On building a fitness community and getting out of your comfort zone

Meet Wes Hight. By day, he’s a user experience (UX) researcher at Xplor Technologies where he gathers user insights to improve cloud-based SaaS fitness products. By night and weekend, he’s a group fitness instructor, international traveler, and photographer with a relentless passion for community and getting out of his comfort zone. He also worked out with Michelle Obama…but we’ll get into that later!

Wes’ journey into fitness started when he was in high school. Overweight and determined to change his lifestyle, he hit the ground running – literally. He began running three miles a day, and eventually lost over 115 pounds. In 2015, he entered the fitness industry by landing a job at lululemon and then moved to Barry’s Bootcamp, where he ran their Nashville location as Studio Manager before moving to Chicago to spearhead their entry into the Midwest market. After leading the migration of Barry’s onto Mariana Tek, Xplor’s leading studio management software platform, Wes joined Xplor in 2019, working as a Support Specialist.

In fact, Wes’ experience working at Barry’s and migrating their system over to Mariana Tek was foundational in helping him understand what it means to be both the client and the customer, which he now uses to his advantage at Xplor. “While it was a long time ago and systems have developed even more since then, it really helped me relate to our clients and understand their needs. I know bringing in new tools to help your business enter its next stage of growth can be overwhelming, but I have been there.”

In his 10+ year career, Wes has carved out a space in the fitness industry as a double-threat: not only does he have an impressive fitness business track record – he’s also active in teaching group fitness classes. After securing his fitness certifications, Wes went on to teach group classes combining strength training and cycling. Today, he teaches high intensity training interval classes three times a week at Ripped in Philadelphia. His commitment to fitness even led to a run-in with former First Lady Michelle Obama herself. “I have worked out with her, literally sprinting next to her, and we fist bumped after each tread and weight set! She’s a fascinating human and motivates people beyond words!”

Both in his work at Xplor and in fitness instructing, Wes says the main motivation comes down to helping people succeed. “Whether personal or professional, I know I have a role to play in sharing my knowledge to help people meet their goals,” he says. “In my fitness classes, I always coach people to try something new. You don’t have anything to lose. My grandfather was an entrepreneur and wasn’t afraid to take risks, which has inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things.”

Wes finds that the lessons he learns in teaching fitness overlap with his work at Xplor. One common thread between the two is the importance of community. “Community is huge and its why people stay or come back. Whether that’s for me among my team or in the classes I teach, creating lasting communities is so important!” Another common theme he sees in both areas of work is the challenge and strategy around customer retention. “We’re always thinking about how to get new clients in the door and retain those clients,” he says. “With people having options like Classpass or Gympass, and virtual fitness options available to them, how can we capture people’s interest, get them to try something new, and then turn them into a happy loyal customer?”

When asked what he enjoys most about working at Xplor, Wes says that he appreciates how Xplor values people, by giving them the opportunities to grow and expand their skill set. “As I transition now to my new role, I never thought I’d have a chance to become a UX Researcher, but I took a risk and here we are!” Wes also wants to make sure that as he grows into his role, his customers and fellow Xplorers have the tools and resources they need for success. “Whether that’s being a sounding board, sharing some knowledge or best practice advice, or using what I’ve learnt managing a studio and running group fitness classes – I am here to help in any way that I can.”

Beyond his passion for community and fitness, Wes loves spending time with his two labradoodles and partner who’s a flight attendant – a delightful perk for Wes, who loves to explore and travel. In everything he pursues, Wes always comes back to his driving belief about the importance of seizing the opportunities that come your way.

“Get out of your comfort zone. Try new things. You don’t have anything to lose. I remind myself of this all the time. It’s never great to be comfortable for too long. You grow as an individual by challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. Go on – do it!”

Article by Xplor Technologies

First published: May 12 2022

Last updated: May 20 2024