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July 2022 Club of the Month, presented by ABC Fitness Solutions:

Harbor Square Athletic Club, est. 1985

Harbor Square Athletic Club was founded in 1985 and has become a mainstay in the town of Edmonds, Washington. The club boasts something for all; whether it’s those who are just getting started with exercise or families looking for childcare. Harbor Square goes above and beyond to provide services that appeal to everyone.

Here, Jackie Tawney, the general manager of Harbor Square, shares more about what makes the club exceptional and how they bring their members the “Disneyland” experience.

How did the establishment of Harbor Square come about? What is the importance of your mission? 

The ownership group started in Coeur d Alene, Idaho, where the first gym called Ironwood Athletic Club was opened and is now known as Peak Health and Wellness. Ironwood was a racquetball gym with tennis courts, locker rooms, a pool, and workout areas. A few years after Ironwood was successful, the group branched out and opened Harbor Square in Edmonds, Washington.

Harbor Square also started with a strong focus on racquetball. Still, it included tennis, pool, locker rooms featuring a steam room, sauna and Jacuzzis, several workout areas, group fitness and childcare. Over the years, Harbor Square has always been at the forefront of changes in the industry. From the facility to the customer service and everything in between, reinvesting into the club has always been essential to ensure members get the latest and greatest.

What makes Harbor Square a “family of members,” and how do they go beyond being “just a gym” to a community and a place of belonging for members?

Harbor Square is a place of community with over 100 weekly group fitness classes, a lobby with an espresso, smoothie and small bites bar, luxurious locker rooms, and a dedicated tennis facility. There is something for everyone in the family. In fact, Harbor Square has been a place where families have gathered for over 30 years. It is a priority to give back to the community and provide a well-articulated, full-service fitness experience to guide you towards your “better.” 

What is the internal philosophy or “mission statement” of Harbor Square, especially regarding the staff members?

Our employees have these three drivers: 

1. Make every member feel special.

2. Retention and results.

3. Memorize and exemplify Harbor Square’s mission and values.

Our mission statement is, “To inspire greatness by empowering our community to live healthier lives.”

We bring our mission statement to life by following our core values. These values are known, owned and energized by those who choose to work at Harbor Square. A few examples of our core values include: 

Be Positive:   

  • Show gratitude.
  • Find the silver lining in all situations.
  • Have fun.

Be Respectful:

  • Be dignified under challenging circumstances.
  • Value others’ time.
  • Be an empathic listener.

Be Friendly and Happy: 

  • Maintain positive eye contact.
  • Smile. 
  • Give a warm and sincere greeting.
  • Use the member’s name as much as possible.
  • When members ask for directions, strive to escort them to the location rather than pointing and giving directions.
  • Try and meet all members.

Be a Great Team Player:

  • Create a positive work environment.
  • Contribute to club cleanliness.
  • Contribute to 90% retention rate goal.
  • Be actively involved in the success of others.
  • Don’t be average, be phenomenal.
  • Promote and support HSAC members and team members.

How have your programs changed the way members engage with you and the community?

We strive to provide programs and services for every walk of life, including continuous programming from pickleball, tennis, weight loss, nutrition/wellness, Friday night out for parents, sports camps for kids, small group training bootcamps, ski strong trainings, and so much more. We bring new and successful programming to our community to provide them with results, engagement, and overall well-being.

What’s a trend in the fitness industry that other operators should keep on their radar? 

  • Recovery and overall wellness. 
  • More open spaces — provide members more room. 
  • Strong focus on cleaning and a clean environment. 
  • Outdoor fitness options.
  • Constantly update your facility to keep up with the changes in the industry.

If you could give one piece of advice to other gym operators, what would it be?

Customer service. Make member service the top priority. Specifically, make memorable moments and “Disneyland” memories that will make your members want to keep coming back.

Created in partnership with ABC Fitness Solutions. Visit abcfitness.com for more information on how they can help your fitness business.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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