New owner takes over Oak Lawn fitness club

Posted on 11 May 2006 at 8:52pm
By David Webb – Staff Writer


Michael Liebermann wants the Turtle Creek Athletic Club to be a place where GLBT people go to hang out as well as work out.


Liebermann will change name to Turtle Creek Athletic Club, redesign facility to appeal to GLBT community

Fitness Evolution in The Centrum building was sold this month to a new owner and will now be known as the Turtle Creek Athletic Club.

Michael Liebermann, the former district manager for the Fitness Evolution health club chain, said he purchased the club with the idea of redesigning it to appeal more to the GLBT community than it now does. Improvements to the club will begin in June, but there will be no interruptions in service, he said.

“I want the club to be in touch with what the members want and the community wants and to meet and exceed all of the expectations that the neighborhood would have for this type of facility,” Liebermann said.

The memberships from Fitness Evolution’s Centrum location transferred to the new operation, Liebermann said. There will no longer be membership reciprocity with Fitness Evolution, he said.

“My vision for this club is not to just provide a workout facility or fitness center but more of a destination concept,” Liebermann said. “I want it to be a part of the community where everybody goes and hangs out.”

Liebermann said he hopes to attract more women to join the club.
The planned new amenities in the 41,000-square-foot facility include a smoothie bar, tanning beds, Internet station, a yoga studio and a martial arts studio.

Liebermann said he has begun putting together an investment team from the GLBT community. The investors will serve on a board of directors that will help manage the club’s operation, he said.

“I would prefer to have investors that are not involved in the fitness industry,” Liebermann said. “I would just like to have professionals so that I can get a lot of diverse backgrounds and educations.”

Liebermann said that although he is not gay, he understands that the health club in The Centrum building was long known as a gay club.

“The more I learn about the history of this club and what it meant to the community and how much it was a part of people’s lives, it just really appealed to me,” Liebermann said. “It seemed like it was more than just a gym.”

Sam Mulroy, owner of the Fitness Evolution chain, opened the current facility in August 2005. Formerly known as the Centrum Sports Club, it was closed for two years after its previous owner filed for bankruptcy.

Mulroy sold his West Village Fitness Evolution facility on March 1, leaving him with only the Denton and Plano locations.

Mulroy said he decided to sell both the West Village and Centrum locations after investors approached him with offers. Liebermann, who sat in on the business meetings, decided to put his own investment team together to purchase the Centrum location, he said.

“I had four gyms at once,” Mulroy said. “I was pretty burned out and overwhelmed.”

Mulroy said he was pleased when Liebermann became interested in the idea of owning his own gym.

“He got really fired up,” Mulroy said. “It was a good way for me to reward someone who had helped me build up the four gyms. At the same time it took a load off my plate.”

Mulroy, who lives in Oak Lawn, said he plans to continue training people and working out at the Turtle Creek Athletic Association as a member.

“It’s my favorite gym to work out at of all my gyms,” Mulroy said.
Liebermann said he views the membership like a big family. He is accepting advice from some of the members on how the club should be redecorated, such as the color and type for the new floor.

“They’re like, maybe you better let us pick the colors, and I’m like all right, cool,” Liebermann said. “I don’t have the designer gene, but a lot of the members do.”

The redesign will include opening up walls so there is a view from one end of the club to the other, Liebermann said.

Liebermann, 43, who has worked in the fitness industry since he was 17, said the club has become the major focus of his life.

“I’m very passionate about working out, exercise and everything associated with it,” Liebermann said.

Liebermann said he welcomes anyone interested in the club to visit it for a workout before they decide if they want to join.

For information contact him at 214-418-9925

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 12, 2006.

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