Authority Magazine Interview with Tony Zaccario
Company News 7 min read
TAGS: Company News Wellness

Tony Zaccario of Stretch Zone On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry

by Stretch Zone

Article written in Authority Magazine

Always be a student of your profession: There are always ways to better yourself and business practices, always new things to learn. Push yourself to not only be better but try to seek out new information or things to elevate your organization for the better. Remember, the world is always changing and so is the consumer. Change is key to being current.

The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?

In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.

In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tony Zaccario.

Tony Zaccario is President and CEO of Stretch Zone — the leading practitioner-assisted stretching model in the United States. Established in Miami Beach in 2004, Stretch Zone utilizes a patented strapping system to expertly position, stabilize and isolate muscles, to offer a full range of motion and improved quality of life for guests.

Under Zaccario’s leadership, Stretch Zone has seen exponential year-over-year growth, now boasting more than 150 locations nationwide. As CEO, Zaccario leads all expansion efforts for the brand, including managing franchise efforts and partnership opportunities. He first joined the Stretch Zone team as General Manager in 2016, and was named COO soon after and now CEO. An active member of the community, Zaccario coordinates various outreach programs for GivZone — Stretch Zone’s philanthropic foundation that supports non-profit organizations around the U.S.
Zaccario holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Florida and is based in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

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Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?

Thanks so much for having me! I was born and raised in Tampa and attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where I earned a degree in Psychology. However, shortly after college, I was drawn to embrace my natural entrepreneurial spirit, leading me to realize psychology wasn’t the path I wanted to take.

In a matter of time, I began working for a timber company in Alabama, where I immersed myself in learning more about business models and leadership. While challenging, I rose through the ranks and ended up heading operations for the company.

However, growing up with a family of athletes who valued fitness and health, I was energized by the idea of switching gears and pursuing a career within the health and wellness industry. Combining my skills and passion for both wellness and business seemed like the perfect fit for me — which ultimately led me to Stretch Zone.

 

Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?

Being an athlete myself and raised in a family of athletes, a wellness routine has always been part of my everyday schedule. However, the one person that inspired me the most to prioritize my lifestyle with wellness was my dad. My dad always told me that wellness should not be a category you want to work toward — it’s a lifestyle that should be integrated into your routine personally, professionally, mentally and physically. He instilled the mindset of “healthy body, healthy mind” into me as a young child, and it resonated with me ever since. To me, one important aspect of living a wellness-focused lifestyle is practice what you preach. This is why I designate my mornings to focus and take care of my body and mind before my workday begins.

 

Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?

One thing I can’t live without is water — and you can’t either. We all hear drinking water is important, so it is not surprising to know that without water, achieving your wellness goals is nearly impossible. Water intake, and proper nutrition overall, is an integral part of active healthy living.

 

To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?

Following my first job out of college, I became intrigued on how to develop a better business model. I knew that I didn’t want to work for a timber company for the rest of my life, and given that I have a passion for health and fitness, it was a no-brainer for me to search for new health-based business opportunities I could invest into. Stretch Zone combines my love for health and wellness, with my expertise in managing a franchise business model. It is truly the perfect fit for me!

 

Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

My biggest challenge was the misconception of starting young and the stigma that there is a lack of experience. However, ultimately, that is what has benefited me professionally and the company, as well. I was encouraged to be more agile and more open-minded, especially in an effort to continue being successful for the company during these unusual times. Under my leadership, and collaborating with Stretch Zone’s founder Jorden Gold and the rest of the team, we have had one of our most successful years to-date.

 

Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?

At Stretch Zone, the motto we live by is: we do all the work, you get all the benefits. Our goal in offering a practitioner-assisted stretching experience is to create an experience that positively impacts every person that walks through the Stretch Zone doors. The best part? Stretch Zone’s practitioner-assisted stretching is for all ages from athletes, wellness enthusiasts, students, parents, seniors, individuals with disabilities and everyone in between.

 

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Stretch Zone believes in the power of philanthropy and seeks to extend kindness, compassion and generosity to others. That’s why we created GivZone. Stretch Zone cares…about our employees, about our guests, and about our community as a whole. GivZone ‘gives’ the opportunity for each Stretch Zone location to choose a local nonprofit to support and, in turn, is in charge of leading efforts to fundraise and volunteer for each chosen local organization. Instead of just supporting one nonprofit organization, GivZone extends bandwidth to support multiple nonprofit organizations nationwide.

 

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Integrity:

Being honest and transparent. It’s important to not shy away from challenging conversations. I’ve found that this is critical in being a good leader.

Work ethic:

This is something you can’t teach — my parents instilled that in me. No matter what, I would not be able to outwork anyone around me if I’m not the smartest in the room.

Self-awareness:

It’s important to be real with yourself — this is how you better yourself as an individual and professional. I ask myself, “what are my weaknesses/strengths?” My ability to answer and recognize these has made me become a better leader, friend, husband and father. Some people are scared to look in the mirror, especially regarding leadership, but self-awareness is key to professional development and understanding personal success.

 

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?

Wellness is all-encompassing, both physically and mentally. It’s more than just going to the gym and working out. There isn’t enough credence given to one’s mental well-being, and I firmly believe that having a healthy body lends itself to having a healthy mind — and vice versa.

As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?

Today, the motto “healthy body, healthy mind” has never been more relevant. The majority of people get caught up in their daily lives between work, family and friends, and forget to focus on what truly matters to them the most — their own wellbeing. There is so much value in setting aside uninterrupted time to yourself to clear your head, think and spark new ideas.

 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?

After my experience in a leadership role during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have experienced first-hand the variety of ways the pandemic has impacted people professionally and personally. One thing that I have taken from this experience is learning that good culture is everything and culture is the new currency. If a company doesn’t provide what an employee wants or needs in a career, both professionally and personally, employees are leaving companies with no hesitation. The main takeaway here — people matter just as much as the company does. Leaders need to give their employees autonomy and safety with the ability to fail and grow from their mistakes.

Ok super! Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

Handle adversity well:

Plan your work, work your plan and come to the understanding that nothing goes according to plan. Accept it and adapt to it.

Work hard:

You must work through every obstacle. Make it a challenge to overcome a roadblock.

Find/develop a good team around you:

Develop a team and work to grow internally. Good leaders create leaders. Recognize you can’t do it all yourself. Most importantly, trust your team.

Have fun:

Life is about perspective. It’s too short to do something you don’t love. If you don’t love it, don’t do it. Remind yourself that there are no bad days — only character-building days. Find the shining light everywhere.

Always be a student of your profession:
There are always ways to better yourself and business practices, always new things to learn. Push yourself to not only be better but try to seek out new information or things to elevate your organization for the better. Remember, the world is always changing and so is the consumer. Change is key to being current.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As CEO of Stretch Zone, I truly appreciate the importance of practitioner-assisted stretching and its benefits on improving everyday movement, posture and alignment. My main goal is to ensure that the everyday consumer understands the importance of stretching or, simply put, taking care of themself in little ways to live their healthiest life possible.

We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I have a natural curiosity to learn more from others. I believe you learn at least one thing from every person you meet. Working in this industry, I have had the ability to meet a diverse group of staff and clients that share incredible stories about their wellness journey. Someone I would want to have a conversation with is Gary Vaynerchuk — he’s one of the many outstanding entrepreneurs of my life who inspires me to be a better businessman and CEO.

 

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Connect with me on LinkedIn — here.
Follow Stretch Zone on Instagram — here.
Follow Stretch Zone on Facebook — here.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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