Alice Huang
Paul Wellman

“It’s a high-risk business,” Alice Huang says of gym ownership. “It’s a gamble.”

Eight years ago, with the support of family and friends, Huang took a leap by opening the Women’s Athletic Club (WAC), and her gamble continues to pay off, especially for the community of women she’s brought together. The upper State Street gym recently finished a second expansion, this time adding 1,200 square feet, new equipment, and a greater variety of classes including cardio, TRX training, spinning, and yoga.

Everything from the free weights to the brightly hued paint were carefully picked by Huang and several loyal colleagues who have been with her since opening day. Though top notch, the facilities, equipment, and classes aren’t the reason so many members consider this a second home. What makes WAC special is Huang’s dedication to fostering real relationships in a space that is continually adapted to suit members’ needs.

“My main goal,” said Huang, “is for you to walk in and feel like we are glad you’re here.”

That welcoming feeling is partly responsible for the tremendous transformation of member Lyn Shirvanian. In the span of a little over a year, and with great perseverance, Shirvanian lost more than 100 pounds. Dubbed “The Fanatic”’ by her WAC friends, Shirvanian says that the gym’s social support is instrumental to her continued success. “I was too nervous to do the group classes at first,” she said. “But Alice really encouraged me to try. Now I’m taking everything from the morning boot camp to the fitness over 40 class.”

The gym is entirely owned and operated by women, and the staff seems to have a representative from every stage of life, including a resident handywoman, a young mom-to-be, and a highly fit triathlete in her sixties. The larger space will allow even more women to work toward their personal fitness goals in an environment of acceptance and camaraderie.

“When you get to the point where community feels like family,” said Shirvanian, “you don’t ever want to leave.”


WAC is located at 4141 State Street, Suite D1-2. Call (805) 845-4545 or see


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