Top Gyms 2012

Into pilates? Rock climbing? Boxing? Free weights? Has Baltimore got a gym for you!

Spinning under the chandelier at MV Fitness Athletic Club. –Bryan Burris

Yes, we know it's January—month of those dreaded resolutions—and no, we're not trying to guilt trip you. (Okay, maybe just a little.) But seriously, there's no excuse not to join a local gym at this point. You say you have no time? There are plenty of 24-hour gyms in the region. Afraid to be around the body-beautiful people? There are lots of gyms that cater to an older, more laid-back, or even out-of-shape clientele. Think you can't afford the fees? At least two of our featured gyms are $10 a month. Basically, whatever your particular version of a perfect gym might be, it's out there. Here are 18 great places to start.

Bare Hills Racquet and Fitness Club

1420 Clarkview Rd., 410-823-2500

The facilities: Owners Jack and Nancy Dwyer have transformed a fitness center that once housed a ski slope made of carpet into a modern facility equipped with six tennis courts, eight squash courts, a steam room and sauna, cycling room, and yoga studio. There's also plenty of variety in a large upstairs cardio room. It was named the 2011 United States Tennis Association Facility of the Year.

Who goes there: "It's definitely got a family feel," says director of member relations Melinda Capone of the gym's friendly vibe. Bare Hills also reaches out to the community, offering free workouts for Baltimore City firefighters and police officers.

What's hot: Bare Hills members have a wide range of class options, from the popular Bosu (like a dome-shaped medicine ball) to yoga fusion to Ladies Lunch League (tennis). Squash and tennis are taught by the pros, including world-famous squash director Lefika Ragontse. Thirty-minute classes offered mid-weekdays, give professionals a quick workout.

Special features: Starting this month, Bare Hills will offer Piloxing, a combination of Pilates, dance, and boxing. In addition, Soul Body—a yoga studio—operates classes out of the same building and offers some of its classes to Bare Hills members.

Meet a trainer: "Everybody fills their own niche," owner Nancy Dwyer says of her staff. Regina Roesner hosts about 20 Gravity training classes each week, using the same equipment Tiger Woods trains on. Truet Purnell recently won a national bodybuilding competition, and the Fitness Center has 14 personal trainers on staff.

Rates: $64-137/month; annual tennis membership fees are $99-41.

Brick Bodies

Several locations, including 212 W. Padonia Rd., Timonium, 410-252-5280

The facilities: The Padonia location started as a racquetball club with a bar, hot tub, and cigarette machine. Since owners Lynne and Victor Brick purchased the gym in 1985, the space has been reconfigured to include a basketball half-court and several large equipment rooms, featuring modern-day apparatus like ellipticals, cross trainers, and Stairmasters on two floors. There's a joie de vivre among the exercise enthusiasts, and it's not unusual to see Lynne Brick in their midst.

Who goes there: The median age is around 41, with most members between ages 25 and 65, says Josh Gerber, the company's marketing director.

What's hot: TRX suspension training, Brick Boxing, Baltimore Barre ("a cross between Joseph Pilates and Jane Fonda," says Brick), spinning ("Everyone knows how to ride a bike," she explains of its popularity), and a focus on 30-minute workouts for the time-challenged. A sign outside the building reminds members, "Have you had your quickie today?"

Special features: The club opens at 4:30 a.m. for early birds on weekdays, has a Little Brick's program with structured child care, has group personal training, as well as individual sessions, and hundreds of classes, including Zumba, body jam, and body jump.

Meet a trainer: Certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor Pam Monacelli has been at Brick Bodies since 1993. "What I truly enjoy is seeing someone finish something that they didn't think they could do," she says. "I firmly believe that we all have it in us to do things that we never imagined we could do."

Rates: $40-50/month; $60 includes a trainer twice a week.

