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Education is a Lifelong Pursuit

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Education is a Lifelong Pursuit

Q&A with Greta Wagner, the executive director and executive vice president of Chelsea Piers Connecticut, on why education is a lifelong pursuit, peer-to-peer networking and industry trends.

Everyone is on the lookout for top trends right now. What has been a common theme in your Club Solutions Mastermind Group (CS MGX) meetings lately?

The common theme has been sharing our unique challenges as leaders. One of the top reasons to join a group like CS MGX is to exchange best practices and seek advice from other operators on how they cope with similar business issues. Together, we create an agenda that is relevant to our immediate and long-term needs and strategy. These can include anything from new business development and sales to recruitment and staff development. Following the shutdowns from COVID-19 last year, we have all been brainstorming on how we can return our clubs to their pre-COVID glory.

What else is trending in the industry?

It has become necessary to change the context of how we pitch wellness to recruit new members and sustain our current membership bases. The world has shifted to a place of needing instant gratification. Weight loss and looking great no longer resonate with people. In the fitness industry, we’ve had to put more emphasis on feeling good physically, mentally and emotionally. We need to celebrate our members’ small successes, while still focusing on long-term goals. As a leader, we need to ensure our employees are feeling great so their positive attitudes can spread to club members.

What are the main benefits of peer-to-peer networking, such as CS MGX?

Having access to other leaders’ great minds and years of experience. This often is helpful in navigating challenges our club may not have faced before, but others have. It is comforting to know you are not alone, and having people you respect to go to with issues makes solving them a lot less intimidating. Another huge benefit is having a facilitator who steers conversations and keeps it moving in a productive manner. With so many opinions and personalities, it’s easy to “go down a rabbit hole” without a facilitator. Lastly, I would say CS MGX gives you a sense of accountability. Much like working out, you’re more likely to show up and do the work when you have it scheduled.

What’s something your group has helped you with?

I have been part of the Faust RT1 — now REX — for years and have endless examples of how the group’s feedback has made me a better leader, operator and person. I’ve just joined the CS MGX group, but I can already tell this will be beneficial for me and my club. We have been focusing on the factors that make up a well-functioning and well-designed club that reflects your brand’s mission and vision. It’s always valuable to have a fresh perspective from an outsider that might be difficult for your own team to see. I am looking forward to seeing how the intelligent and experienced members of the CS MGX group will help to transform the way I think about my club and improve on my leadership style and vision.

Why should other leaders consider joining peer-to-peer groups?

The expression “it takes a village” resonates very deeply with this question. I’m now part of two unique and amazing groups that bring high value to me personally and professionally. The larger you can make your network, the more you can learn and share to keep this industry moving in the right direction. 

What’s your leadership philosophy?

Be grateful, be positive and be there for your team, colleagues, friends and family. Listen and learn from others and pass it along. Finally, leaders are readers. Education is a lifelong pursuit. Continue your growth by making time to read or listen to audiobooks.

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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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