South Ogden • When the first indoor tennis courts at the Ogden Athletic Club were constructed 37 years ago, the large building must have seemed a bit lonely as the surrounding land was largely undeveloped.
These days, the greatly expanded club finds itself tucked in the midst of a large housing development. Open space is scarce, though the club donated land adjacent to its parking lot to South Ogden for a city park, natural area and 1-mile paved path that is popular with joggers when the weather is warm.
The club, which recently spent $1.5 million for improvements over the past 18 months, also recently was purchased by Swell Clubs, a southern California-based company.
The improvements included new outdoor tennis courts, new spinning bikes and cardio equipment, revamped locker rooms, an updated day care center, and a new Kid's Sports Zone.
Perhaps the biggest investment, though, was in an area to be used for Utah's first Parisi Speed School, designed primarily to help young athletes.
According to club general manager Jan Carlsen, the idea of the Parisi facility fits with the overall philosophy of a club that has members as young as 12 weeks to as old as 91. The club serves 2,500 members and employs 250.
"We want to be a place where you go to get fit rather than having to be fit before you get here," she said.
Facilities include six indoor tennis courts, two outdoor tennis courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, child care, kids sports zone, three fitness rooms, a cardio center, two large aerobic rooms, spinning area, indoor track, basketball gyms, pro shop, health food snack bar, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, physical therapy and massage areas.
The club, which costs $39 a month to join, is particularly popular with tennis players. Other than a few courts in Lagoon amusement park in Farmington, it is the only indoor facility in the area.
"We get players from as far as Brigham City and Bountiful and Morgan up in the mountains," said tennis pro Mike White. "We even get pros from the American Fork and Provo area come to see us. We are busy all day. Tennis is growing in the Ogden area."
The club is open daily from 4:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and White says the tennis courts are usually in use from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., though a court or two can open up occasionally.
The Parisi program is named after all-American track star Bill Parisi and is designed to provide athletes and non-athletes alike high-level training from certified coaches.
"Parisi is getting kids off the sidelines, or off the couch, and into the game," said Lindsay Hassell, Parisi director at the Ogden Club, who is assisted by former Utah State University star running back Emmett White. "It is about confidence, self-esteem and building good habits in kids. Parisi empowers kids to maximize their individual potential and have short-term success in sports but long-term health and wellness in life."
The Parisi facility includes a large swath of sport turf. The goal of the program, which was founded in 1992 and has more than 75 locations in 27 states, is to teach young athletes skills that will help them with their acceleration, change of direction and speed.
Club member and spokeswoman Jodi Holmgren said the program fits well with the philosophy behind the whole club.
"This is a complete club for the entire family," she said. "It is more of a lifestyle, a way of life."