Leading a Health Revolution: Leadership Profile – Gail Fast, Senior Director of Contracts and Compliance

Pictured above is Gail with her partner Bob and their dog Evie.

As we surpass a major milestone, our company’s 30th Anniversary, we wanted to celebrate the people that have led us to where we are today. By sharing their stories, their inspirations and lessons learned, we hope to enthuse others to pursue their goals and aspirations, so together we can lead a health revolution that moves the world!

The A-ha Moment
Gail was destined for a career in fitness and wellness management before she herself even realized it. In fact, Gail was scouted by a group exercise coordinator at a very well-known fitness center franchise, Bally’s. She had been a member there since college, and regularly participated in group exercise classes. The coordinator took note of Gail’s natural ability to quickly pick up the choreography and approached her with an offer to learn and teach classes on an ongoing basis. Gail decided to give it a go. She completed the required training and certifications to start her teaching career right there at Bally’s. While teaching group exercise and engaging with members on their fitness goals, Gail quickly realized how gratifying a career in health and fitness could be. From that point on, her interest in the fitness industry grew and she knew it was a career path she wanted to pursue.

We asked Gail to share a few things about her successful career with Corporate Fitness Works. And this is what she had to say…

Tell us about a time in your studies or in your career that helped you prepare for the challenges you face in your role as Senior Director of Contracts and Compliance.
Once I decided to pursue a career in the health and fitness industry, I applied to a master’s program at Trinity College (now University). However, I was missing credits since my undergraduate degree was not in exercise science. So, I went back and completed those missing courses with students half my age! It was a humbling experience however it proved to me that if I set my mind to doing something – I could achieve it! I ended up completing enough credits to receive my B.S. in Exercise Science.

What is your #1 motivator? What are you most passionate about in the work that you do?
I’ve always been motivated by the success stories that either I’ve been a part of or that our Team Leaders experience. Helping someone change a habit is so hard. For every instance where we’ve helped a person make a lifestyle change and improve health, it reinforces my passion for this profession.

Describe the key steps you took in the path to your career success / career growth that made the greatest impact?
For my graduate internship, I worked with Georgetown University Hospital in their Kid’s Cholesterol program.  The program was designed for children with a genetic predisposition to elevated cholesterol and included twice weekly fitness and nutrition counseling for both the patient and their parents. I led the activity portion and worked with a Registered Dietitian who led the nutrition session. We pre- and post-tested cholesterol levels in all subjects and were thrilled by the dramatic changes that occurred in both the kids and their parents. With just 12-weeks of intervention, there were substantial reductions in Total Cholesterol and LDL, along with the significant increases in HDL. The experience made me realize how even small changes can lead to big, beneficial results. This became my mantra (something I still use today) and has shaped almost everything I do.

How does your role as Senior Director of Contacts & Compliance support Team Leader growth and our business growth?
My role as our Senior Director of Contracts and Compliance is to support our business and team in exceeding client expectations by contractually making sure we are successful in what we do. Delivering this service excellence on a continual basis contributes to our strong client satisfaction, retention, and referrals. This has helped us sustain long-standing client relationships, some that have been with us from the very beginning… yes for 30-years! It has also supported our ability to grow and form new partnerships with clients and suppliers that share our vision and values.

How does your role most impact our client’s success?
As a full-service management provider, we focus our energy and expertise on managing our clients’ fitness facilities and wellness programs so that they can focus on their core business. This in fact, is one of the key comments we receive from our client liaisons, as they can trust us to do the heavy lifting and take any added stress away. My role has significant impact in this regard, as I make sure that we stay compliant with government and other industry regulations. I also minimize risks by using tools like incident reporting to ensure we have positive general and professional liability rating scores.

Share a career highlight.
One of our clients, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) asked me to become a member of their Working Group for their Heart Healthy Firefighter initiative. Our goal was to decrease firefighter deaths due to heart attack (sudden cardiac death was the leading cause of firefighter fatalities) through this program. Our work with the NVFC included providing biometric screenings at their tradeshows and resulted in screening over 10,000 career and volunteer emergency service personnel. The program was so successful — I was asked to write a white paper on the project which was accepted and published by FEMA in conjunction with the U.S. Fire Administration. Another career highlight was being asked to serve as an Industry Advisory Panel member of the American Council on Exercise and working with other notable industry leaders on shaping and strengthening their certifications.

If you could share one “value added tip” as Senior Director of Contracts and Compliance, what would it be?
Make sure to understand your contract and all its deliverables so that you can exceed your client’s expectations. Take the time to go through the details in a scope of work, whether it’s a single project or ongoing service. Ask questions and clarify, so that everyone involved is working from the same set of expectations. This is true in all types of business relationships and sets you up for success.

Please share an interesting fact that you would want our Team and our clients to know about you.
I love cooking, especially baking and a friend saw an open audition to be on Emeril Lagasse’s Green Planet network cooking show. I auditioned and was selected with my segment titled, “Let’s Get Saucy.” The “cooking crisis” that Emeril helped me solve was my inability to make a decent gravy at Thanksgiving. We filmed the show at the Whole Foods in Fairfax, VA and it aired in late November (imagine that!). I had a blast and took home all the food we had prepared, including a turkey and the gravy!

Above left, Gail with world famous chef, Emeril Lagasse. Above right, Gail (front row-middle) with fellow CFW Team Leaders attending industry conference in Washington, DC. 

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