By MARC LUTZ
Business Journal Editor
STOCKTON — Just on the northern edge of town, tucked alongside railroad tracks and the Eight Mile Road overpass, it’s not uncommon to hear a lot of grunting and groaning.
Elkhorn Reserve, a one-size-fits-all athletic venue, is celebrating one year of ownership by Bob and Deedee Nelson. Although it’s a milestone for the Nelsons, it’s also business as usual, which incorporates a hearty dose of CrossFit training for clients.
What was once home to a landscaping company, is now a business dedicated to helping people improve themselves.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” said Randy Johnson, a member of Elkhorn who frequents the club four times a week or more. “(Bob and Deedee) work with you. They truly show you the mechanics of it. They want you to become healthier.”
Johnson walked the grounds, sharing his experience, as if he were right at home. “The atmosphere is so welcoming. You make lifelong friends here. They want to see you succeed,” he said.
Elkhorn Reserve offers CrossFit training, amenities such as a pool, basketball and tennis courts, volleyball, a track for running and walking, swimming pool, free weights, yoga, massage and physical therapists, a sports medicine physician and a barbecue pit.
The business may have an emphasis on getting healthy (Deedee Nelson will work up specialized meal plans for clients) and staying that way, but they also see Elkhorn Reserve as a place for gathering. The entire facility is rentable for special engagements, whether it be a bridal shower, rotary club gathering or really anything else.
If it’s a small affair, just a portion of the facility can be rented out. Elkhorn Reserve also works in conjunction with the neighboring golf course to plan events. Members of the golf course are starting to come over and sign up with Elkhorn since the golf course doesn’t have a pool or some of the amenities they offer.
“It truly is a family atmosphere,” Johnson said.
Parents who want to get in a workout can bring their kids, who, in turn, can be tutored in their homework … then get some exercise as well.
“There’s really nothing like it in this area,” Bob Nelson said. “We wanted to offer our clients something other than what we call a ‘box gym.’”
Bob Nelson said he and his wife had outgrown a prior facility and needed something with more space. Although the price tag was a little higher than they originally had anticipated, they secured financing for the location and never looked back.
Even though it’s between a railroad track, busy roadway and near residential areas, Elkhorn Reserve is surprisingly peaceful.
“We wanted to create an environment for people to come and workout, and, when they’re done, there’s a little piece of tranquility out there for them,” Bob Nelson said. “There’s a pool area where there’s the fountain. Our massage lady wants to do ‘Mimosa Mondays,’ or something like that. Something different than going to a gym.”
Bob Nelson said it’s also about creating a family atmosphere.
The Nelsons also emphasize that the venue is not geared for just hardcore athletes. It’s meant as a place where anyone can come and enjoy the facility’s recreational amenities.
For those who rent out Elkhorn Reserve for an event but don’t have an event planner, the Nelsons have an event planner who can work with clients.
The client base for Elkhorn is about 80 members at the moment, which ebbs and flows, but there comes a point where clients stay on.
“A lot of people want to try other places, try it on, see if the shoes fits, but they inevitably come back,” Bob Nelson said. “Eventually, I think we will have some kind of maximum occupancy. I don’t want it to be like a box gym where people can’t get on the equipment or can’t get into the pool.”
If the clientele gets to that point, Bob Nelson said they would look at expansion or opening a second location, though they would keep it in Stockton.
“We really want to keep it in Stockton. We were born and raised here,” Bob Nelson said. “We want to bring something to this area that is needed, not only as an event venue, but as something for the community.”