A promise made to TMC employees leads to a true investment in their health

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TMC’s Optimal Results Fitness and Wellness Center is where the hospital’s operating rooms were located before they moved to the new Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower

You could consider a new place a success when it’s barely been broken in, and expansion plans are already underway.

That’s exactly what’s happening at Tucson Medical Center’s Optimal Results gym.

The fitness facility was the brainchild of TMC President & CEO Judy Rich.  She told staff at an employee forum early last year that if they could reduce their health care claims by $500,000, she would build them a gym on campus.

Employees reduced their claims, and Rich made good on her promise. 

But that’s just where the story begins.

When TMC’s new Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower opened up in May 2013, the newly vacated operating suites in the main part of the hospital sat empty, providing ample space for the project: 5,000 square feet.

TMC Vice President, Community Benefit Division, Julia Strange, took over the reins for the project, and assembled a group of about two dozen employees who created the Gym Committee.  The group tackled things like membership, equipment, and policy/procedures.

Renovations began in June, and by September, Optimal Results was open for business, with an employee membership costing just $12 a month. 

TMC Employee Wellness Specialist Amy Mattox was brought on board to make sure the place was comfortable – yet inspiring – for all employees.  It’s a role she embraces with an extensive personal training background and experience working with people of all ages and fitness levels.  “We’re targeting a lot of people who haven’t been in an exercise facility for a very long time.  We’re trying to encourage these people to take control of their wellness and try fitness again.  At the same time, we’re trying to provide regular gym-goers with a clean place that features state-of-the-art equipment in which they can continue to challenge themselves.  We want to make getting in shape convenient for everyone.”

Speaking of convenience, Optimal Results is open 24/7 – perfect for staff who work early morning, night, or overnight hours.  For Judy Lesson, a Lead Transcriptionist who’s been with TMC for 20 years, it could not be any easier to incorporate exercise into her day.  “The gym is about two feet from where I work, so I really don’t have an excuse not to go,” she laughed. 

Judy Lesson TMC Lead Transcriptionist

Judy Lesson
TMC Lead Transcriptionist

Lesson’s lunch hour is now spent on the treadmill, doing strength training, or taking a group exercise class.  “I’ve done jazzercise for 30 years.  I’ve never been part of a traditional gym, so this is all new for me,” she said.  “I love doing different things, and I think every employee should consider taking advantage of what’s available to us.  It’s truly a win-win for everyone.”

Lesson is one of more than 600 employees who have become members in the two short months the gym has been open – a number that continues to grow – and continues to surprise Mattox.  “Membership is way higher than we thought it would be at this point.  We thought we’d be at 300, maybe 400 people by now – so to have 600 employees sign on to swipe their badge, and get ready to sweat – it’s fantastic,” she said.  “Employees are always surprised by how well equipped Optimal Results is.  I think people thought it was going to be similar to a small hotel gym.  When they come in and see how big it is, and see the amazing equipment we have, they get very excited very quickly.”

The synergy machine provides a Crossfit-style workout

The synergy machine provides a Crossfit-style workout

For now, the gym has two cardio rooms with treadmills, elliptical machines and bikes, as well as a full free weight area.  There are plate loaded weights for strength training, as well as a room with stacked weights – in order to accommodate everyone.  There’s also a roomy multipurpose area where group classes happen, including yoga, Zumba, core class, and spin.  Another room has a large synergy machine in it.  “We’ve started a circuit class using this machine in which people get a Crossfit type workout,” said Mattox. 

Another weight lifting area will be created with the 700 square feet that will be added early next year.

Spin classes are popular among employees

Spin classes are popular among employees

“The best part is seeing so many people come in who haven’t used a fitness facility in many years, and being inspired to try exercise again – that’s enough for me,” said Mattox.  “These are people who – if this gym wasn’t right here for them, they would never go down the street and sign up at a traditional gym.  By providing this, and making it a perk of employment, we’re encouraging them to step outside the box a little bit.  They’re now making physical activity part of their daily routine, they’re healthier and happier for it, and they’re having a blast.”

It’s that enthusiasm that Mattox and other TMC leadership hope will spread like wildfire across the Tucson community.  They’re optimistic that by leading the way, and encouraging wellness among the 3,000+ employees at TMC, it will inspire Southern Arizonans to take control of their health, focus on preventative care, and get moving.


  1. Take small steps in setting your goals and don’t get ahead of yourself. It’s easier to break up goals this way and actually achieve them.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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