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The Bottom Line: Janet Warner talks Group Fitness

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Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the February issue, the conversation features Janet Warner, the executive director of group fitness at The Alaska Club.

1. How did you get your start in the fitness industry?

My first job was as an aerobics instructor at a small studio. I participated in one of the first Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) group fitness instructor certifications as a senior in high school. The owners of the aerobic studio were very supportive and excelled in their mentorship role with me.

2. What’s your favorite part of being in the fitness industry?

I love people, movement, music, pure joy, and truly making a difference in how people feel. Corny, I know, but it’s true. 

3. What are you most proud of concerning your role at The Alaska Clubs?

I’m rather fortunate and blessed in my role within our community outreach programs. I get to be involved in planning events, leading fitness events and fundraising within the clubs and in our community. We are involved in too many to list, but obviously one in particular is our support of Augie’s Quest. The first time I heard Augie and Lynne Nieto speak at IHRSA in March 2007, my brother Leo was at the Mayo Clinic receiving his diagnosis of ALS. Being able to learn about ALS research and assist in programs for fundraising and awareness allowed me to connect with my brother and now honor his memory.

4. What’s your favorite leadership book and why?

“Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results” by Stephen C Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen taught me culture impacts results. Investing in people and systems that allow all to shine will improve the bottom line and create a successful team.

5. What is the best piece of leadership advice you’ve ever been given?

Lead by example. Be willing to put in the work alongside your team. Pick up the trash on a walkway or in a hallway of the club. Stop and offer assistance when a member is looking confused by a piece of equipment. Be prepared for class even when you’ve been involved in meetings and had a full day. 

6. If you weren’t in the position you’re in now, what job do you think you’d be doing?

Growing up I thought I’d be a nurse, but a year as a nurse’s aid redirected my focus. My first professional job out of college was with The Alaska State Troopers. I was able to continue with my fitness knowledge and experience administering tests and programs for the troopers, as well as teaching classes in the community. A move to Washington D.C. opened up full-time fitness opportunities. I was able to maintain the sense of making a difference and thrive in a positive energy environment. When we received orders – my husband was in the Air Force – back to Alaska, I knew The Alaska Club was the right fit for me to continue making a difference in the business of fitness.

7. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Honestly, my biggest career challenge has been the work/family balance. Fitness is busy and does not follow a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. timeframe.

8. And how did you overcome that challenge?

Focusing on being present and using time management skills to ensure I’m most productive during work and fully present when it’s family time. I also don’t allow myself to strive for perfection, but rather to be effective, a great listener, care for those I am privileged to work with, and of course, schedule family time just like I schedule work tasks.

9. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Invest in technology. Embrace change. I’ve learned this along the way, but my younger self was not as excited about it and now, seeing where the changes have led, I’m so fortunate.

10. What’s a group fitness trend you’re keeping an eye on right now? 

Expanding group fitness to more people — keeping the 10% fitness crazy folks moving and happy, but also looking for formats and instructors that inspire those who need it most. Also, bringing fitness to those who don’t yet know the energy force behind regular exercise and the benefits of a club community that keep you motivated and accountable. 

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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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