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VENTURA COUNTY BUSINESS | Ventura County Review

Thousand Oaks Luxury Fitness Club Caters to Select Lifestyles

January 26, 1999|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Since the opening of their first health club 20 years ago, the founders of the Sports Club Co. of Los Angeles have made it a priority to create fitness centers that double as quasi-resorts.

From the original 40,000-square-foot Sports Connection club that opened in Santa Monica in 1979 to the 140,000-square-foot Reebok Sports Club/NY, which opened in 1994 on Manhattan's West Side, the clubs have combined aerobic and weight machines, exercise classes, personal training and a host of other fitness programs, with gourmet restaurants, spas, massage and other luxury services.

The newest member of the Sports Club Co. family of upscale centers is the Spectrum Club-Thousand Oaks. The $12-million, 55,000-square-foot facility opened for business last week in the former Thousand Oaks City Hall building on Willow Lane.

Spectrum Club-Thousand Oaks joins eight other Spectrum Clubs, including those in Agoura Hills, Valencia and Canoga Park, and four top-of-the-line Sports Clubs, each about 100,000 square feet, in Los Angeles, New York, Irvine and Las Vegas. The Sports Club Co., traded on the American Stock Exchange, has annual revenues of about $90 million.

"Our target market is a fairly affluent and highly educated group of people, and the Thousand Oaks-Westlake area is full of that type of person," said Nanette Pattee Francini, co-founder and executive vice president of the chain.

"But it's not just demographics, we look at the psychographics too--the type of person interested in fitness and interested in sports."

The Thousand Oaks club boasts of an 11,000-square-foot weight training area, a 5,000-square-foot cardiovascular area with 100 pieces of equipment, 6,000 square feet of exercise space and a 1,200-square-foot Cycle Reebok studio. Spectrum Club-Thousand Oaks also has a junior Olympic swimming pool, a pair of full-court gyms for basketball or volleyball, a cafe and a staff of certified trainers.

"We try to create a real luxury resort-type environment, so people really enjoy coming in," Francini said. "Half the battle is getting people to come in--once you're there, you're going to work out."

As of opening day, the Spectrum Club had an enrollment of about 1,500 members. The club has been accepting registration for six months. The approximately 3,600 members of the Agoura Hills Spectrum Club will receive dual membership, as will preregistered members of the Thousand Oaks facility.

Francini said the high membership numbers reflect the public perception of physical fitness.

"People have much more embraced fitness as a lifestyle now," she said. "There have been all kinds of changes in the past 20 years. First, people never thought about working out. Then they went over the top in seriousness and wouldn't even think about talking during a workout.

"Now it's a lifestyle. So many people bring their children. We have a kid's club, a program for teens."

After the Thousand Oaks opening, the Sports Club Co. is developing Sports Clubs in Manhattan's Upper East Side and at Rockefeller Center. Spectrum Clubs are underway in Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Houston.

A charter membership to the Spectrum Club-Thousand Oaks requires a $125 initiation fee and $52 in monthly dues. Membership regularly will cost $175 to sign up and $57 a month.

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