For Ted and Kellan Eisenhardt, life on Bainbridge Island has always revolved around the sports fitness business they have operated at Meadowmeer Golf and Country Club. And after 17 years, the commitment continues to proliferate.
Their venture has had several manifestations since 1991 and it is now evolving into a multifaceted “gym” that offers a variety of fitness opportunities for islanders of all ages – from kindergartners to octogenarians.
The Eisenhardts are a few weeks away from completing an ambitious expansion that will coincide somewhat with them terminating their contract on Sept. 30 with the Pavilion, where he has operated his “Xpress” gym during the last two years.
Eric Fredricks, a co-owner and manager of the Bainbridge Pavilion, said beginning on Oct. 1 he will manage the fitness facility as a “no-frills” gym. (See related story.)
The Bainbridge Athletic Club’s focus has gradually broadened since Ted, a tournament and tennis club pro who grew up in the Seattle area, moved to the island from California with Kellan and their two boys to own and operate the Bainbridge Racquet Club at Meadowmeer. The early emphasis was on providing indoor courts for tennis players and Ted’s love of teaching the game – especially to the island’s youngsters.
It took 14 years to realize their goal, but the Eisenhardts and partner/general manager Shelly Stockman expanded the existing facility in 2005 and renamed it the Bainbridge Athletic Club. This second expansion will allow an increase in the number of members without causing congestion in the workout and weight rooms.
The new club, which is expected to be completed in late October, will feature: four separate training studios with the two largest capable of comfortably holding up to 40 people; a cycling studio with about 30 bikes available; two weightrooms (a combined 5,000 square feet), including a new, large space with 25 “selectorize” machines and a dedicated area for circuit training; a massage studio, open seven days a week; a physical therapy room; and the existing five indoor tennis courts.
“With the expansion,” Eisenhardt said, “we will be able to keep it spacious and not crowded. The peak period is during weekday mornings and we will have several hundred people go through here in a day.
“But we’ll try to manage it so the members have a good experience, that it’s the best part of their day,” he continued. “We want it to be invigorating and not just a place to find equipment.”
Considering how long the Eisenhardts have been at Meadowmeer, the gradual flow toward the latest expansion has allowed them to build a strong partnership with the community and a full-service fitness business. In other words, they know what they’re doing.
“We’ve been well-received here and we have a tremendous staff (70 employees),” Eisenhardt said. “We like the community. The people are sophisticated city folks living in a non-urban environment. They are down-to-earth and inspiring.”
Eisenhardt taught tennis in California after retiring from competitive tennis, but the family jumped at the chance to move back to the Northwest.
“It’s just more personal here,” he said. “People know each other because it’s a small town, which is great for a business like ours.”
Before they were ready to open the athletic club in June 2005, Eisenhardt said he talked to a friend who had built a club on Whidbey Island, “in a community that makes sense,” he said. The point was that you shouldn’t try to build an urban club in a rural environment, say, a gym where the numbers allow owners to charge $19.95 a month.
“The numbers aren’t here like they are in a city, but people here want a different experience, one that’s more social,” he said. “We also have meeting rooms that provide social interaction. We have a book club, art show, a Christmas event, lots of social things. It helps provide the community feeling that’s important to us.”
Eisenhardt took over management of the fitness space at the Pavilion two years ago. It was modeled after the Meadowmeer club, but much smaller.
“The bottom line is that we were growing faster here and not so much there,” he said. “We discussed us staying there with the owners, but we couldn’t work out an arrangement for them or us.”