Erica Cruz blends her passion for accounting and fitness together as Beachbody’s vice president and controller, whipping the fitness powerhouse into financial shape
Erica Cruz wasn’t initially interested in working for a small company and, compared to her past roles with Arthur Andersen, The Walt Disney Company, and Herbalife, Beachbody was a small company—at least it was when she joined as vice president and controller in 2007. The physical-fitness and weight-loss company was generating about $200 million, had just over 100 employees, and a very small accounting department was performing mostly bookkeeping functions. To say that Cruz whipped the accounting department into shape would not be an understatement and if it weren’t for Beachbody’s intense focus on health and wellness, Cruz may have never joined the team.
Beachbody has nearly 100,000 independent coaches • More than 4 million copies of P90X have sold, along with over 1.5 million copies of Insanity • More than 10,000 people consume Beachbody’s Shakeology, a nutritional health shake developed by the company containing the world’s top super foods • When Shakeology launched in 2009, it generated $6 million • In 2012, it’s estimated that Shakeology will bring in over $200 million In the seven years since Beachbody’s launch, it has increased its revenue by $520 million
“I started my career in public accounting, which is incredibly stressful,” says Cruz, while taking a morning walk around her neighborhood. “I started running to deal with the stress of such a demanding profession and working out became a very good way for me to handle my stress in a healthy way. When I heard about the Beachbody position, even though it was a small company, it was sort of my dream job because it combined two things that I love the most: accounting and fitness.”
A dream job indeed. Cruz jogs the six miles to and from work most days and showers when she gets to the office, located in health-crazed Santa Monica, California. Beachbody formed in 1998, but it has recently exploded in the marketplace. The company’s in-house workout programs Insanity and P90X have become wildly popular, forcing Cruz to think on her feet as she leads the accounting department for a company that is now generating more than $600 million in revenue. “When you have this much growth this quickly, you have to become a master juggler and figure out so many things at once,” Cruz says. “It definitely makes things interesting, but this isn’t the environment for everyone. Some people need more structure, but I like having my hands in a lot of different pots.”
Cruz characterizes her position as a “back-end support role,” but one that is increasingly essential: she builds the infrastructure to support the growth of the company and help it properly function. If the past five years have proven anything, it’s that this infrastructure is crucial, especially as the company continues to grow at such a mindboggling rate. Cruz attributes Beachbody’s financial success to the company’s workout programs and infomercials.
“I know it sounds like I’m being paid to say this, but the workout programs are seriously amazing—and this comes from someone who got rid of their trainer after doing P90X. If you like the gym or dislike the gym, if you’re 100 pounds or 300 pounds, you can make the programs work for you and you’ll see results,” Cruz says. “The second key to our success has been our infomercials. I’ve worked here for five years, but when I see one come on I still watch it. They’re riveting and empowering and inspiring. I’ll be at home in bed and catch one of the infomercials and I’ll think, ‘I need to start another round of Insanity.’”