The New Orleans Athletic Club is centrally located in New Orleans on the fringe of the French Quarter just minutes from the CBD, Marigny, Bywater, Metairie, and the West Bank. We are an exclusive club that offers many amenities including a library, full-service bar, salon, multiple exercise rooms, pool, half court basketball, spin room, yoga studio, and a complete line of plate-loaded equipment and free weights, wally ball, racquet ball, handball, and a dynamic human performance center!
Since its inception in 1872, the N.O.A.C. has been a landmark in the city of New Orleans and is the 3rd oldest health club in the United States. The building exemplifies its historical strengths with its well-preserved artifacts that adorn the walls. The club is steeped in tradition ranging from boxing to fencing, as well as card playing. The walls of Vaughan’s Pub still echo of days gone by with an occasional card game and a tasty adult beverage.
The N.O.A.C.’s clientele ranges from doctors and lawyers to poets, actors, musicians, and athletes. If you’re lucky, you may even bump into a celebrity or two while using the club. Our members have chosen to be a part of this community because they are given individualized attention, a thing seldom found in health clubs. We invite you to experience a private oasis in our spirited New Orleans. Only the New Orleans Athletic Club offers serenity and architectural significance with the most comprehensive workout facilities. Members don’t just “go to the gym”, they experience the club.
Where did the idea for New Orleans Athletic Club come from?
The idea was actually that of a man named JC Aleix. He started the club in his garage in 1872 and then later expanded to its current location. When I purchased the club in 1991, the first change that we made was allowing women to be members and we commenced to upgrade the facility and equipment. Best decisions ever. From there, it was all about constantly improving and keeping the members happy.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is reviewing outstanding improvements both physically and operationally that we are actively working on and/or that we are planning to do along with periodic meetings in person and on the phone with staff members and others depending on what we are working on.
It is a facility that we are constantly upgrading and somewhat modifying without losing it charm on an as needed basis. We have an endless number of future projects.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We collaborate as a team on ideas and systematically implement them. There is so much to do and so much to be excited about because we really have not scratched the surface of what the facility can offer and what quality health and fitness can do for our members.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The fact that health and fitness is now being recognized by a large percentage of our population as a much-needed part of one’s life for a quality life and happiness.
Not sure if this is a trend, but maybe we will make it one. We are currently excited about getting new rooftop equipment for our members to enjoy outdoors as this will give them an outside location to work out as many of our members are outdoors people and this also helps with Covid still lingering. We will be the first in the United States to have this particular equipment that we are installing and are hoping to create a buzz around it.
We also don’t know of any place in New Orleans that has workout equipment on the roof.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am big on reflecting and just thinking about things mostly forward looking, but also in retrospect to learn from mistakes made.
My staff thinks it is remembering everything.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Love what you do and stay excited about it on a day-to-day basis.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That the current problems in the United States are very solvable.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Every late evening after work I make my list of priorities, both large and small to do on the very next day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Treating all of my members the way I would want to be treated. Also, trying to provide the best member/athletic club experience in New Orleans.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In business, there are always cycles that can set you back big time on what you are working on, so it is imperative to just stay focused and grind it out day after day, and to do whatever must be done no matter what, and I have found that gradually you ultimately prevail. Perseverance is crucial.
Examples of this is staying positive even though prime interest rates may climb to 21.5 percent like they did in 1981 while you are paying 2 over prime on a 5.5-million-dollar loan.
Or staying focused when the government changes the tax laws for real estate like they did in 1986 thus devaluing your property by millions of dollars overnight requiring you to immediately pay down your debt by 2 million dollars.
Or by staying focused when a building around you partially collapses and Covid hits temporarily shutting you down.
Bad things do happen, and you just need to ride them out.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
When developing a new business or concept etc., never let anyone understand or see the success for your new business or even know the potential of your business until you have done all that you need to have done contractually for the business before going public. Once third parties understand the potential of what you are doing, the ability to get done what you need done will become exceedingly more difficult and expensive as people will realize that you need what you need, and therefore become more difficult in negotiations.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Nice dinners and wine to reward myself for a good day’s work.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
My computer, all of its software and printer.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Long Walk to Freedom about Nelson Mandela because it teaches you about endurance, perseverance, having a solid value system and forgiveness.
What is your favorite quote?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.