Club History AT UNIVERSAL

Meet our owners...
How a passion for fitness and family
evolved into a 100,000 square foot health and wellness center


Rick and Mary Casselbury have been owners and operators of Universal Athletic Club since September 1994. When Universal first opened, it was equipped with one cardio and weight room, one "aerobics” room and one computer. So, how did it all begin and grow to what it is today?

Rick and Mary CasselburyRick Casselbury had an interest in fitness at a very young age. When he was 14 years old, his parents let him turn their family’s living room into a weight room. The kids in the neighborhood started coming to their house to work out.

A few years after graduating from college, Rick and Mary met and eventually married, and the couple decided they wanted to live in the Lancaster area to be close to Mary’s family. The couple shared a common interest of exercising and playing a variety of sports. 

"We felt very passionate about the fitness industry, and we decided to look for properties in the area to start our own health club,” said Rick. "We did tons of research and went to fitness industry events to learn how to make this happen.”

The Casselbury purchased The Olde Hickory Racquet Club in 1994 and transformed the facility to a fitness center with cardio equipment, circuit machines, free weights and a studio for group classes.

"As the business grew, we tried to meet the needs of more and more people, especially for families with young children,” said Rick. Having little ones of their own (Julia and Blaise are now teenagers), they realized how difficult it is for parents to work out at the gym without someone to watch their children.

"That’s why we created the Kidz Klub and put in the Kidmazium, so that kids could come here and be active too.  There are no TV’s in our kids’ play areas,” said Rick.

Another major addition to the club was the indoor pool complex, which Rick says they added to meet the needs of those who can’t do land-based exercises due to certain health conditions or injuries. The pool complex allowed them to offer aqua-fitness classes, lap swimming and swim lessons, which helped the club grow even more. 

Over time several new programs and facilities were also added or expanded, including personal training, nutrition and martial arts programs; a day spa; a yoga/Pilates studio; café; summer camp and more. Three tennis courts were transformed to a brand new main fitness floor and basketball court surrounded by an indoor track. 

A major transformation took place with Group Fitness. After bringing in a world-class program called Les Mills, Universal is now able to offer a vast variety of classes (over 100 a week to choose from) for all abilities and interests.

Universal also hosts withing the building a Sports Peformance Center featuring Parisi Speed School, a national program designed to help children and adults build speed, power, strength and self-confidence.

In May 2013 construction was completed on a brand new 2-story addtion featuring a phenominal new Group Fitness studio and dedicated Kids' Court.

"Our goal has always been to offer a place for everyone to feel comfortable, whether you’re 2 or 92,” said Rick. "Fitness shouldn’t be scary; it should be enjoyable. If you love what you do, you’re more likely to be successful in reaching your goals and living a healthy and happy life.”