Canton Club

2780-D Lighthouse Point East, 410-276-5544

The facilities: The one-level layout, on the second floor of a waterfront building in Canton, has all the amenities of a state-of-the-art gym with a spectacular view of the harbor. "It's like a cruise ship that doesn't move," says Canton Club's fitness director Jacki Dalsimer. Clients can work out on treadmills and other gym equipment while gazing at boats and Baltimore's skyline. Another draw is the "wow room," as co-owner Amy Passen calls the area with silk purple hammocks suspended from the ceiling for Air Yoga and the attached FitWalls, where clients hold onto outcroppings on the "walls" to build strength and flexibility.

Who goes there: The co-ed clients range from mid-20s to mid-60s, with some members in their 70s. "[Empty] nesters are a growing population," says Passen, as well as young parents. (Canton Club recently added a daycare program called Canton Cubs.)

What's hot: In addition to Air Yoga and the FitWall concept— Canton Club is the only gym on the East Coast to offer this equipment, Passen says— the gym has TRX suspension training, basically using suspended straps for whole-body fitness. There's also boot camp, yoga, weight-loss programs, spinning, kettlebells, and . . . tires (only these big rubber rounds are used in group-fitness classes for flipping over, pushing back and forth, and even hopping in the center).

Special features: The gym is open 24 hours a day in a secure environment with parking, which eliminates most excuses not to exercise. The gym prides itself on encouraging camaraderie among the staff and its club members. "Without the alcohol, it's a very Cheers-like environment," says Passen, who owns the gym with her husband Marty, a physician.

Meet a trainer: Fitness director Jacki Dalsimer says club members are her motivation. "The 'thank you's' I get for changing people's lives are why I love my job," she reports. "I am passionate about not only helping my personal clients but all members at Canton Club reach and exceed their goals."

Rates: $64-89/month, plus extra for personal training; Premium Coaching Option, $180/month, includes three monthly one-on-one personal-training sessions.

Curves for Women

733 W. 40th St., #20, 410-467-8700

The facilities: In this no-boys-allowed gym, there are a dozen or more exercise machines of different kinds to work different parts of your body. Give them 30 minutes a day, three times a week, and work a set number of minutes on each machine for cardio and strength, and you're done.

Who goes there: Curves has a unique clientele: Its 250-odd members are, obviously, women only. Many are a bit self-conscious about the, er, unOlympic state of their physiques, some just prefer working out without the distraction of guys. These ladies, ages 10-87, for the most part aren't training for a triathlon, but just want to get fitter. Manager Apple Koekemoer and her four staffers train newcomers on the circuit, do fitness assessments, and help members set goals.

What's hot: What's cool about Curves is its honest place in the fitness universe: Come in any physical shape and in any clothes you want, girls, (we saw not one member in Spandex on a Monday at midday) and get fitter in an environment where self-consciousness is a non-issue.

Special features: Insurance will, in many cases, pay for the Curves program, considered a wellness program by participating carriers and employers.

Meet a trainer: "We're not bodybuilders," says Koekemoer, "we're just about fitness." She's a true believer, by the way: Eight years ago, at age 35, the former bookkeeper needed this same non-judgmental environment to get her strength back after breast-cancer treatment. When the manager spot came open, she knew it was meant to be.

Rates: About $40/month, annually.

Downtown Athletic Club

210 E. Centre St. 410-332-0906

The facilities: Because it's open 24 hours, this 100-year-old, 66,000-square-foot converted train depot is never overly crowded. Along with the normal roster of free weights and exercise equipment, look for free parking, racquet ball and squash courts, a basketball court, an indoor pool with sauna and steam room, a rubber track, and a boxing ring. The vibe is "chill," says lifestyle consultant Karen Codd. "It's state-of-the-art, but not posh."

Who goes there: The gyms boasts an eclectic mix of clients—downtown dwellers, workers, and commuters. It's a true "melting pot," Codd says. Both Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Mayor Sheila Dixon are regulars.

What's hot: TRX suspension training, which uses cables to improve core strength and flexibility. "You can see an 85-year-old next to a bodybuilder," says group fitness director Ron Crognale.

