Farewell to Five Seasons
We are back to having only four seasons after Westlake's family sports club closed its doors on May 31. My family's charter membership in the Five Seasons club on Clemens Road began in 1999, yet no more will we be greeted by Sharon as we arrive for our morning exercise class. As most readers know, Hyland Software bought the building and land to build its Science and Technology Center.
Members and guests have a lot of good memories to share, and as the last weeks moved along, good friends met for that last fitness class, the last tennis session and the last time that the water exercise group would ever meet there. Everyone has been asking everyone else where they plan to go now that our club is closing.
Area fitness centers have offered special initiation fees but the members appear to be going separate ways. It is very much like seniors at a high school graduation, where many students are asking each other the same questions: Where will you go? When will we meet again? Many of us are seniors, too, but at this stage of life, change is more difficult.
It wasn't just seniors who were served by the club, manager Ron Wolf of Bay Village welcomed all ages. Families with young children were especially attracted to the supervised activities for kids as well as a baby-sitting service that allowed moms and dads to exercise or play tennis. Children’s programs included fitness and summer camps, dinner with movie nights and special parties for the holidays. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus stopped by, and there were Easter bunnies and egg hunts each year.
The indoor tennis courts were a major draw. There was a full-time tennis coach, indoor and outdoor courts and a senior tennis group called the Senior Bears. Local schools and tennis clubs played tournaments and took part in competitions. Tennis coach Don Stevens said, "In the 13 years that I coached at Five Seasons, I had over 100 junior players, both boys and girls, who qualified for the Ohio Athletic Association State Tournament. Banners of these qualifiers’ accomplishments were displayed across the backdrops at the club. These served as an inspiration to the next generation in their quest for a trip to the State Tournament. It was always a treat to see their names and schools recognized."
The indoor and outdoor pools attracted crowds during the summer and winter. Quite a few young adults earned their summer wages by serving as lifeguards, youth counselors and baby sitters. Swimming lessons, especially for small children, were always popular. One instructor, Mary Mader, will be sorely missed.
Miss Mary, as the children called her, was always there, morning until night, one lesson after the other. Mary treated each child as her own. We will miss seeing her work with these little kids. My first encounter with this phenomenon went like this: Mary was with a child in the pool, singing her songs and helping the child to learn to swim. I asked the young mother sitting near the pool, “Is grandma teaching the little one to swim?” "Oh no," she said, "that is Miss Mary." I was taken aback; Mary gave such loving attention to that small child. Over 13 years, we had the pleasure of seeing Miss Mary work with hundreds of kids, lovingly teaching them to swim.
We went to water exercise two or three times a week. The classes lasted one hour during which we warmed up and stretched, used water resistant weights, and we did deep water exercises. Water is truly the best exercise for those of us with joint wear. On warm days, classes were held outside; the rest of the time we enjoyed the water exercises indoors. We formed social groups around those who were in our classes. We had birthday lunches and holiday get-togethers, creating friendships that will outlast the club. Our newly formed group is called Life After Five Seasons (LAFS).
The club had top-of-the-line fitness equipment and certified trainers were on hand daily to assist members while using the equipment or for personal training. Paul Ingram of Westlake broke a record by walking 5,000 miles on the indoor track.
Five Seasons’ staff worked to provide a venue for charitable events as well. Tennis coach Don Stevens said, "The connection the club had to the community was best showcased in the generosity of our membership to raise money for the Karen Stevens Memorial Fund, to help women that have the difficulties that took the life of my sister-in-law Karen at the young age of 51."
The club stopped stressing the country club atmosphere and started emphasizing family sports and fitness. To make room for this, the formal dining and reception rooms were closed. We remember those special places where so many events were held. Operations manager Chris Hollick said, “We had weddings and showers, anniversary celebrations and after-prom parties for, among others, Lutheran West and Westlake High schools."
The café remained open and we shared many lunches and dinners there with friends. Who will ever forget Pasta Night? Every Tuesday, our plates were filled with delicious pasta and fresh vegetables made to order for a reasonable family friendly price. Recently, talented chef, food and beverage manager Mike Surniak of Bay Village was doing a terrific job introducing new menu items and assisting with event planning.
We will remember all the fun we had together, that spirit with which we exercised and enjoyed long hours of camaraderie and the sharing of meals. We loved working out and improving muscle strength and flexibility. We will never forget that accomplished feeling we had on completing difficult exercises and the celebrations that followed. Memories of our times together will follow us through the rest of our lives.
Farewell, Five Seasons.