In memoriam: Industry mourns the passing of Matrix co-founder Ken Lucas

A fitness industry pioneer, Ken Lucas, passed away July 5, succumbing to cancer only a few months after it was diagnosed. He was 51. Lucas, co-founder and former president and CEO of Matrix Fitness, noted once that he had spent most of his adult life in the fitness industry -- selling his first health club membership in 1978. Most recently, he had been the owner of Granite Transformation and Gold’s Gym in Albuquerque, N.M., where he lived with his family.
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A fitness industry pioneer, Ken Lucas, passed away July 5, succumbing to cancer only a few months after it was diagnosed. He was 51.

Lucas, co-founder and former president and CEO of Matrix Fitness, noted once that he had spent most of his adult life in the fitness industry -- selling his first health club membership in 1978. Most recently, he had been the owner of Granite Transformation and Gold’s Gym in Albuquerque, N.M., where he lived with his family.

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In between, he influenced many others in the industry and was an executive or founder of several leading companies. Lucas, who was born in Birmingham, Ala., was a partner and co-founder of Club.com, the national sales manager at Cybex, a partner in Nordic Fitness Products, the sales manager for Nautilus Sports Medical Industries, and the president of Sportwall.

“He hired and inspired so many of us,” said Scott Sechrest, now western region director, Cybex, who was hired originally at Cybex by Lucas in 1994 but hired away by him to Matrix Fitness in 2001. “We really lost one of the ‘good guys’ and architects of our industry.

Matrix Fitness debuted under Lucas’ leadership at Club Industry in 2001. Click here to see an Nov. 1, 2001, SNEWS® story, “Matrix Fitness under Ken Lucas to debut new products at IHRSA.”

“Ken was an intelligent leader whose entrepreneurial spirit and confidence to succeed were infectious to others around him,” said Kent Stevens, Matrix co-founder and now executive vice president, Johnson Health Tech, who was Lucas’ first hire at Matrix.

“You could also always count on Ken for some good wit and humor to help ease the tension that was inherent to building a new brand and company during the early days of Matrix. Ken has a lot of friends in the fitness industry that are deeply saddened with his passing. He will be missed.”

Lucas, a former professional water athlete and life-long athlete, had melanoma that had spread into his spinal column before symptoms of headaches and vomiting sent him to the doctor, Stevens said. He managed to extend the “weeks” he was given to live to a few months.

He is survived by his wife, DelReanne Johnson Lucas; and their two daughters, Presley, 7, and Chandler, age 5. Services were held on July 9. In lieu of flowers the family asks that contributions be made to the UNM Cancer Research and Treatment Center. Those who wish to express condolences may do so by clicking here. You may also share any thoughts with the fitness industry in the SNEWS Chat by clicking below.

--Therese Iknoian

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