History

Founded by Phil Wendel in 1984, acac Fitness & Wellness Centers have become the gold standard for health and wellness facilities. With locations in Charlottesville, Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; and West Chester, Pennsylvania, acac members and guests have a full spectrum of programs, services and equipment at their fingertips. acac is committed to serving people of all ages and fitness levels, and offers extensive children’s facilities, diverse adult programming and medically-based health and wellness services.

acac’s roots

Always interested in sports and fitness, acac owner Phil Wendel first joined a fitness club when health spas became popular in the early 1970s. By his count, Phil has had lifetime memberships to more than 20 fitness clubs. Like many others, he joined club after club. “It seemed like the clubs would get a new owner every month, and eventually the doors would shut,” says Phil. “I observed the comings and goings of all these clubs and thought to myself, ‘There must be a better way.’”

In the midst of the 1980s fitness craze, Phil opened the first acac in a small shopping center in Charlottesville, Virginia. “My goal then was simply to open a club that would not close,” quips Phil. After his first decade in the fitness business, the concept of working out had become more than a fad. By the mid-1990s, studies reporting the benefits of exercise were published daily in respect­able health and medical journals. Phil, a voracious reader, kept abreast of the lat­est research. Convinced that gyms should not just be for the young and fit, Phil set out to operate a health club where everyone would feel comfortable coming to exercise. Once Phil refined his mission—to change lives—the business model became apparent. “In order to appeal to the non-exerciser, we had to re­evaluate our services, facilities, and pro­gramming,” says Phil. “We wanted to get away from the ‘gym’ stereotype and reach out beyond the iron-pumping, string bikini crowd.” By emphasizing health and wellness in facilities known for their cleanliness and friendly team of professionals, Phil has created a new genre of fitness center that strives to meet the needs of individuals at every stage of life. “We want to serve our members from cradle to…well, keeping you on the right side of the grass,” jokes Phil.