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Due to Wisconsin’s winters, which can be brutal by anyone’s standards, cabin fever is a real issue — especially if you have young children.
Ginger Lazovik, a member of Elite Sports Clubs with two children between the ages of 2 and 6, testified to this fact. “For us here in Wisconsin it’s so cold during the winter,” she said. “You’re looking for things to do with the kids that burn energy, are family friendly and good for different ages.”
With this in mind, when Elite Sports Clubs opened The Quad, a 30,000-square-foot, multi-activity space for kids and teens, Lazovik saw an opportunity to keep the whole family entertained all winter long.
“What The Quad has done for us is it’s given us a great way to be together, exercising and having fun,” explained Lazovik. “I think we’re having as much fun as the kids because we’re bowling with them and we’re playing the games with them and chatting with parents in-between. Elite Sports Clubs has always been a place where we spent a lot of time, but now it’s become a social place where we’re hanging out. Now we’re like, ‘What should we do just for fun? Let’s just go to Elite and spend the afternoon playing.’”
According to Kay Yuspeh, the CEO and owner of Elite Sports Clubs, Lazovik’s testimonial is exactly the experience they were hoping to provide members when they opened The Quad in the club’s newly-renovated River Glen location in November 2016.
Yuspeh first came up with the idea for The Quad a few years ago, when she noticed the local community was lacking a space for kids of all ages where they could play in a safe, supervised environment.
“We have always been a family club,” said Yuspeh. “But as things have changed over the last 20 years, there was no place for kids to go and just be kids. The kids needed a place they could go that was a safe haven and was supervised.”
Yuspeh began doing research at suburban clubs in Baltimore, Boston and Rochester to see what fitness environments resonated with families in those markets. And when a local gym with 10 tennis courts went up for sale nearby — she saw an opportunity.
“We own a club with 10 indoor tennis courts, and the club we purchased was about two miles away from us and had 10 indoor courts as well,” recalled Yuspeh. “From the beginning we knew we didn’t need 20 indoor courts a few miles away from each other and that eventually we were going to take out four courts. We pulled all the ideas from our Boston, Baltimore and Rochester visits and came up with one concept for that space: The Quad.”
Elite Sports Clubs invested $4 million into the project, which brought the addition of The Quad, plus complete renovations of the River Glen location’s fitness center, men’s locker room, new studios and entryway and more.
According to Yuspeh, The Quad — the biggest and most unique aspect of the River Glen location’s transformation — made the most financial sense for the company. “When you think of a tennis court, there’s about six or seven thousand square feet that you cater to four people,” said Yuspeh. “Now, I could get a couple hundred people in the same space all busy and active. It repositions and opens it up to a whole new population, all while increasing our membership base.”
The Quad features a number of unique activities, such as basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, dodgeball, mini-bowling, a batting cage, stage, a giant play structure and more. The space is also available for rent for parties or special events, with bar and catering services available.
For Elite Sports Clubs, The Quad has become a unique selling proposition for all five of its locations. Because a family membership includes access to all clubs, many members drive across town just to bring their kids to The Quad.
“Our west-side clubs are about 20 minutes away, and we are finding that parents are driving across town to bring their kids here on the weekends or on a day when school is out,” said Yuspeh. “We have done some studies of the traffic flow between our clubs and our three North Shore area clubs usually go west — our west side clubs don’t often come to the North Shore — and this has been a game changer. They are starting to come across town for this.”
For Lazovik, although The Quad is a short drive, she explained why it’s worth it. “Around here if you want to take your kids to something like this, there are places where it’s $10 or $15 a kid — it’s really expensive,” she said. “So for this, we’re like, ‘Oh we’re having just as much fun, if not more, and it’s bundled into our membership, which is amazing.’”
Although The Quad has been a hit for Elite Sport Clubs’ membership, Yuspeh explained there have been some challenges. As a completely new offering, they had to create the programming from scratch.
“It’s a whole new piece of property that we really have no one to follow, no track record,” said Yuspeh. “We are still in a learning mode on how to staff it and figure out our traffic flows.”
In addition, because The Quad is a part of a club that boasts a high percentage of older adults, Elite Sports Clubs was careful when planning the entry to the kid’s space. The Quad has a separate lobby from the main club that boasts TVs and chairs where kids can sit and be on their phones. “We put a lot of thought into the space,” said Yuspeh.
And, Yuspeh hopes the careful thought and consideration that was put into The Quad will continue to pay off for Elite Sports Clubs for years to come. “I think this is positioning us very well in the marketplace to be around for the next 30 years,” said Yuspeh. “The Quad is very flexible. It’s a space that will be constantly changing and evolving. You have studios coming in, high-volume, low-cost clubs coming into the market — there really isn’t anybody catering to the families like us. I see that as a continuing asset for us.”
As a member, Lazovik couldn’t agree more with this assessment. “Elite was always a great value, but now it’s really upped the value because it’s become such a source of entertainment, too,” she said. “Instead of going to the movies or to the mall we’re going there, where it’s more physically active than some of those options, and we’re not spending $25 or $30 dollars just to get in the door. And then we’re among people we already know, and meeting more people too.”
For members and staff alike, The Quad has truly been a game changer for Elite Sports Clubs.