Special features: The Freshfit bar and grill, where you can go for a beer or a sandwich and watch the game after your workout. Also, since the DAC is part of the Merritt Athletic Club network, you get the six week results guarantee and can use your membership to work out at any of Merritt's nine regional locations.

Meet a trainer: Personal training manager Heidi Shaneybrook, a former Division III soccer player at Salisbury University, has a background in physiology and kinesiology and, with her own history of a bad back and balky knees, knows how to maximize a workout for those with sports injuries. "She makes the workout as enjoyable as it is intense," says Crognale.

Rates: $51-89/month.

Federal Hill Fitness

39 E. Cross St., 410-752-3004

The facilities: Located amongst the bars and restaurants on Cross Street, Federal Hill Fitness has a modern, rehabbed feel. There’s a second-floor loft, exposed brick, and Robert McClintock paintings donning the walls. The main floor has an open area for cardio, the downstairs is for core, and the second floor has kettlebells and weights and a studio for classes.

Who goes there: Much like its sister gym, MV Fitness, the club’s clientele comes straight from the neighborhood. “Most members are younger, athletic, and look like people you’d typically see in Federal Hill,” says owner Andrea Shelby. “Those of us who live here walk everywhere, so it makes sense that we’d walk to our gym, too.”

What’s hot: Federal Hill Fitness’s most popular program is the outdoor boot camp. “It’s a seriously butt-kicking, competitive class,” Shelby says. “There’s a lot of pain and a lot of results.” The boot camp meets three times a week for four weeks at 6 a.m. on the top of Federal Hill. “There’s nothing quite like seeing the sunrise over the Baltimore skyline and knowing that your day is off to a great, healthy start,” she says.

Special features: Shelby explains that because the gym is a smaller size (about 600 members), there is a more personal connection. “We’ve been open for 10 years and have so many members that have been here from the beginning,” she says. “We have a great retention rate. People only leave if they move.”

Meet a trainer: Trainer Reese Ashe has a background in mixed martial arts and wrestling, and he specializes in group-training classes (like the hardcore, outdoor boot camp) and kickboxing. (Plus, we named him “Best Personal Trainer” in 2010). “He has the added glitter of being a part of the club from the beginning,” Shelby says. “He’s truly an exceptional part of the team.”

Rates: $49-69/month; a personal training membership is $299/month. (Federal Hill Fitness members can also use the MV Fitness facility.)

LifeBridge Health & Fitness

1836 Greene Tree Rd., Pikesville, 410-484-6800

The facilities: We should probably tell you what they don’t have here; that’d be a much shorter list. The gym has more than 200 cardio machines, each with individual TVs; heated saltwater lap pool, plus a therapy pool; three group-exercise studios; an indoor walking track; rock-climbing wall; swanky locker rooms with hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms; free Wi-Fi; cafe; pro shop selling Lululemon and Under Armour gear; and a LifeBridge Health physical therapy practice on premises.

Who goes there: Because of the gym’s association with LifeBridge Health (the parent organization of Sinai and Northwest Hospitals) and its Pikesville location, you’ll see lots of suburban boomers working up a sweat as part of their rehabilitation regimens. On the other end of the spectrum, many elite athletes, including some Ravens, stop by to partake in the Parisi Speed School, a conditioning program designed to improve performance.

What’s hot: Zumba is by far the most popular class on the schedule, but strength-training/body-sculpting classes like Body by Barre and Pilates also attract a crowd.

Special features: The one-tenth of a mile indoor track, which encircles the upstairs, provides an opportunity to release oneself from the yoke of the treadmill and actually, you know, go somewhere when you walk. The rock-climbing wall has beginner and advanced sides. And the pool is always a toasty 83 degrees.

Meet a trainer: Word around the locker rooms is, if you really want results STAT!, the person to see is former Towson University-hockey-player-turned-personal-trainer Billy Wunderlich. It won’t be easy, and you’ll have to work for it, but he’ll make sure you do.

