Health and Wellness
You can call
the Annapolis Athletic Club for their Pilates schedule. But don't
call it a gym. "It's a health club and physical wellness center,"
says membership and marketing director Bari Cotrone.
enough visits to this enormous facility (a sprawling 21,000 square
feet) could possibly save a trip to the doctor and would definitely
be more fun. Massages and nutrition counseling are available,
and services such as acupuncture and physical therapy are on the
Owners Mike and Susan Myers opened the club's doors on Memorial
Day weekend 2003. The couple ran the Old Town Athletic Club in
Alexandria, Va., for several years but decided to sell in 1999.
After looking around, they chose Annapolis as the best spot to
adopt the same formula for a community-based club. "The areas
are very similar," Susan explains. The formula is more of a philosophy.
"It's not about no pain, no gain," Susan says, but "just feeling
better and being healthy."
The community aspect is also important, according to Mike, who
recalls seeing members at Old Town growing up and getting married.
Susan concurs. "It's not just a place to exercise," she says.
The club hosts seminars on health and non-health issues like financial
planning and is planning to hold a cocktail party for members.
The club, which occupies the former grocery store in the Eastport
Shopping Center on Bay Ridge Avenue, almost feels like a hotel,
with its etched glass and wood lockers. To minimize the noise,
the club uses cardio theater, which allows members to watch their
own television while sweating it out on the stairclimber and other
cardiovascular exercise machines. And, perhaps more importantly,
members have more than 40 such machines at their disposal, as
well as free-motion equipment which helps members trying to eliminate
No one can use the excuse that they could not find a sitter because
an on-site children's center supervises kids from three months
to 10 years of age and tries to provide meaningful activities
for them. "We are more than a babysitting service," says Natalie
Consumer demand for health clubs has grown steadily---36.3 million
people belonged to one in 2002, up 7.5 percent from 2001, according
to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.
Yet that is a fraction of the potential market; only about 15
percent of all American adults have joined a gym or club, Mike
says. "What we're looking for is the rest of the population."
To that end, they are considering adding a day spa similar to
the one they offered in Old Town. "It really worked well," says
Susan and Mike met at a gym, of course. Mike was a racquetball
pro and Susan supplemented her real estate work with marketing
for the club. They have now been married 13 years and have two
Running a business as a couple occasionally has its challenges.
"We try not to step on each other's toes," Susan says, smiling.
She admits when she comes home, she still wants to talk shop.
"I can't turn it off like Mike does." But there are advantages.
"We each have different strengths," Susan notes. And, "you always
have someone you trust to talk to," Mike observes.
While running a business that rarely closes takes a tremendous
amount of time, both say it's worth it. Mike observes that few
business owners are guaranteed that anyone who walks in is better
for it when they walk out.
Marie Maloney works in downtown Annapolis. Her passions
include writing, road trips, Cajun food, and the Terps.