THE NEW COLUMBIA gym, which opened in Clarksville Dec. 19, is the answer to every couch potato's prayer -- and a blessing for carpool-weary western Howard County parents.
The Columbia Association facility is at 6151 Daylong Lane, behind the Clarksville Crossing village center.
Visitors to the gym during its first week were enthusiastic.
"It's only five minutes away," said Clarksville resident Dawn Donovan.
Her year-old son, Zachary, is enrolled in the gym's Junior Tumbling Tots program, in which parents assist their children with physical development.
Kelsey, Donovan's 4-year-old daughter, loves the gym's Krafty Kritters program, where children ages 4 to 8 do crafts.
Joyce Johnson of Glenelg was looking for a safe way to entertain her active children during the holiday break.
She brought her son, Danny, 8, and her 10-year-old daughter, Christy, to play indoor soccer in the Youth Arena -- a multipurpose room where youngsters can play basketball, volleyball and roller hockey.
"We were here yesterday," Johnson said, "and we had so much fun that we came back and brought our neighbor's children today."
Johnson is enrolled in one of the step aerobics classes. Exercises range from simple footwork for beginners to 70 minutes of intense stepping and aerobics.
As you enter the new gym, you pass the Package Plan Plus Studio, which is available to members of the Columbia Association's Package Plan Plus.
"It is actually a gym within a gym," said Joel Schlossberg, the gym's general manager.
The studio provides treadmills, conveniently located television sets and a fitness instructor.
On the main fitness floor is an aerobics studio and a 6,000-square-foot workout room with cardiovascular equipment and free weights.
A nursery, for children ages 6 months to 6 years, is available as part of the gym's Kids Club.
For older children, a Fun and Games Room offers bumper pool, pingpong, air hockey and a Sony Play Station.
The gym also houses a 12-station computer lab and will offer computer classes for children and adults.
A room used by the Weesports and Kidsports programs is called the Jumping Jungle.
With colorful walls sporting a jungle theme, it has a treehouse with sliding boards and soft mats for tumbling toddlers.
The adult gym is large enough for full-court basketball games, volleyball and indoor soccer.
The center also has a martial arts and dance studio.
Downstairs near the men's and women's locker rooms is the Dayspa, which offers facials, body treatments, massage therapies, manicures and pedicures.
The Dayspa also has a whirlpool and sauna.
Nearby is a women's gym, where women can exercise in private.
Both locker rooms lead to a large free-form swimming pool decorated with palm trees and staffed by lifeguards.
In one corner of the pool area is a large hot tub.
Margaret Williams of Clarksville, who brought her 4-year-old daughter, Claire, to the gym, was delighted with the facilities.
Williams believes the Package Plan Plus membership is a good value. She plans to bring her 9-year-old son, and her husband is planning to use the pool, treadmills and weight training.
Information: Columbia Association Membership Center, 410-730-1802, or Columbia Gym, 410-531-0800.
A blessed anniversary
Our warmest congratulations go to Dr. Fred and Mary Agnes Lewis of Clarksville, who celebrated 48 years of marriage yesterday.
In 1954, the Lewises moved to Howard County, where he has practiced veterinary medicine for 45 years.
The couple raised seven sons and three daughters.
Two of their sons, Jim and Rick, practice veterinary medicine.
Seven of the couple's 10 children live in the Howard County area, and all 10 children were home for the holidays.
Their mother calls them "a very stimulating group who do such interesting things."
Dr. Ben Carson, the renowned director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, will speak at a Parent/Teen Power meeting at 7: 30 p.m. Jan. 7 at Mount View Middle School, 12101 Woodford Drive, Marriottsville.
Carson's goal is to inspire everyone to reach his or her intellectual potential to achieve success.
In his autobiography, "Gifted Hands," the doctor describes his journey from a broken home, poverty, anger, poor self-esteem and bad grades to his current life.
The mission of the Parent/Teen Power Program at Mount View is to improve communication between parents and children.
The meeting is open to the public.
Those who plan to attend should call the school at 410-313-5545.
Participating in government
The Howard County Citizens Association will hold its annual meeting at 7: 30 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Tyson Room of the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City.
Deborah Povich, public policy director of the Maryland Center for Community Development, will be the speaker.
The meeting will focus on the role of the community and the citizen in government. Officers and area vice presidents will be elected.
The group takes positions on issues that affect the county.
Many issues start as local problems. The Citizens Association requests that people keep it informed about roads, zoning matters, school funding or environmental problems.
For information, come to the meeting or write to HCCA, P.O. Box 89, Ellicott City 21041.
Pub Date: 12/31/98