John Caliri
FirstHealth Fitness   |  Administrative Director FirstHealth of the Carolinas

After graduating from high school in New Jersey in 1985, John joined the Marines and served four years as an infantry squad leader and nuclear, biological and chemical warfare NCO at Camp Lejeune. His time as a Marine shaped his views on life, leadership and responsibility. 

John stayed in North Carolina after discharge and began his career in health and fitness. He spent two years in commercial fitness, managing day-to-day operations, developing fitness programs for members, doing personal training, teaching swim lessons, and coaching a swim team. In 1992, he joined Southeastern Regional Medical Center as aquatics coordinator before being promoted to operations coordinator, supervising all aspects of the operation except for the business office and front desk.  

When a part-time position as a lifeguard opened in 1995 at the new FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness in Pinehurst, John jumped at the opportunity. Two and a half years later, John left Southeastern to become aquatics director with FirstHealth. In 2002 he was named the administrative director. In that position, he is responsible for all aspects of operation of the six medical fitness centers in Moore, Hoke, Montgomery, Lee and Richmond counties. John leads a staff of 200. John has directed the construction or expansion of the Lee, Troy, Southern Pines and Pinehurst Centers.  

John is recognized nationally and internationally as an innovative leader in medical fitness and is frequently invited to speak at national conferences, webinars and other programs about the FirstHealth physician referral program, Exercise Is Medicine (EIM), the business side of running a medical fitness center, leadership, and a variety of other medical fitness topics. In 2011, he spoke at the World Health Organization meeting in New York City where he focused on the FirstHealth EIM program. 

He has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Director of the Year Award, the Don Schneider Award for Significant Contribution to the Industry, and the Hank Boerner Pioneer Award from the Medical Fitness Association (MFA), for his outstanding efforts in promoting the benefits of health and fitness programs and for helping others to make medical fitness programs and services available within their communities. He was recognized as one of 25 Inaugural Fellows by the MFA. He has served on various committees for MFA, including the role of MFA board chair.   

John is former president and current member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Medical Fitness Alliance and has served on various local boards of directors. He helped found the middle school wrestling program in his region and the Pinecrest Wrestling Booster Club and others.  He is also the founder of, and hosts on his property, the High School Football Leadership Challenge and the Annual Golf Co. 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines Reunion. Every year he hosts and facilitates planning and development for Pinecrest High School football and wrestling coaches.   

John and his wife, Ann, have three children and two grandsons. They farm livestock and hay and live a very “outdoor-oriented lifestyle.” John has a successful background in competitive powerlifting, setting age group state records and winning state championships in North Carolina. Although an admitted “slow but avid runner,” John has completed multiple trail and road marathons, including the Marine Corps Marathon and the inaugural Marine Corps 50k and numerous mud and obstacle races.