Back in the ‘80s, I performed in the musical production “42nd Street” on Broadway. It was exhilarating, and each performance felt like the Super Bowl.
Then a serious back injury flipped the script on my life and dreams of the future. I was bedridden for months. Despite my condition, I became determined to return to the stage as a professional dancer.
For a long time, dancing was my life. And while I was in it, I didn’t realize how my passion for perfection on the stage would impact my life. My time as a dancer gave me more than a killer step, turn, and pivot – it helped make me who I am today. Here’s a bit about my path from injury to EXOS, and what I learned along the way.
1. It’s important to find your own drive and inspiration.
After my injury, I adjusted my training to focus more on safety and religiously followed my physical therapy. One year later, I rejoined the cast of “42nd Street” as a stronger dancer, more in tune with my body than ever. And I also learned something even more valuable than how to make a comeback – the power of focusing on one goal and letting it motivate the hard work and determination needed to make it happen.
My eyes still well up thinking about how incredible it felt to walk into the spotlight again. But my experience made me realize that my dancing career wouldn’t last forever. Pursuing new opportunities always kept me motivated as a performer, so I applied the same mentality to begin preparing for the next phase in my life. I studied exercise science in my free time and started a personal training business, focusing on safer, more effective movement patterns I had learned in physical therapy.
After the curtain fell for the final time, I moved to Florida and leaned on my exercise science education to venture into the field of fitness and recreation. While I didn’t realize it then, my time as a director in the fitness world would lead to a long and exciting career.
I learned the power of focusing on one goal and letting it motivate the hard work and determination needed to make it happen.
2. Foster personal connections.
When I joined The Fitness Company a couple of years later as a general manager, I helped launch the medical wellness division. But I really found my groove when I transitioned into a role as national director of training, education, and development. As it turned out, cultivating a member experience and relationship-building in the health and wellness business was a lot like coordinating with fellow dancers to pull off a perfectly coordinated performance. And as leader, I drew upon that experience to help guide staff toward their career goals and drive members and participants to new heights, which felt like another Super Bowl moment to me.
As a consultant, I learned the importance of taking a human approach to leadership.
3. Take a human approach to leadership.
When 9/11 adversely impacted The Fitness Company, I decided to use my knowledge and experience as a consultant. I founded the Club and Spa Synergy Group, consulting with fitness facility owners and managers to improve their client experience and business outcomes. As a consultant, I learned the importance of taking a human approach to leadership by first seeking to understand each client’s needs and goals, and then creating a plan that truly spoke to them.
It’s this business that helped me learn and grow as a professional and also led me to Medifit in 2010, first as a consultant and then full time as vice president of community in 2011.
My job lets me use my experience as performer and health and fitness professional to inspire and lift others up.
4. Inspire through optimism.
In 2015, Medifit was acquired by EXOS, and I’ve been fortunate to continue my work supporting high-profile centers across the United States. I’m lucky that my job lets me use my experience as a performer and the knowledge I’ve gained working with centers across the country to inspire and lift others up through genuine positive energy and enthusiasm. But I also love my job because I’m challenged in new ways every day.
Interested in a career at EXOS? Look through our open positions to see if there’s a good fit.
About the AuthorMore Content by Bonnie Mattalian