Say hi to Karen Santini, the Fitness & Wellness Manager at The Atlantic Club in NJ. Karen is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and a former Division 1 Gymnast at Kent State University. She has a BS in Corporate Fitness and 30 years of fitness management experience.
We caught up with Karen recently and here’s what she had to say…
What do you enjoy the most about your work? I love helping members to incorporate exercise into their daily routine which in turn will help them live longer, healthier lives!
What has been your favorite initiative at the The Atlantic Club?
When I was hired in July 2023, I was given the opportunity to help grow our Medical Fitness and Small Group programs. I love seeing our personal trainers spread their knowledge of exercise to our members, while the trainers’ inspire our members to challenge themselves in ways they did not think were possible.
What led you to choose this field?
I was a very active child and my mother decided that getting me involved in a sport might help with all of my excess energy. So I was enrolled into gymnastics and I took to the sport very quickly. I continued to excel at gymnastics and diving from kindergarten through to college. However, growing up I observed a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. My parents, aunts, uncles, cousins all developed diabetes and my mother died at a very young age of heart disease. My father lived much longer than my mother, however he suffered from uncontrolled diabetes which lead into kidney disease and eventually a requirement of kidney dialysis three times per week, five times a week, until he passed last year.
Over the years, I observed all of the negative health issues with my relatives and their premature deaths’ which made me realize that I did not want to follow that path. I wanted everyone to know how amazing you can feel when you live a healthy lifestyle. I want to inspire as many people to incorporate exercise into their lives and to show them how their quality of life can be extended through exercise and a healthy lifestyle. To this day, my past family experiences are what drive me to help others.
What one piece of advice would you give to those just coming into this field of medical fitness?
Most people who get into the medical fitness field need to remember to put themselves in the shoes of the people that we are trying to help. Not everyone likes to exercise, not everyone feels
comfortable in a gym setting and not everyone believes that they can feel better or stick with a workout routine. Always providing positive feedback and encouragement since it will go a long way. Small victories should be celebrated with our participants. If we can get people to incorporate exercise into their lives on a daily basis and educate them on the benefits of exercise, then that is always a step in the right direction.
Why did your facility become a member of the Medical Fitness Association? The Atlantic Club Mission statement is expanding wellness and extending life! Our President and COO has been involved in the early years of medical fitness movement and has worked hard to make medical wellness part of commercial fitness center. I believe that we have made, and continue to make, a difference in the future blend of commercial and medical fitness facilities.
What did your facility gain by becoming certified by the Medical Fitness Association?
We have been able to help improve the lives of members and non-members who are suffering from arthritis issues, cancer, Parkinson’s and Diabetes. We provide a safe, caring and motivational environment where participants can continue their exercise routines under the direction of experienced personal trainers.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love spending time with my husband, Eric, and my son, Tristan, who is 16! We mountain bike together, go snowboarding and do indoor rock climbing. I am currently learning to play the piano and I love to travel whenever possible!
Are you involved in any charity/community work?
My family and I are involved with the T.A.S.K. (Trenton Area Soup Kitchen) and EASLE (Ewing Animal Shelter and help to volunteer whenever possible. Click on the names of these wonderful organizations to learn more!
Thank you, Karen, for sharing your journey with us and your great advice to those starting out in the medical fitness industry!