This 2014 overview was updated in October of 2017, so we refer you to that one.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t taken full advantage of my membership at the Greenbelt Aquatic and Fitness Center, much less blogged about it. But when I received an email announcement some new fitness equipment I jumped on the chance to ask for a tour of the facilities, and Aquatics Coordinator Cheryl Conrad volunteered to provide one. I came away with not just this blog story but some overdue New Year’s motivation to get over there and DO IT.
Before getting into the details, my overall rating of the Fitness Center is ★★★★★ because:
- It’s so affordable – just $120/year if you’re 60 or older, $240/year for regular adults – and that’s for the whole shebang, including several swimming pools. This may be the best deal in town. (Along with GHI housing, of course.)
- It’s quiet – no blaring TVs or music. Unlike the gyms I’ve belonged to.
- The atmosphere is friendly and unintimidating. Again, unlike so many meat-market fitness clubs and weightlighter-dominated gyms, which can be a little scary for the ladies.
- The equipment is top-notch. Read on to learn more about that.
Now this is interesting – users are about equally divided between men and women but young women tend toward the cardio equipment while older women are big users of the weight-lighting machines. Patrons (as users are officially known at the Center) must be 14 or older and age-wise, there’s a good mix, too.
Fitness rooms are busiest after work Monday – Thursday, from roughly 4:30 to 8:00 p.m., when there can be a waiting list, and earlier in the week is busier than later. On the weekends it can be busy, or not. But unlike some less civilized gyms, there are no cat fights over the equipment.
Gym wipes are provided and I’m told they’re very effective. It’s an amenity started during the SARS virus epidemic.
The temperature is set at a comfortable 68, with fans for extra comfort and a healthier environment. At first the fans were placed where patrons could adjust them to suit their individual preferences but now they’re bolted high up on the wall, which prevents disagreements over fan settings. See, so civilized!
By the way, in 2013 the GAFC had 942 resident members (of whom 242 were seniors) and 509 non-resident members (including 171 seniors). Membership is on the increase.
Cardio Room 1
The first fitness room you come to contains new 5 treadmills and 6 ellipticals, including the two brand-new Precor EFX 835 ellipticals with “dual action arms” (stationary or movable). They’re self-powered, so you can just hop on, start striding and press “Quick Start or Select a Program.” They’re highly rated in equipment reviews.
As to the new Cybex treadmills, they come up to speed faster than the previous model, and have a softer landing due to “intelligent suspension.” Another feature loved by the young patrons pictured above is the docking station for recharging your phone. Awesome.
Cardio Room #2
What’s new and different about the Octane Lateral X is that unlike a regular elliptical, it includes a lateral movement, so it exercises the adductors, abductors and hip muscles. I tried this machine and within 5 minutes some of my muscles were asking me “What’s up with this?” because it’s so different from my usual cardio machine (the stationary recumbent bike I have at home). Below, a quick video that illustrates what I mean.
Also in Fitness Room 2 is an upper-body erdometer, like the ones you find at rehab centers. It’s good for warming up for any exercise that uses the upper body, like swimming or weights-lifting.
Before reaching the weight room I was directed to a small containing mats and some fitness balls, shown above. The space is actually the original entry to the 1939 bathhouse and outdoor pool, the first public pool in Maryland! The city reconstructed the pool in 1988 and the current GAFC, including Fitness Center, opened in 1993.
Weight Training Room
The weight-training equipment was here when the fitness center opened in 1993 and is targeted for gradual replacement, starting with the circuit machines around the perimeter of the room. (In the center is the Paramount Multi-Station.) Also to be replaced is the carpet – not with new carpeting but with a special rubberized surface, like what’s used on playgrounds.
Free help for anyone new to the equipment is provided by weight-room attendants, who are on duty every evening from 6 to 10. For help during the day, call ahead to arrange for time with an attendant between 10 a.m. and 2 pm on Tuesday or Wednesdays. There’s also a color photo and instructions in use posted at each of the circuit machines around the walls.
I’m told the weight room is never too busy, and that patrons are a friendly bunch.
By request, patrons can also get their body fat analyzed with the help of special equipment that’ll do just that. (Hmm, do I have to??)
Fitness Evaluation. After a medical history questionnaire is filled out and clearance is received from your doctor, staff will measure blood pressure, do a body composition screening, a sit-up test, a sit and reach flexibility test, a bike test for aerobic endurance, then review the results and designs a fitness program tailed to your needs. That includes specifics like exactly what equipment to use, for what duration, at what weight, how many repetitions, and how often. The cost is $45.
Personal trainers. The Center has three personal trainers for hire – Danielle and Dan Celdran (known around Greenbelt as Little and Big Dan) and Khalil Cutair – all by appointment only. These certified instructors coach clients through their workouts. The services includes goal-setting, lifestyle consultation, and encouragement, in addition to guidance through the actual exercises. The cost is $30 for an hour, $15 for 30 minutes.
Packages are available, and I just bought one myself as a gift for an upcoming birthday.
- Fitness Evaluation + one 1-hour personal training session for $70.
- Fitness evaluation + two 1-hour personal training sessions for $90.
- Fitness evaluation + three 1-hour trainings for $115.
- Three personal training sessions (without the evaluation) cost $75.
I’m thinking that one of these packages would be a great gift for Mother’s or Father’s Day.