A new exercise facility opens its doors to women

Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:20 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Women in Columbia now have a new option when it comes to fitness.

Females In Training, a new women-only fitness center, opened Feb. 7 in the building that used to house Club Woodrail. The building is attached to the Missouri Athletic Center.

Unlike other women’s fitness centers, it is affiliated with Wilson’s Total Fitness, which makes it easy for members to use both locations.

Assistant Director Jessica Schultz said FIT serves a clientele who wanted a casual place to work out and was underserved in Columbia. Schultz said the environment is less intimidating and has more room because it is a women’s-only facility.

“We saw a need in Columbia for a place for women,” Schultz said.

Molly Browning, a member of both Wilson’s and FIT, said she likes using FIT as an alternative when Wilson’s is too crowded.

“Sometimes you overbook, like the airlines,” Browning said.

Schultz said that FIT serves different customers than Wilson’s but that sometimes members use both centers for variety.

“Some of the women used to work out with the husbands, but they love this now,” Schultz said.

FIT also offers a wider range of programs than many other women’s gyms. FIT shares facilities with MAC, giving members access to tennis courts, pools, soccer fields and a variety of workout rooms.

MAC specializes in youth athletic programs, and Schultz said this is helpful to moms who exercise. Schultz said moms can drop off children at soccer practice and then work out. “It’s great for people who have their kids involved in exercise,” Schultz said. “They can hit two birds with one stone.”

Sara Hunninghake, an FIT employee, said many moms come in on Mondays and Wednesdays, when their kids can go to the Cardio Kids workout class.

FIT draws a lot more women than mothers who are dropping children off at practice, Membership Representative Karen Apple said. Many older women come to use the pool, which is open more hours than many other pools.

“Women love the pool because it’s warmer than the one at Wilson’s,” Hunninghake said.

Schultz said college-age women also enjoy coming to FIT now, while the MU Student Recreation Center is under construction.

Apple said FIT’s main goal is to provide an environment where women are comfortable working out.

“Women are looking to do their favorite fitness program, whether there are men or not,” she said.

Schultz said because women have traditionally been more involved in aerobics classes, FIT has had interest to match a wide variety of classes.

Membership prices for FIT start at $35 a month. Benefits of membership include use of the FIT and MAC gyms as well as one session with a personal trainer. Schultz said after the first time with a trainer, many women pay for additional sessions.

“It’s best to work with someone who sets a program,” Schultz said. She said working with a trainer can make it easier for women to reach fitness goals.

“We’ve been doing awesome,” Schultz said. “People come from all over — Fulton, Ashland, Hallsville, even Jefferson City.”

FIT employees hope to continue to expand by offering more programs. Hunninghake said employees of both FIT and MAC are trying to “develop a facility that would really be involved in keeping kids fit.”

For now, the only question is whether FIT can continue to provide enough staff and equipment to match the demand.

“There’s the right equipment with the right number of people here,” Browning said, “but that could change in the future.

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