CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- ACAC Fitness & Wellness Center is adding a new club in Richmond, VA, its second facility in that city. The club company also has one club in West Chester, PA, and four in Charlottesville, VA, where the company is headquartered.

Phil Wendel, founder of ACAC, says that all of the company’s locations have fared well during the recession of the past two years in terms of revenue growth, income growth and sales growth. He attributes that to the company’s ability to attract non-traditional exercisers and to its physician referral network, which it has had in place since 2004.

ACAC won the Best Nonmember Program category in Club Industry’s Best of the Best competition this year for its Physician Referred Exercise Program (PREP). Since 2004, the PREP program has brought in more than $14 million in membership dues, ancillary sales and other upgrades, according to the company. (You can read more about this program in next month’s issue.)

Wendel was able to secure financing for the greenfield project because the company has low debt (it is not quite 50 percent leveraged), a good credit rating, a good history of paying on time and improved earnings during a tough economy, he says.

Because of the economy, now is a good time to negotiate new leases, as many club operators have discovered. The landlord on ACAC’s new 57,000-square-foot, three-story space offered Wendel an attractive lease for the first two years with no money down and the appropriate demographic for ACAC clubs, Wendel says. The West Broad Village location in Richmond will include neighboring businesses such as Whole Foods, REI and the Children’s Museum of Richmond.

ACAC placed No. 36 on Club Industry’s Top 100 Clubs list this year with $32.2 million in revenue for 2009.

ACAC signed the lease last Friday. The new facility is scheduled to open in December 2011.