In early 2020, the River Valley Club, the iconic fitness complex situated up the hill from the Lebanon Co-op, was forced (like everyone else) to shut down in-person operations for
several months due to the pandemic. The core management team used this
time to “revamp and reorganize,” according to Marketing Director Ross
Dutille. They committed to finding new ways to make members’ time at the
RVC “the best part of their day” when everyone returned.
started by reorganizing spaces, such as the Fitness Floor, providing
easier access to more cardio machines. They updated air circulation so
that every eight minutes, brand-new air is cycled into the studios. When
they reopened, they started utilizing the now popular back deck,
bringing some CrossFit classes outdoors, weather permitting.
also planned a sweeping renovation and building project, which would
add outdoor tennis and pickleball under lights by the spring of 2023,
and indoor pickleball to the indoor tennis court area in the fall of
2022. The Club also made plans to renovate the indoor swimming pool
area, adding a larger cold plunge pool and new SwimEx Performance Pools,
with controlled speed and temperature, next to a new saltwater
recreation pool for the fall of 2023.
Thoughtful Improvements for Kids and Teachers
part of their renovations, the RVC is adding four new classrooms to
their FitKids childcare center for the fall of 2023. FitKids is known
for its unique natural playground and is located beyond the main RVC building. The children can take swim, tennis, and rock-climbing lessons at the RVC as well. FitKids
provides free childcare for all RVC employees and also serves the
community. To attract high-quality teachers, FitKids has increased
teacher salaries and added generous sign-up bonuses for employees who
recruit new teachers. Teachers in the sweetly named classrooms,
including Bear Cubs, Porcupines, Bobcats, and Raccoons, greet parents at
pickup and drop-off with the smile of employees who know they are
FitKids teacher plays outside with a child.
being closed during the pandemic, the KidsClub, which offers drop-in
childcare (ages infant to 13) for members using the facility for up to
two hours, is now reopened with new toys and activities in a space down
the hall from the spa and salon.
These days, with the full reopening of the Club, members (who must be over 14) are more
appreciative of their community—a tribe dedicated to getting and
staying fit together. As the decorations go up for the holidays, members
and employees will choose an ornament from their traditional holiday
giving tree, which is in partnership with the Upper Valley Haven and has
the age and gift request from a child of a local family in need.
Members say that returning with the unwrapped gift feels like another
way to be part of the community.
Something for Everyone
vibe of positive energy now permeates every corner of the large RVC
complex. A trainer waves hello from across the room to connect
immediately to anyone entering the Fitness Floor, a 10,000-square-foot
space with weight-lifting and cardio equipment. The photo and bio of the
trainer on duty is posted so that a new member can easily identify
BodyCombat class with Jennifer Karr.
Everyone who joins the Club receives a one-hour fitness orientation with a personal trainer. Members desiring more
one-on-one training can purchase packages of the more tailored sessions
in a quiet personal training studio or anywhere in the Club.
course, the RVC vibe is at different frequencies in different parts of
the building. For example, the Yoga Studio, which only hosts yoga and
meditation classes, maintains a peaceful vibe, with its delicate flower
lanterns and yoga cushions. The Fitness Studio, in contrast, has bright
windows and large mirrors, and is loud with upbeat music. On a weekday
morning, it is emptying of members covered in sweat and full of laughter
as they put away their small weights after a BodyPump class. Their
instructor, Emily Cleaveland, her indigo streaked hair in pigtails,
chats about the muscle pain that occurs after trying a
new form of exercise. “When it’s not from an injury,” she says, quoting
Chester Puller, “‘pain is weakness leaving the body.’” Many other
classes are held in the Fitness Studio including Zumba, cardio, dance,
Pilates, and Forever Fit.
CrossFit Box, on the lower level, has a vibe that is dead serious but
supportive. A 5,000-square-foot space, the CrossFit Box is designed for
anyone who is working on strength and conditioning using weights, ropes,
kettlebells, rowing machines, Schwinn Airdyne bikes, artificial turf
for speed work, training bars, and pull-up rigs. Each day a CrossFit
trainer designs a new “workout of the day” or WOD for their specialized
CrossFit members enjoy one of the five daily CrossFit group classes.
one end of the CrossFit space is the 30-foot rock-climbing wall of
simulated granite designed for all levels of climbers. Harnesses, shoes,
and ropes are provided, as well as trained belayers during their
evening hours of operation.
the Spinning Studio’s vibe is electric. Running lights help members
step up to the bikes when the main lights go down and the serious riding
begins. The back row, which is higher up, allows for an uncompromised
view of the instructor.
