The St. James on Thursday announced that it will open a “performance club” in downtown Bethesda this winter. The new facility is a little less than a tenth of the size of its flagship megaplex in Springfield, which includes a FIFA regulation-size turf field, NHL regulation-size ice rinks, and a climbing wall, among many other amenities.
The Washington Business Journal was first to report about the new club. Washingtonian got St. James founders Craig Dixon and Kendrick Ashton on the phone to talk about what’s coming to Bethesda, which doesn’t have a specific opening date yet.
The St. James “absolutely” plans more locations in the region, Dixon says. (There are already plans for a location near Chicago as well.) A performance club includes “dynamic spaces for training, agility, strength, and conditioning,” Dixon explains, with substantial floor space allotted to its “Courted Recovery” program. As at the other locations, there’s also a Vim & Victor Café, overseen by Spike Mendelsohn, where customers will have “access to coaching and tips around the right diets that they show the right the right way to eat in order to get the results that they’re looking for,” Dixon says.
All the facilities are part of what the pair call the “three programmatic pillars” of the type of facilities that elite athletes typically use: Environments for performance training, with spaces that can be adapted to different types of exercises; recovery space (“exercise science has taught us that how you recover is as important as how you train,” Dixon says); and “really great food, that’s also great for you,” as Dixon puts it.
The company doesn’t expect its customers at Bethesda will be much different from its customers at other facilities. Despite the facilities being a bit more aimed at adults, “we’re still very family focused,” Ashton says. In fact, it hopes to expand its sports training regionally to attract youth teams to its training facilities.
Pricing for the Bethesda club isn’t available yet, but it will be in line with pricing at the other locations, Dixon says: $169 per month in Springfield for access to the whole facility, $125 per month in Reston for strictly performance club access. An all-access pass will be available that allows holders to all locations.
I asked Dixon and Ashton what has surprised them most as they’ve built this business in the area. “I can tell you that we didn’t anticipate a global pandemic,” says Ashton. (The Springfield complex opened in late 2018, and the Bethesda location will occupy a former Washington Sports Club space.) Through the pandemic, Ashton says, he’s realized “how critically important identifying the best talent in the market is.” The passion customers have for the St. James brand, Dixon says, “really enabled us to make the make the investments that we’re making to extend our presence in the region in ways that were not entirely clear to us when we first set out to build the St. James.”