Karen Kiesler, “the face of RecPlex,” has worked at the Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin club since it opened 17 years ago. A personal trainer and fitness instructor, Karen’s focus is primarily on programming for senior members.
“Karen is a team player and always keeps a positive outlook,” said Sandy Wiedmeyer, the fitness manager at RecPlex. “She is always on the search for new ways to serve our members and serves as an excellent example of the benefits of a fit, healthy lifestyle.”
According to Wiedmeyer, the secret to Karen’s long tenure with the club is simple: she has a passion for helping RecPlex’s members lead a healthy lifestyle.
“Karen has been a pioneer in our senior programming by creating and implementing offerings targeted at their needs,” said Wiedmeyer. “She understands their needs, and interacts in a professional and caring manner. Karen is an advocate for our community as a whole, as well as for our seniors.”
Learn more about Karen, and the example she sets of a positive attitude and healthy lifestyle here:
Title: Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer
Years of Service at Club: 17
CS: What is the favorite aspect of your job? What do you love most?
KK: The people! I love helping them realize how much they can improve.
CS: What’s kept you at RecPlex all this time?
KK: Again, I’d have to say the people. They make me want to get up every morning and help them feel the same energy I do from the activities.
CS: What was your “aha” moment that made you realize you loved this job?
KK: Honestly, I loved it before I started — I’ve always been a fitness buff.
CS: How does RecPlex make you feel valued as an employee?
KK: They give me the tools I need to succeed and complete all my tasks every day.
CS: Where do you get your work ethic? How do you keep a positive attitude?
KK: I have always been a busy, involved person in my own circle of life. And taking care of myself keeps me positive.
CS: What practices or techniques do you use to make strong connections with members? Do you have any tricks you use for remembering members’ names, or significant aspects of their lives?
KK: I connect with people and remember faces before names. The very first thing that was stressed to me when we opened this facility was, because it was so big, it would be extra important to remember faces, be friendly and leave your personal problems somewhere else — not at the RecPlex. We were told to “be on stage,” so to speak, which made sense to me. Being involved in a class situation, I try to learn one name a day. I tell them I’m doing it and repeat it three times, so at least they know I’m trying.
CS: What’s the most challenging aspect of your job, and how do you strive to overcome that challenge?
KK: Not trying to be someone I’m not — being too competitive. Realizing who you are and that you can’t do everything for everybody is important too. I pray I can do the best I’m capable of for all those I’m training.
CS: What best practice tips can you share that would be beneficial to professionals in a similar role at other clubs?
KK: Keep it simple — just because you know all the tricks doesn’t mean you have to use them. And when it’s necessary, give your knowledge away.
CS: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made, and what did you learn from it?
KK: Once, I measured an obese person before training, and I should have thought better of it. Members have to feel the improvement before they get to that stage, in my opinion.
CS: What’s one of the best ideas you’ve ever had that improved the member or customer experience?
KK: Starting the Women on Weights classes. At first I thought it would be too much, but as the women have grown to know each other over the years, they support each other in their fitness.
CS: What’s your funniest member story?
KK: I once worked with a woman on her lunch hours who really wanted to lose weight, but insisted on not sweating because she couldn’t go back to work feeling disgusting. Needless to say, that request was short lived.
CS: What’s the best gift from a member you’ve ever received?
KK: I’ve gotten tickets to the Opera, and my daughters and I went together!