An intimate look at the new ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center in Short Pump

Director of communications and research Christine Thalwitz and general manager Corky Bishop on one of ACAC's new rooftop platform tennis courts, overlooking Short Pump and Henrico County.
Director of communications and research Christine Thalwitz and general manager Corky Bishop on one of ACAC's new rooftop platform tennis courts, overlooking Short Pump and Henrico County.
Director of communications and research Christine Thalwitz and general manager Corky Bishop on one of ACAC’s new rooftop platform tennis courts, overlooking Short Pump and Henrico County.

Short Pump, VA – The four levels of fitness, aquatics and activities at the new ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center in West Broad Village in Short Pump are enough to entice even the most exercise-resistant individual to hit the gym. The facility is open, inviting, and has lots of natural sunlight with nice views. They also have a lot of helpful staff on hand and some nice touches that can make working out that much easier and more enjoyable.

ACAC 338The ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center, a Charlottesville-based company, recently invited to take a tour of their new facility to give an intimate view of their offerings to our readers. One of the first things that became apparent is the holistic approach to health and wellness that ACAC takes. Their menu of services and activities include mind-body and yoga classes, relaxing social activities, and even a physician referral program, in addition to the cardio, weights, and other workout equipment one would expect in a first-rate cutting-edge exercise facility.

Christine Thalwitz, director of communications and research, said as we began the tour, “You’ll notice a lot of seated areas, because we want to be more than just a place where people come to workout. We want people to feel free to socialize, go to our rooftop pool, relax and unwind. This should be a sanctuary that can offer respite from our normal hectic, crazy lives, in addition to a gym.”

Thalwitz stressed that the facility was designed and structured to attract people regardless of age or health status. Their programs take great pains to balance the needs of all members and to be welcoming to everyone. They have a strong family component to their facility to engage the kids, because as Thalwitz puts it, “Parents will feel good about exercising when their kids feel good about coming here.” However, there are plenty of programs, space, classes and swim hours for individuals too.

ACAC 333The first stop was the aquatics center, which has a large activity pool, a warm water therapeutic pool for physical therapy work and swimming, and a hot tub. The activity pool has scheduled family and kid times, so families can come and enjoy the facility, but people who want to get in some serious laps can still do so.

Even the locker rooms were designed with personal preferences and special needs in mind. The wide open corridor leading to the pools has lockers and family changing rooms off the side to allow people who need assistance and people with children to get ready for the pool without having to go into the locker room, meaning less walking for them. The women’s locker rooms contain more vanities, so women can freshen up after working out. The men’s locker rooms have more sinks to allow plenty of room for shaving and grooming. Each locker room has a dry sauna.

ACAC 336Next was the Kids Zone. The Kids Zone provides casual daycare from the age of 8 weeks to 12 years. There is an infant area, a toddler area for the 2-5 year old crowd, and a youth center upstairs for 5 years and up, along with a separate eating area. The upstairs youth center features a maze of a play center that goes from floor to ceiling, as well as a mural by local celebrity Happy the Artist. The attendees at this daycare can give a bottle and change diapers. The facility is nut free. If parents bring labeled food, Kids Zone staff can feed the children while they are in the Kids Zone.

One of ACAC’s unique features is PREP, which stands for “Physician Referred Exercise Program.” ACAC is working with local doctors, registered nurses, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other medical professionals to provide an exercise start-up program that they can literally prescribe to their patients. The program is $60 for 60 days. In that 60 days, the individual will get two training sessions a week, plus full access to the fitness center and all its amenities. ACAC has an exercise physiologist, a nutritionist, and a registered nurse on staff to help individuals create not just an exercise program but new healthy habits that hey can stick with in the long run.

Thalwitz explains the success of PREP this way:  “When doctors prescribe exercise or say, ‘You have to lose weight,’ patients have so many questions about what to do, how much to do. This program teaches how to start and maintain an exercise program. We give a good structure to jump start good healthy habits.”

ACACHealthquestInside the main fitness level, ACAC offers a program called Healthquest. With Healthquest, the member will have an exercise card they’ve filled out on their own or with a trainer. That person hands the exercise card to one of the trainers, and the trainers will go ahead of the member and set the machines to the right settings and weight. Thalwitz says the program “helps our members who want the extra help get right down to business of what they’re here to do–work out.”

In addition to a wide array of brand new cardio equipment and an impressive set of weights, there is an indoor walk-jog track and a large functional training area on the mezzanine loft, which even features artificial turf.


Instructor Emilie Dube rehearses a new Les Mills release
Instructor Emilie Dube rehearses a new Les Mills release

ACAC offers classes in cycling, aquatics, yoga, Les Mills, Zumba, and classes with a strong mind-body component. They have four studios–cycling, group exercise, yoga, and mind-body. They also feature a double squash court.

The rooftop features a heated pool, a hot tub, fire pits for hanging out after a workout on those slightly chilly nights, and two platform tennis courts. There will also be a bar, featuring a selection of beverages that will include beer and wine.

ACAC 356General manager Corky Bishop is very excited about the platform tennis courts–something many Richmonders may not be familiar with. “It’s the best game there is, because you don’t have to be very good to enjoy it,” he says with a smile. “Platform tennis, or sometimes called paddle tennis, is a social game. The rules are simple. It’s played doubles only. It looks a lot like tennis, except the court is a bit smaller and the rackets are smaller. The weather can be zero degrees outside, and you can still enjoy it.”

Bishop expects the rooftop to be open no later than the weekend of January 26-27, depending on weather and whether or not there are any construction delays.

The club also has a conference room that is available for rent to members and non-members.

Dedicated yoga studio with bamboo floors
Dedicated yoga studio with bamboo floors

ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center has many membership choices for individuals, couples and families, as well as corporate memberships. Their grand opening incentives include no enrollment fees through January 14, and half off enrollment fees for a short time after that.

Bishop’s excitement about the new club is infectious. “The club is so nice and new right now. It’s like a spa more than a gym,” he says. “It’s a great time to get in and get to know and get comfortable with the club.”

For more information about the Short Pump ACAC Fitness and Wellness center, please visit their website, or call (804) 464-0990 to schedule your own personal tour.