Pilates Reformer Studio has an active and dynamic feel to it. The
specialized resistance equipment has a bed-like frame with a flat
“carriage” platform that rolls back and forth on wheels within the
frame. Unlike the regular Pilates classes in the Fitness Studio, the
reformer classes require a one-on-one fitness consultation before the
first class and an extra fee.
RVC Tennis Pro Chad Arado demonstrates the proper grip for a backhand shot with tennis member Paloma Asensio.
indoor tennis courts are a popular destination for many RVC members,
especially during the winter months, with groups of friends meeting
during regularly reserved times slots. The popular staff of tennis
instructors is now certified to teach one-on-one pickleball lessons, a
sport which is increasing in popularity across the country.
working out, the café area welcomes members with a vibe that varies
with the time of day. It’s a quiet place in the morning to work on your
laptop with a coffee, and it becomes a social hub during the busy 5 to
7pm evening hours, a place to have a healthy smoothie and snack with
friends. Healthy grab-and-go snacks and cold drinks are available by the
front desk where members first check in.
Setting Members Up for Success
River Valley Club has so many options for fitness training and health
maintenance that it might make locals recall another landmark
establishment’s motto, Dan & Whit’s “If we don’t have it, you don’t
need it.” Serving the Upper Valley since 1998, and gearing
up for their 25th anniversary in March, the RVC has something for
adults of every level of fitness and age group, from the total beginner
working with injuries to the elite athlete maintaining and improving
fitness skills. If you make the decision to come, the RVC’s goal is to
take care of you every step of the way.
RVC member Terry Tarun says, “The Club is state of the art . . . locker
rooms are oh, so nice—showers, jacuzzi, towels, and lockers. The staff
is helpful, patient, and friendly!”
“Members are the number-one priority in every decision we make about the Club,” says Ross Dutille. “Our
goal is to make that one hour a day they spend with us the best time of
their day.” According to Ross, the key to fulfilling this mission
statement is having well-trained employees with a positive attitude.
Starting at the front desk, all
employees are trained to show new members around and help them get
acclimated to the Club, answering questions and finding the services
that are right for each individual. Members sign up for classes, the
pool, and other services, such as drop-in childcare, online at the
comprehensive RVC website.
want to set new members up for success,” says Ross. One of the ways the
RVC encourages members to maintain their new fitness routine is by
having special membership offers. For example, in January, all new
members with a 12-month contract can earn back their $395 sign-up fee by
coming to the Club at least eight times during the month of January.
The monthly fee is $135.
college students, seniors over 70, and active-duty military always
receive a discounted membership fee of $102 per month. In addition, all newcomers can come to check out the Club and exercise their first day for free! Also, anyone over 90 years of age can
use the Club free of charge. Ross says he knows a few members who are
counting down the days for that particular perk. Day passes are available for nonmembers for $40 a day and are discounted to $30 if nonmembers have booked a spa service that day or if members bring them as a friend. Members receive incentives for signing up new members. New
members also get a welcome packet containing gift certificates and
coupons, including one for a free smoothie, a 30 percent discount coupon
at the salon and spa, and 20 percent off at the fitness shop. The
packet also contains a coupon for a free tennis lesson and a free
Pilates reformer consultation and class.
RVC’s amenities are also open for nonmembers, including the spa, salon,
and barbershop, and a physical therapist’s office. The spa offers
massages, hair removal, and facials, including the new Hydra Facial. The
salon provides cut, style, and color services as well as nail services.
The men’s and women’s fitness clothing shop carries lululemon gear and tennis equipment. Members praise the RVC as a one-stop shop where you can get your hair cut, work out, socialize, and drop off the dry cleaning (at the fitness shop).
is important, now more than ever,” says Ross, and it’s clear that the
RVC’s goal is to foster that community, encouraging members to set up
fitness as a habit or routine. “It’s better for us, and it’s better for