Rates: Standard memberships/$89 per month.

Lifetime Fitness

7220 Lee DeForest Dr., Columbia, 410-953-0022

The facilities: Inside this Columbia gym—possibly the largest fitness facility in the state of Maryland—you’ll find three pools, two indoor, including one with amusement-park style slides, and one outdoor, also with slide, a zero-depth entry “beach” and a hot tub; two full-length basketball courts; a 30-plus-foot-tall climbing wall; 400 pieces of cardio and Nautilus equipment; four class studios, including dedicated yoga/Pilates and “cycle theater”; 26 full-time personal trainers; a full-service restaurant plus an outdoor bistro in summer; two squash courts; two racquetball courts; a full-service spa; and a child-care center complete with a maze, eight computers, a miniature basketball court, and a full playground. (Whew!)

Who goes there: Lifetime works hard to provide something for everyone, from the babies in the child-care center to the elderly clients in the gentle yoga class, but director Joel Schlossberg says the biggest segment of members are family-oriented people in their 30s, who stop by on their commutes to Baltimore or D.C.

What’s hot: The Zumba classes are big, as are classes in the spinning studio, with 52 stationary bikes and a giant video screen that projects segments of the Tour de France.

Special features: This gym is open 24/7, 365 days a year. There is also a full-service summer camp for kids. The adult basketball league, Ultimate Hoops, keeps statistics for all players online and sends the winning teams to a national tournament where they play top teams from other Lifetime gyms around the country.

Meet a trainer: Marnice Sigur, 42, had an epiphany two years ago when her mother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. Concerned about her own health, she became a fitness fanatic, losing 82 pounds in a year and studying to be a personal trainer. Now, she works at Lifetime helping other overweight and obese people change their lives.

Rates: $80.95/month for adults, up to $155/month for families.

Maryland Athletic Club, Harbor East

655 President St., 410-625-5000

The facilities: MAC Harbor East doesn’t feel like a gym, but more of a spa smack in the middle of downtown. Along with top-flight weights and machines, the 54,000-square-foot facility is complete with individual steam showers, salt-water pools, and an Internet cafe so that gym doesn’t feel like such a chore after all.

Who goes there: General manager Mike Hines estimates that about two-thirds of MAC Harbor East’s members are under the age of 40. Most of the members are downtown professionals who like the convenience of a gym near the office. “It’s like a Who’s Who of Baltimore’s workforce,” Hines says.

What’s hot: Hines says that, without a doubt, the most popular program is the MAC Blast, which is a boot-camp program that also includes 10 consecutive days of intense workouts all over the club. Hour-long classes include boxing, yoga, core training, and swimming. “It’s really a jumpstart if you feel your workout program has gotten stagnant,” Hines says.

Special features: The spa-like feel of MAC Harbor East is certainly distinct among downtown gyms. The facility also has three indoor pools for lap swimming, aquatic classes, and kids play. There are also squash courts.

Meet a trainer: Jason Williams is one of Harbor East’s most popular trainers. “He does every type of training possible,” Hines says. “From stretching to running assessments and Pilates.” With a degree in sports medicine, Williams also specializes in rehab and sports-specific training for MAC’s more athletic members.

Rates: $79-99/month (MAC Harbor East members may also use the Timonium MAC facility.)

Maryland Athletic Club, Timonium

110 W. Timonium Rd., Timonium, 410-453-9111

The facilities: Owners Liz and Tim Rhode had a vision in the mid-’90s that turned an old warehouse into today’s gleaming 64,000-square-foot fitness center, complete with swimming pools and a cafe. The MAC, as its familiarly called, recently celebrated its 15th year with a blowout party.

Who goes there: The average age is 50, with 20 percent of its 7,000 members age 70 plus, says Sharon Nevins, the MAC’s marketing vice president.

What’s hot: TRX suspension training, small-group personal training, boot camp, yoga, and classes like spinning, step, and Zumba. “The buzz word is functional training,” says Nevins. “We want to support what you do in everyday life.”

