Meet the Team – Stuart Freel!

Stuart Freel has been part of the team for over three years, and spent the last year working as Operations Manager for the Club. Although you’ll often see Stuart teaching classes, or greeting customers at the Palms reception, he also does a huge amount of ‘behind the scenes’ jobs that keep your club running smoothly.
In between Stuart’s busy schedule we caught up with him to find out more about the vast scale of his role, planning complicated class timetables and his involvement with the Potters exercise+dance weekends.

Tell us a little bit about your job Stuart….
My role is Operations Manager for Palms Health Club. It’s a shared role between myself and Hannah, she takes care of the membership and marketing aspects of the Club, and I deal with the daily Club operations. That can cover everything from the recruitment and training of team members, managing the rota, ordering stock and equipment, club maintenance, keeping the pools in working order and generally making sure the club is maintained to the standard we expect. It’s a vast role!
It certainly is! What would a typical day in Palms look like for you?
There is no typical day! It’s usually balancing emails, making sure the team have everything they need for the club to run smoothly, setting up for classes, writing and updating rotas, timesheets, forecasting, planning meetings with the other managers – it really does vary.
It sounds like a challenging job. Have you always been in this line of work?
I have always worked in hospitality, whether it be hotels, restaurants or holiday parks. My last role was with Bourne Leisure as Dance Captain. I was there for 5 years, before I decided to put my fitness qualifications to use and join Palms as a class instructor. I’ve now been here for three years, and working as Club Operations Manager for over a year.
And do you like to keep fit outside of work too?
I’d say I’m pretty fit… I teach a lot of classes here at Palms throughout the week, and I also teach my own dance classes outside of work. Luckily, I’m pretty energetic. I could definitely work on my physique more as I don’t do much strength work, some of the other gym instructors are helping me to reach my goal with that. But it’s just finding the time! I love to do so many other things in my spare time – I’m always baking, or trying new crafts such as stained glass design. I’d consider myself a jack of all trades, I’m even pretty good at graphic design. I do keep pretty active at home, I like to be out walking and I LOVE dancing whenever I get the chance.

Our members will know you for always being so happy – so much so that you recently won the “Happiness Award” here at Potters. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I like working here at Palms because of the people. It’s such a friendly environment that it’s hard to not be happy. We are very lucky that we have the time to spend to really get to know the members. It’s so nice to build a relationship with the regular members, and get to know them and their families. The front of house work is definitely my favourite part. It’s great fun interacting with the resort guests and our members, and being able to welcome them into the club. That’s why I’ve always worked in hospitality, I’m a people person.
That’s great to hear! But there must be some tough parts. What’s the most challenging job?
Without a doubt, organising the class timetable! I’d love to run classes all day, every day, but because we’re part of a busy guest resort we are limited to the venues we have access to at certain times, so it takes a lot of co-ordination with the Activities team to make sure we don’t clash.
When it comes to what we actually include, although the management team have their input, it’s my responsibility to make sure it runs smoothly. I’m trying to write a timetable to please almost 1500 members, so it’s incredibly daunting as the adjustments we make won’t suit everybody.
Prior to writing the new timetable we conduct a survey for all of the members, so we have a good idea of what everybody wants to see and when, but it’s a complicated process to make sure we are getting the best from it… I’ve been working on our next one for the past two months now!
That sounds tricky. Why not just leave the timetable as it is?
We are definitely overdue an update! The timetable hasn’t changed much over the past few months, although we tweak it regularly it’ll be great to get some fresh classes ready for our members to try! We’re really excited to launch it after the Easter Half Term. Keep an eye out for our brand-new FX classes… they’re going to be fantastic! That’s all I’m going to tell you for the moment.
And as well as organising the Palms class timetable, you’re also involved in the running of the Potters exercise+dance weekend breaks, aren’t you?
I am. We run the exercise+dance weekends twice yearly, and they’re incredibly popular. We run a great variety of classes – from the classics such as Zumba and Block Fit, to some very unusual, specialist classes. We have a huge number of Pilates and Yoga styles on offer, plus loads of dance classes. There really is something for everyone! It always has a lovely atmosphere, and is such a good opportunity to try something new. Plus, delicious meals and a comfy bed are included, and there’s some great evening entertainment.
The next one is Friday 10th March, and for this upcoming break in March I’d recommend checking out the Bbarreless class. If you’re a fan of bootybarre then you’ll love it. It was created by the same person, but this class uses the centre of the room instead of the barres.
If you come along then be sure to pop along to my Strut class to say hi, or try out James’ (Palms Club Managers) ‘Ready to Rumble’ combat class!
Palm Members actually receive a discount on the weekend too, just give us a call to book on 0333 3207 405! Click here to see what you can enjoy this September!