A Day in the Life of a Corporate Fitness Center Manager

When we think about the value of exercise, we tend to concentrate on its physical benefits – weight management, and a desired physique. Equally as important are its positive effects on our current and future disease state and mental health. Exercise boosts energy and mood, decreases stress and anxiety, and improves self-confidence.

Together, these benefits can improve your overall wellbeing and impact nearly all areas of life, including your career. Employees who exercise regularly notice improved concentration, enhanced creativity, and greater overall productivity. The benefit is mutual for employers; reduced healthcare costs, less sick leave, and improved engagement and performance contribute to wins for all parties.

Still, more than 60 percent of U.S. adults struggle to get enough exercise. Why? Work, family, social commitments, gym intimidation, and misconceptions about fitness are all barriers. Corporate fitness centers, which integrate wellness and fitness expertise to optimize the health of all employees, offer a solution. A company-funded facility and staffed program make exercise convenient and customized, eliminating barriers and contributing to a culture of fitness and health. After all, employees are a company’s most valuable asset, so it’s important to invest in their health.

Fitness center staff are the backbone of an effective solution, with degreed and credentialed professionals steering the ship. We sat down with Sarah Clark, a Premise Health fitness center manager at our TIAA Financial Services site, to learn more about her important work and the program that gets members motivated and moving.

What are your responsibilities as a fitness center manager?

The main responsibilities of my role fall into five key buckets: site operations, staff management, fitness data and reporting analysis, group exercise and personal training, and collaboration with the client, TIAA. The best part about being on site is that no day is the same. Many mornings begin with a personal training session with one of our members or leading a group fitness class. I teach indoor cycling, yoga, body weight HIIT, total body strength, recovery and mobility, and more – we offer something for everyone!

Mid-morning is when I usually have the most time to get caught up on administrative work. This involves tracking class participation, developing and implementing program strategies, creating monthly or quarterly reports, and preparing for any meetings.

As the morning quickly wraps up, I make sure my team has everything they need for afternoon classes and take my work to the front desk to interact with members as they come in. We have quite a few members who come up to our door with questions about memberships and services, and I spend a large chunk of my day assisting them. The day ends with a team huddle to recount the day.

Can you describe the TIAA facility?

Our facility is beautiful! The architects, interior designers, and our Premise fitness facility design and development team did a great job making use of the space provided. The center features an elongated layout that houses state of the art equipment with ample space for functional movement. In terms of traditional fitness equipment, we have ellipticals, arc trainers, treadmills, stair masters, stationary bikes, and a variety of dual-purpose strength equipment, including dumbbells, fixed barbells, kettle bells, and cable machines. We also have connected equipment, including Pelotons, Expresso Bikes, and a Les Mills stages cycling option for those who want a virtual experience.

On the opposite side of the company fitness center, we offer a recovery space with a hydromassage chair, as well as a functional training area that houses dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, jump ropes, jump boxes and TRX trainers. This area is also home to what is arguably our coolest piece of equipment– a Torque Tank Sled that runs entirely on magnetization so there is no need to lug around plates.

What drew you to direct corporate health and fitness?

When I first started with Premise, I didn’t know I had gotten my foot in the door with such an amazing company, but I quickly realized something was different. In general, the corporate fitness industry places great value on hard work and professionalism from staff. It also prioritizes driving health improvements and focusing on relationship-building with members over revenue generation – something not typically seen at a retail fitness center.

Often, access to equipment, classes, personal training, body composition assessments, custom fitness plans, locker rooms, and more is free to members. The services they receive are not only high value but also customized, ensuring their exercise plan incorporates their goals, preferences, and limitations. The high level of customer service and ease of access to the onsite facility helps motivate members to build time for fitness into their schedule.

Additionally, being part of the fitness team at Premise means that we work closely with other healthcare providers on a holistic and fully integrated fitness plan for each member. For example, a member might be referred to our fitness program after receiving an annual biometric health screening at our onsite Premise health center. As fitness experts, we assist in creating a custom program based on the individual’s goals and health needs. Often chronic health conditions, diet and nutrition, and mental health are important factors to consider when developing a tailored fitness plan, so our staff work closely with primary care providers, dieticians, and behavioral health professionals. With this lifestyle medicine approach, we can address many of the health needs of our members, not just those that are fitness related.

How do you navigate the changing fitness landscape and trends in terms of guidance you give to members?

My team relies heavily on evidence-based medicine and proven methods to help members get, stay, and be well. We serve as a sounding board for people who read about the latest fitness or diet trends, so we emphasize the importance of consistency and sustainability for long-term success. The team also maintains our certifications, which involve earning continuing education (CE) credits to ensure we stay up to date on the latest industry trends. We also work to provide standardized services, such as fitness assessments, to provide the same high-touch, high-quality experience for all our members.

What about your job motivates you?

I’m motivated by the excitement of watching something grow. Each day is a new opportunity to expand upon our product and reach more members in the eligible population. I enjoy the innovation behind the program and event development that leads to greater unique participation and engagement levels. We began as a small team in 2021 and have already expanded our team due to rapidly growing membership and increased utilization. It’s exciting to support the growth of our clients’ fitness program as we work to have a positive impact on the health of all their members!

How have you influenced the lives of the members you work with?

I pride myself on making our fitness program accessible to all members, not just the avid gym-goer. I recently conducted a one-on-one session with a member where we developed a personalized exercise program. Afterward, she made a silly but enlightening comment – “Wow, I didn’t hate that at all.” I’ve worked with other members who weren’t sure how to utilize the fitness center when it first opened and now ask for my help each quarter choosing classes that fit best with their goals.

Many members have misconceptions about exercise, specifically that it must be miserable to see results. Others have anxiety about setting foot in a fitness center for fear of injury or embarrassment. My job is to alleviate those concerns and squash the false perceptions by providing them with education and a personalized plan that is fun, boosts their confidence, and keeps them coming back. Members walk away with an understanding that our corporate fitness center is a lot more than a gym; it is a program built for their success.

At Premise, we help people move more and sit less. Our team of certified, highly motivated fitness professionals at our many client locations across the country help members build and sustain healthy habits, both in an onsite and virtual capacity.

To learn more about Premise fitness, click here.

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