For nearly four years, Matt Vamvas has greeted people who have come to The J with a warm smile and a commitment to make each person who walks through the door welcome and comfortable.
First you found him at either the front desk or the Health and Wellness desk. More recently, he was The J’s membership director, welcoming prospective members and helping them feel that The J is the right place for them.
Now, Vamvas has taken on a new role. He has been named The J’s Fitness Director, and he’s committed to ensuring that everyone who visits the gym has a positive experience.
A native Kentuckian, Vamvas hails from Bowling Green and earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Kentucky.
His first job after college was with AmeriCorps’ Volunteer Talent Center. “It’s kind of like the Peace Corps,” Vamvas explained, “but it’s here in the United States.” The yearlong program served as his introduction to the nonprofit world, and he knew he had found his passion.
Prior to coming to The J, Vamvas ran the Angel Tree program for the Salvation Army, helped get gifts for low-income families and cooked meals for the homeless. “We did a lot of outreach,” he explained.
He also worked for the American Cancer Society, where he ran a Look Good Feel Better group, which helped women who were going through chemotherapy get makeovers. He also ran a Man-to-Man program, a group for prostate cancer survivors.
Vamvas also has a strong fitness background. “My Dad used to be a body builder,” he said, and “he used to take me to the gym with him all the time. That’s where my love of fitness came from.”
Shortly before Vamvas started working at The J, he earned his personal training certification, and while he was working the desk at The J, became a personal trainer. “A lot of members would come to me and ask me for personal tips – ‘am I doing this right?,’ ‘what’s the best exercise if I have a bad back?’ and that sort of thing,” he said.
The transition to membership director was easy and natural. Vamvas knows that The J has a lot to offer. In fact, he and his wife, Meghann, consider it their second home. So showing the facility off and making people feel comfortable and welcome was just what he wanted to do.
Now, stepping into his new role, Vamvas is taking that attitude into the gym and he’s starting out by focusing on member integration, ensuring that every member has a good experience and someone is there to help them achieve their fitness goals.
The first step is already in place. Through the Ambassadors Program, Vamvas matches people who are experienced with specific programs with those who might be interested in trying those programs. The ambassadors might connect a new member with a group exercise instructor or even attend a class with that person.
The ambassador might also reach out to a person who has been a member for a long time and encourage that person to try something new, “maybe even try to get them out of their comfort zone,” Vamvas said.
“We offer a lot of awesome things here,” he said, “and I want members to come in and to feel welcome and to not be overwhelmed or scared with doing free weights or doing machines” or any of the other programs.
Vamvas is also committed to staying on top of what’s trending in fitness and ensuring that The J offers new and exciting programs.
“The bottom line,” he said, is “our members are most important and providing them with the best experience that I can here is my focus. While they’re here, I feel like they’re under my care and I want them to come to me with any questions and provide that warm, welcoming, fun environment.”
“My door’s always open to everyone,” he added.