Our Story

Debora Valis, PT and Steve Shapiro, MD

Steve Shapiro and Debora Valis were working at Group Health Hospital on Capitol Hill in 1976 when the opportunity came up to buy the family practice clinic in Langley.  They jumped at the chance to provide direct patient care in a rural environment.  Running the Langley Clinic included seeing patients, doing EKGs, applying casts, immunizations, chemotherapy, home births, house calls, and all manner of emergencies.    There was a hospital 25 miles away, but no physician staffing the ER, no 911, no paramedics. This was before beepers, and long before cell phones.

Steve also worked in the Emergency Department of Swedish Hospital in Ballard part-time.  With two young daughters, he realized that doing both family practice and ER work was too difficult.  He changed to ER-only in 1988.  With a little extra time, and background in medicine and physical therapy, they took over a small fitness-only gym in Langley.  They quickly realized that it was much more rewarding and practical to help people stay healthy than to try and fix them after they were broken.

Running the small gym inspired them to build a club with more comprehensive offerings.  They saw a definite need in the community.  After researching the business part of club operation and visiting several clubs, plans for IAC began to take shape.  Their goal of providing something of lasting value in their community became a focus.  The process of financing, design and redesign lasted from 1989 to 1995.  Island Athletic Club opened January 1, 1996 with just over 400 members.  Since then the club has grown in size and scope, but continues to be based on the belief in exercise as a basis for healthy living.

In 2013, Steve and Debora passed the reigns to daughter, Katie Shapiro, and son-in-law, Nick Horton, so they could continue to enjoy the fruits of healthy living without the hassle of regular work days.  Thank you, Steve and Debora, for having the vision and drive to make IAC a reality!