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A place where the family can play

Powerhouse Gym Sports Complex celebrates exercise, family style

Posted: June 13, 2008 3:21 a.m.
Updated: August 14, 2008 5:02 a.m.
During the Family Fit Expo on May 31, Powerhouse Gym trainers hold a free steps class. The day was designed to encourage families to go to the gym complex together. During the Family Fit Expo on May 31, Powerhouse Gym trainers hold a free steps class. The day was designed to encourage families to go to the gym complex together.
During the Family Fit Expo on May 31, Powerhouse Gym trainers hold a free steps class. The day was designed to encourage families to go to the gym complex together.
All sorts came in. There were middle-aged men and women in search of the fountain of youth. There were parents with kids ambling along behind them. Others were just out of high school. Some were young. Some were old. Some were slim. Others were, uh, works in progress.

The pied pipers in this case turned out to be a fun house for children to bounce around in, and a group of middle-aged ladies in their workout suits performing dance routines to hip-hop songs and oldies like "Born to Be Wild." Punch, kick, punch, kick, shake, bounce, twist! One lady in front shouts orders while the others try to match her motions to the beat of the music.

Hoping to clear up any misconception brought on by a name like "Powerhouse," this gym at 24640 Wiley Canyon Road held a free Family Fit expo on May 31 to remind the Santa Clarita Valley of its family focus.
"We are mostly a family-oriented gym," said owners Tisto and Trent Chapman. "We're trying to bring in the everyday type of people." However, they did point out that sports commentator Kenny Smith is a member.

The Powerhouse Gym Sports Complex took over the facilities of the Santa Clarita Athletic Club last August. The gym on Wiley Canyon has two sister gyms, one in Burbank and another on Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country - also formerly Santa Clarita Athletic Club. Since the new company has moved in, the service has become more professional, and all the staff wear the same red or black polo shirts with the Powerhouse logo. New equipment is slowly replacing the old.

But the management wants to allay any concerns that the facility is geared toward professional bodybuilders and sports trainers. That's why it's called Powerhouse Gym Sports Complex. Anyone can come here and find something to do. And they do come for all sorts of reasons.

"I lift weights, walk on the treadmill and do calisthenics," said Seth Spittle, a tall 21-year-old. "I cycled once, and I almost died," he said dryly. Another day I saw him landing kicks on a punching bag.

A 52 year-old man wearing a baseball cap, who does not like seeing his name in newspapers, said that he uses the sports complex to keep his weight down and to practice his hobbies, such as basketball.

This Saturday the gym had several of its activities on display for the curious to come and investigate. Next to the tables of free pasta and merchandise sat representatives of the Aikido Academy in their white uniforms and black belts. Kids as young as five and seniors as old as 60 attend Powerhouse to take part in this and other martial arts classes that it offers.

The Japanese developed Aikido, a peaceful form of fighting, in the early 20th century. Rather than punch or kick their opponent, students of Aikido "hijack" their attacker's balance and uses their attacker's own energy to throw them. Various law enforcement agencies find the art an effective form of self-defense. In keeping with the non-competitive nature of the art, students of the academy do not fight in tournaments.

Offering fitness tips and body-fat testing for free, representatives of the company California Peak Fitness stood outside smiling and waving people over to their table. They had prospective clients hold out a gadget for a few seconds in front of them after punching in some information about weight, height and age. Soon the person's body fat percentage appears on the gadget's screen.

California Peak Fitness has an office within the sports complex, and many of the fitness trainers come from this company. Some of these trainers are Titans of muscle. Throughout the gym you see men and women in their 40s and beyond following behind these giants, shedding their extra baggage and firming up their unsightly areas. "Then-and-now" pictures hang around the gym, demonstrating the success of various members in their fitness programs.

Further to the back of the gym are the racquetball courts, four of them behind glass entrances. Husband-and-wife teams and groups of buddies gather here after work to chase the ball around with their racquet and stain their shirts with sweat. You can hear the crack of the projectile slamming against the wall all the way in the basketball courts, where teams of men race up and down, or fathers teach their sons how to roll a lay-up. The basketball courts can double as volleyball courts should anyone care to throw themselves to the ground to bump the ball over the net.

And then there is the pool. Dripping boys and girls with floating devices attached to their arms and even gray-haired women wander in and out.

The expo continued into the afternoon, and families with little kids meandered around. A favorite attraction for the tykes was the Tread Wall. Just like a treadmill, but standing straight up, simulated rocks line the tread for the kids to grab onto and climb to the top. But you have to move quickly because the tread keeps running, and it might plop you back down onto the ground.

Adam Bailey brought his little boy and girl to the gym that day. His school-aged girl in her striped polo shirt attacked the climbing wall with her little brother following behind. "I've just started coming back to the gym since I hurt my knee a few months ago," Bailey said, pointing at the brace around his leg. "I use the childcare facilities when I work out. It's cheap and easy - just a two-second drop-off for my son. And everyone there knows him by name."

Up at the front, the ladies start another dance demo. This time it is the Zumba. Dancers swish their arms forward and backward and step from side to side to a heavy beat.

"We have a strong dance department here at the gym," said Teri Canon. "We teach hip-hop, Zumba, Latin Jam. The Zumba is pretty popular right now."

For more information call (661) 255-3365.


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