The first Winters City Council meeting that Gwen Pisani ever attended addressed the topic of a new 24-hour gym opening in town. People voiced safety concerns over a business that would be open around the clock, but Pisani was excited about the prospect of a gym in Winters.
At the time, she had no idea what changes the business would bring for her life and the Winters community. After Reid Tileston opened the gym, Anytime Fitness, and hired Pisani as the manager, the business has been dedicated to providing the highest quality service to its members and giving back to the community.
“They brought a new dimension to the town,” says Winters Chamber of Commerce board member Chris Calvert. “It’s all around been a very supportive business for the community.”
Tileston says that they are, “honored to have received this award.”
“It is a testament to the great work that Gwen has done in the community over the last seven years,” says Tileston.
In the years since the gym opened, Pisani and the Anytime Fitness team have thrown their weight behind an exhaustive list of local causes. They have been involved with Relay for Life, Empower Yolo, Toys for Tots and 3R Rescue, to name just a few. They also collected gently used workout clothes for victims of the North Bay fires and food for the Thanksgiving Community Meal.
Winters Mayor Wade Cowan says “there is likely not an event or fundraiser in town that Anytime Fitness is not participating in or contributing to.”
“It’s just awesome to be a part of the community,” Pisani says.
They are already gearing up for two new major charitable causes in 2018. The gym will be teaming up with 3R Rescue again to host an in-town dog walking program to socialize rescue animals before they get adopted.
Reid and Pisani are also proud to announce that the gym will be funding a new scholarship for graduating Winters seniors. The scholarship will be awarded to a student who is planning on a career in health or fitness.
On Saturday, May 19, Anytime Fitness will be hosting a banquet and silent auction in the club parking lot to fund the scholarship. Tileston says that tickets for the event will go on sale soon.
A community gym
Pisani’s office walls are covered with photos of athletes, posed smiling with their trophies. Some of them are friends that she made during her time as a competitive bodybuilder, many are Winters residents. Throughout the building, there are similar touches that give this Anytime Fitness a unique, community atmosphere.
When gym members wrote in to nominate Anytime Fitness for business of the year, it was clear that they felt a very personal connection to the gym.
“I joined and it has been life-changing. I have since quit smoking and lowered my blood pressure from pre-hypertension to what my doctor considers ‘gorgeous’,” one anonymous letter said. “I don’t know where my health would be without the gym.”
As Pisani walks through the gym she exudes energy from the tips of her Technicolor hair to the toes of her purple sneakers. She checks in with the trainers, Chris Priest and Abby Malmstrom, and jokes with the exercisers.
“We have a lot of extras that I think our members deserve,” Pisani says.
Over the past seven years, the gym has added yoga classes, new cardio machines and a virtual studio where members can take fitness classes on their own schedule. The team’s dedication to creating the best gym that they can for members has put the Winters branch of Anytime Fitness in the to 96th percentile of the 4,000 gyms worldwide.
But it isn’t just the weights, fitness machines or amenities that bring people into the club.
“It’s a great social atmosphere as well,” Pisani points out.
As a native of Canada, Pisani smiles when she recounts the day people came down to the gym to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding on TV while on the treadmills.
She has worked to make the space a gym that was unintimidating and open to everyone.
“We’ve had three generations (working out) in here at once,” Pisani says.
She adds that technically they have seen four generations in the gym before, but as an infant, the youngest was just stopping by.
Pisani says that it is not uncommon to meet members’ visiting relatives while residents show off “their” gym.
“People are just proud to say that they’re a member, and I love that,” she says.
Ten percent of the population of Winters are currently Anytime Fitness members. Katie Laddish, a frequent Anytime Fitness visitor, believes having a gym in Winters has improved the overall health of the community and kept money in town. She also believes that the Anytime Fitness team has done more than just get the town exercising.
“With Gwen setting the tone, the positive interactions at the gym create a broader sense of community which members carry with them when they walk out the door,” Laddish says.
Tileston, Pisani and the rest of the Anytime Fitness team plan to continue on the path that led them to becoming the Business of the Year.
“We look forward to continuing to grow with the town,” says Tileston. “The award will motivate us to serve the community even more.”
When Pisani attended that city council meeting, she had no idea how her life would change, and she is grateful for having the opportunity to make an impact in the community.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” she says.
Anytime Fitness will be formally honored at the annual Winters Chamber of Commerce’s Toast to Winters, planned for Saturday, Jan. 27, at 5:30 p.m. at Park Winters. Tickets are $80 per person, are in limited supply, and must be ordered in advance. Call the Chamber for tickets or more information, 795-2329.