Jan. 26, 2005 - In the upcoming months it should come as no surprise if the locals of the Dove Mountain residential community begin to look a little more physically fit.
The Marana community, which houses one of the finest private golf courses in Pima County, is the new home of the Gallery Sports Club, a 12,000-square-foot multi-purpose fitness facility. Flanking the 18-hole Gallery Golf course at the base of the Tortolita Mountains, the sports club fired up its treadmills for the first time and opened its steam-room doors Jan. 16 to the residents of the country club-style resort community.
Walkers meandering the miles of hiking paths of the 6,200-acre Dove Mountain complex are sure to come across the new country club fitness center. More importantly, golfers fresh off the greens also are encouraged to make their way up to the brand new complex. Although the facility is barely two weeks old, already it boasts more than 330 members.
To join the fitness center, however, patrons must be residents of Dove Mountain. Non-residents can join the club on an invitation membership with the understanding that once the club reaches its cap of Dove Mountain residents, memberships can be revoked.
By limiting its members, the Gallery is seeking to compete with other posh Pima County country clubs such as Stone Canyon, 945 W. Vistoso Canyon Drive, and the Westin La Paloma Country Club, 3800 E. Sunrise Drive.
"It's comparable not to an L.A. Fitness or Bally's," said Gallery Sports Club director Michael Hamilton. "It's similar to what they (Stone Canyon and La Paloma) offer, so we're upscale."
The current startup deposit being offered to become a member of the non-equity Gallery Sports Club is $4,000, with monthly dues starting at $125. Residents do not have to be golf course members to join the sports club. However, those with golf memberships automatically receive entry to the sports club.
Currently, of the 334 members of the sports club, only nine do not have a golf membership.
In comparison, members of Stone Canyon must pay a membership deposit of $10,000 for the golf and sports club package with monthly dues of $125. Stone Canyon, a 10,000 square foot facility, is also a non-equity club and will convert when 95 percent of the community's properties are sold. Where Stone Canyon has roughly 150 members in it sports club, the Gallery is only expecting to add about 50 members throughout the end of the year.
Hamilton believes the Gallery Sports Club and golf is on par with any sporting facility in the area.
"We have all the amenities you could need," he said. "I don't think you'll find a nicer facility in a residential place than this."
Those amenities include a fitness room, with free weights, treadmills, equipped with individual televisions, and other weight-room accessories. Those on the treadmills who choose not to watch the television can enjoy the picturesque view of the golf course and valley as it stretches forth from the room's giant bay windows.
Down the hall from the front desk and fitness room is the multi-purpose room for group fitness and specialty classes such as yoga, tai chi and Pilates.
On Jan. 19 the room hosted its first ever class, a 10-person lesson in Tai Chi taught by instructor José Hernandez-Rivera, 72. Adjacent to the room and outside is a lawn area that Hamilton said the club intends to use for early morning sunrise tai chi classes. From Monday to Friday, the club opens at 6 and 7 a.m. on the weekends.
Also found outside is a heated pool (with Olympic-sized lap lanes), basketball, sand volleyball and four tennis courts. Gas lines are still being added to the pool, which will open in February. Surrounding the pool are grassy areas specially designed for leisurely sports such as bocce ball and croquet.
Among the facility's 22 employees are personal trainers, estheticians, massage therapists and tennis pros. The club also features a patio café.
For the time being, those working up a sweat may encounter a painter here or a landscaper there. The facility is expected to be fully complete within the month or even earlier, said Hamilton.
Even with its finishing touches being applied, the early reviews are highly favorable.
"It's really great," said Galen Pate, a Minnesota native who makes his residence in Tucson for eight months of the year. "It's a real added plus to the golf course."
As patrons slowly matriculate into the club, so do the levels of experience.
"We get all varieties of exercise levels," said front desk manager,Christa Hutchinson, "from people who work out all the time to beginners who walk in and say 'OK, tell me what to do.'"
For the novices the sports club offers certified personal trainers to assist in establishing proper routines through one-on-one training.
The Gallery Sports Club will hold its grand opening Jan. 29.