Giovannoni helps Napa get fit

Tony Giovannoni said that much of the credit for opening a fitness center goes to his brother-in-law David Troppy.

Twenty-five years ago, “we were working out together and we often commiserated about how there was no gym in Napa that had all the things we wanted,” said Giovannoni.

“We started talking about what we’d do differently and he put the plan in motion.”

HealthQuest Fitness Center first opened in the River Park Shopping Center. Today, the business is located on California Boulevard.

1. What’s a common question you get when people hear you own a gym?

More people ask what kind of a gym, just because there are so many options. When we first started, you either lifted weights or took aerobics and there wasn’t much else. Now there’s a lot of different ways of working out and dozens of classes. It’s definitely diversified from what it was 25 years ago.

2. HealthQuest expanded significantly in 2011. What’s the secret to your success?

We just try and really listen to what people want and give it to them. And do it with good customer service. I think that’s the key.

3. How many members does the gym have?

Probably about 4,000.

4. A new In-Shape Health Club is planned to open next to the movie theater in south Napa. Is there room for another such gym in town?

I think there’s always room. There’s nothing really on that end of town right now. They say only 10 to 15 percent of a community get enough exercise so anything we can do to get that number up would be good.

5. What was your first job?

In our family you got introduced to work early. I remember wanting to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings and regularly having my father drag me down to the family grocery store (Giovannoni’s on Brown Street) and putting me to work when I was 8 or 9.

6. What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?

Staying open through our expansion and remodel. Anyone who has lived through extensive home repairs can probably relate, but it was 18 months of noise and dust, temporary walls of plywood and plastic, what seemed like miles of caution tape and constantly moving very heavy equipment.

7. Who do you most admire in the business world?

For work ethic my late father Ernie and his brothers Al and Larry Giovannoni (of Browns Valley Market). As a corporate visionary, I like Costco co-founder James Sinegal. He’s shown that you can treat your customers and your employees well and still run a very successful business.

8. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

I’ve coached youth track and field for the past 14 years, and it would be great to see someone I’ve coached compete in the Olympics. Three have made it as far as the U.S. Championships, but that next step is a huge one.

9. Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?

My grandfather Augie died when I was 7. He was just a few years older than that when he left his family behind in Italy and made his way to America. I’m sure his stories would be amazing. I’d keep with the Italian theme and include Michelangelo and Marco Polo.

10. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

A lot of people in Napa hear my last name and assume that I come from a huge family. I tell them it’s no bigger than most, it’s just that they’re all right here in town.

Bonus questions for online:

What’s on your to-do list?

If I don’t say “travel more” my wife will probably leave me, so I’ll say “travel more.”

What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: Architect or landscape designer

Not try: Anything that requires wearing a suit and tie

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?

I’d prohibit the annual membership contracts that are so prevalent in our industry. They’re just a gym’s way of saying “we’re pretty sure you’re going to stop coming in, but we want to make sure you keep paying us.”

What was your childhood ambition?

I never really had one and was always a little jealous of the people who seemed to have it figured out. I had to bounce around a little bit before I found something that stuck.

If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

I’m pretty content anywhere the weather and the company are good.

As published in the Napa Register

Jasper Trout