“The dome has done all the things I was hoping it would do. It differentiates us from other buildings and brings potential customers through the door,” said Steve Lumpee, owner of Aggieland Fitness in College Station, Texas.
Lumpee did very limited advertising because of the visibility of the dome from Highway 6 and due to the dome’s eye catching, unique architecture, they were able to generate nearly 600 members during the 30 day pre-sale and another 500 members within the next 60 days.
Aggieland Fitness Dome was complete in January 2004 and was the world’s first Monolithic Dome fitness center. The 124′ × 40′ dome encompasses 12,000 square. feet on ground level and 2400 square feet on the mezzanine level.
The fitness area offers an oversized free weight area, quick circuit area, cardio machines with individual TV’s on all 31 pieces, childcare, locker rooms with individual shower & dressing areas, and a sauna in the men and women’s locker rooms.
Although there are two other franchised fitness centers within 10 miles of the facility and a family recreation facility in College Station, Lumpee is not concerned with the competition. According to Lumpee, the main reason people go to the gym is location. He said, “If the gym is close, people will go. People don’t really want to drive more than 5 minutes to the gym.”
“And because of the location of Aggieland being south of Texas A&M campus, we only pull in about 10-15% of the college students. Many residents of College Station like the fact that the gym isn’t inundated with college aged kids all the time.”
Many gyms include a large room for aerobics or other group exercising classes, but Lumpee chose to focus on cardiovascular machines and strength training. He explains that most recent studies indicate that people are getting better results with weight loss and increased health by concentrating on strength and endurance. “The main reason people stick with a fitness program is progress. Strength training and cardio workouts produce progress. That’s why we focus mainly on those two types of workout.”
The center area of the dome is open and stocked with a wide variety of strength training equipment. A hung ceiling in the dome’s center includes a large ceiling fan which increases air flow and circulation – an important factor in a building where guests are sweating.
Almost all of the cardio machines are on the upper level mezzanine overlooking the entire dome. However, there are also several cardio machines on the lower level to accommodate the handicap. The dome design makes the entire facility user friendly and can be seen from the front foyer where members can relax, purchase T-shirts and conduct other business transactions.
Besides safety, energy savings is one of the other reasons people choose the Monolithic Dome. Lumpee has been very pleased with the low utility costs thus far. He said, “We just recently got our second full month of utility costs. I feel certain our heaters will never go on. Even during the short cold spell of 30 degree weather, it never got below 65 degrees in the dome.”
Lumpee continued, “If the architect understood how energy efficient the dome is, they probably wouldn’t have even installed a heater.”
Lumpee has owned two fitness centers in College Station prior to starting Aggieland. He said, “The dome is performing as good or better than I expected. The actual electric costs for the dome for one month was between $700-$800. That is about 50-60% of what the other gym’s energy costs were. We keep the saunas on for 17 hours a day at 190 degrees. We expect the summer months to increase our costs due to air conditioning usage, but I don’t expect that much of an increase.”
Steve and Denise Lumpee
Steve obtained a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Texas A & M in 1986 and his wife, Denise a degree in accounting. Steve purchased his first fitness gym in College Station, Texas one month before graduating. He ran that gym for nearly 10 years and purchased another gym in the nearby town of Bryan and ran it for 3 years. They had the opportunity of selling the franchise back to the corporate office, so they took advantage of that opportunity and began researching unique architecture for a new gym to be built in the growing area of town.
Steve learned about Monolithic Domes through an Internet search and came to visit the domes in Italy, Texas. He loved the structures, but was initially concerned about the aesthetics. Building codes in College Station require 50% brick facade on all new buildings. Panattoni Construction reassured Lumpee they would make it look beautiful and fit into the surrounding architecture and meet code requirements. The exterior of Aggieland Fitness is partial covered with brick on the stemwall and the trim painted in a complementing shade to match the brick.
Denise works along side Steve as the accountant for Aggieland.
Aggieland Fitness was featured in the April 2004 issue of Club Industry Magazine .
Aggieland employees 20 part-time employees and two full time employees. For more information about the dome, how to join or more details about the facility, visit Aggieland Fitness.
OPD-April 2, 2004