Keeping fit in all weather

March 18, 2007|By Deborah Dramby | Deborah Dramby,Special to The Sun

It's no secret that Howard County residents are active and fit. Get out and about early Saturday morning in Columbia and you'll see plenty of local bikers, joggers and walkers with flushed faces, fresh from a go around the park.

While the outdoor parks continue to be a destination for local exercisers, the shorter and colder winter days, and the hot and humid summer days, may mean fewer chances to go outside and get active. The local YMCA and the well-known Columbia Association gyms have provided climate-controlled exercise spaces for decades, but with Columbia's continuing expansion, popular fitness chains have been popping up around the county. Not envisioned to replace the hiking trails of Patapsco Park or local lakeside jogging paths, these facilities offer expansive fitness opportunities all year round and in all weather.

People have their own methods to stay physically fit; goals and activities vary depending on age, ability, interest and health. For some, a workout is sweating through a five-mile run each morning, lifting weights, and cooling down with a protein shake. For others, it could be a yoga class or a game of basketball. With so many fitness facilities and a long list of classes and amenities at each, it can be a task to find a place and program that works for you. The growing number of fitness facilities in the area mean more choices and a great chance of finding a gym that is perfect for you.

Here's the scoop on some popular local fitness facilities to help you determine which services and amenities are important to you and which facilities best meet your needs.

Colosseum 9159F Red Branch Road Columbia 21045 410-740-2339

Objective listed on Web: -- "Your trainer owned community gym, offering personal attention in a comfortable setting."

Floor plan: -- The 10,000- square-foot facility offers 40 cardiovascular machines and well organized lanes of exercise equipment. Three dumbbell sets and a power-lifting area promote strength training while motivated employees and members promote fitness. Everyone who works at the gym is a certified trainer and available to answer questions or give you a spot. The recently renovated environment emphasizes safety, community and proper exercise technique.

Classes: -- The Colosseum tends to focus more on individualized training and personal attention but offers Pilates classes.

Trainers/instructors: -- The owners of the gym are both certified personal trainers and grew up in the area. Private sessions with one of their 27 nationally certified trainers are available to members and nonmembers. New members are offered an hour with a trainer, during which they learn the proper use of the machines and discuss ways to reach their fitness goals.

Child care: -- Yes.

Perks: -- The facility has a full-time physical therapist on site and is dedicated to providing guidance to its members. It attracts all fitness levels with its personalized approach. "We can tackle any fitness issue, at any age and fitness level, including post-rehab, sport specific, weight loss, back pain, pre-surgery strength conditioning and more."

Columbia Athletic Club 5435 Beaverkill Road Columbia 21044 410-730-6744

Objective listed on Web: -- "Large enough to satisfy all of your interests, yet small enough to get to know you."

Floor plan: -- The well-known club houses an indoor track, strength and weight training machines, cardiovascular machines, group fitness studios, an 800-square-foot cycling studio, racquetball, squash and tennis courts. A coed whirlpool is a plus for couples and families, but the unique feature of the club is the hot-water therapy pool. The locker rooms are equipped with saunas and free or rental lockers.

Classes: -- Step aerobics and group power classes are open to all. Services offered with certain memberships include studio cycling, yoga, and tai chi. Children and adult martial arts are available for an extra fee.

Trainers/instructors: -- The facility is part of the Columbia Association. Their facilities offer two kinds of personal trainers. The professional personal fitness trainers are certified through the American Council on Exercise. The elite personal fitness trainers have more advanced levels of certification and five years' experience, or have three years of experience and a bachelor's or master's degree in a relevant discipline.

Child care: -- Yes. Kidspace is offered for children ages 6 weeks to 13 years and available as an add-on to membership.

Perks: -- The 1,500-square-foot hot-water therapy pool offering aqua-arthritis classes, water tai chi, and water yoga, and the When If Not Now, personalized program for adults 50 and older. Massage therapy is offered for an extra fee.

Columbia Gym 6151 Day Long Lane Clarksville 21029 410-531-0800

Objective listed on Web: -- "A club designed with the family in mind."

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