IMAGE COURTESY OF ARIS WELLS
Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the December issue, the conversation features Maria Gonzalez, the executive director of ClubFitness Greensboro.
1. What was your first job in the health club industry?
I grew up as a competitive swimmer and playing water polo. In college my swim coach asked me to help by teaching swim lessons. I said “no” because I thought I wouldn’t be patient with children. I was convinced on the condition of teaching just one class. That was my start at 16.
2. How did you get your start at ClubFitness Greensboro?
I started as a lifeguard. When I was hired I didn’t speak fluent English — within four years I was aquatics director, and two years later I joined the operations management team. I’ve been the executive director of both locations for the past five years.
3. What is one key to ClubFitness Greensboro’s success?
We have built a community that looks out for each other in ways that extend beyond fitness and our gyms’ walls. Our sense of connection between staff, members and our local community is quite strong. We care about the success of each individual and help them be successful, empowered and guided toward their goals. We are here to support, lead and encourage at all levels of fitness.
4. What’s your favorite part of being in the fitness industry?
The positive impact we make every day. For many, their visit to their health club is the best part of their day. The sense of community, camaraderie, to feel seen and included, inspired and empowered — it goes beyond the exercise class or training session. Helping others succeed gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
5. What is the best piece of leadership advice you’ve ever been given?
Create a company that is self-sufficient.
6. If you weren’t in the position you’re in now, what job do you think you’d be doing?
I love numbers. I would be an accountant or in finance.
7. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest challenge was moving to a new country and new culture. I came to the U.S. at 20, full of dreams, but leaving family, friends and culture.
8. And how did you overcome that challenge?
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This was said by Lao Tzu, and it’s true. I overcame this challenge by taking one step at a time, being comfortable in uncomfortable situations, and believing I was capable of achieving anything.
9. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Be fearless in your pursuit. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from what you want to achieve.
10. What’s a fitness trend you’re keeping an eye on right now?
Wearables and apps to connect, track and motivate our community via technology.