July 19, 2023
At Fitness Connection, we’re intentional about the people we hire to help you every day at the gym. Because we truly believe in making a Fitness Connection with our clients, we strive to hire staff who see the potential in everyone who walks through our doors.
But don’t just take our word for it. We talked to National Education and Development Manager Rodney Morris to learn what he puts into the job, what he takes away from it, and what sets Fitness Connection apart from other gyms.
What's the #1 thing you've learned on the job at Fitness Connection?
Without a DOUBT, the #1 thing I have learned on the job at Fitness Connection is the importance of family. Growing up, health & fitness was not a priority in the family I grew up in. It wasn't until I was an adult that I was exposed to and embraced a more active and physically conscious lifestyle. Over the years, I have come to learn that family is the absolute most important thing that we have in life. And family isn't just about people that you share DNA with. It's about connecting, bonding, and forging meaningful relationships with people who inspire you to become your best self and live your best life. My family at Fitness Connection (not my co-workers or class participants, my FAMILY) is the single greatest gift of this entire experience.
How do you strive to make a Fitness Connection with people in your classes?
I first started teaching group fitness classes back in 2001 in New Jersey. I'll never forget the day when I approached the Group Fitness Manager at the club I was a member at (not Fitness Connection) and was given the "once over" (I was still at least 40-50 lbs over weight) and told that I might not "be a good fit for the position." Since then, in my life, I have always striven to see beyond the shell of what people wear on their exteriors. The Group Fitness Manager didn't see it that day, but inside of me (beneath the extra 40 – 50lbs) was a person that was purposefully driven to be BETTER and to genuinely help other people. The good news is that I still got hired and it didn't take long for them to realize that I had what mattered: a genuine willingness to motivate, educate, and inspire others.
At Fitness Connection, I try to remember what that felt like, not being accepted, and to create an atmosphere and class environment that truly honors and accepts everyone for who they are and where they are in their fitness journey. That's the ultimate reason why I also created our FC Signature Classes, FC HIIT, FC CORE, FC SHIFT and FC FLEX. I wanted people to know that "they belong here" and that we offer classes that will grow with them every step of the way.
What do you find most rewarding about helping people at Fitness Connection?
Helping people at Fitness Connection is a second chance to make a first impression on another person's life. Even though I have been in the health & fitness industry for nearly two decades, I could never motivate my mother (who suffered from diabetes and congestive heart failure) to exercise regularly. We lost her on Easter a few years ago.
Since then, whenever I'm teaching a class or signing up a new person for membership, I see it as a second chance. Perhaps not with MY mom, but with someone else's mother, father, brother, grandparent or friend. I think (and ask myself), "What if" my mom HAD met someone that inspired her to get started and to make her personal health a greater priority in her life? That thought drives me. And every time I meet a new person at the gym, I see a little bit of my mom in them. And even though I might not get to actually "see it" I know that my time with them just might inspire them to live a better life for themselves and their families. That motivates me. That re-fuels me. That inspires me to keep believing in people and encouraging them to put themselves first so that they can do more (and be there) for the people they love.
What's your favorite part of the job?
I have had a few different roles with the company, from managing group fitness, to running our corporate sales program, and now managing employee education and development. I have to say, looking back, education has always been big a part of jobs I have excelled at and loved the most. It's no surprise, I guess, that I now find myself leading the charge for our entire organization.
Call it the optimist in me, but the favorite part of my job is witnessing other people become conscious of their potential. Whether it's a training classroom or from the stage during one of my classes, that "moment" is absolutely priceless. High-fiving a TEAM member when they learn a new skill or connecting with a new participant after class when they realize "they didn't die" and are in shock at what they accomplished and by what they now know they have the capacity to achieve. Being at Fitness Connection is just THAT.... EVERY... SINGLE... DAY. Witnessing and watching other people "win" at work, at health, in relationships and in LIFE. It's absolutely amazing.
What sets Fitness Connection apart from other gyms?
A lot of folks would rightly say, "What sets Fitness Connection apart from other gyms are its people." And, they would be right. But for me, it goes a little deeper than that. When I walk into a Fitness Connection I feel something... something different and I see it everywhere that I look. It's diversity. Not just in the people we employ, but in the REAL people that trust in us to come to our facilities and work on building their best selves. Never in my life have I witnessed such diversity (age, ethnicity, body type, and personality). And, for me, it's powerfully validating, and motivating, and humbling. We've built something that can inspire people to stand up, to step up, and to take charge of their health and fitness. You don't see this every day and you certainly don't see it at most other gyms. And although I can certainly describe it, it's something that most people won't believe until they see and experience it for themselves. So... come and join us. :)