Club Insider

The Newtown Athletic Club

A True Community Within a Community

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What do you do best in your health and fitness club business? Is there one thing, two things or many things? Do you try to make your club be everything to everyone? Or, do you capitalize on your strengths? This month, we bring to you the amazing story of Jim Worthington and his Newtown Athletic Club. He will be the first to tell you that what they do best is kids' programming. Through this specialization, though, a peculiar thing has happened. Success has spilled over from their kids' programming into other areas of the business! Serving kids is their bread and butter, but most kids have parents, so why not serve them, too? Having served his community for over thirty years and through the practice of this idea over the course of the past fifteen years, Jim has built a true community within a community.

A true Pennsylvania native, Jim Worthington was born in Horsham, Pennsylvania. He graduated from West Chester State University in 1978 with a Bachelor's Degree in Health and Physical Education and a Minor in Exercise Physiology. Then, Jim entered the health and fitness industry at the height of the racquetball boom, managing the Babylon Racquetball Club. Later, he moved on to manage the 15,000 square-foot Newtown Racquetball Club. Today, he is married to Kathy, his wife of 20 years, and they have two boys: Jimmy, age 20, who is attending West Virginia University; and Jack, age 18, who is a senior in high school. And the Newtown Racquetball Club? Well, today it is the 180,000 square-foot mega-club known as the Newtown Athletic Club. This month, Club Insider is very pleased to share Jim Worthington's terrific Newtown Athletic Club success story.

An Interview With Jim Worthington

Club Insider (C.I.) - When and how did you start your career in the health and fitness industry?
Jim Worthington (JW) - When I was in college my senior year, there was a racquetball club that opened up in my hometown, Horsham, and I worked there part time. Spring semester of my senior year, the owner of the club asked me if I would oversee the club in the summer time before I was supposed to go back to school for physical therapy; I was accepted at Duke. I did, and during the summer, he decided to fire the manager and asked me if I wanted to take it over. I said I would for a two-year commitment because I wanted to go back to school. The money at the time seemed like a lot. That was called the Babylon Racquet Club. It was purely racquetball, and after a year or so, I had converted some of the space into fitness and aerobics because racquetball in the '80s was going the other way.

Jim WorthingtonJim Worthington

C.I. - In what year did you open the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC), and how did this come about?
JW - By chance, I had met one of the owners of what was called the Newtown Racquetball Club at a team racquetball league match at my club. I guess he saw how I handled things. It was funny. Back in the day, money was collected individually from people for the court time. Right before the match was supposed to start on the six courts, I noticed someone from their club hadn't paid, so I stopped the match until they paid. Afterwards, this guy came up to me and said, 'I'm the owner of the Newtown Racquetball Club. When we have home matches, we don't even collect from our own guys, let alone the away teams. I'm impressed.' I was young; it was just common sense stuff. I was no expert.

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