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Get Your Workout in a Treehouse


Walking into the Treehouse Athletic Club in Draper, Utah as a member, you will be spoken to by name. At the Treehouse, members aren’t just another number in the books, but an actual person trying to live a fit lifestyle.

When founder Ron Raddon opened the Treehouse Athletic Club in 1999, Draper was still a developing town. According to Jennifer Koplin, the marketing director at Treehouse Athletic Club, Draper has been one of the fastest growing cities in Utah over the past 10 years.

In fact, Draper began its growth in 1990 starting with a population of more than 7,000. According to the 2000 Census, in 10 years the population had grown to an estimated 42,000 plus.

Alongside the development of Treehouse Athletic Club were call centers opened by eBay and Musician’s Friend, as well as the headquarters of 1-800 Contacts. Treehouse used the onslaught of companies and employees to create a high-end workout facility within the community. And, just like new businesses grew the city’s population, it also grew the club’s.

However, the biggest problem with growing a club in a newly booming community is most people have never belonged to a club. “One of the biggest challenges was that over 60 percent of the membership base had never been a member of any fitness club,” said Annemarie Christopulos, the general manager of Treehouse Athletic Club. “This was a new experience entirely for them. Treehouse developed a free ‘5 Steps to Fitness’ program to help members with their goals. After meeting with a personal trainer to get a starting point, goals were set and then the personal trainer followed up to see how they were doing.”

The program allowed Treehouse employees to make a strong connection with new members. Many of those members still attend Treehouse.

Treehouse stays connected with its members with annual thank you gifts that include free and heavily discounted products and services. “Our current members are our greatest advertising tools,” Christopulos said. “We reward them when they refer new members. We focus on fun programs, superior group fitness classes and instructors as well as unique fitness challenges to keep members happy, working out often and spreading the word to their friends.”

Lucky for Treehouse, its great business plan has been spread via word of mouth throughout the rest of the state and nationally. “We partner with a local publication ‘Healthy Utah’ by contributing articles that pertain to health and fitness,” Christopulos said. “We have won the ‘Best of State’ in the private athletic club category several times including the last two years. In 2010, we not only won the private athletic club category, we also won the overall category for all sports and recreation.

“We have been able to get national attention because of our members loving the club as they do. Fitness Magazine named Treehouse as one of the Top 20 Gyms in America in 2010.”

Success of such magnitude is attributed to many factors, including a great business plan, a devotion to its members and great leadership. Christopopulos is just one part of the great leadership, but her roll has been in the making since she was young.
“Annemarie majored in exercise science and wanted to be part of the fitness industry,” Koplin said. “She worked as a physical therapist and realized that she wanted to work in an environment that helped people improve their health and stay in shape to avoid needing physical therapy.”

Treehouse makes sure they listen to their members’ desires to help keep them in the club. They shoot to provide a level of customer service that customers don’t typically see — the club’s customer service begins by knowing each member by name. “She has surrounded herself with exceptional directors, managers and staff,” Koplin said. “She believes in empowering the directors and managers and even the staff to make decisions and to be proactive. We go great lengths to hire employees who show they can interact with a smile and  provide a solution to any problem or question.”

The development of a great staff and commitment to excellent customer service, in cooperation with a thriving community, has allowed Treehouse Athletic Club to grow substantially in a short amount of time. Imagine, if they continued to grow at the same pace over the next 10 years, the club could practically engulf Utah. -CS

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