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GRF ends contract with Active Wellness, shifts management to in-house


Wednesday, February 14 (1:00 p.m.): The Fitness Center is bringing management back inhouse after the GRF terminated its contract with Active Wellness last week.

Active Wellness had worked in Rossmoor since 2017, first as a consultant during the Fitness Center’s major renovation and later as manager of its programs and member services.

Over the past year, GRF has slowly transitioned certain outsourced positions back to GRF from Active Wellness, including the fitness and front desk leads. Fitness Center Manager Kristine Drinovsky also recently resigned, with her last day on Feb. 5, leaving the remaining Active Wellness positions vacant.

Although not without challenges, the timing seemed right to take back full control of the Fitness Center operations, General Manager Jeff Matheson said.

“Active Wellness was the right company at the right time to help Rossmoor open and transform the fitness program,” Matheson said. “Now is the time to bring the operation back in-house and build upon the programs and services we now have.”

A difference in philosophy is part of the reason for the change, said Community Services Director Ann Mottola, who noted that Rossmoor’s Fitness Center is unlike most traditional gyms. Through the monthly coupon, residents pay for classes, assessments and orientations that they receive for no additional fee. Residents also can pay extra for some classes and personal training sessions.

In analyzing programs and services, Mottola noticed an emphasis on those revenue-generating extras. “Active Wellness is an exceptional company that has a really impressive track record of tilting up for profit-based fitness facilities with good systems, good practices, and the right technology to manage schedules and trainers,” Mottola said. “There has been a little bit of focus still on profit here, when we’re not a profit model.

“What we had to shift this year was focusing on making sure we were delivering those free services, because they’re not really free – the residents are paying for them in their coupon.”

Matheson praised Active Wellness for helping the Fitness Center staff adopt industry standards, develop new programs, and access resources such as the MindBody software that it uses. But there was still a downside.

“One constant challenge has been the turnover,” he said. “There have been four managers in less than six years, along with turnover in the fitness lead position. This has created challenges for staff and the community.”

Shifting the positions to GRF is cost neutral, Mottola said. “Rather than paying a contractor, those same funds will be used to pay for these positions.”

The change also allows for much-needed restructuring that aligns with the GRF’s trajectory of fostering collaboration between the Fitness Center and Aquatics Department. That effort started last year when the GRF Board combined its Aquatics and Fitness advisory committees into a single committee.

With Aquatics already under GRF’s umbrella, GRF can now hire a manager to oversee both that department and the Fitness Center. The fitness lead position will then become fitness supervisor, in charge of day-to-day operations of the team and programs, Mottola said, adding that the head lifeguard position will be able to focus on scheduling lifeguards and running the pools.

Those two positions would report to the fitness and aquatics manager. “Fitness has a lot of synergy with the aquatics operations,” Mottola said. “We can gain some efficiencies in how we operate both departments and bring in a manager who can really focus on resident issues. … It’s an opportunity to provide balance and improve the delivery of our services.”

Mottola has begun recruiting for the new manager position and praised the “seasoned fitness staff” for continuing to oversee operations, while she handles resident issues.

She and Matheson said they recognize that the transition will be difficult for the shortstaffed Fitness Center, which is down two trainers and looking to hire for the supervisor position. One new trainer is set to start at the end of the month.

“This certainly has had and will continue to have an impact on service delivery,” Matheson said. “We greatly appreciate the patience of members while we complete the transition and hiring process. We also appreciate the dedication of the staff that is working very hard to meet the demands of the operation and keep everything running.”

Mottola added that she hopes to survey all residents in the fall, after the new hires acclimate, service levels return to normal, and residents have a chance to see the changes fully implemented.