Food to Fitness: My Journey to Western

April 1, 2022

Bianca Jaimes

Staff Feature: Bianca Jaimes

When thinking about wellbeing and how Western staff make an impact on your wellness, I bet I don’t pop up immediately in your mind. Honestly, if I made top 10, I would feel quite flattered. After all, I don’t teach group fitness, I’m not a personal trainer, I can’t hit a tennis ball without drawing blood, or make healthy, delicious smoothies for you. I do hope that I still have something to offer to you, my beloved members.

Let’s back up though, just for a moment. I’d like to share how I ended up here at Western in the first place. Many moons ago, I ran with a whole different crowd, a food crowd. I have loved food my entire life and that may sound silly to the general population, but my parents owned a restaurant when I was young. Restaurant life is difficult to say the least, but food becomes very central when you grow up around it. With parents that work from dusk-til-dawn paired with low-means income, family meals were special and rare. My sisters and I made it through with ramen noodles, canned food, pasta, bread, casseroles, essentials. Special food could be made on holidays or important occasions though, and we could usually pick our birthday meal. We even made tamales for Christmas Eve. Mom would make the most delicious chicken dumpling soup with massive, heavy dumplings when I was sick, which was often due to my uncontrolled asthma. Long story made longer, food meant togetherness and that has stayed in my heart to this day.

Making my way back on track, before my Western life I was at the local Chipotle, hired as crew for the brand-new store that came to Green Bay 9 years ago. Yes, I know all the Chipotle secrets and I’ve made your favorite guacamole that you undoubtedly paid extra for. I marinated the chicken, diced onions, fried the chips, double rolled your burrito, and washed an obscene number of dishes. It was all too easy to fall in love with Chipotle and its culture considering my deep-rooted love for food and the people who make it. Over the course of almost 3 years, I went from crew member to Apprentice (assistant GM) to acting General Manager when the GM relocated. Sadly, my love for Chipotle regressed into exhaustion when 50-hour work weeks turned to 80-hour work weeks with me attempting to do the work of two salaried managers. Eventually, I could tread water no longer and I submitted my resignation notice. A few days before my last shift, I snagged the attention of a kind, savvy businesswoman that was a regular, hoping that she might know a local place in need of help. I tried to explain that I could do a few different things, but I caught on fast and worked hard for what I lacked in knowledge. We exchanged numbers and promised to reach out. A few days passed and that same savvy woman reached out to me and offered me an interview at Western that I happily accepted (without a single clue about the business in which I was walking into). A short meeting and tour later, I was hired for the front desk at Western Racquet & Fitness Club. I am beyond grateful that Western's owner, our gracious Mary Thomas, took a chance on a 23-year-old kid that was completely spent and heartbroken.

That was 6 and a half years ago. Time ​flies, doesn't it? Since then, I have been lucky enough to be with all of you. You've allowed me into your lives, and it has been such a pleasure to welcome you each day with (what I hope comes across as) a smile. I look forward to our interactions whether it's just saying hello, connecting during our day, or your after-class sweat confession. Those moments mean so much to me and I have countless memories of how you've made my day. I appreciate all the kindness and support you have afforded me all these years, especially now that my role has grown further as I've continued onto our billing and membership departments. I anticipate serving you for many years to come, if you'll have me!

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