Aspen Club members deal with closure
The decision by The Aspen Club, which will close for eight to 10 months starting in April, to have its members pay a mandatory monthly fee to work out at other facilities is getting a mixed reception.
The Aspen Club has partnered with several other fitness facilities where members can work out at a monthly rate of $90, which is half what most members pay each month, said Aspen Club director Tim Power Smith.
Those fitness alternatives include O2 Aspen, Shakti Shala, Bleeker Street Gym, Aspen Recreation Center, Red Brick Recreation Center, Snowmass Club, Snowmass Recreation Center and Pure Barre Aspen.
The $90 monthly will prevent members from having to pay “very large” initiation fees to rejoin The Aspen Club after its renovation, Power Smith said. The club is closing to accommodate the remaining construction of its “third generation,” which includes a significant renovation and 55,000-foot expansion.
Power Smith said initiation fees to join the future Aspen Club will be “approximately $10,000, maybe even more.”
Some Aspen Club members appreciate the club’s efforts to accommodate its members in the meantime, but others aren’t as pleased.
Derrin Carelli, who has been a member at the Aspen Club for four years, said he is “just happy they found us new places.”
Carelli, an Aspen resident, said many of the temporary facility options are even closer to home.
“And I’m going to be saving money for the time being,” Carelli said.
Aspen Club member Jessica Lischka said she finds the temporary closure “very inconvenient” but said it is “typical of Aspen.”
“Any restaurant or other development would be able to shut down and redevelop and nobody would blink an eye,” she said, noting it “isn’t fair to expect that the gym is going to do anything different.”
An Aspen Club member of nearly 40 years, Carl Heck said he “doesn’t think anyone is delighted.”
Heck, who estimates that he uses the gym five to six days a week, also said “a remodel is necessary and virtually impossible to do without closing.”
“I lived through the last remodel, and it was not fun,” Heck said.
“We were stepping over roles of carpeting in the locker room,” he said.
One group that seems less divided on The Aspen Club’s temporary closure is its employees.
Power Smith said The Aspen Club executive and management teams are working to find their employees temporary work “where their career really lends itself.”
Power Smith said heads of all the club’s respective departments — “the salon staff, massage therapists, personal trainers, group fitness instructors, facility staff, guest services and some management” — asked their employees where they would prefer to work during the closure.
“And what we’ve done is really cater to that and personalized their request,” Power Smith said. “We’re on the phone with other business owners, managers and human resource staff to try and place our employees in the best place possible.”
Aspen Club physical therapist Chris Peshek said he thinks the club is doing everything in its power to find its employees a temporary home.
For Peshek and others in the physical therapy department, this means a small house on Main Street that The Aspen Club will begin renting in April.
The Main Street space, which is currently vacant, will serve as the club’s physical therapy center and sports medicine institute during the club’s closure.
“The Aspen Club has been very proactive in looking after their employees,” Peshek said. “Hopefully this will create good feelings for the future when it reopens.”
Sara Burrows, who is a receptionist in the physical therapy office, agreed.
“The club has really made an effort to accommodate us,” Burrows said.
Power Smith estimated that roughly 90 percent of the Aspen Club’s staff “will have some sort of place to land” throughout the interim period.
Nearly three years after Aspen City Council cleared the founder of Jazz Aspen Snowmass to launch a jazz performance and education center downtown, Jim Horowitz said he expects the project will get rolling before the year is over.
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