Sunset Athletic Club
Back in the mid-seventies, as Cedar Mill was just beginning to really
grow, Chuck Richards recognized the need for an athletic club in the area.
In 1977 he opened the Cornell Court Club across the street from Sunset
High School, with a focus on racquetball, a sport that was just gaining
popularity at that time. It was the first suburban athletic club in the
state. The four-court indoor tennis building that sits right on Cornell
was added in 1978.
As the club and the community grew, more sports and fitness facilities
were added and the club changed its name to Sunset Athletic Club in 1988.
Now in the midst of a four-phase expansion, the club has something to offer
Richards, a lifelong athlete, won three consecutive National Pentathlon
championships in the late sixties and early seventies., and was the highest
scoring American at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He is currently
the president of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. His early dreams of bringing
sports and fitness to the community have become a reality.
It hasn’t been without difficulty, though – a major fire
that started in the men’s locker room destroyed the main building
in 1995. But it took only eight months to open an even better building
with more facilities.
Responding to the huge growth in the region, the increased interest and
the wide variety of activities that people enjoy in pursuit of fun and
fitness, the club embarked on an ambitious four-phase growth plan in 2001.
Phase I of the expansion added new exercise rooms
for spinning (stationary bicycles) and cardio equipment, physical therapy
space and increased parking. It opened in late October 2003. Phase II
opened in the spring of 2004 and included three more indoor tennis
courts, a gymnasium, and running track, a cli mbing wall and additional
Phase III, set to open in February 2006, provides
chlorine-free indoor aquatic facilities that will include a 25-yard 81° lap pool, 86° pool
for group fitness, and a 91° therapy pool. The new facility will
also include a large jacuzzi with sauna and steam rooms. Outside
there will be a grass sports area , two more tennis courts and a splash
pad water play area.
Phase IV will connect all the buildings, and create new administrative
space, meeting rooms, a multimedia theatre for sports clinics and parties,
and an expanded snack bar. Additional facilities to be included in this
phase are two additional group fitness rooms and two championship squash
and racquetball courts.
Richards and the design staff wanted to ensure
the expanded facility would be energy- and resource-efficient. They consulted
with Portland General Electric’s Earth Advantage™ Program during the design stage.
They incorporated a number of features to maximize the building’s
performance including an energy efficient boiler, heat exchangers, occupancy
sensors for the lights, and skylights that let in daylight with light monitors
that adjust electric lighting to the amount of light coming in. Sunset
Athletic Club uses an estimated 40 percent less energy than if the owners
installed standard equipment. The measures will pay for themselves in just
under seven years. These features were financed with special loan and tax
credit programs from Oregon’s Department of Energy.
Other “green” features of the building include recycled wood
in the floors, use of Metro’s recycled paint on the walls, carpets
made of recycled pop bottles, and even concrete floors stained with
recovered battleship rust!
But it’s probably the great staff and facilities that attract their
more than 2000 members. “We want to be part of an active family lifestyle,” explains
Carleen Prentice, General Manager. “We have eleven personal trainers
to help people who are new to fitness or who have particular health
problems, or who just want to reach new levels of fitness. We have 30 instructors
teaching classes from 5:30 am until 7:30 pm seven days a week.”
Prentice continues, “The climbing wall has proved to be an attraction
for all ages. Even middle-school kids love it, and that’s a hard
age group to reach. Families often come to climb together, and it’s
very popular for parties.” The club offers many party options to
members of all ages.
“We really work hard to integrate new members into our club,” Prentice
says. “Our instructors are real people of all ages, not just a bunch
of buff 20-year-olds. Our members not only look forward to their
group fitness classes, they also form social groups and do things together
outside of the club.”
Their membership fee structure is designed to
be simple and accessible too. “We don’t play games with discounts or special sales,” Prentice
explains. Information about fees and complete schedule information
is available on their website, at sunsetac.com. You can reach them by
phone at 503-645-3535.