Monday, April 25, 2011

More complaints about Washington Sports Club: basketball courts taken over

Recently got this from a reader: it's the newest in a long series of complaints from neighborhood folks about the Washington Sports Club in DCUSA. If you recall, I've posted about how it's crowded, there was an alleged robbery there that the security didn't respond to, and lots of people have asked for recommendations for other clubs.
I know in the grand scheme of things, it's really not a big deal.... but I am pretty annoyed.  Without consulting any of the regular hoops players or giving us a heads up, WSC-CH suddenly began scheduling group exercise classes, for every Saturday and Sunday, during what has traditionally been prime basketball usage time for casual players (10-noon or 10-1 on weekends, after that time, the gym gets so packed that it is difficult to even get on the court).  Most of the guys I showed up with today, expecting to play, are primarily members for the indoor court, and now the entire court is completely off limits for half of each weekend day.

There are a million things they could have done differently ... lease the long-vacant space next door if they need more room, schedule these classes in the already-existing exercise rooms, schedule these classes for early morning (ending before 10) when the courts are rarely used, etc. etc.  Instead, per usual, they have zero regard for member service or even communicating / consulting with long-time gym regulars.  With WSC, it is always about squeezing as many dollars as possible out of as many members as possible, and never about making the member experience better, or heck, adequate.  Unfortunately, since it is the only gym and only indoor court in the area, they can get away with it. 
Doesn't sound too fun. There are outdoor courts around, like 14th and Girard and the Columbia Heights Education Campus, but not any indoor ones I know of. Anyone have any suggestions for indoor courts? Or other gyms?


  1. Balance Gym in Kalorama has a high-school sized basketball court.

    Also, the YMCA on Rhoad Island Ave has a basketball court.

    Neither of which are right there, but a short bike ride from CH.

  2. If you want to ditch your membership altogether and try out something new, BloomBars has affordable classes in bellydance, samba, bachata, and capoeira. It's not exactly b-ball but for those others who are fed up with WSC they are a new fun way to stay in shape.

  3. Damn, WSC sucks. I've started going to work earlier just to beat the evening gym shit show.

  4. i think it's a little absurd you're saying this is altogether awful for members...seeing as how the classes they are providing are for members. it's just that it's not great for you, but it is for other people.
    it turns out those classes are really popular, and the already existing exercise rooms aren't big enough to fit all the members who want to take the classes, so they've moved them to a larger space. the gym is just responding to member needs.
    and using a space for 2-3 hours on the weekend really isn't that huge of a deal. you could wake up a little earlier to play basketball, if it's really that huge of a deal for you.

  5. I am the complainer. Waking up earlier isn't really an option because you need other folks to play, and I have gone early before, and no one else is ever there. Which is why if they are going to schedule classes for the space, at least schedule them for that time (early in the a.m.) rather than when a large crew of folks have been playing hoops consistently for years, just unceremoniously dumping us without even asking or consulting.

    Here is the problem ... the gym was sold as a place that had basketball courts for members. And we've been using that space for a long, long time, with an established and rotating group who frequently plays at that time, before being suddenly booted. Yes, it was also sold as a place with group exercise, but there are extra rooms specifically for that. What's next, drain the pool on weekends because there are fewer swimmers than zumba people and use that space for group exercise too?

    If they keep expanding their membership aggressively to the point where there is not room for both, the solution is not to screw the hoops players and essentially eliminate indoors basketball as an option. We did not intend to join a gym with a basketball court we couldn't use during the day on weekends (and believe me, the gym was not sold in that fashion). The solution is to expand into the adjacent, long-vacant space. Or schedule the classes at odd hours when the court has not traditionally ever been used, like 8 a.m. on a Sunday. They can have classes all day still in the dedicated exercise room, then special large classes if there is overflow in the gym at off hours. At least ya'll have options. Hoops players have none, and really, the court is super packed or reserved for league play much of the time now, anyway. Maybe we should just start playing hoops in the group exercise room when the court is busy :).

    The larger point is that WSC doesn't give a damn about customer service. They never respond to email complaints, the machines are constantly broken or malfunctioning, and everything else that folks chronicle. The only priority there is signing up more members, period, once you sign on the dotted line, you are forgotten. It is just so damn convenient that I'll prob. keep my membership for awhile for working out despite my annoyance, but if anything opens in Columbia Heights or Petworth that can compete, I'd quit in about 30 seconds.

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  7. Oh, and Charles, thanks for the YMCA suggestion, I will check it out. I wonder if it is free or very cheap to use ...

    The 14th and Girard courts are very good and I do play there, but obviously only in good weather.

    On another note, I wish SOMEONE would open squash courts near Columbia Heights / U Street. They would get a TON of use, I guarantee it! The only courts I know of in DC are across town at either LA Sports Club (too pricey) or in Capital Hill.

  8. Indoor court at CH Community Center (15th & Girard):

  9. This WSC is the worst managed club i have ever seen. All of the employees are poorly trained morons who have no customer service skills.

    If anybody wants to complain direct to one of the head morons, the general manager is Alan Golden at 202-986-2281.

  10. The only way to make the basketball court issue go away is to complain (LETTER WRITING) at the highest level. If you just complain/speak to the club manager you can be assured that nothing will happen.

    I too am upset that they have now reduced the days that I can play ball at this facility by two days. The ONLY reason I signed up here was for the indoor court.

  11. - VP of Club Programming for WSC

    You and the other b ballers need to let her know how you feel about this change.

  12. wahhhh- if you all spent half as much energy working out as you do whining you probably be in the best shape of your lives!
    the "sportsplex", not basketball court, has been used exclusively for basketball since the club opened. it then added volleyball and soccer for a few hours due to super high demand. again, in response to extremely high member demand it moved some group ex classes into the sportsplex. the bballers still have the overwhelming majority use of the space. so you've got to adjust your saturday morning pickup by a couple hours....gimme a break. i was there this past saturday and over 200 members attended classes in the sportsplex. the math isn't hard to understand and only proves the need to move those classes in there. if anything wsc shows its flexibility and responsiveness to global member need by making changes from time to time. any change will leave a few folks upset, naturally, but do you really not get that MORE people are benefiting from this than less?!? sorry if that's not you but that's how it goes sometimes.
    is the club oversold, probably- is that the fault of the staff that works there, absolutely not. wsc is not a mom n pop gym, they are huge chains of gyms all over the north east run out of nyc. decisions on how many members to have are far out of the hands of the club management, they simply work with what they have. everyone would love it if they took the space next door, obviously, but until someone high up in nyc decides to do that, it ain't happening.
    i've been a member since they opened and i think (along w/many others) club operations and responsiveness have improved vastly in the last year or 2 from when they first opened.
    look, i get they are convenient, but there are enough gym options in and around dc to satisfy most peoples preferences. ive belonged to many gyms, in dc and around the country, and am as hard critic on retailers/customer service the end of the day, for the price wsc is a good value. don't want a crowded gym with sloppy members that leaves their weights everywhere and don't clean up after themselves, plays better music or has it's own dedicated bball only court, go pay $100+/mth somewhere and you'll get what you want. i think the biggest problem with wsc col heights are the small percentage of members that choose to spend their time nitpicking about how imperfect the gym is.
    get a workout routine, maybe an ipod, go in and workout and leave and go about your day...or don't. but all this noise is just annoying. life is good, exercise is good- focus on that.
    oh and ps, i heard management is changing anyway.


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