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Front-Line All Star: Deb Shook

Deb Shook of WAC

Deb Shook has been a member of The Wisconsin Athletic Club (The WAC) family for the past 37 years, setting the example for what it means to live the club’s core values every single day.

“Deb Shook is amazing,” said Derek Deprey, general manager and director of training and development for The WAC. “Deb won our annual Keith Nygren ‘Making A Difference Award’ out of over 1,000 team members a couple of years ago. Additionally, Deb received more peer-to-peer award nominees than anyone I’ve ever seen in my 10 years at The WAC. We are blessed to have her.”

According to Deprey, The WAC is blessed to have Shook on staff due to the many ways she goes above and beyond to serve members and guests. For example, “She reminds me of an outstanding waitress because she is always ‘resetting the table,’” explained Deprey. “Deb is constantly picking up towels, wiping down mirrors, replacing burned out light bulbs and organizing the gym toys — all without ever complaining.”

Her servant leadership extends beyond the membership and to staff as well. “Deb will clip local newspaper and magazine stories for me about member and team member milestones — she’ll start a hand-written note of congrats, and we’ll toss the clipping inside with a complimentary drink ticket.”

Learn more about how Shook excels in her role here:

Deb Shook

Title: Opener, Manager on Duty, Group Fitness Instructor and Long Time Front Desk Director

Club: Wisconsin Athletic Club

Years of Service: 37

CS: What is the favorite aspect of your job?  

DS: The favorite aspect of my job is that I get to be an ambassador for a healthy lifestyle. I so enjoy connecting my members to a new class or workshop we offer that will enhance their fitness goals!

CS: What’s kept you at The WAC all this time?

DS: The interaction with my members and the strong family culture that exists here at The WAC. There has never been a day that I’m not excited to get up and come in to work — even after 37 years!

CS: How does The WAC make you feel valued as an employee?  

DS: The WAC invests in their employees through ongoing professional and personal development courses through our WAC University educational program. We receive personal notes of thanks, we’re given club services as rewards and we have many other recognition programs. I believe they do an outstanding job of showing how valued we are. It’s one of the reasons why employee retention is so high.

I was the recipient of one of The WAC’s greatest honors, as I was nominated by members for The Keith Nygren “Making a Difference” Award. It’s an award that is named after one of our club owners and the members nominate staff they feel go above and beyond in making a difference in their lives. Keith then chooses the nomination that best exemplifies that philosophy.

CS: Where do you get your work ethic?

DS: As a child I saw both my parents work very hard and give 100 percent to their jobs and never complain.

CS: How do you keep a positive attitude?  

DS: I exercise and surround myself with happy people!

CS: What practices or techniques do you use to make strong connections with members?  

DS: Eye contact, a smile, a name and I listen. I sincerely believe taking the time to learn their names shows how much you care.

CS: What’s the most challenging aspect of your job, and how do you strive to overcome that challenge?  

DS: Missing a cue from someone that needs to connect and it becomes a missed opportunity to help. I try to keep my senses alert as much as possible.

CS: What best practice tips can you share that would be beneficial to professionals in a similar role at other clubs?  

DS: Smile, listen and love what you do!

CS: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made, and what did you learn from it?  

DS: My biggest mistake I made was with hiring new staff and thinking that everyone would have the same passion for working here that I have. I exerted a lot of effort before I realized that it wasn’t something you could coach or teach. I took it very personally when it was obvious they did not feel the same and it was just a “job” to them.

CS: What’s the best gift from a member you’ve ever received?  

DS: The gift I treasure the most are the personal notes I receive from members thanking me for being a part of their lives. It amazes me the small things that impact people and how thankful they are that you took the time to just listen.


Know a Front-Line All Star at your gym? Nominate them to be featured here

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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