The Sport & Health Co. announces capital investment plan in the midst of a languid economy.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Economic slowdown be darned! The Sport & Health Co., based in the Washington, D.C. market, will be pouring $20 million into large-scale renovations and expansions over the next several years. Sport & Health properties that have been singled out include: Skyline City, Tysons Corner, Gaithersburg (Rio), Bethesda, Tenley, Herndon (Worldgate), Crystal City and Ballston.

In making this investment, was the company concerned about the current economic conditions at all? Yes and no, answered Don Konz, president and CEO.

“We are seeing an impact on our industry with what is happening in the economy more so than I've seen in the past,” he said. “But what I really think is the two situations [the economy and the company's reinvestment] are independent.

“It's just a matter of what we had to do to stay competitive in the fitness market,” Konz explained. The company would have continued with its reinvestment plans regardless of the economic conditions, he added.

In giving this statement, Konz echoed comments that he made in a press release. “We realized we meet the diverse needs of the communities we serve,” he said in the release. “We realized we had great locations for most of our clubs, but in order to continue to be the largest health club company in this market, it is important for us to provide more modern facilities, expanded programs and more leisure-time activities. I think our existing membership and the communities in which we serve will benefit tremendously from these changes and continue to see the value in Sport & Health.”

Some of the changes that members can expect to see include full-service day spas, executive locker rooms, increased kids' clubs, greater aquatic offerings, more specialized group exercise rooms and concierge services. The Sport & Health Co. also has plans to open four or five new clubs this year.

“The industry itself seems to be vital and stronger than ever,” Konz said. However, he did concede that borrowing money could be difficult for clubs, as many financial institutions are becoming increasingly cautious.