10 Questions from NapaNews with Gail Garaventa, HQ General Manager

HealthQuest Fitness Center General manager Gail Garaventa has been with the company for 28 years.

“I love my job,” said Gail Garaventa, general manager of HealthQuest Fitness Center. “I love being in the fitness and health industry. I love the members and my staff,” she said. “I have the best job in the world: I get to help people become healthier.”

Garaventa has worked at HealthQuest since 1990.

1. What job would you like to try/not try? - I would love to be a river raft guide. The thrill of making the right decision on a rapid and the beauty of the river country intrigues me. I would never want to do anything in the medical field. My mother and most of my closest friends went in to the medical field. Listening to the study conversations turned my stomach.

2. What was your first job? - My first job was right here in Napa teaching ballet to tiny ballerinas.

3. What’s the worst job you ever had? - In my late 20s, a friend asked me to fill in for her for a month stocking Hallmark cards at a Raley’s. I couldn’t wait for her to return.

4. How did you get into the fitness industry? - Shortly after my first child was born I returned to my local gym to play racquetball with a friend. While waiting for her I saw an aerobics class going on in a squash court. This was in the early ‘80s when Judi Sheppard Missett and Jane Fonda were “feeling the burn.” It looked like a lot of fun and my 18+ years of dance made teaching movement to music seem natural. I approached the manager of the club and within a year took over the program.

5. What is the biggest challenge your business has faced? - I think we’ve overcome the challenges that a lot of clubs have faced because the owner, Tony Giovannoni, and I have realized that fad fitness is not the long-term sell. Our success is directly tied to our employees. If our employees love HealthQuest, our members love HealthQuest. Recently there was a fitness rage for small boutique or box gyms. We realize that people want to try new things — we do too — so we quickly made sure that holding your membership dues and an easy return to HQ made any exodus less painful. People return to HealthQuest at about the same rate they leave and tell us it’s because of the quality programs and friendly staff.

6. What’s new at HealthQuest? - We have brought in new programming called Stages Flight. Stages Flight is a web-based data analysis tool, with big-screen display that has the ability to integrate with mobile devices. It includes dynamic Functional Threshold Power (FTP) testing — allowing participants to understand their true power — custom intensity rides, GPS rides and even some fun competition options.

7. If you could change one thing about the fitness industry, what would it be? - I would like to see the industry focused on total body health and less on physical appearance and competition. The fad diets and crazy competitions will always be a draw, but the simple idea of eating for fuel, moving your body and avoiding disease seems like a better place to focus for the broader population.

8. Who do you most admire in the business world? - Actually there are two people I admire in the business world. First, HealthQuest owner Tony Giovannoni. I have worked side by side with Tony for 28 years. He keeps his head in his business making sure we have updated everything in and around the building; never falling behind the industry’s ever-changing programs and standards. Second, my brother, Randy Conrads. He is a self-made millionaire with an extensive background in business. We came from a simple background, growing up on naval bases. Randy became a Boeing executive engineer but he was never satisfied working in the corporate world. When he first approached me with his idea for classmates.com I was sure it was a dumb idea. The business sold over 10 years ago and I’ve watched him become an extremely generous, proactive venture capitalist.

9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you? - I grew up in the Philippines, which is something people may not know — until they look in my pantry or see how much my grandchildren love mangoes. My dad was an electronics supervisor for the Navy.

10. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet? - Explore the world with a backpack and a bike.

Jennifer Huffman - jhuffman@napanews.com - July 10,2018

Jasper Trout