 percent, recruited talent for VASA’s leadership team to make it one of the most diverse in the industry and has evolved a brand that is centered around human connection and community.
“Many of VASA’s employees started out as members, which is a huge testament to the culture it is building,” Nelsen said. “We will continue to lead by creating accessible fitness at a great value while supporting our team with an enduring uplifting culture and strong benefits.”
For his visionary leadership in the health, wellness and fitness industry and his continued ability to build thriving cultures, Nelsen has been named a Titan 100.
Greatest Leadership Lesson
Your people are counting on you and until you support them and give them your trust they can't support others, your business or you.
We are in the people business serving others, we are not just a fitness company.
Rich spent his childhood summers living and working on his grandparents farm. His grandmother was his hero and she was the CEO of the farm and their family. She could lead with great authority or a soft hand and knew the right approach for each situation and person. She always led with love and Rich cherishes the time he spent learning from her.