Local Gyms Offer More than Weights

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By Marianne Weaver

As the winter temperatures plunge, it’s time to take workouts indoors. “Exercise is medicine,” said Robin Frey, Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center fitness program coordinator. “Research and studies show that one of the leading causes of death is related to a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise plays an important role in prevention of chronic diseases and plays a role in socialization through group exercise. It is never too late to start a safe and effective exercise program.”

The good news is, there’s some sort of gym in nearly every strip mall, main street and business park. The bad news? That’s a lot of choices. Here are just a few of the many specialized options in this region.

Under One Roof

The Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center (10900 University Blvd. Manassas) offers the largest number of classes in Northern Virginia, according to Frey. “We offer diversity in our formats from the very basic and
important aqua classes, chair yoga and Smart Moves programs through the high-end athletic and performance-based challenging classes,” she said. “In addition, we are a strong community that offers the best in children’s programming through camps and year-round activities. We are a full rec center that allows the entire family opportunities to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

The center is open Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Memberships are required and available in a variety of options: annual, monthly and daily. Senior, matinee and military discounts are available.

In Manassas Park, residents (and non-residents) have access to the Manassas Park Community Center (99 Adams Street), which features wellness rooms, a heated pool and a gymnasium. “We have two fitness rooms,” said Jason Shriner, marketing manager. “One is focused on cardio training and the other is
focused on strength training.”

The cardio room is equipped with treadmills, elliptical machines, free weights and some strength machines. The other room contains plate-loaded strength equipment, Woodway Curves, Kinesis One, Olympic racks, TRX equipment, free weights, weight benches and kettle bells.

“Our pool is heated to 80 degrees year-round, with eight 25-yard lanes and a zero-depth entry so people with mobility issues can go in,” he said. “We also have two full-size basketball courts that can be used for dodgeball, volleyball and indoor soccer.”

Group exercise classes, he said, are offered all week. “The most popular are Zumba, yoga, body sculpting and kickboxing,” he said. “Plus, all memberships come with two 30-minute training sessions with every renewal.” The gyms are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The pool is opened Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (The pool is closed Monday through Thursday 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
The basic annual Manassas Park resident monthly membership costs $35, and $45.50 for non-residents. Family memberships are also available.

Specialized Programs

Traditional community gyms offer members an array of fitness programs and classes, but a growing number of gyms are taking the opposite approach and focusing on very specific types of training.

Pure Barre (13950 Promenade Commons Street, Suite B-1b, Gainesville) offers a collection of 45- to 50-minute total body workouts, using the ballet barre and other light equipment. “Pure Barre is a low-impact, upbeat and musically driven full-body workout built to isolate the muscles in hard-to-reach areas: hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms,” said owner Nicholette Dunleavy. The studio offers three styles of barre—classic, empower and reform, “which is amazing for in-studio cross training.”

Dunleavy said the first class is free. According to the website, individual classes are $25 each and a 20-session class pack costs $420.

Like Pure Barre, C.O.R.E. Personal Training & Pilates Studio (12720 Darby Brooke Court, Woodbridge) offers clients targeted training courses. “We’re not a gym, we are a boutique studio,” said owner Ruth Gordon. “We offer private training, small group training (five to six people so it’s more personalized), and a few classes (still only 10-15 people). Everything we do is more personalized. We are the only Pilates studio in Woodbridge fully equipped with all of the Pilates equipment: reformers, towers, chairs, ladder barrel, springboards, Cadillac.”

She said each new client is given a 55-minute consult to develop their personal training program. “We offer both functional (meaning more traditional) training as well as Pilates training,” she said. We also offer MELT, a self-treatment technique that we teach so individuals can reduce their joint aches and pains and gain better balance in their body as well as many other benefits.”

Small group training ranges in cost from $20 to $30 per session; group classes cost $11 to $16 per class. Private rates vary.

The owners of Vertical Rock (10225 Nokesville Road, Manassas) have incorporated the best of both worlds: the social connections of a community gym with the specialized training of a studio. “We are mainly a rock-climbing gym,” said owner Ian Colton. “But we are also a fitness center for most ages. A typical gym is for people age 18 to 44. Ours is down to 4 and up to 74.”

Although he said most people come in the door for the rock climbing—there are only four in a 60-mile radius—they return for the other classes: self-defense, krav maga, yoga, strength training. Equally important, he said, they come back for the camaraderie.

“The majority of people who go to a fitness center put on headphones and don’t interact with anyone,” he said. “We want people to come in and interact. We want them to be social.”

Vertical Rock offers several membership packages beginning at $69 per month. Krav Maga classes cost extra. Adult day passes cost $22; military and college student passes cost $18. The gym is open Mondays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.to 10 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Focused on Training

Some athletes require a bit more intense personal training. Whether training to compete at powerlifting matches or weekend athletes who want to be stronger, faster and more powerful, some local gyms tailor intense workouts to meet the demands of highly motivated competitive athletes.

In 2004, Sabre Schnitzer of Manassas started powerlifting at The Shop Gym (9311 Wellington Road, Manassas) to stay in shape after leaving the Marine Corps.

“Too many Marines immediately start packing on pounds following their retirement,” he said. “With two young daughters, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake. I took up powerlifting and quickly found that I had a predisposition to the powerlifting lifts and started competing in local and then national competitions.  Almost 20 years later, I still wear the same size pants and use the same size belts.” Today he is the state chair of USA Powerlifting Virginia, which focuses on athletes who want to take strength training to “the
next level.”

“There is nothing more motivational than knowing the date of your next competition,” said Schnitzer. “If you want to place high or even win, you must push your body farther than it might want to go. Competing every three to four months keeps the body in a constant state of growth, the cardiovascular system in peak form, and the metabolism always running on high.”

Next Level Fitness & Performance (6620 James Madison Hwy., Haymarket) offers a mix of programs that  cater to both longtime workout enthusiasts as well as those just getting back into the gym routine.

“We provide a mix of metabolic and high-intensity strength training that not only keeps our clients engaged, it gets them measurable results,” said Colby Schreckengost, owner/director of training at Next Level Fitness & Performance. He said programs are adaptable to every age and fitness level: “Our clients are with a trainer at every workout–no one is expected to figure out what to do or how to do it. Trainers demonstrate every exercise, ensure that clients are using proper form, and motivate clients to challenge themselves. We also provide nutrition coaching, results tracking and accountability.” In addition to fitness training, Schreckengost said the gym offers weight loss challenges throughout the year.

He said memberships start at $179 a month and there are military and first responder discounts. New clients can try one free class or, for $97, enroll in the Fitness Kickstart, which offers the chance to sample  both adult group training and personal training. Next Level is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
and Saturday 7:30 a.m. to noon.

Editor’s Note: This article was not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the fitness options available in Prince William. We wrote about a variety of fitness options, but please use a search engine to find an option that works best for you.

Marianne Weaver (mweaver@princewilliamliving.com) is a freelance editor and writer. She earned a BA from the University of Pittsburgh and an MJ from Temple University. 


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