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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

With its fitness programs, Columbus is putting its mouth where its money is.

The city has poured resources into new equipment, renovations and staffing at many of its 29 community centers.

But that isn't enough to entice people. Malik Willoughby, director of the Indian Mound Community Center on the South Side, called the centers "one of the city's best-kept secrets."

So the next step is marketing.

On Saturday, the city's Recreation and Parks Department is hosting a free open house called the Fitness Resolution Solution at its Marion Franklin center on Lockbourne Road.

The idea is to shine the spotlight on the myriad fitness opportunities for central Ohioans. (You don't have to be a Columbus resident to use the centers.)

"Clearly, they are not as used as we would like, and that's part of the reason we're doing this program," said David Jones, city fitness director. "We have a core group of people who visit, but we want to let more people know about our great facilities and low-cost programs."

He is a testament to the city's new commitment. Jones was hired in August as the first person in that position.

At the same time, Jones said, Columbus spent about $200,000 to buy all-new fitness equipment at four centers open to the public (Beatty, Brentnell, Marion Franklin and Schiller). Several other centers were renovated, and 10 staff members gained personal-trainer certification.

"Dave has done a great job," Willoughby said.

Saturday's event is designed to showcase the results.

In addition to viewing the new fitness room, Jones said, people can get health screenings or a massage as they pick up information about classes.

The city tries to keep fees low. Although some classes might have additional expenses, the base price to use the center is $15 for an 8- to 10-week session or $75 for a year.

The centers host physical-education classes for home-schooled children and offers youth basketball and floor-hockey programs. An after-school program, Capital Kids, provides a variety of games and activities.

Training programs designed for kids -- called HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) -- and dance and Zumba classes are also available.

"We want to encourage having fun, too," Willoughby said. "If you're dancing and having fun, you're not thinking about counting calories."

kgordon@dispatch.com

@kgdispatch

AT A GLANCE

Fitness Resolution Solution

MARION FRANKLIN COMMUNITY CENTER, 2801 LOCKBOURNE RD.

Contact: 614-724-2017, parks. columbus.gov

Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Admission: free

January 9, 2014 
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