Special features: There are two personal-training studios, a Kids Club for child care, a lap pool, two therapy pools, a cardio area that is quieter and more private than the bustling main MAC, which has its own array of machines on the first floor and two mezzanines, and a partnership with an on-site physical-therapy company.

Meet a trainer: Billy Delorbe has been a trainer at the MAC for more than seven years. “Helping people is one of my favorite things to do,” he says. “I love working on new structures, different exercises, and coming up with ways to keep my clients motivated. Trying new exercise combinations keeps it interesting.”

Rates: $69-99/month (Timonium MAC members may also use the Harbor East MAC facility.)

Meadow Mill Athletic Club

8600 Clipper Mill Rd., 410-235-7000

The facilities: A meandering labyrinth of rooms inside a renovated 19th-century mill complex, Meadow Mill has rooms of cardio and Cybex resistance weight-training equipment, two group-exercise rooms, a spinning studio, a Pilates studio, and 14 single and two doubles squash courts.

Who goes there: Squash enthusiasts make up a sizable portion of enrollment but young urbanites from nearby Hampden and Clipper Mill are also represented.

What’s hot: Did we mention squash? It gets a lot of play here. The club regularly hosts international, national, state, and in-house tournaments. Free squash clinics are held weekly for members.

Special features: Though Meadow Mill is best known for its squash, the gym also offers a full range of fitness classes, including an aerial acrobatics studio. The high-ceilinged room is outfitted with fabric drapery on which professional aerialist Robin Miller will teach you the tricks of the acrobatics trade.

Meet a trainer: Miller has performed acrobatics in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe and offers instruction on aerial hoop, hammock, and fabric routines.

Rates: With no annual contract required—— ever—— Meadow Mill is one of the more flexible places around. Regular membership is $75 per month.

Merritt Athletic Club Canton

3401 Boston St., 410-563-0225 (and several other locations)

The facilities: The official club of the Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders, this spotless 24-hour club has an eye-popping spinning studio, an indoor/outdoor pool with a view of the harbor, a basketball court, two squash courts, a full-service day spa, state-of-the-art exercise equipment, plus 70 group fitness classes offered each week.

Who goes there: Mostly business professionals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are “all here for the same reason—— to get fit,” says sales manager Doug Wood.

What’s hot: Group personal training classes (usually 4 to 8 people), a great way to get personalized training at lower price points. The new focus is functional training, says Wood—— “training that relates to everyday activity.”

Special features: The gym’s $30,000 light and sound system can turn a spinning class into a uniquely entertaining and energizing experience. Additionally, the gym’s indoor/outdoor pool is the “place to be” on weekends. There is a cheerful day-care center.

Meet a trainer: Former wrestler Mark Frear is “not a kid”—— he’s in his 40s—— and his experience shows. He’s “well-versed in the anatomy of the body,” says Wood, and has an insatiable curiosity about fitness and health. “If a client is on medication, he’ll do research to find out how that affects the body,” says Wood. His workout style is reportedly intense without being intimidating.

Rates: $51-89/month. (Membership can be used to work out at any of Merritt’s nine regional locations.)

MV Fitness Athletic Club

1016 N. Charles St., 410-878-2990

The facilities: The four-year-old gym is located in a converted Mt. Vernon mansion catty-corner from The Belvedere Hotel. Inside, there is original marble, hardwood floors, and fixtures, like a beautiful chandelier in the front room. The bottom floor (the cellar) is for weight training, the first floor uses the former living room for cardio, the kitchen for the classes, the dining room for spin class, and the smoking lounge (!) for Pilates.

Who goes there: Andrea Shelby, who also owns Federal Hill Fitness, explains that both gyms specifically serve the neighborhoods they’re in. “Mt. Vernon is the cultural center of the city,” Shelby says. “So we get people from the symphony, we get art students, we get the whole gamut.”

