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FitLife Celebrates 40th Anniversary!

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FitLife Club NetworkClub Insider is very pleased to present this Cover Story in honor of FitLife's 40th Anniversary that will be officially celebrated in July at the FitLife Summer Conference, to be held in Bend, Oregon. The following interview was conducted by yours truly with FitLife Executive Director, Neal Simpson, and long-time FitLife leaders and member club owners, Mark Eisenzimmer and Chuck Richards.

An Interview With Neal Simpson, Mark Eisenzimmer and Chuck Richards

  • Neal Simpson, FitLife Executive Director
  • Mark Eisenzimmer, FitLife Founder, and Wife, Debbie
  • Chuck Richards, FitLife Founder
  • Greg Dearholt and Jack Tawney at a FitLife Conference
  • John Miller Sampling FitLife Conference Goodies
  • Paul Reed and Roger Sargent at a FitLife Conference
  • Amanda Osborne and Chuck Richards at a FitLife Conference

Club Insider (C.I.) - Mark and Chuck, let's start with this question primarily targeted at you because of your long tenure with FitLife, formerly known as the Northwest Athletic Club Association (NACA): When and how was NACA founded and by whom? Why was the Association created?
Mark Eisenzimmer (ME) - What I remember is that we met at Griffith Park Athletic Club. I remember six or eight us meeting in that room, because we thought we needed to prepare to compete with some of the incoming big box competition that was arriving. We felt like we needed some sort of an advantage, and we thought that, by coming together, we might be able to come up with something that was better than independent ownership out there.

Chuck Richards (CR) - Yes, I recall something that had happened a little bit ahead of that. Wayne Westwood had called four or five of us together because there was an issue where they wanted to lower the temperature in the hot tubs.

ME - Ahhh, that's right, Chuck! Good memory!

CR - They wanted to limit hot tub temperatures to 102 degrees. Frank Eisenzimmer was there, and I think Jennifer Harding and Molly Nelson, at Lloyd Center, myself and Wayne Westwood. And, that was about it. So, we had a conversation about the hot tub issue. Someone was able to reach the hot tub bill sponsor to invite him to attend the next meeting. We also asked a fellow who was one of the co-owners from the Courthouse Athletic Club to come. Wayne Westwood was in the restaurant business, and he also owned the Griffith Park Athletic Club. And, Wayne belonged to the Oregon Restaurant Association, so Wayne kind of guided us. He was familiar with the world of associations, and we ended up getting back together, as Mark described, to form an association that could do some things that could further our efforts in the marketplace. Actually, the name we had chosen first was the Oregon Racquetball and Recreation Association (ORRA), but we never formalized it. So, that's what we called ourselves since we were all from Oregon. Then, some people from the state of Washington wanted to join. Because of that, we became the North West Racquetball and Recreation Association (NWRRA). Mark remembers that.

ME - Chuck, just a little side note on that. The guy who was heading up that temperature change deal was named Jim Brown. I remember we put signs over our hot tubs that, if you had a problem with this 102-degree temperature, call Jim Brown, and we put his phone number on there!

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