Three women take center stage for their professional accomplishments and dedication to the fitness industry.

Once again Club Industry placed its spotlight on three women who exemplify professionalism, community service and entrepreneurial spirit. Carol Nalevan-ko, Susan Hughes and Joyce Brown were the recipients this year of Club Industry's Fourth Annual Distinguished Business Woman's Awards sponsored by Life Fitness. The winners were recognized at Club Industry 2000 last month in Chicago.

Business Woman of the Year Carol Nalevanko, vice president of DMB Sports Clubs, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Carol Nalevanko has gotten to where she is today through perseverance. She has worked her way up through the ranks at DMB Sports Clubs - which owns and operates five clubs - starting in 1979 as activities director of DMB's Metro Sport & Health and ending up as vice president of DMB Sports Clubs, where she is responsible for all five clubs and 400 employees.

Nalevanko has moved up in DMB Sports Clubs because she has played an active part its growth. In 1989, she was directly responsible for DMB's Metro Sport & Health Club's $2 million expansion and renovation project, which enabled Metro to compete directly with a chain that had opened up new clubs in the Arizona fitness market.

In 1990, Nalevanko was responsible for all aspects of the design and construction of a $4 million renovation project at DMB's Village Racquet and Health Club, a 400-member bankrupt tennis club in an affluent part of Phoenix. The renovation transformed the club into a 60,000-square-foot multi-recreational, exclusive health club.

The list of Nalevanko's accomplishments goes on. She accepted another renovation project in 1996, and helped develop a new facility that would house a full-service day spa and large multi-recreational health club. The new DMB facility, Gainey Village Health Club and Spa, came to fruition in large part thanks to Nalevanko's dream of opening a day spa component in a health club facility.

Supervising renovations isn't all Nalevanko excels at. In 1990, she formed the Arizona Fitness Network, an organization of Arizona IHRSA clubs. The goal of this organization was to enable individual clubs to band together to offer corporate membership programs at multiple locations to Arizona corporations.

Three years ago, the Arizona Fitness Network changed its name to the Arizona Fitness and Therapy Network Inc. Now it is a registered corporation of which Nalevanko is president.

Around the time of the name change, Arizona Fitness and Therapy Network entered into one of the first capitation agreements with an insurance company: InterGroup Insurance of Arizona. This agreement relates to InterGroup's SeniorCare program, giving approximately 30,000 seniors access to the 16 health clubs in the network.

Nalevanko also took part in developing the curriculum for the year 2000 for both management and front-line staff. The training program includes new hire orientation, best practices, power selection, supervisory skills, the counselor salesperson and signature service.

Entrepreneur of the Year Susan Hughes, proprietor/general manager of Woman's Workout Co., Mashpee, Mass.
Susan Hughes is a self-taught woman. Unlike a lot of others in the fitness industry, Hughes started at the top. In April of 1986, without any prior experience in the field, she purchased an existing health club.

Since then she has been successful in developing three member-directed fitness businesses - the most recent just opened on May 1, 2000. She employs approximately 150 people, and her business is growing daily.

Prior to being a fitness club owner, Hughes worked in the field of health and medicine. During her years working with physicians, Hughes' clientele was predominantly composed of sedentary women who were physically unfit and emotionally insecure.

To alleviate the challenges of her career, Hughes joined a local health club. After work, she frequented the gym routinely, watching as women joined with high expectations, only to get lost in a sea of other members due to poor follow-up.

In the winter of 1986, the health club she frequented - Gloria Stevens Figure Salon - began experiencing financial hardships, and was placed on the market for sale. Hughes saw this as her golden opportunity and took it.

And what an opportunity it was. Hughes has had nothing but success. She expanded her original location three times before outgrowing the building in 1988, when she moved to a larger site. She eventually outgrew this site too, remodeling it four times before moving on. In 1995, she purchased land in Hyannis, where she designed and custom-built her first Woman's Workout Co. (WWC).

Not surprisingly, she got too big for this site, and moved the original WWC location to its current Mashpee site. She also added two more WWCs.

All three of Hughes' facilities are health and well-being centers designed for women. They include day spas, dance studios, weight-loss centers, group exercise studios, juice bars, tanning, playrooms, cardio rooms with state-of-the-art entertainment systems, weight rooms, steam room, locker rooms, pro shops and more.

Hughes' success at building a member-directed fitness business is one of her greatest talents. Her vision can best be described as the creation of all-inclusive, multipurpose centers that meet a woman's well-being needs while offering the convenience of one-stop shopping.

Hughes is driven by her vision, and wants to bring it to as many women as she can. She relishes taking fitness to realms not previously associated with this industry. Hughes has changed the old "fitness-figure salon" image by building beyond it to create programs encompassing diet and day spa options. Her ability to integrate other business concepts into a fitness atmosphere is trend-setting.

Hughes also has a special gift of being able to recognize the best in those who work for her. She encourages and supports employees by giving them the tools and opportunities they need to become the best at what they do.

Her personal goal is to open five centers combining fitness programs and spa services. Hughes is a gifted educator and is excited to share her passions for helping women by teaching them the tools of empowerment necessary to achieve their own success and dreams.

Industry Enhancement Award Joyce Brown, president/owner of Elan Fitness Center, San Anselmo, Calif.
Joyce Brown has owned Elan Fitness Center in San Anselmo for 18 years and in Petaluma for eight years. The center - a ladies spa and health club - has 3,700 members and 100 employees.

As owner of Elan Fitness Center, Brown has used her club as a vehicle for community health awareness and improvement. Elan Fitness Center sponsors quarterly blood drives; semi-annual CPR training; free blood pressure screenings; workshops on women's health issues; the annual breast center hike on Mt. Tam and Alzheimer's walk; the annual women's Heart Association fund-raising luncheon; and Elan's own health and harmony day, which offers fitness information for free to the public.

Brown also donates her time and funds to organizations such as Hospice of Marin, Marin Breast Cancer Watch, Marin AIDS Project, Cedars, Cure for MS, Marin Abused Women's Services, CASA Hoops for Children, rotary club, and the Community Institute for Psychotherapy, which offers individual and family counseling at a low cost. In addition, she provides those in medical or financial need with scholarships to maintain their health at Elan Fitness Center for either low or no cost.

Besides her concern for the health of her community, Brown is also committed to education and the arts, providing donations to school fund-raisers.

Brown's community involvement includes serving on committees for the annual Country Fair Day Parade, the San Anselmo 2000 Beautification Committee and the annual Marin Women in Business Conference. She has made donations to the Girl Scouts of Marin, the San Anselmo Recreation Department, the San Rafael Police Department and the Ross Valley Fire Department.

She is a member of the Petaluma, San Rafael and San Anselmo chamber of commerce of which she has also served as president. Her club was recently nominated for Business of the Year by fellow chamber members, and Brown was nominated Business Person of the Year 1992.

Brown has also provided the community with an asset in Elan Fitness Center itself. The business has taken on a life of its own, becoming a haven for women of the area. More than just a health club, Elan is a communal meeting place where women can feel comfortable bringing their children, networking with other mothers and/or business women, and improving their mental and physical well-being.