To make it to the top, it is said, you must have determination and diligence. If the saying holds true, then John Caliri, director of FirstHealth Centers for Health & Fitness, has lived it well.
A native of New Jersey, Caliri moved to North Carolina during his service in the United States Marine Corps, settling in Moore County in 1989, then beginning his career in the fitness world.
Caliri began work where he could, first teaching swim lessons while also working as a swim coach and then working his way up into fitness management.
In 1992, while working day to day as the aquatics coordinator at Southeastern Regional Hospital, he was named the facility’s operations coordinator.
Then, as luck would have it, a position as a part-time pool deck worker opened at the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness-Pinehurst. Caliri jumped at the opportunity.
“As new opportunities came, I took them,” he said.
Two years later, Caliri left Southeastern and became the full-time aquatics director in Pinehurst.
Caliri has since served as the Pinehurst facility’s operations and regional operations director and now serves as the director for the six FirstHealth Centers for Health & Fitness in Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Raeford, Pembroke, Rockingham and Troy.
And he’s still taking on new challenges.
In November 2012, Caliri was recognized by his peers at the national Medical Fitness Association conference, not only as a presenter but also as the organization’s chair-elect. After two years in that post, he will automatically become chair of the Medical Fitness Association Board of Directors.
While at the recent national conference, Caliri told his audience that medical fitness centers must “think outside the box” in order to help everyone in their communities achieve a physically active lifestyle.
“Our goal as a medical fitness facility is to help our members prevent acute care and stay healthy,” said Caliri. “Here at FirstHealth, we fall into the continuum of care.”
Caliri believes it is the individual’s responsibility to take care of his/her physical health. That’s why FirstHealth provides fitness centers in six locations — to help keep the people FirstHealth serves as healthy as possible.
“FirstHealth serves in regions that otherwise may not have access to a fitness facility,” Caliri said. “We integrate our services, innovative services at that, and all of our facilities and our staff are always trying new things.”
The services provided by the FirstHealth fitness centers are in the forefront of North Carolina medical facilities with such programs as Exercise is Medicine, CrossFit and a competitive race series. Select facilities also offer physical therapy and cardiac rehab.
Because the fitness centers are medical based, all of their programs are under the supervision of a physician.
“The fitness centers are a major part of this health care organization,” he said. “Having the trust and faith of the administration to be innovative, try new things and push the role of an active lifestyle has made the journey very rewarding.”