Distinguished Young Alumnus Award 2022: Justin Montoya

Justin Montoya and his family

Justin Montoya, Distinguished Young Alumnus Awardee for 2022

Justin Montoya attended Highlands University for both his bachelor’s degree in exercise science and his master’s degree in exercise physiology. A Las Vegas native, Montoya hoped to use his degrees in his hometown.

“When I got out of college and sought out employment in Las Vegas, I didn’t have any avenues in terms of health and wellness,” said Montoya. “I always wanted to start roots in Vegas and do as my parents had done, but I didn’t have a career route. It hurt my heart because I wanted to give back to the community that I have an immense amount of gratitude for.”

Montoya said he is grateful for his education at Highlands University. Both his parents and sister attended Highlands and he said the university felt like home.

“I really appreciated the support they were able to offer,” said Montoya. “We were encouraged to get help and I took full advantage of that.”

Montoya credits his professors with his success and gives particular thanks to the unlimited support he received from doctors Pete LeRoy and Yongseek Kim.

“It takes a village to accomplish anything, and that was my village right there,” said Montoya. “I give them all the credit, because I was playing basketball for the university, and they helped me stay focused on school.”

Fitness and sports have always been at the center of Montoya’s life, and he said he wanted to learn about how the body works so that he could, in turn, help others with health and wellness. And although he knew he wanted to give back to Las Vegas, he said he started out working in corporate fitness after he earned his master’s degree from Highlands University in 2012.

After working as a fitness manager in corporate fitness for five years, Montoya wanted to run a fitness business on his own. Following extensive research, he opened his first Anytime Fitness location in Española in July of 2018. He soon added another location in Las Vegas, and now runs seven Anytime Fitness locations around New Mexico.

“When you work in corporate fitness, it is more about profit and loss and less about the people you are dealing with,” said Montoya. “I wanted to promote and be proud of a business that I started that puts people first and puts community first.”

Montoya is a believer in the servant leadership approach and runs his businesses accordingly.

“At the end of the day, all you have is your integrity,” said Montoya. “As long as we’re putting our people first, our members are going to succeed, and when our members succeed, the business succeeds.”

Montoya credits his business partner, Isaac Montoya, with helping him learn how to scale and run his businesses. Montoya also credits his wife, Sara, for his success, due to her hard work in caring for their kids while he’s on the road between various locations.

“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have the time or strength to do what I’ve done so far; she’s definitely been my source of power,” said Montoya.