If Henry Ford built a fitness factory, this might be it

If Henry Ford built a fitness factory, this might be it

The corporate honchos at Sport & Health clubs say most of us have preconceived notions about going to the gym. The cold, forbidding rooms with exercise equipment.

Grunting guys with no necks hoisting dumbbells. Petite ladies in makeup prancing around in sports bras. Maybe a musty sweat fills the air.

The fitness facility on the Potomac waterfront in Old Town is turning that notion on its head, encouraging “normal people with necks” to get fit. On Saturday, Old Town Sport & Health swings open its doors to a massive $2 million upgrade of its 30-year-old facility, which executives of the Vienna-based chain boast is the largest in the area.

This is not your everyday gym. The gleaming new facilities, taking the entire second floor once occupied by a defense contractor, has a fully-equipped Pilates studio and 100 new cardio machines, including treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and free weights. Built on suspended hardwood floors, they cover a 16,000 square foot expanse of waterfront studios.

If Henry Ford had built a modern fitness factory, this is what it might look like.

Free motion equipment for chest flys, chest presses, sit-ups and standing one arm presses. Thirty of the newest Precor-model treadmills greet you with individual 10″ flat-screen TVs with 95 channels of cable. They can run you up to 16 mph while catching the latest episode of “24.” Calories burned? Endless.

The Precor 9660 is a cross-training favorite of serious jocks and Hollywood celebs, retailing for about $7,000 apiece.  “We made one for Shaq, but had to re-design it to fit his 23-size shoe,” said Gerry Daley, the manufacturer’s rep, speaking about NBA superstar Shaquille ONeil. “This is the latest, greatest out there…It’s worth every penny.”

With three decades behind it of panting, sweating Alexandrians passing through its doors, the Old Town facility was due for a makeover. Many group exercise classes had waiting lists, and even the treadmills had sign-up sheets. “Our members were chomping at the bit to get up here,” said Emory Land, the club manager. “This alleviates a lot of the waiting and allows them to get a lot more accomplished in their workouts.”

In the new group exercise room, the walls are lined with big mirrors and coated with aerated corrugated steel, which Land says helps remove moisture from the air. The 30 new Startrac spinners doubles their previous count, and the 48″ plasma screens in a darkened environment allows time-trial bikers to simulate a trek through mountains, streams and forests, following, say, a video of Lance Armstrong on his bike while scenery from the Swiss Alps glides past.

The club also features cardio conditioning and strength training equipment, saunas, steam rooms and whirlpool, tanning rooms with new Sunsource 3000xp beds, locker room amenities, professionally-certified personal trainers, as well as nutrition and weight management programs. There’s also a full-service Serenity Day Spa, with a full line of massage therapies.

“We didn’t have room for most of this stuff before,” Land said.  

If youre going
Old Town Sport & Health
209 Madison Street, Old Town