As the City’s award-winning Wellness Center rides through the storm of recent bad press, new Directing Manager Nick Bertone said he invites everyone down to get a first-hand look at the operations.
He said despite the recent controversies, the Center is growing and people who frequent the gym tell him they are comfortable there and don’t understand the controversy.
“I would like people to come down and see for themselves what is going on here,” he said. “Everyone that comes down is very confused on what they read. They are happy here. They don’t see the controversy that they’re reading about. I would invite people to come down and meeting the people here – even if they aren’t working out. They can just come and see what we’re up to. We have been in the press recently. But we are doing better than ever at the same time. Our numbers have increased. We have 300 new members in the last two months. People always say they feel happy, healthy and safe here.”
The Wellness Center has boasted about 10,000 visitors since it opened in 2015, and has an active membership now of about 5,500 members. The Center offers everything from basketball to yoga to personal training – and much more, to include nutrition and meals information too.
However, the Center came under controversy in the last several months as management issues and personnel issues seemingly overshadowed the good work done at the Center every day. Those problems climaxed two weeks ago when Wellness Director Karen Avila had to resign amidst questions about the validity of her credentials.
Now, Bertone, 30, is in charge, and he and Human Resources Director Lara Ammouri said it won’t be a big change as Bertone has been the manager of the Center’s day to day operations for quite some time.
“Nick was hired as the health and wellness manager in 2015,” she said. “Nick was also very involved and even while managing, he also continued to train and teach classes. It might be confusing to the people in that he manages and also still is the face of the training and teaching.”
Bertone said he does come from a history of managing fitness clubs, including a club in Dartmouth he helped to operate. That was a private, for-profit club, and he said coming to the City-operated, not-for-profit Wellness Center was a breath of fresh air.
“I used to run private fitness centers for profit,” he said. “It always profit margin I had to think about. One of the best things about coming here was it was a not-for-profit environment. I don’t have to worry about sales or pushing things on people. I can really concentrate on personal training, which is what I enjoy the most.”
Bertone said he wants to bring some changes now that the Center is fully under his leadership – and that includes potentially doing more after-school activities for kids beyond just playing basketball.
Also, he said he would like to bring on some more personal trainers to push the training aspect that the Center offers to residents of all stripes.
That would include brining on another female trainer and a trainer that has expertise in helping senior citizens.
Above all, he wanted to stress that the Center is a good amenity for residents and a friendly place to work out.
“It’s a friendly environment and everyone is happy here,” he said. “It’s a great place to get healthy and stay healthy.”
The Wellness Center costs $15 a month for a family, and $150 for a year. For senior citizens, that is $9 a month, or $90 per year. Personal training features five free visits and then the cost varies by services.
The operating hours are 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.