When Leading, Remember Every Problem Has a Solution

For Greta Wagner, every crisis is just a problem ready to be solved. The trick is reminding yourself that one way or another, the solution will always come. Move through each challenge calmly, and never be afraid to ask for help.

The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership.

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Greta Wagner
Executive Director/EVP
Chelsea Piers Connecticut

What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?

The fitness industry promotes a lifestyle that benefits mind and body. In recent years, it has been discussed more and more that regular fitness leads to clearer thinking, a healthier attitude, and better ability to achieve a work-life balance. Being able to work in a professional setting with so many intelligent leaders that personally and professionally believe in this balance is incredibly fulfilling.

There is an incredible passion and dedication among the leaders of this industry. All my contemporaries are open to share and exchange information. You don’t find that in every industry.

If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?

There are many paths to success, there is no “one” right way. Although, there are certainly a lot of lessons I’ve learned through the years, one of the hardest leadership moments happens during a crisis. A crisis is unplanned, high stress, fast-moving and frequently new circumstances so there is little experience to draw upon. It would have been useful for my younger self to realize that when you have a problem or crisis, it’s just a problem to be solved and a solution is always available. The solution one way or another will always come. Focus on the solution, ask for help, and move through each challenge calmly, step by step. Find a career mentor and seek advice and guidance.

That was my 25-year younger self. I’d tell my 35-year younger self to step out of my comfort zone more. Ask questions, answer questions. Don’t worry if you are wrong or if you need further explanation. Being engaged and participating is how to learn. Being uncomfortable means you are learning and growing.

What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council?

I’ve spent my entire adult life in the fitness industry. I believe that the leaders in an industry have a responsibility to give back and work on improving or contributing to that industry. I was a member of IHRSA for many years. On a lengthy bus ride one afternoon, Jim Worthington went into the details of the work the ILC does and suggested I join. The work that’s been done this year by Jim Worthington and many of the leaders in our industry is profound and it seemed like the perfect place for me to focus my energy in the industry.

What has been your most memorable experience as part of the ILC?

Working with Jim and others to be part of the PHIT initiative has been an eye-opener. I got into the fitness industry to change lives and help people be the healthiest versions of themselves. The PHIT bill, if passed, will help people allocate resources to pursue a healthy lifestyle, whether it’s an adult joining a health club or a child joining a little league team. Anything we can do to protect and fight for the rights of our membership base of health and wellness providers needs to be at the core of the IHRSA mission. The ILC does this, and the more members that get involved, the stronger the message will be delivered to the elected officials that can affect change.

We live in a consumer society that promotes poor eating and fitness habits. I’m on board with legislation that encourages health and fitness. The PHIT bill will make it easier for children to sign up for their local little league team and help families offset some of the expense for their [gym] membership dues.

IHRSA does a significant amount of advocacy work to Grow, Promote, and Protect clubs across the country. How do you feel that work benefits your business or the industry at large?

Through IHRSA, the industry can speak with one voice and is, therefore, more powerful than any one club or one region. Awareness of what is available to IHRSA member clubs and how to use these many resources is key to growing the industry and IHRSA, which will expose more people to the benefits of belonging to a club.

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Kaitlynn Anderson Fernandez @IHRSA_Advocate

Kaitlynn Anderson Fernandez is IHRSA's Advocacy Content Manager. She uses her experience as a multimedia journalist to tell the story of IHRSA's advocacy and public policy efforts. Kaitlynn spends her free time watching sci-fi movies, boxing, or working towards her goal of being able to do five pull-ups (a skill that would come in handy in the event of a sci-fi-like apocalypse).