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Columbia gym Progressive Athletics uses small classes to build relationships

Co-owners Mark Covington (left) and Haaris Majid recently opened a Columbia gym called Progressive Athletics.
Co-owners Mark Covington (left) and Haaris Majid recently opened a Columbia gym called Progressive Athletics. (Jen Rynda / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Progressive Athletics wants its newly opened gym to be the third most important place you spend your day.

"You spend the most time at home, work and one other place," says Mark Covington, the Columbia company's co-owner and chief motivation officer. "We want to be that third place where people come and enjoy themselves."

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Progressive Athletics works on a smaller group model, in which up to five clients work with a trainer, and boasts a client roster that includes WJZ anchor Vic Carter. The gym is geared to the 30-to-50 age bracket.

"The smaller and the semi-private setting works best," says Covington, a 26-year-old Catonsville resident and 2009 graduate of Howard High School. "If you have people taking as big of a leap with their health, there needs to be attention in a smaller setting. It allows us to build relationships with these people and allows them to build relationships with each other. It creates a better experience with them."

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During the sessions, which typically last about 50 minutes to an hour, participants work on strength training exercises, conditioning and circuit training. The facility is a mix of rubber flooring and artificial turf, for the circuit training.

But the smaller class sizes and family-type atmosphere are the pluses.

For example, the gym owners host happy hours for their clients. They also get personalized birthday gifts that can range from specialty water bottles to cookbooks based on the interest of the individual.

You know that getting exercise, eating vegetables and quitting smoking are good for you. A new study shows just how good they are, in terms of the number of years they can add to your life. (Ulysses Muñoz, Brittany Britto / Baltimore Sun video)

"What sets us apart [from other gyms] are our personalities," says the co-owner and chief training officer, Haaris Majid, 27, an Ellicott City resident and 2009 graduate of Mount Hebron High School. "It's our passion for fitness and caring for our clients."

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Creating a family environment is the key to the success of the business, according to Majid.

"A lot of our clients like to interact with each other," he says. "Everyone feels welcome and at home."

Covington agrees.

"We are really trying to create a community with our gym," Covington says.

Covington and Majid opened the 1,800-square-foot facility in January after providing in-home personal training services for the previous two years.

They hope to grow their client base and expand their physical gym in the near future, according to Covington.

One client, Jon Weinstein, has been working with the two for the past two years. During that time he's lost 20 pounds and has added "a whole bunch of muscle mass," he says. "Before I would get winded when I walked up two flights of stairs from my basement. Now I can hike the Rockies without losing my breath."

American women who followed five “healthy lifestyle factors” lived about 14 years longer than women who followed none of them, according to a new study. For men, the difference was about 12 years.

Weinstein says he's in the best shape of his life as a result of working with Covington and Majid. The personalized dynamic of the workout has been a plus, too.

"They took the time to understand where I was and where I wanted to go," he says. "They have worked with me every step of the way. If you told me a couple years ago that I would be doing the things I'm doing now, I would have laughed."

Covington and Majid met while working together as trainers at Fitness Together in Ellicott City.

"Our first month working together we realized we had the same goals — of owning our own business," Majid says.

Howard County was the perfect location to start because it lacked smaller, niche gyms, according to Majid.

"It's a very affluent area. This area has your bigger-box gyms. We wanted to break the mold and be a micro-gym that isn't CrossFit," he says. "Obviously people here want to be healthy."

If you go

What: Progressive Athletics

Where: 8835 Columbia 100 Parkway, Suite B, Columbia

Information: 443-542-2887; progressive-athletics.com

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