Gainesville Health & Fitness Centre

Trip Start Sep 30, 2008
Trip End Oct 24, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Drove the Florida Turnpike (Tollway) from Orlando to Gainesville this morning in a Dodge hire vehicle. The Dodge has plenty of baggage capacity, thank goodness, as Ricky and Ramiah are travelling with way more than their share!Once at Gainesville Ricky and I went to meet Joe Cirilli, owner of the very successful Gainesville Health and Fitness Centre. Karen Coley-Cannon, Membership and Corporate Director kindly showed us around while we waited for Joe. The club has a wonderful friendly community atmosphere. The staff are well trained and interested in members. Facilities are extensive, well cared for and well used. While walking with Joe to his car in the car park he was greeted by a friendly older women who wanted to let Joe know she had just recently completed a half marathon. She asked Joe whether he remembered how old she was and he replied "70". The women smiled and said now Joe you know I've just turned 80, then she turned to Ricky and I and said if it wasnt for Joe and this centre she would not have been able to stay so healthy. Joe said to us afterwards that this lady had been a member at the centre for 30 years and was one of the first to sign up when Joe opened. I think the conversation says a lot about the centre and its leadership.The following day I met with Shawn Stewart, Joe's Operations Manager and discussed workforce development and retention systems and strategies. Lots of great ideas to bring back to STARplex.With help from Karen at GHFC, Ricky, Ramniah and I visited the University of Florida SW Recreation Centre which provides a range of sports and fitness services and facilities to the 35,000 students and staff on campus. This centre, of which there are 3 on campus, is bigger than STARplex with 6 indoor basketball courts, huge fitness, cardio and group fitness spaces as well as squash courts, meeting rooms etc. Very much a "do it yourself service" without any community involvement or the personalised service found at STARpex.Gainesville is very much a university town and their championship Grid Iron team, the Gators, is followed with enthusiasm by locals. Joe took us to see the 90,000 seat stadium known as "the swamp" where home games are played. Very impressive.
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