What’s hot: Reflective of a larger trend in the industry, one of the most popular programs is Fit Club. This group-training program is designed as a weight-loss clinic, where you train in a small group setting three-times a week for six weeks. “Fit Club is very results-driven,” Shelby says. “You keep a food journal, we host seminars, all while you’re working out with one of our trainers.”

Special features: You’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier gym out there, especially one with more sunlight pouring through all the rooms. Plus, there are private, locked showers—each stocked with toiletries paid for by the gym. The spinning bikes face a giant window overlooking Charles Street.

Meet a trainer: Guy Cragwell has been training clients for more than five years, and is also a certified nutritionist. He specializes in achieving weight-loss goals through plyometrics and functional movements. “He could take a piece of wood and make it into a workout,” Shelby says.

Rates: $49-69/month; a personal training membership is $299/month. (MV Fitness members can also use the Federal Hill Fitness facility.)

Planet Fitness

11989-A Reisterstown Rd., Reisterstown, 410-702-4321 (and 14 other locations)

The facilities: Each location of this no-frills 24-hour franchise encompasses about 20,000 square feet of workout equipment including, cardio and strength-training machines, free-weights, a circuit area, tanning beds, and locker rooms. But Planet Fitness is more notable for what it doesn’t have. In an effort to keep prices affordable, it eschews cafes, saunas, group fitness classes, and other optional accoutrements.

Who goes there: “It’s all ages, races, sizes, and shapes,” says Josh Gerber, the marketing director for Planet Fitness’s parent company.

What’s hot: Planet Fitness does not forsake all comfort. The tanning beds get lots of use and are complimentary depending on membership level. Relaxing leather massage chairs are another perk.

Special features: There is a strict no-muscleheads policy at Planet Fitness. The workout floor is a bona fide “no grunting zone,” and an alarm will sound if someone slams weights around like a Mr. Universe contestant.

Meet a trainer: Planet Fitness doesn’t have personal trainers, but they do have fitness staffers at each gym to offer explanation or guidance.

Rates: Standard membership is $10/month, with a $29 start-up fee.

PRO Fit Rx

15 W. Aylesbury Rd., Timonium, 410-828-7948

The facilities: New gym in a big commercial space that has room after room of all the latest hardware, from cardio machines, strength-building equipment, and weights to the usual parade of flat-screen TVs. There are also group sessions, including Zumba, kick-boxing, and boot-camp classes, as well as personal trainers. Suffering from a touch of gym-germ-phobia? Then you’ll appreciate the hygienic attractions of a spotless new locker and shower area.

Who goes there: This would be a good choice for people who know exactly what they want out of a gym and don’t want to pay higher fees for things they don’t want: The membership fees follow the a là carte model, so you only pay for what you use.

What’s hot: Beginning this month, those who just want to take a lot of classes can pay a minimal fee to drop in on any class they like.

Special features: This place is truly for the person who doesn’t want to be held hostage by their club: You pay month to month, and several memberships require no contract.

Meet a trainer: “We pride ourselves on hiring personal trainers who not only have years of experience, but hold the most extensive certification in the personal- training industry,” says co-owner Diane Baklor.

Rates: $30-60/month.

Spunk Fitness

1433 York Rd., Lutherville, 410-828-4653

The facilities: The place doesn’t look like much from the outside, being on the backside of the oh-so-’80s shopping plaza at York and Seminary, but the location (right off the Beltway) is easy for the greater-Towson area, and it offers a good range of cardio and strength equipment, plus personal and group training.

Who goes there: Sure, over in the weight area, it’s mostly young males strutting their stuff, but we’re not talking about the Mr. Universe type. (In fact, there’s a sign that says, “No grunting or dropping of weights.”) More popular is the cardio side, with rows of the latest high-tech treadmills and 50-inch flat screens, where you’ll find folks ages 16 to 65, with a good number of professional types who look like they came at midday to get a break from their office cubicles (and who appreciate the full lockers and steam rooms).

What’s hot: There’s a reason that the Lutherville and Ellicott City branches of this three-state chain have more than 20,000 members—— and we think it’s probably a price that’s hard to beat.

