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Last Stop: Cooper

As my two-day trip to Dallas drew to a close, I made my way north to McKinney, TX, where the Cooper Aerobics Center at Craig Ranch is located. After I passed Plano, things started to look a little desolate, as the city is now just reaching the edges of Allen and McKinney. I wasn‘t sure if I was going in the right direction because I expected more buildings near Cooper, but I soon found it. It‘s in the middle of a new development called Craig‘s Ranch. The Cooper portion of this is just a piece of what the development will be. The Cooper Fitness Center opened about two years ago, and the Cooper Clinic is next door to it. Both are built in a rustic stone look--very fitting for the area.

I got a tour of the facility from Brandy Rentz. Jason Barth, the general manager, joined us for part of the tour. Everything had that fresh look to it, right down to the pool outside the huge window in the large cardio and strength area (which also included a climbing wall).

Amy George, director of marketing, then joined me and led me upstairs to meet with some of the staff, all of whom have great offices with windows that look onto the cardio/strength floor and then out through the big window to the pool. Definitely a better view than my parking lot view back at the office!

I had a chance to speak with Kelly Warrington, program director. I originally met her in Chicago at the Club Industry show last year when she accepted the Best of the Best award for Cooper‘s Round Up program. We caught up on what she‘s doing in the membership and retention areas. Her job allows her to be creative in the programs she designs for members and in the marketing she does for those programs. She was putting up beach-themed décor that day for their March program.

I also spoke with Megan Howell, youth program director, who filled me in on the physical education requirements that Texas is implementing and the role Cooper is playing in that (we‘ll be running a story on that in the near future).

My last staff visit was with David McGarry, fitness director, who explained to me the process of setting up all the equipment on the fitness floor when they first opened the club. Even though he had mapped out exactly where he wanted each piece of equipment before it arrived, he still made some changes when he saw something didn‘t flow quite to his liking.

Amy then drove me around the portion of Craig Ranch that will be Cooper Life. It will include the fitness center, Cooper Clinic, upscale housing and walking trails. Only a three-unit townhouse building has been completed so far, but Amy showed me on the map where the other residences will go. I look forward to talking to Dr. Tyler Cooper in the next few weeks about Cooper Life and what they are doing there. He was called away to an emergency or I would have spoken to him during this visit.

My next visit to Dallas (whenever that will be!) will definitely include a trip to the Cooper Aerobics Center on Preston Road. I had a chance to drive by it while in Dallas. It has a completely different feel from the Craig Ranch location, since it‘s in town with brick facades in a Colonial style and is surrounded by houses, strip malls and trees.

However, on this trip, these club visits were all I could handle. I then headed home to catch up on work before flying out again tomorrow to San Diego for the IHRSA show. Make sure to catch our coverage of that show on the blog over the next few days! --Pam

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