South Yuba Club to shutter Nevada City location
Know & Go
What: South Yuba Club
Where: 130 West Berryhill Drive, Grass Valley
When: 4:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
For info: Go to www.southyubaclub.com or call 530-272-7676
The Carvilles are consolidating.
Nine months after the grand opening of the new Grass Valley branch of South Yuba Club, the family has decided to close down its Nevada City location.
“It does feel weird,” Mike Carville said. “We are sad to see it go — that was our birthplace.”
The transition will take place quickly, with the Nevada City club closing its doors on Dec. 31.
The Carvilles have accepted an offer for the Searls Avenue facility, and the potential buyers have asked for an accelerated close by late January, Mike Carville said. He said the potential purchaser is an investment group, but would not provide any details about what might move into the space.
“I’m hoping most of the (Nevada City members) transition to the Grass Valley club,” Mike said, noting the two facilities are less than three miles apart. The Carvilles will offer those members the same deal to shift their membership as when they first opened the new facility, with no initiation fee and lower monthly dues.
Nevada City was the first South Yuba Club for partners Phil, Belinda and Mike Carville, opening in 1999 and replacing the former Nevada County Athletic Club — which, according to the Carvilles, had been put out of business by the then brand-new Club Sierra.
In 2006, the Carvilles opened Monster Gym on Crown Point Circle, which Mike noted was a tough location, adding, “People like convenience.”
When Courthouse Athletic Club next to Raley’s closed, they took over that location in 2009 and moved Monster Gym there, changing its name to South Yuba Club Grass Valley.
The Carvilles decided to buy the aging Club Sierra facility in 2016, and the renovation and conversion took a year.
“We opened March 11,” Mike said.
Initially the Carvilles had every intention of continuing to operate both locations.
But the West Berryhill Drive club, which was supposed to be a cosmetic fixer-upper, turned into a gut job.
“This was pretty much a dump when we took it over,” Phil said, adding that an anticipated renovation cost of $600,000 to $700,000 eventually topped out at nearly $3 million.
But a funny thing happened during that 12-month construction slog, while walls were being knocked out, pool plaster was being jack-hammered, and a new HVAC system was being installed.
“All of a sudden this materialized as such a grand facility, we just kept on going,” Phil said.
Eventually, Mike said, the family realized they needed to prioritize.
“As we became invested in this facility and saw the opportunities here, we reached a decision that by prioritizing one club and consolidating our resources, we could do more,” he said. “To split our time and energy between the two facilities felt like robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Growing a healthy community
Mike acknowledged the transition will move much more quickly than originally planned, due to the anticipated sale of the Nevada City club.
“Our first priority is to make the transition as seamless and easy as possible for our members,” he said. “Right now, we’re expanding our club schedule, our front desk staff and our janitorial staff. We will over-staff and over-program to meet the anticipated demand.”
Between the two facilities, South Yuba Club has been running about 130 classes; Mike estimated this will drop down to 118, with the eliminations spread across the board and with some of those being duplicates. Because the Grass Valley club features more studios and bigger spaces, class sizes will be able to be doubled in some cases
“We want to offer as much uninterrupted service as possible,” Mike said.
South Yuba Club will eliminate some part-time instructor hours, but all of their trainers are staying on, the Carvilles said.
The closure of the Nevada City club will affect the estimated 400 Silver Sneakers members, who pay nothing for their memberships; South Yuba Club will not transfer them to Grass Valley.
“It’s a great program and we were the first in the county to have it,” Mike said. “It used to be exclusive to South Yuba Club.”
But, said Mike, the reimbursement rates are very low — $3 a visit, up to 10 times a month.
“To put that into perspective, a normal day pass here is $15,” he said.
And once Silver Sneakers started adding other clubs, the membership base became fragmented and even less profitable.
“This is a costly club to operate,” Mike said. “We’re just not able to offer it here.”
South Yuba Club will offer a discounted senior membership to all its Silver Sneakers members, however; Mike encouraged all of the Nevada City club members to try out the Grass Valley club for the month of December.
Already on the move
About 60 percent of the Nevada City club’s membership transferred to Grass Valley when it first opened, Mike said. The remaining members can take advantage of the same pre-sale pricing with the dues structure from October 2015 and no fee to join.
More improvements still are being planned for the Grass Valley club, including an outdoor spa coming this spring and new spin bikes in January. The outdoor trail up the hillside will be expanded into a par-course, with a series of exercise stations along the way. Also on the agenda is an outdoor pool and lights for the tennis courts, Mike said.
Both Phil and Mike emphasized the desire to make the Grass Valley facility a social hub — in keeping with the priority more and more people are placing on their health and fitness.
Going to the gym used to be about vanity, Mike said. In the last decade, he added, the push is about living better. And to foster that, a health club has to be about much more than lifting weights.
“The No. 1 driver for making change is a supportive community,” Mike said. “It’s not about equipment — it’s not about the size of the dumbbells, it’s about the quality of the support. I think our industry forgets that, to be honest. … That’s our No. 1 goal, to do right by our members — and grow our healthy community.”
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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