Committed to Fitness
Ellis Athletic Center and FACTS Fitness go above and beyond to help clients get fit
by Phil Gianficaro

“He profits most who serves best.”

That business maxim is as applicable today as when American entrepreneur Arthur F. Sheldon coined it 115 years ago. Simply put: Do what’s right by your customers and they’ll remain faithful.

FACTS Fitness is a present-day example of this adage that has stood the test of time. A fitness management company headquartered in Newtown Square, FACTS Fitness applies that philosophy at each of its Philadelphia-area locations, including the newly renovated Ellis Athletic Center.

Located on 210 picturesque acres at the Ellis Preserve Corporate Center at Route 252 and Route 3 in Newtown Square, Ellis Athletic Center is a 22,000-square-foot commercial fitness center with an exclusive, boutique studio feel.

The affordable athletic center offers more than 50 classes each week, including boot camp, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Spinning, Turbo Kick, yoga and Zumba.

Ellis Athletic Center offers health benefits for people of all ages, including exercise groups, personal trainers, 50 pieces of Precor cardiovascular equipment with personal viewing screens, a full suite of Life Fitness and Hammer Strength equipment, outdoor fitness trails, programs for seniors, a full-court basketball gymnasium, volleyball, table tennis, pickle ball (a hybrid of tennis and Wiffle ball), sports leagues and more.

Members also enjoy full-service men’s and women’s locker rooms and towel service. Each locker room features private showers and toiletries such as soap, shampoo, Q-tips, cotton balls, shaving cream, cologne, mouthwash and more. Rental lockers are available along with laundry service for workout gear that will be washed and waiting for a member’s next visit.

All of the above stress the key mission of FACTS Fitness at the Ellis Athletic Center: to strengthen not only bodies but also the relationship between the company and its clients.

“What we’ve wanted to do from the start—I’ve been with FACTS since 2002—is create a sense of community for our customers,” says Patrick Sarne, general manager at FACTS Fitness. “Our new tagline is ‘Ellis Athletic Center: Health, Motivation and Community.’ We have an outdoor patio, where we serve coffee, and have a juice bar. We offer a menu of services, things like day care for moms who need their children watched while they’re exercising. We provide our customers with a little extra. These are amenities you don’t find at bargain gyms.”

FACTS Fitness also owns and operates FACTS Fitness Elite Personal Training Studios, the area’s premier personal-training company with fitness centers in West Conshohocken, King of Prussia and Blue Bell. These facilities offer open memberships, small group training and one on one training in an exclusive private setting. The parent company, FACTS Fitness, is a full-service fitness management and consulting company offering turn-key corporate fitness management services.

Tom Fenstermacher, owner and president of FACTS Fitness, stressed that there are a number of differences between his company and other fitness clubs.

“There’s a notion in this day and age with the discount fitness club models that you’ll show up and get in shape just like that,” he says. “That you’ll pay $10 a month and magically get in shape is not always the case. The average person has no idea what steps need to be taken to create a safe and effective fitness program. You need more than a building with treadmills and weights. Ellis Athletic Club and FACTS Fitness provide the human element.  

“The fitness industry has made a big lurch to something called high-volume/low-cost clubs,” he continues. “They simply provide a venue. They’re light on services and just try to convince the public to show up and get healthy at an attractive price. But people are finding out they’re just not getting results.”

At Ellis Athletic Center, members have access to a program called Prep 45. FACTS Fitness has partnered with a major health system provider on this doctor-prescribed program for those desiring to take health and fitness seriously but who also need direction.

“With Prep 45, clients begin with a 50 percent discount to the program,” says Fenstermacher, who has, with Sarne, nearly 50 years of combined experience in the fitness business. “They get a fitness evaluation and are exposed to a tangible, age-appropriate program put together specifically for them by a specialist. After 45 days, the client graduates from the program and is under no obligation going forward.

“You’re not going to get these touches elsewhere in the industry right now,” he continues. “This is another example of how we view our clients. We’re involved in outcomes.”

Another program at Ellis Athletic Center is Prep 30, a complimentary new member program that includes a fitness assessment, two small group-training classes and any three group-exercise classes (such as step, yoga or boot camp).

“Prep 30 gives a new member a comprehensive introduction to the facility,” says Andy Ambruch, fitness director at FACTS Fitness. “At the end of the 30 days, they get a free T-shirt, but more importantly they have been integrated into the facility, made friends and have a tangible road map to success. This helps to ensure that members do not get that ‘lost in the woods’ feeling that we have all felt in a fitness center.”

Ellis Athletic Center members also benefit by saving time.

“At those other fitness centers that charge a very low monthly fee, what happens if too many members show up at the same time?” Sarne asks. “Customers end up standing around waiting to exercise, wasting time they don’t have.

“At Ellis,” he continues, “stay-at-home moms might be here from 9 to 11 a.m.; seniors maybe work out from 11 until noon to take advantage of our senior programs like Silver Sneakers; and the corporate group might be here at lunchtime working out. You’re not going to encounter big crowds here because we’re not a big-box volume facility and we have more to offer than a small studio. That’s important.”

A sense of community, as well as a place to build muscle and friendships—this is what members discover at Ellis Athletic Center, making it much more than a typical fitness center.

“We’ve established ourselves as a community fitness center,” Sarne says. “When people come in, they know a lot of people here. It’s a tight community. We have a lot of business owners as members, and that’s a great way to network, by interacting with other business owners and customers. There’s value to that.

“We try to achieve a one-on-one relationship with just about everyone,” he continues. “We want people to look forward to coming here.”

Ellis Athletic Center/FACTS Fitness
3819 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square, PA 19073

Photograph by Jody Robinson