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Meet the wahlmans

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Written by
Lauren Hunsberger

Photography by
John Bang

The Wahlman family has a long, storied history with the Bellevue Club. With three generations of members, they collectively share over three decades worth of memories and experiences—as well as their fair share of running family jokes. But a few stand out above the rest.

“We were all swimming, all six of us children were in the pool,” says Evan Wahlman, age 27, recalling a story from when he was a child. “When we get out, my mom says, ‘There’s someone I want you guys to meet.’ Next thing we know she walks up with Michael Jordan. That was back when the Sonics were in the playoffs against the Bulls. We all shook his hand and talked to him.”

As the story goes, Marcia Wahlman, mother to the six children and affectionately deemed the “matriarch of exercise,” saw Jordan lifting weights by himself. She says other members were too shy to even workout in the same room with him, but Marcia decided to lift weights right next to Jordan. The two eventually chatted.

“That’s actually one of my very first memories,” Davis Wahlman, age 24, says of meeting the star athlete.

But Marcia, age 59, never joined the Club in search of athletes or celebrity role models for her children. She and husband Peter Wahlman, age 60, both grew up in the Bellevue area. They met in junior high, married years later and joined the Club as charter members for social, professional and wellness purposes. “When we joined I thought, ‘If we’re going to do this, I’m going to really use it.’ And I have come three or four times a week since 1979. I’ve changed what I do throughout the years, but I still come all the time. I think my kids saw that and learned.”

Peter, who works for H.D. Fowler Company, also recalls the various ways in which he used the Club throughout the years. “It was a big deal when it opened. There wasn’t an athletic club on the Eastside. A lot of our friends we grew up with joined, and it was a big deal,” he says. “I remember the father-daughter dances and being here with the family on weekends; it’s a great meeting place. I also used to entertain clients because I’m in sales. We’d play racquetball or have some drinks and a bite to eat. It’s been a big part of our lives.”

Three of the six children in the Wahlman brood have since followed in their parents’ footsteps and maintained a membership. Daughter Lindsey Vallos, age 31, and her husband Steve, age 31, bounced around from state to state throughout the years to keep up with Steve’s job as a professional football player, but Lindsey says she has always kept up her membership and visited as often as possible. Now that Steve is retired in Seattle and they have three kids of their own (Teddy, 4, Lucy, 3, and Gigi, 7 months), Lindsey says she loves passing down the same memories she has of summer tennis camps, listening for frogs at the bottom of the pool during swim lessons, going to social events and occasionally indulging in a milkshake from Splash.

“We embody a lot of the things the Bellevue Club promotes. We’ve even used the hotel to get away. And the spa is relaxing. The kids do ballet and turbo tots. I really feel like we’re good at dabbling in a little of everything,” Lindsey says. Steve, who is currently enjoying some time off to “just be a dad right now,” says promoting health and wellness with his family is extremely important to him. “The kids make friends, and that’s great too. We’ve really found a community here,” he says. He also enjoys defending his undefeated record in racquetball against both his brothers-in-law Evan and Davis. “I guess I need to find some stiffer competition,” he jokes.

Younger brother Evan Wahlman, age 27, and his wife, Stevie Wahlman, age 28, took a short break from the Club during their college years at Washington State University, where Evan admittedly “dabbled in the finest luxuries Pullman has to offer” and gained a few pounds. “Since we rejoined last September, I’ve lost between 35 and 40 pounds. I just figured out how to get workouts into my schedule. I changed my diet too, but I’m much more active.” Aside from a health boost, Evan, who works in marketing for ESPN, says rekindling relationships with childhood friends has been an added benefit. Also, wife Stevie, a behavior specialist teacher for the Kent School District, recently announced they are expecting their first child and are both happy to have the Club as they start their new family.

Davis, the youngest of all the kids, also a graduate of Washington State University and a promo producer at KOMO-TV News, has all the same fond memories as his siblings. But, always prepared with a quick quip, he says his fondest moment was graduating from the boys’ to men’s locker room. “That’s when I knew I had arrived,” he jokes. That and the discovery of what the family calls the Executive Workout. “I’ve been trying to start working out more, and I still love coming here daily, before work. But I do an Executive Workout, which is where you sauna, then hot tub, steam room and shower,” he says.

The term stuck and many of the Wahlmans and Vallos regularly partake in the workout. “That’s what I did the morning before my wedding,” Evan says with a laugh. “We’ve even come here on Christmas to do an Executive. When we were kids, we’d play with our toys, now we come to the Club for an Executive.”

All the Wahlmans agree that no matter their regimen or routine, the Club has been a great tool for keeping the family connected. “In a roundabout way, it’s helped our family stay together in a lot of ways,” Davis says.

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