Over the years, I have used this page to say many things. Today, I use it to say goodbye.
Over the past 30+ years, Club Julian 24-Hour Fitness has meant more to me than just a way to make a living; it has been a huge part of my life. We mark time with milestones and memories. We measure success by what we have achieved, and maybe more importantly, by the way we went about achieving it. We assess our personal value by how we made the lives of others better. And we celebrate life through shared laughter and the love of family and friends. Club Julian allowed me to experience all these things and more in a rich, rewarding career that may be coming to close but will always be a part of me.
It’s been said if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I am proud to stand before you today on the eve of my retirement and announce that I really didn’t “work” all that much by this definition. And I have many people to thank for that.
Most of you reading this know Club Julian as it stands today, a well-established, reputable, family-owned local business. Please realize that this did not happen by accident, nor by chance. The rapid rise of Club Julian from nothing in the early 1990’s to a thriving model of innovation in the North Hills health & wellness space is testimony to the skills and dedication of many, but the vision of one. My friend and mentor, Joseph Julian, stood for decades as the unquestioned leader of Club Julian and a true pioneer in the fitness industry. We were the first club in the area to go to a 24-hour format. Club Julian defied all conventions by including free personal training as part of the standard membership package. Moreover, Joe Julian redefined the fitness experience for all members by placing service, cleanliness, and atmosphere ahead of all else at Club Julian. His attention to detail was intense and unwavering, and from him I learned many things including that if you take care of the small things, the larger matters will take care of themselves. I am honored and thankful to have had the special opportunity to work for Joe and Corliss Julian for so many years. The Julian Family expected excellence, but they were fair, caring, and incredibly generous not only to me but to all. The legacy of Club Julian will live on long after the doors close on September 9th thanks to who the Julians are and how they treated people.
Another reason I really didn’t have to “work” very much over the past 30+ years was that I was constantly surrounded by great people. The selfless sacrifices and contributions of the hard-working staff at Club Julian over the decades are immeasurable, and that starts with member service manager Rhonda Scarff whose duties seemed to have no bounds and talents no limit. Cleaning Supervisor Jackie Coda was the architect of the “Grime Busters” cleaning crew whose work helped elevate Club Julian’s legendary reputation for cleanliness. Manager Sue Ash exemplified professionalism, patience, and problem-solving abilities on so many levels as she helped keep a multi-faceted fitness facility running efficiently year after year. Tiffani Shema wore many hats during her time at Club Julian and always went above and beyond regardless of her role or task. Maintenance manager Mark Kitzki was skilled, ever resourceful, and resilient in handling all the challenges associated with maintaining a 24,000 square ft. building that operates 24-hours a day. The energy and enthusiasm of wellness director Debby Winter brought structure to the personal training staff and interesting new ideas to our membership. And, of course, there’s Club Julian head trainer Mike Salamon, who personified everything that we aspired to be as a club through his genuine commitment to the individual needs of our members and his caring approach to his profession. Words cannot express my undying appreciation, admiration, and gratitude to these fine people and all of Club Julian’s employees over the years. You are the greatest example of who we were, and what we stood for as an organization.
These big national chains talk about their judgement-free zones and whatnot, but Club Julian exemplified it every day. And the beautiful part of it all was how this happened. It wasn’t because of some top-down corporate edict, brand positioning campaign, or mission statement. Club Julian was a comfortable second home to so many people because of the quality of our members. We simply had good people as members, people who cared about improving themselves, cared about the club, and cared about each other. Our members created the uniquely welcoming culture that made us special, and it happened naturally and beautifully over time. We never really promoted this in our marketing, but Club Julian boasted a year-to-year membership retention rate that far exceeded industry standards because nobody wants to leave a place that feels like home and where they are part of a family. Our membership community had character, and yes, maybe a few characters thrown in the mix as well! But I am sincere in saying that I will miss our members and I am proud to have been part of their lives. All the best, always.
Although this fascinating chapter of my life has come to an end, I look forward to turning new pages in the years to come. I plan to be active, spend more time with my family, and discover new aspects of living beyond the day-to-day routine of managing Club Julian. I just wanted to make sure that before I left that everyone knew how much I appreciated and enjoyed being part of this tremendous organization and having the unique opportunity to share in the lives of so many wonderful people. Thank you, stay healthy, and God Bless.
Mike Savrese, General Manager