Michael Carlin, owner/operator of the about-to-open Slope Fitness health club on the corner of 7th Avenue and Union, perhaps the epicenter of Park Slope, appears to be the perfect man for the job.
Slope Fitness’ predecessor, S. Clubs Fitness, closed its doors a month ago, on February 29, after a 12-year run; wildly successful for a time, the club’s demise came from several failed management teams over the past several years.
While joining the staff of S. Clubs Fitness only a few short months ago, Mr. Carlin recognized the unique place it was for its members. He did not want to see it close and was essentially handed the keys to the club mid-March, and named owner and operator. Michael might just be, from his thorough knowledge of all aspects of the fitness-club business, the ideal candidate to launch a brand-new establishment while engendering a members-come-first atmosphere in the right way.
Michael related to this writer the nature of the deteriorating relationship of management staff to members before S Clubs closed: essentially, the members were taken for granted by the former management, and too often “I don’t know” was the operative reply to questions. That’s exactly the opposite of how Michael Carlin works – he talks about creating a “sense of community” and “belonging.” Any member in the club will not just be a “number.”
An example: You can only imagine the vast problems that were created right after last month’s closing --yet phone calls and e-mails from aggrieved ex-members were answered promptly by Michael and refunds were dealt with expeditiously and others are still being reconciled. The club’s future activities will all be based on “transparency.” In fact, Michael told me, he has already given out his own e-mail address and personal telephone number to members, so they can contact him at any time!
Slope Fitness will not be, Michael asserts emphatically, one of those corporate gyms where members swipe in electric keycards anonymously. In fact, Mr. Carlin has created his own motif for the new Slope Fitness: ‘”Join Our Family and Experience the Difference.” While the size might not compare to a larger chain club, the difference is in its customer service and its full service amenities that are provided. There is towel service for the floor as well as full body towels for the sauna and showers. You don’t need toiletries here. They provide everything from shampoo to conditioners, hand lotion to mouth wash.
In terms of fitness machines and weights, there’ll be a wide array of Life Fitness Treadmills, Steppers, Precor Elliptical Machines, Jacobs Ladder, Stationary bikes, Nautilus, Hammer Strength equipment, Free Weights, and much more. There is also a dedicated circuit of equipment where the member on the run could essentially workout their entire body in about 20 minutes.
There’ll be plenty of fitness classes: including Yoga, Zumba, Spinning, Kick Boxing, Pilates just to name a few. Plans for the near future include ‘Mommy and Me’, Yoga for babies, and after-school pre-teen and teen fitness programs, as well as Zumba for kids. And, there’s even a supervised day-care play area for children while Mom or Dad works out seven days a week.
Another nice touch: there’ll be a free ‘coffee bar’ for members, something akin to plasma for an early-morning workout participant like this writer.
The Grand Opening is set for May 1, [schedule of events to be announced] and there’s no enrollment fee for the first 500 members to sign up. Sign-up begins on April 4, and a member can join month-to-month, or at a discount rate for a one-year membership that’ll be billed monthly, not all at once. And – astoundingly – a new member’s rate, whether monthly or yearly, will be a ‘lifetime’ rate. It will never increase, as long as the membership is continuous.
Michael has waited a long time to finally own and run his own business. He’s had a lot of experience – director of community centers, working with children and teen services, time in the corporate world – and, this writer sensed, is quite excited about bringing his unique ethos of a ‘community sense’ to Slope Fitness.
What better place for a community-based fitness club to succeed than in Park Slope, in actuality really a small town in a big city. Slope Fitness promises to be a fine addition to our Park Slope neighborhood.
By Jim Israel