On a recent Saturday night, the Maryland Athletic Club and Wellness Center in Timonium echoed with rock 'n' roll music. Calorie-laden eclairs and swan-shaped cream puffs beckoned in an aerobics classroom.
The stair-climbers and treadmills sat idle as couples in formal-evening attire danced on the club's basketball court.
The party was to honor one of the club's own. Fitness director Elizabeth "Liz" Dumont and Richard Proctor were married earlier in the evening (at McDonogh School's Tagart Memorial Chapel in Owings Mills), and then it was on to "the MAC," as regulars call the club, for the reception.
On hand for the celebration were the three beagles the couple have acquired since they got together -- Mezzy, Molly and Muffet. Other important guests included Liz's father and stepmother, Richard and Nancy Dumont of Eagle Lake, Maine; Liz's mother and stepfather, Pauline and Frank Blaylock of Lewiston, Maine; and Richard's brothers, Spencer and Arthur.
Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, Maryland's secretary of health and mental hygiene, was among those who wrote good wishes on two blank canvases Liz and Richard had set up so their guests could help them commemorate the happy occasion.
Richard, who has spent more than 20 years with the health department in various capacities, is Benjamin's deputy chief of staff. Former state health officials Martin P. Wasserman and Adele Wilczak were also among the wedding guests, along with Tim and Liz Rhode, owners of the Maryland Athletic Club.
By the time Liz and Richard moved from Baltimore to Cockeysville in 1998, she was already working part time at the MAC. The club's philosophy of emphasizing overall well-being along with physical conditioning fits well with the couple's belief that exercise stimulates physical, mental and spiritual harmony.
Liz and Richard summarize their views this way: "We vow to ourselves and to each other to respect, support and share in an active, engaged and giving life through exercising mind, body and spirit."
Those words were imprinted on the black and white water bottles the couple gave as wedding favors to their guests.
Exercise has played an important role in their lives.
When they met in 1995, Liz was working for First National Bank of Maryland (she was an assistant vice president when she left the bank) and teaching exercise classes part time. She began working full time for the MAC last year.
Richard was working for the state, and trying to recover from the death of his parents, the late Victor and Leila Proctor.
Liz and Richard connected over dessert and drinks with mutual friends.
"When Liz started talking, the thing that impressed me most was her inner ability to overcome obstacles -- the idea of making something positive out of every situation," Richard says.
The couple began to date, and Liz says it was Richard who encouraged her to continue a weight-loss program and to change careers, leaving banking for fitness, which she "truly loves."
Together, Liz, a bubbly 35-year-old who seems always to be smiling, and Richard, a fit, young-looking 49-year-old, developed an active lifestyle of their own. They rarely miss a daily workout. Some weekends Richard walks as many as 16 miles, often with Liz by his side.