Kaua`i Athletic Club co-owners Scott McFarland, left, and Joshua Nations

Kaua`i Athletic Club co-owners Scott McFarland, left, and Joshua Nations in the final days of construction at the new Nawiliwili location. Photo by Joan Conrow

by Joan Conrow

Joshua Nations and Scott McFarland want to make it easy for folks to get their daily dose of exercise.

To that end, they’ve purchased the iconic Kaua`i Athletic Club (KAC) and moved it to more spacious digs in the old Hale Kaua`i building at Nawiliwili. They also plan to open a network of fitness centers in Kapa`a and Koloa, as well as on the North Shore.

Having access to a facility helps foster a sense of community that motivates people to keep working out, Nations says. “They stick with it longer, and it becomes more an integral part of their lifestyle if they’re doing it with friends.”

The new facilities will also introduce updated programs.

“Fitness is a trend-based business,” Nations says.

Interests have changed since handball aficionado Curly Carswell opened KAC in 1981, and the expanded Nawiliwili center has none of the indoor courts, pool, spa and lounge that dominated the old club.

Instead, the bright, spacious building is well-stocked with circuit training equipment, free weights and cardio machines, some of which work the whole body. Everything is new.

“This space is well-suited to accommodate everybody,” Nations says. “We don’t want to be exclusionary in any way.”

Upstairs, a special shock-absorbing wooden floor has been installed to improve the comfort and safety of people taking high-impact aerobics, dance and yoga classes. Downstairs, the cushy flooring is crafted from recycled tires.

“It’s a cleaner, greener gym for sure,” Nations says.

The Club is also going to become more personable.

“We’re big on programming, versus the big box model that’s just got equipment,” he says.

Much of that falls in the domain of Jeff Nelson, director of training and fitness. New members will get “a more thoughtful and robust fitness assessment,” Nations says. “He’ll be able to recommend a program so they aren’t lost and have something that’s suited to their fitness level.”

Personal trainers will offer group and individual sessions, and also spend time answering questions on the gym floor.

The Club is looking “to create new classes to keep pushing the envelope and keep people excited,” Nations says. At the same time, it will be taking a more structured approach to ensure people are matched with classes that meet their skill and fitness level.

Phyllis Stanwood, who launched the tradition of aerobics classes at the old gym, will be assisting the Club’s outreach efforts.

“We’re going to be sending Phyllis out into the community more,” Nations says. “We want to show up at events, set up a table and talk about fitness and programs. We want to touch people directly.”

Though the Kaua`i Athletic Club is evolving with the times, and new owners, Nations says he and McFarland never considered changing its name.

“The Carswell family started a legacy of fitness on this island,” Nations says. “We want to honor that legacy. We really want to be a gym for everybody.”

The KAC is open 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. For more information, call 245-5381, stop by the Club at 3371 Wilcox Road, or visit www.kauaiathleticclub.com.