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Today I continue my series on good businesses by praising my gym of choice, the Evans Fitness Club (also known as Center or simply “EFC”).  EFC has served as a critical part of my recent life change program and this post will serve as a prelude to the forth-coming detailed analysis of said program.  I hope all of this is of use and motivation to you, my beloved readers.

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One can find EFC at 3002 Allen Drive in the heart of Evans. Georgia; they are online at: http://www.evansfitnessclub.com/. Check them out either way; if you live in the area, you need to join.  They are by far the biggest and best fitness facility in the Augusta area.  In fact, I have seen few clubs anywhere that rival the opulence and excellent design of EFC.  There motto is “bringing big city fitness to your backyard.”  That is exactly what they have done.

The club is the brainchild of “Big” Mike Montarbo and Bill Smith.  Big Mike earned his stripes as a trainer and manager at other local clubs, winning everyone over with his knowledge and charm.  Bill is a legend in the fitness industry, having owned and operated clubs all over the U.S.  I met Bill in the 1980’s when he ran the super-successful BodyTalk club, then the most state of the art facility in the area.  He and I reminisced about the old place when I joined EFC.  Bill’s kids are now in management and continue their father’s tradition of excellence.

I had intended to interview one or both gentlemen before writing this piece and I may still.  I’d also like to have them as a sponsor here, they are most worthy.

First, I’d like to start with the beauty and design of the physical facility.  Here’s a picture of the outside (architectural rendering, I thought I saw a real photo but can’t find it):

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The club is located in the new business park across the street from the new Columbia County Courthouse, Library, and County office complex.  The building is beautiful as well as functional.  It’s surrounded by parking spaces and a second parking lot next door is almost complete – I have never had any trouble finding a spot any time of day.

Inside, the place is a marvel of efficient layouts.  After signing in at the attractive front desk one enters the main training floor.  The center is devoted to an MMA-style “octagon” used constantly by Greubel’s Martial Arts for a variety of exercise and self-defense trainings.  The octagon is wrapped by three separate machine weight areas.  In the center there is an Astroturf running lane of NFL quality.  These areas are enclosed by a walkway/track.  The outside areas are devoted to a huge free weight area, a Smoothie King franchise (can’t beat it!), a medical weight loss office, a spinning studio, racquetball courts, locker rooms, and a massive child care room.

The kiddies can keep fit while mom and dad work out by playing basketball, climbing on numberous inflatable funhouses, and other activities.  They also provide TVs and reading/play areas.  The room is well staffed.

Speaking of TVS – they’re everywhere.  Everywhere.  Digital entertainment is constantly available for those who like it while not being a distraction for those of us who don’t really care.

I can only speak for the men’s locker room but I suspect the ladies have it as good if not better than the men.  Up front there is a relaxing lounge with sofas, tables, a scale, and a huge TV.  The lockers are interspersed around and between the sinks, grooming mirrors, a restroom stalls.  Everything is trimmed in the best materials for a country club like experience.  The back is home to the sauna, the steamroom, and the showers.

I have praised the sauna previously for its theraputic benefits.  The steam room offers similar benefits with a twist.  While the sauna is hotter (around 180 degrees F), the steam room (120ish F) feels warmer and induced instance sweating.  It’s the difference between dry and wet heat.  Both offer general seating and the steam room features a shower for quick clean-up.

The shower showers are a spectacle all to themselves.  To begin with, they’re huge.  An entire cheerleading squad could join a lucky fellow given the space which I estimate at 6X15 feet.  There are 5 water facets, a rain-like fixture overhead and four positionable jets on the sides.  Complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and liquid gel soap are provided as an extra perk. 

I end every workout I can with a 10-20 minute visit to either the sauna or steamroom followed by a loooong shower.  So far, I have not found the cheerleaders though.  Given that I do cardio after weights, I’m usually sweaty before I get to the heat boxes.  Thus, while I start with a normal temperature shower i have to drop the degrees steadily, ending with essentially a cold shower.  This is called a Scottish shower; it’s invigorating and cools the body for profession appearance post-exercise.

Almost every one of my sessions starts downstairs with the weights and machines.  I’ll soon post my recommended routines.  I then move upstairs for cardio and stretching before treating myself to the afore-mentioned spa treatment.

Upstairs, the club is open to the floor below.  The opening is enclosed by a walking/running track (1/12 of a mile around).  The track features a stretching and abdominal station at either end.  The sides of the second floor are packed with every kind of cardio device imaginable – stair climbers, rowing, bikes, treadmills, and my favorite – the elliptical machines.  One will also find more spinning, several large aerobics rooms, a movie theater with treadmills and bikes, and a huge room dedicated to strange-looking strength and agility exercises (they call it “proto-type” athletics?). 

After I pump iron I like to hit the cardio machines for ten to sixty minutes, which burns hundreds of calories.  I’ve really seen a difference since adding cardio to the program.  Fat just dissolves away.  Before I leave the “floor” I stretch and hang upside down on my favorite invention in history: the inversion table.  It’s nothing for me to hang for 5 to 10 minutes in blissful relaxation.  It cures everything!  Then I head to the locker/spa.  For an added treat I will sometimes enjoy a smoothie on my way out – I go for the strawberry Gladiator – packed with protein and as delicious as they come.

All along the way I get to enjoy the company of friends, old and new.  I have several men I work out with occasionally and there is always someone to chew the fat with.  The place is also overrun with …er… eye candy…  Exercising is always better in a pleasant facility surrounded by good scenery.  Big Mike and Bill have also assembled an excellent staff of trainers and other professionals who can help with anything one needs.

If the club has a drawback, it would be the house music selection – modern pop.  It’s just not my cup of tea.  However, as with the TVS, it’s easy to tune out.  I will someday add an Ipod or something similar to my arsenal.  Now, I could use my wife’s but it is pink – can’t do it.

Well, I’ve recounted all the benefits of my plan in action over and over.  I would like to add warning or another point of detraction to fitness.  As I have transformed from a fat blob to a near bodybuilder type, I’ve noticed that much of that … eye candy is frequently looking at me now.  Sometimes I endure uncomfortable comments and the occasional unwanted contact.  I’ve become eye candy…  I suppose it’s too much for the poor girls to resist.  Poor me.  Just be aware that this can and will happen to you when you get on the bandwagon. 

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(Always leering at big daddy. Google.)

There you have it.  Join the EFC machine!  If you’re outside my area, find a similar club and get fit now!

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