A fitness industry CEO explains the best thing 20-somethings can do for their careers

CrunchresizedCrunch Fitness FranchiseBen Midgley, pictured, says you have to take risks to push your career to the next level.

If Ben Midgley could go back in time and talk to his 25-year-old self, he wouldn’t advise shrinking from a challenge.

The CEO of Crunch Fitness Franchise started his career in the fitness industry at a very small health club in Maine, and then went on to become the senior director of corporate sales at 24 Hour Fitness. After serving as executive vice president at Planet Fitness for almost two years, he co-founded Crunch Fitness Franchise in January of 2010.

He told Business Insider it felt very daunting to transition from the small two-health-club operation in Maine to 24 Hour Fitness, which has 400 health clubs worldwide, and at the time was the largest company in the industry. He said he went in to the job with his “ethics, morals and values” but felt “it didn’t quite match.”

He thought about quitting, but friends of his who were knowledgeable in the business told him this was a great opportunity, and he should stay and learn. “You go in there thinking you know the industry and then you get exposed to all of these things you don’t know, and then you can either get a little bit humble, still keep your drive, and keep learning, or you can sort of get kind of consumed by it,” he said.

And the ability to keep learning was critical. “You can quit, you can quit and go — or you can stick it out, and maybe someday get to where you want to be,” he said. “If you’re really passionate about something, and you think you can have a major effect on something, you’re committed to it, then I would recommend highly taking that risk to push your career to the next level.”

That could be a big move, “maybe going to a company that you really don’t like or you don’t agree with their business philosophy,” but, he said, “taking on a challenge at that level, I think, is a very good thing to do.”

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