A Change Of Ownership At Chatham Health And Swim Club

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Business , Real estate

Carol Penfield, left, former owner of the Chatham Health and Swim Club, and new owner Jason Nye. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – After 25 years in the energy industry, Jason Nye was too young to retire when he and his wife Kathy moved their family to Truro last fall. A “self-professed gym rat,” he found the perfect transition in the Chatham Health and Swim Club, which the couple purchased last month.

“It's something I know and enjoy,” he said of the fitness business. When he met owner Carol Penfield, they not only hit it off but found they had mutual friends.

“It seemed like a good fit,” Nye said Monday, seated in the Crowell Road club's lounge area.

Founded by Jim Finn in 1983, the club has about 600 members and one of the area's few indoor lap pools. Open year round, it hosts numerous classes and programs including a popular weight loss program called Complete Health Improvement Program, or CHIP, run by Penfield, a nurse practitioner.

Penfield will continue to run the program as well enhancing her lifestyle medicine practice and working with fitness and personal training clients. The club, she said, “is an ideal setting for that.”

Continuity of staff and programs are important to Nye, and is something he said members have said they hope won't change. While he has an eye on some “cosmetic” changes to the building, “slight improvements around the edges,” as he put it – such as the new, well-received coffee machine – they'll be mostly minor and won't happen until after the summer.

“For the most part, the continuity comes with the staff and programs offered,” he said. The club has about 20 employees, a dozen of whom are experienced, certified instructors.

“Some have been here 25 years,” Nye noted.

The pool is one of the club's most popular features, especially with area seniors. At four feet deep all the way across, it is convenient for water walking and other exercises, as well as lap swimming. A morning water aerobics class routinely attracts as many as 30 women.

“The pool is a draw for some, the indoor rowing is a draw for others,” said Penfield. Nye said he'd like to add spinning classes, too.

“The challenge is where to put the bikes,” he said, surveying the space.

Penfield began working at the club in 1999 and she and her husband David purchased it in 2006 from Jerry Whitlock. The biggest change during their decade of ownership, she said, was adding a medical focus to the gym, and providing clients with guidance rather than just access to the facility and equipment.

“That sort of guidance evolved over the years so we're seeing people who would not be comfortable going into a health club being more at ease here,” she said. David will stay on as Penfield's supervising physician and will remain involved in the CHIP program, she added.

Originally from southwest Virginia, Nye and his wife, who is from Dennisport, have had a home in Truro since 2003. He spent 25 years in the oil and gas industry, much of it overseas, including Norway, Thailand, Singapor and the United Kingdom. The family lived in Houston before moving east last September. Nye has played sports all his life and coached lacrosse at Stamford University; his gym activities focus on weight lifting and cardio, and while he worked as a lifeguard in the past and enjoys swimming, he acknowledged that's something he needs to get back into. The couple have two children: Marina, a sophomore at Albright College, and Will, an 18-year-old senior at Nauset High School.

Nye Realty Trust purchased the club from Chatham Health Realty Trust on June 30 or $1.575 million. The cost of the 251 Crowell Rd. real estate was $1.16 million.

Nye, who is co-owner along with his wife, said he's here for the long haul.

“It seemed like a good lifestyle choice for the foreseeable future,” he said.