Luigi Cacciapaglia, the “outlier” torn between passion, innovation and advanced planning

Vision, managerialism, and innovative models do not fail those who know how to interpret the gym and the pool as entrepreneurs, an inclination that is not acquired by proxy, but cultivated by suitable skills and spirit even more so in our industry

The sports scene is often linked to feats that lead to success in terms of medals, records, and individual or team achievements. But talking about sports today, it would be very reductive to link it only to the competitive phenomenon: it is the lifestyle that the majority pursues and that, also in a systemic key, must prevail to ensure more health and prevention for all and less social and health costs. With this key, the figures that matter are not champ ions or, rather, are always champions, but of entrepreneurship and vision, prerogatives not always common to those at the helm of gyms and, even more so, swimming pools. A true champion in this area is surely Luigi Cacciapaglia, a figure little equaled in terms of ability, preparation, insights and cross-cutting experience. It is people like Luigi Cacciapaglia and realities like Sport Club 12 with its related brands that make a big difference in the industry. Difference that will be even more pronounced in the years to come, unless, also reading the words of such a leader, many owners or managers of gyms and pools get in the wake and row in the same direction to Transforming an industry into an evolved market, in its positive sense (according to which workers, human resources, also weigh and have equal dignity with employers) where they count entrepreneurial skills, the right balance of passion and business, and the ability to interpret the new making “profit,” part of which is essential to finance grassroots and top sports as well.

Luigi Cacciapaglia

For you, in 2023, what does it mean to be an entrepreneur in increasingly converging industries such as swimming pool and gymnasium?

Being an entrepreneur today means having the courage to step outside the box, being innovative, open to change , and being able to shape one’s format according to market demands (and not the other way around). It also means developing sensitivity to everything around you: customers, coworkers, suppliers and the public. The market and people’s needs are changing rapidly, and we entrepreneurs need to be aware of this and interpret it. The swimming pool and gymnasium for the reasons stated above should be managed synergistically as a single enterprise.

Being an entrepreneur means having the courage to step outside the box, being innovative, open to change by interpreting market demands

Experientially, she was born in the pool, with an eye toward fitness, where she is gradually distinguishing yourself as your book “Selling Fitness” also attests. What differences do you detect between these two environments?

In my book I talk about my method that I apply and teach my kids to this day. It is about running the sports club like a business by taking care of the 4 main aspects (which I call pillars) which are marketing, financial management, procedures (delivery) and leadership. The two environments (gym and pool) in my management model have no difference.

In conjunction with my father and brother, in the late 1990s, we were the first to put equipped gyms in the then swimming pools

Our philosophy is to manage the two environments in a totally synergistic way. And our employees must adapt to this philosophy by becoming “multi-skilled” and learning to work in both areas.

Together with my father and brother, in the late 1990s, we were the first to put equipped gyms in the then swimming pools (both private and public), turning them into multipurpose sports clubs. At first we were considered “crazy,” then over time it turned out that we were “simply” innovators. It is now considered normal. In those years it was not at all, and I remember it very well even though I was very young. So many managers (especially in the province of Varese) still work and “thrive” in sports centers created by us and on our ideas from 25 years ago that are still relevant today.

Pools always of great quality those that distinguish the Sport Club 12 group

Interview published in HA Wellbeing July-August 2023 and on wbox.co.uk

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