MISSOULA — A popular Missoula fitness facility announced this week it will be closing after almost four decades.
The Women's Club Health and Fitness Center on Bow Street has been keeping women fit and healthy for 38 years.
But in an e-mail sent to members this week, the club announced the owner decided to close the facility in August. Club Director Camie Evans says membership was on the rise after COVID-19. However, the facility needs many improvements and the upgrades will be too costly to continue.
The Women's Club offers fitness classes, a large cardio and weight room, a saline pool, a spa and other amenities.
Evans has been here for almost four decades and when we asked for reaction to the news, she told us people are devastated. She feels strongly this is the type of fitness community people still want.
"I know that we're known as an older ladies club and they do have that community for sure but you know, when we did focus groups a couple of years ago, to find out if 'women's only' was important to say, the millennials. The feedback was overwhelmingly yes. it's still important it's still relevant and we want to be here."
The pandemic certainly didn't help. But the struggles were compounded by facility issues and repairs that need to be made.
"I would say it wasn’t a total COVID closure," Evans told MTN News. "It certainly didn’t help and it set us back quite a ways since we have a limited market. We have adult women only. We don’t have families or men so we have a very small market to draw from. We just don’t see being able to have enough members to do the infrastructure work"
It sounds like it got loved to death, "that's right," Evans laughed. It's what this gym has come to mean to Missoula women that many will miss.
"It has served as a community center for women where we can connect together, support each other, encourage each other," Evans said. "What I loved about it is a place lace of compassion and acceptance and people can come here and not worry about what they’re wearing or how they think they look or how they feel."
The Women's Club currently employs more than 60 people.
There is hope -- and even some discussion -- that the Women's Club and its services could continue in some fashion in the future. Right now, the announcement is too fresh to make plans but the conversation among staff and members is underway.
Evans says they do plan on a celebration for almost 40 years in business later this summer.