(2/20/12 update) I reviewed the Eastern Athletic Club over a year ago (below), and while I chose to join CityView in Long Island City, the EAC is a great choice for anyone living in Brooklyn or downtown Manhattan. Yes, its layout is wacky and every room seems to echo (including the locker rooms), but the squash community is fun and friendly and often reminds me of home (Printing House). Maybe because many PHers now play at EAC. If you want to check out the squash vibe before committing, there’s an almost-monthly squash social on certain friday nights. I’m sure if you get in touch with the squash staff, they could let you in on the details. I’m on the guest list, so I may see you there!
I checked out the Eastern Athletic Club Open House on Monday night. Given that it’s a mere twenty minute subway ride from my Soho office and located in Brooklyn Heights, not too far from my home in Park Slope, I should’ve been feeling pretty positive about this squash option. But I had just plummeted from my high of an unbelievably fabulous squash weekend in Bermuda (which I will try to do justice to in words, later this week) and was feeling a little blue about having to move somewhere else at all.
EAC is located in the basement – okay, the lowest floors – of the old Saint George Hotel in Brooklyn Heights. I’ve played there a few times and remember being impressed by the spaciousness of the place. Just beyond the front desk and past a few sofas (there are a LOT of sofas in this place….) is the main training floor with weight machines, treadmills, etc. It’s like looking down into a big cavern. And if you were around fifty years ago, you could’ve swum in it, as it contained the largest salt water pool in the country, or so I’ve heard. Some of the wall mosaics are still visible. Kind of sad, actually, especially when I finally found one solitary soul paddling around in the tiny pool they now have which is about the size of few double beds.
And that’s not the only place you can lie around, because walking up from the entry lobby, you encounter even more sofas (I really should’ve counted them all) in another large high-ceilinged room. This one is surrounded by a series of glass-walled rooms. A spinning class was being conducted in one while I was there. The others are courts–three (four?) racquetball, four squash, and, depressingly, a fifth is now an exercise room of sorts. Compared to Printing House, the place feels both vast and dimly lit. Even with thirty or so people mingling around, the large area around the courts feels like a sparsely populated hotel lobby at night. And maybe that’s the problem for me, the whole club seems uncomfortably adapted to a grand hotel whose better days are long gone.
To be fair, Adam Walker, the head squash pro seems like a good guy and eager to help us soon-to-be-homeless PHers out. He said he’d work with our league captains to accommodate our match schedules (“the sooner the better,” he added), as well as pay the MSRA league dues. Of course, none of us were happy to hear that court time was only 45 minutes, and that we’d have to pick up the phone to book a court — now that’ll be interesting December 16th…!
By the tone of these few paragraphs, however, it’s probably obvious that I’m not ready to join yet. Yes, the EAC is convenient as far squash goes, but I use a gym for my non-squash work-outs as well, and having a gym close to work or home is pretty crucial to me. At EAC’s $185 a month, I doubt I’d want to shell out for a 2nd gym. CitiView is $140, so I might be able to justify a second expense.