40 Under 40 The Class of 2013

John Pantera

Director of Franchise Support & Development and Field Consultant, Fitness Together; Owner, Elements Therapeutic Massage, age 34

Pantera-JohnIt would be an understatement to say that John Pantera achieved business success, while also satisfying an entrepreneurial urge, as an operator of two new franchises for the Fitness Together chain in Eastern Mass. As a certified fitness trainer with a nutrition license and an MBA in Finance and Economics from UMass Amherst, he helped position Fitness Together on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list in 2007, its Fastest Growing Franchises compilation in 2007 and 2008, and on America’s Top Global Franchises magazine’s list in 2007.
But like most successful entrepreneurs, he was ready, willing, and able to aim higher. He sold his franchises, moved to Western Mass., and opened an East Longmeadow franchise of Fitness Together’s sister operation, Elements Therapeutic Massage, in 2009. But when he did so, the fitness-club side of the corporation wasn’t ready to see Pantera go.
A new position was created just for him to direct the network of 54 locations (globally, there are 300) in New Hampshire and Massachusetts that deliver more than $20 million in annual revenues. Pantera now supports operators in their sales, marketing, customer service, and employee relations.
Meanwhile, at Elements Therapeutic Massage, Pantera oversees 25 employees, 19 of whom are therapists, in one of the largest massage spas in the region. He said the extremely high and deeply personal level of customer service required by both the personal-fitness and therapeutic-massage industries is a perfect fit for his personality and style of business management.
“Think about it … we’re basically asking perfect strangers to come in, get naked, and trust us that we will provide them with a high level of professionalism and service,” he said. “So the delivery of the service has to be a perfect 10.”
He’s also an adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship at Western New England University, his alma mater, and is involved with the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield and Rotary International.
While doing all that, Pantera has found time to write a book titled All Diets Die: How to Win and Be Thin (for Life). “No matter your age or what condition you’re in, there are some foundational basics of a healthy lifestyle that can be permanent,” he said of the basic message. “And this is how to go about doing it.”
Balancing business acumen with a passion for wellness, Pantera is keeping plenty of balls in the air.

— Elizabeth Taras