‘The fundamentals never change’: South Yuba Club celebrates 20-year anniversary | TheUnion.com

‘The fundamentals never change’: South Yuba Club celebrates 20-year anniversary

South Yuba Club group active class leader Kerstin Dougherty talks to class members and works to keep them energized as she shows them the moves to the workout Tuesday morning at the gym’s location off West Berryhill Drive. South Yuba Club is celebrating twenty years of doing business in Nevada County.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com


What: South Yuba Club

When: 4:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Where: 130 W. Berryhill Drive, Grass Valley

“When I look at the story, it’s like ‘The Little Engine That Could.’”

Phil Carville was reflecting on the evolution of The South Yuba Club, which he began co-ownership of in 1999, and began to get off the ground in 2000.

Today, the company is co-owned by him and his family, including Mike Carville (Phil’s son), Belinda Carville (Phil’s wife), Nell Scannon (Belinda’s daughter) and Jen Rosser (Phil’s daughter).

A recently reconstructed building on West Berryhill Drive, the club, as it’s commonly referred to, is home to 85 employees, the majority of which are part time.

“It’s a big family,” said Mike Carville, referring both to the nuclear one and the staff as a whole.

Before growing the club into what it is today, Phil Carville had experienced many lives. He ran multiple businesses in different industries, lived in several places in the U.S. and before that served in the Marine Corps.

But the story of the club began more recently, after his venture running a sports club in Oregon in the 1990s.

Moving on from that part of his career, Carville moved to Nevada County and got married. Beginning to lay down roots, he noticed that an old Nevada City gym had gone defunct and was sitting vacant.

When Phil Carville thought of opening it up, his son, Mike Carville, came to the area to help.

“It was a funny little market in Nevada City,” said Phil Carville.

The family eventually closed their Nevada City location after opening a facility in Grass Valley, but at that point they had already become established in Nevada County.

According to Phil Carville, their philosophy, while simple, hasn’t wavered since the beginning.

“You really have to be customer centric,” he said.


At one point while running a Tahoe ski resort, Phil Carville tried to instill a sense of customer concern in his staff.

If it was snowing at night, he said he would arrive early the next morning to sweep the chairs of the ski lift.

In another instance, he tried to change the poor food service offered to customers.

Walking through the food line one day, Phil Carville said almost everything on his plate was wrong. He made a quick decision.

“I took (the plate) and I threw it against the wall,” he said. “And I said, ‘This has got to stop.’”

Those values of internal and external dedication — to both his staff and customers — is what he said his family has continued to strive for.

Being honest, clear and communicative with the community has allowed the club to become an integral part of the local culture, he said.

“We want people to say, ‘That is my gym,’ said Phil Carville. ‘I like those people. I like what they’re doing. I like the way they handle things.’”

In recent months, a number of changes have been made at the club. Since 2017, the club has added a pool, hot tub, tennis courts, sauna and showers.

The family is currently adding solar panels to the club’s roof, switching to LED lights and changing the ventilation system to conserve energy, said Phil Carville.

Today, the co-owner said every employee is paid above minimum wage.

And to celebrate the club’s 20th anniversary, the initiation fee is $19.99 — usually $125 — until the end of February.

But with the new additions orbiting the club, the family’s philosophy, according to Phil Carville, will remain.

“The fundamentals never change,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.

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