Meet Phil Wendel

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Phil Wendel, ACAC

There is such joy in witnessing our members’ success…to see a 95-year-old doing a 25-pound concentration curl—it is just fantastic.”

Photo by Jen Fariello

In the nearly 30 years since Phil Wendel first opened ACAC, he has made it his mission to reach the “uninitiated believers” of exercise — those who want to become healthier and more physically active, but, for whatever reason, have not yet done so. In 1984, shortly after Wendel first moved to Charlottesville, he opened a small fitness center that had fewer than 1,000 members in its first year. ACAC has continuously expanded since that time, now counting more than 38,000 members at its multiple branches in Charlottesville, Richmond, Short Pump and West Chester, Pa. Charlottesville’s strong community network has helped ACAC succeed in its goal to reach “uninitiated believers,” especially through its physician-referred exercise program, which offers discounted memberships to those with certain health issues. “It is amazing that in a town of 120,000 people there is such a high degree of interconnectedness,” says Wendel. “There is real value in the mutual support that is evident in our community network, including the university, small businesses and organizations, schools, the medical community and local government.”