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The Dream Team: Active Wellness Update, Part 1

Active Wellness Leadership Team

In March 2015, the Active Sports Clubs’ leadership team appeared on the cover of Club Solutions Magazine, before the company’s transition to Active Wellness.

Since the cover story, much has changed at the company in addition to the name change, such as a partnership with St. Joseph Health and the launch of a number of exciting new initiatives and projects.

Here, Bill McBride, co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness, and Jill Kinney, co-founder and chairman of Active Wellness, discuss key changes, and what’s ahead for the company.

This is Part 1 in a four-part series discussing key changes and projects at Active Wellness.


CS: How has Active Wellness evolved as a team over the last couple of years since the Dream Team cover story?

BM: I believe the level of trust and respect for each other’s contributions and approach has continued to evolve, mature and grow. There is a unity in knowing that each team leader has the other’s back. We work as one. We make each other better. When you don’t have to battle with trust issues and office politics, you can be much more productive and have a much more fulfilling work experience. I believe our team operates with this paradigm.

JK: We’ve enhanced our project management and communication skills. They were pretty good before, but they are even better now. I think we also have a tightened, unified vision of where we want to take the company. We were moving so quickly before that we didn’t have time to plan. We do now.

CS: How did the partnership with St. Joseph come about?

BM: The partnership began when St. Joseph Health (SJH) hired Active to manage one of their medical fitness centers in Napa (Synergy Medical Fitness Center owned by Queen of The Valley Hospital). We subsequently got to know one another and found our values and goals of positively impacting the health, wellness and fitness levels of the communities we serve, were just about identical. SJH later made a significant minority investment in Active Wellness, so they became an investor/owner in addition to our strategic partnership.

CS: Why is the partnership significant? What impact has it had on Active Wellness and the team?

Bill McBride

Bill McBride

BM: The partnership is significant because while there are many hospital-owned medical fitness centers, there aren’t any healthcare systems that have a significant stake in a fitness and wellness services management company. SJH invested in their commitment to unify healthcare with preventative lifestyle management that reaches far beyond hospitals and fitness centers.

JK: Having the third largest healthcare company in the country as our partner gives us a unique understanding of the changing healthcare space and the opportunities for advancing the role of fitness and wellness. The team has grown and gained a lot of expertise in working with healthcare systems. Our competency and skill set in managing medical fitness facilities is now unparalleled to anyone operating within our industry. We have created a very strong core competency in the medical wellness and fitness space.

CS: By how much did this expand your reach?

BM: St. Joseph Health purchased the Petaluma, California location that we managed for a separate investment group under our commercial health club brand Active Sports Clubs, and today still manage under their Synergy brand in Northern California.

Jill Kinney

Jill Kinney

Additionally, we are currently working on a new site re-development project in Santa Rosa, and recently partnered with SJH and The Irvine Company on a very unique model that offers a Wellness Corner (retail medical with lifestyle solutions), a multi-site tenant fitness facility and The Zone Group Training Studio Model, developed by Active.

Our partnership with St. Joseph Health has led to doing quite a bit of work with The Irvine Company in their residential and corporate properties. Recently St. Joseph Health merged with Providence Health, making them now the third largest health care system in the U.S. We are beginning further discussions with Providence on management site expansion, primarily in the Pacific Northwest.

JK: We’d been operating medical fitness centers before, but our partnership with St. Joseph Health has allowed us to develop new models that are a cross-over from traditional fitness center to corporate and community wellness. We’ve just scratched the surface and are expecting this partnership not only brings new management opportunities directly to Active, but will allow us to grow our range of services and operations for other clients.

CS: What is your vision for Active Wellness’ future? What can we expect to see?

BM: We set out to build a great company doing work we are passionate about on a rock solid foundation: people. I believe we hire the best in the industry who every day operate with heart, compassion and authenticity. Each of us is passionately drawn to our mission of improving the lives of others, and we know that if we approach every decision and action with making our people feel better to remain engaged each day, then results will follow for our members and clients.

JK: We’re planning to grow the business significantly over the next few years and position ourselves as the premiere fitness and wellness management services company.

CS: What else would you like to share about Active Wellness (overall) you think other club operators would be interested in knowing?

BM: There is no shortcut to building something of substance. It takes time, discipline, a strategy and a commitment to doing what is right. We stayed focused during a lot of “hits” against us and a lot of aggressive competitor untruths. We stay focused on our core competencies, taking care to support each other and deliver for our clients with integrity. We are now 2 1/2 years into this journey and have come a long way. We are very happy with our results, but still have a lot of work to do to help change the paradigm of how fitness, wellness and medicine are a part of the same continuum of lifestyle support — not three different, disparate things.

Active has a core competency in managing all aspects of fitness/wellness delivery.  We now have gained a strong expertise in working with the medical community — hospital systems as well as physician groups.

Our business channels that we deliver on our core expertise are: corporate fitness facilities; medical fitness/hospital-owned facilities; community centers; multi-tenant corporate sites that serve multiple companies within an office park; and commercial health clubs.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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