Business

Local racquet club is pumping up

Bainbridge Athletic Club owners Kellan and Ted Eisenhardt stand before the new fitness center to-be. - JIM BRYANT photo
Bainbridge Athletic Club owners Kellan and Ted Eisenhardt stand before the new fitness center to-be.
— image credit: JIM BRYANT photo

The Meadowmeer facility will become a fitness club.

For 14 years, the Bainbridge Island Racquet Club has successfully matched up tennis players.

Now as the Bainbridge Athletic Club, the Meadowmeer facility hopes to plug others into fitness.

“Integrating people is a huge part of what we do,” said Ted Eisenhardt, Bainbridge Athletic Club owner. “People want to connect. We’re creating spaces and a program that makes that a slam dunk.”

Its success as a tennis and racquetball club is paving the way for a full fitness facility that will open in May, fully integrating the existing indoor courts and adding 14,000 square feet with all the amenities of a fitness center.

Last fall, the existing ball court surfaces, lighting and wall and ceiling treatments were redone. Come May, the viewing deck above the tennis courts will be extended and connect the existing structure to the new building boasting a reception area with juice bar and lounge on the ground floor.

New to the facility will be group exercise classes with yoga, Pilates, step class, fit ball and stretching; child care; steam room and sauna; massage room; and new locker rooms. Individual memberships for fitness are $49 a month or $107 a month with tennis included. There are memberships for couples and families as well.

Even as a full gym, the management doesn’t see the club as competing so much with the downtown facilities as reaching out to those who aren’t in any fitness program.

Shelly Stockman, the club’s general manager, estimates that just 15 percent of islanders are members of a gym; BAC’s goal is to improve the overall fitness of everyone.

Stockman says the athletic club will provide programs for kids, seniors and make it easy and fun for all ages and levels. Fun is key to keeping people coming, she said, and engaging kids and teens will bring mom and dad in, keeping everyone healthy.

“There are huge number of people not involved in fitness, and we would like to offer them an opportunity to be included,” Eisenhardt agreed. “We want to apply what we’ve done with tennis for all levels of players, competitive or not, and in an inclusive family environment.”

Longtime business manager Cheri Greené says the club is also a good venue for newcomers to meet people playing tennis and stop for a coffee together afterwards.

“It’s a place where people can pull together,” she said. “What’s great is when you have 12 people sitting around a table talking politics.”

The hardest part of a fitness program, club officials say, is getting started. Some are intimidated by the fit people who frequent gyms.

“We have to go to them,” Stockman said. “There are very simple ways to take the first step and then progress to more and more. Our goal here is to simplify it for people.”

One way they hope to ease people into a routine is the online ActivTrax program included in the membership. The program formulates different workouts for each session based on the user’s goals, whether it’s getting fit or training for a triathlon; their physical condition – age, bad knee – and previous workouts completed.

“The first steps have the most dramatic impact. Going from zero to something is the single biggest thing a person can do for themselves,” Eisenhardt said.

If coming to the athletic club is fun, that distracts people from seeing exercise as a chore, Stockman says. Her active parents used a similar tactic with her as a child.

“It wasn’t an option to come home and sit in front of the TV,” Stockman said. “We’d go get ice cream (but her parents would say) ‘We’re walking.’”

For Eisenhardt, his competitive streak and early successes kept him hooked on basketball and tennis. When he bought the club 14 years ago, he was already thinking of eventually having a full fitness facility.

Eisenhardt was lifting weights and working out in the 1970s to supplement his tennis playing before weight training was recognized as a good complement to most sports.

“So when I bought this (club), it was very much on my mind,” he said.

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Club Mead

The Bainbridge Athletic Club is located at 11700 Meadowmeer Circle. Currently tennis and racquetball courts are available. The new fitness facility will open in May. For more

information, call 842-5661 or see www.bainbridgeathleticclub.com.

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