Club Insider

Renovating a Legend

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Bruce CarterBruce Carter

After winning a Super Bowl and having a perfect season, Coach Don Shula, along with his partners, the Graham Companies, opened a spectacular club in Miami Lakes, Florida in 1982. They hired a General Manager, Bill Higgs, whose objective was to achieve the success with the club that would live up to its namesake heritage. The 45,000 square-foot Shula's Athletic Club opened with beautiful facilities, including fitness, racquetball, basketball and tennis.

The club changed with the times over the years while consistently maintaining a substantial level of dependable success, a testament to the operator, Bill Higgs, who's been with the club for over 30 years. Racquetball was eventually eliminated to make more room for fitness. Physical therapy and a full service spa were also added.

A number of competitors have opened in recent years, and Bill communicated to the owners that it was, once again, time to make changes. But, this time, the club needed an entirely new atmosphere to go along with its reputation of being friendly, inviting and welcoming to families and the serious minded fitness market.

  • Shula's Lobby (Before)
  • Shula's Lobby (After)
  • Shula's Locker Room (Before)
  • Shula's Locker Room (After)

Shula's image somewhat mirrored the Shula Hotel and Conference Center, The Shula Golf Club and the original Shula Steakhouse, all within a mile of one another. It had a country club style décor that, at one time, gave the facility an exclusive upscale image. But, a new environment was needed to keep the club a leader for fitness recreation in the Miami marketplace.

Shula's interviewed a variety of architects for the renovation and selected Optimal Design Systems International, because of our vast experience of making dramatic club changes while also being very strict on getting the most value for the dollar.

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