Louisiana College became the sole owner of the Louisiana Athletic Club locations in Pineville and Alexandria this month.
According to a memo sent by CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital CEO Chris Karam, CHRISTUS made the decision to withdraw its ownership of the athletic clubs due to the financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the organization re-evaluated its focus on what it could best provide the Cenla community.
While both LAC locations were forced to shut down for an extended time period this spring, because the fitness centers were majority owned by a major healthcare provider, it had the added strain on its obligations and resources brought on by the pandemic.
“Customer service has been central to the mission of the LAC, and that will remain of utmost importance,” said LC President Dr. Rick Brewer. “LC and Christus St. Frances Cabrini have similar missions, which made for a great partnership. We look forward to the opportunity to continue to provide health and fitness services to our community.”
With the announcement of a change in ownership comes a new manager, Ronnie Schwartz.
Schwartz has served on the staff at Louisiana Athletic Club since May 2005. He has been a personal trainer in the area for 24 years. After joining LAC, Ronnie became the fitness manager in 2007.
Outside of work, Schwartz, who has a passion for running and cycling, formed Cenla Runners, encouraging others of all ages to begin their fitness journey through running. After completing numerous half marathons and three full marathons, he began raising money for the St Jude Marathon Weekend.
Raising funds for St Jude combines his passion for running with his desire to serve. He has been named a St. Jude ambassador for Louisiana. Last year he led his team to raise more than $200,000 for the children of St Jude, and Cenla Runners was named the No. 1 community fundraising team in the nation.
Schwartz is a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria, where he serves as worship assistant and worked with the youth group for many years.
“We have added another proven servant-leader in Ronnie Schwartz as manager for the Louisiana Athletic Club,” Brewer said. “With full ownership of the LAC it is important to Louisiana College we have a Christ-centered leader who is a person of integrity and a mentor to many in CENLA. Transformational leaders are significantly important to the flourishing of LC and the Louisiana Athletic Club—the addition of Ronnie continues this forward motion for both organizations.”
Brewer said he is excited about the opportunity this brings the college and LC is committed to continuing to provide the high quality of service in a family-friendly atmosphere that the public is accustomed to at LAC.
“The College has proven to be an excellent partner for CHRISTUS for many years, and we are confident they will maintain the same value and service our members are accustomed to while ensuring a supportive environment for all,” Karam wrote. “As such, we do not anticipate any interruption to member services during the transition. We are happy that all staff members will remain with the Clubs in the same capacity as they are now.”
Louisiana Athletic Club has received the distinction of “Best Fitness Club” in Cenla for many consecutive years.
“LAC is in a very strong position,” said Scott Cochran, Executive Director of Health & Wellness for CHRISTUS Health, Louisiana & Southeast Texas. “Our priorities have shifted and we are looking at growth opportunities and ways to improve our current amenities. In my nine years with Louisiana Athletic Club, Louisiana College has been a great partner. We want to thank the community for its support during these difficult times, and we look forward to continued growth and many more great years ahead of us.”