The Bottom Line: 10 Questions with Michele Wong
Ten questions with Michele Wong, the vice president of operations for Active Wellness.
1. What drew you to the health and fitness industry? When I was 15-years-old I started caring for my grandmother, who was suffering from congestive heart failure after having a heart attack and triple bypass. It was very difficult to watch her struggle with her health and try and get her to adopt healthier habits so late in life. The experience motivated me personally to take better care of myself at an age when most young people think they’re invincible to chronic disease.
2. What do you love most about your job? I love knowing that I can make a positive impact on people’s lives. In the early part of my career I had opportunities each day to coach people through their personal fitness and wellness journeys. Now I do that for the most part indirectly, through our team.
3. What is one accomplishment you’re most proud of? I am proud of the team I have built at Active and that I have been able to retain and develop a very talented group of people. They really know each other’s strengths and rely on each other to get things done.
4. What do you love most about Active Wellness? I love our culture. In every organization there is a hierarchy, but we aren’t a top-down type of organization. We believe in challenging the status quo to improve and encourage great ideas to bubble up from every level of the organization.
5. What is one lesson you’ve learned that other health club professionals can learn from? Hiring right and training and development has to be a top priority. Facilities and equipment aren’t enough to retain members. Connection to people and exceptional experiences are just as important, and for Active as a management service company, there is nothing more important. Competition is no longer just the brick-and-mortar facilities, due to growing access to fitness apps and streaming on-demand classes. Our teams need to be working on building meaningful relationships with members and delivering personalized experiences if we want people to show up to our facilities in lieu of more convenient options.
6. What is one key thing you think Active Wellness does great? As a management services company we have to be highly adaptable in different types of delivery models and in different markets. We’re in over 50 locations and no two look alike or offer the same exact programming. What is consistent about our sites is the focus on safety, member experience and building community.
7. How would you describe your leadership style, and why do you prefer to lead that way? Recently one of my colleagues said to me that she saw me as the velvet hammer and I took that as a huge compliment. Building personal connections with our team is important to me, but I believe the team knows and respects that my feelings would never keep me from making decisions in the best interest of the organization.
8. Is fitness personally important to you? My workout time is usually the one hour of the day that’s all about doing something for me. Being a working mom there is always something that needs to get done. I find my workout time is when I am able to not focus on all of the demands of my busy life.
9. If you weren’t at your current job, what occupation would you have? If I wasn’t in the fitness industry or at my current job I think I would still want a career that helped people maintain their health. I think I’d be doing something related to nutrition.
10. Tell us one fun fact about yourself that others may not know. My kids and I have a recipe book we started years ago and continue to add to it as we try new things. These are all recipes we’ve come up with through experimenting with healthy cooking.