For many health club operators, expanding during the recession might have seemed impossible, but not for Jim Worthington, president and owner of Newtown Athletic Club (the NAC), Newtown, PA. (Watch videos of Worthington discussing his club's expansion and plans for the future.)

The reaction by many club operators to a recession, Worthington and his business partners reasoned, would be to decrease staffing levels, service levels and reinvestment in their facilities, so they decided to do the opposite.

“There were things we did that were the right things to do when this recession came,” Worthington says. “We realized we were going to have to fight for every member that came through our door. It wasn’t going to be like the old days when if 100 people came in your door and you signed up 30, you’d be fine because the amount of people looking for health clubs would be less.”

Worthington secured a loan from his bank and began renovating the NAC. He spent about $7 million to enhance his 135,000-square-foot club and the 60,000-square-foot sports performance annex. The enhancements included a lobby and café renovation, an expansion in the babysitting area and a $5 million, 12,000-square-foot fitness center addition that opened in February.

But Worthington is not finished. In October, the NAC will open a $2.5 million 40,000 square-foot fieldhouse that will replace the existing sports performance training annex.

By May 2013, the NAC will open a $6 million, 4.5-acre outdoor resort-style family pool complex with four pools, which include an adult-only pool, a zero entry pool, a lazy river and a splash pool/spray pool. Worthington plans for the heated pools to be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. from the first of May through October.

“I will tell you that this concept we are doing with this outdoor pool [complex] is something that is going to get some notice nationally with some clubs,” he says, adding that the design for the complex came after visits to resorts and hotels around the country. “To the extent of what we are doing, I don’t think it’s been done.”