Special features: If you need to work out your frustrations at 3 a.m., this is the place for you: It’s open 24 hours on weekdays.

Meet a trainer: Spunks’s most popular trainer is probably Katie Ferris, 25, who was pursuing a master’s in biology at Towson University when she caught the fitness bug. Says Ferris: “I do both basic training and conditioning with a wide range of clients, some who want low-intensity programs, others, who might be training for competition, high intensity” including rehab for clients who are recovering from an illness or injury.

Rates: About $10-20/month.

Under Armour Combine Training Center

1010 Hull St., 410-752-0100

The facilities: Located on Under Armour’s Tide Point campus, the Combine Training Center (CTC) is the 11,000-square-foot brainchild of FX Studios and Under Armour. The space is very open with hardwood floors and fire-engine red walls, with windows overlooking Tide Point’s promenade and the harbor. There are rooms for cardio, strength training, weight lifting, and various open spaces for classes and suspension training.

Who goes there: The clientele is about 70 percent Under Amour employees, but the facility has been available to the public since it opened two years ago. “Your typical Under Armour employee is pretty type A, competitive, and athletic,” says Nate Costa, trainer and owner of FX Studios. “That energy inspires everyone.” The CTC has also hosted professional athletes like Tom Brady, Brandon Jennings, and Lindsey Vonn.

What’s hot: Besides the TRX suspension training and a hardcore combine program, the CTC offers barre classes, which is the core training class done at a ballet bar that is popular in bigger cities and just starting to be introduced here. “It has the flow of a yoga class, but you’re really working your muscles with various tension exercises,” says Costa.

Special features: Many of the CTC’s classes are held outside on the promenade so members can exercise while overlooking the harbor and city skyline. Additionally, the gym has a “challenge wall,” where members can record their best times, weight amounts, and distances to try to best other members. “This is a really good motivational tool,” says Costa. He also says that the CTC’s more than 600 members feel like a community, as most of them come from Tide Point offices (like Advertising.com and GKV) and already know each other.

Meet a trainer: Chris Sams is “probably the most creative trainer we have,” says Costa. Sams has a large breadth of expertise as he specializes in everything from marathon training to pre/post-natal exercise. With more than seven years of experience, Sams understands how to adapt exercise routines to fit any member. “Chris is constantly challenging your body,” says Costa. “He’s really good at keeping it fresh.”

Rates: $50/month. (Under Armour employees included.)

Weinberg Family Center Y

900 W. 33rd St., 410-889-9622

The facilities: The sprawling complex on the site of the old Memorial Stadium incorporates a large fitness center with dozens of cardio and Nautilus machines and free weights, an indoor pool, a full-length basketball court, rooms for classes, a sports field with stands, an early childhood learning center, a rock-climbing wall, the massive playground, and locker rooms with dry saunas.

Who goes there: Conveniently located near lots of North Baltimore neighborhoods, the Y draws young professionals for the cardio equipment, rock wall, and adult basketball leagues; families for the child learning center, youth leagues, and playground; and retirees for its Silver Sneakers, Silver Splash, and Aqua Arthritis classes.

What’s hot: Zumba and boot-camp classes are among the most popular, while the enormous open-to-the-public playground—— which has miniature versions of Baltimore landmarks like the Bromo Seltzer Tower and the Hippodrome—— draws visitors from all over the region.

Special features: Built on the site of Memorial Stadium, the Y pays tribute to the Baltimore Orioles and Colts greats who gained glory there. The Ring of Honor in the large gymnasium, features large banners celebrating Earl Weaver, Brooks Robinson, Lenny Moore, Art Donovan, Frank Robinson, and several others.

Meet a trainer: Fitness director Craig Collins has a degree in cardiac rehab and works both with elderly and rehabilitating clients, as well as runners and amateur athletes on bio-mechanics and performance enhancement.

Rates: $49/month for adults; $68-78/month for families.

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