The fitness centers near you

Johns Hopkins facilities offer state-of-the-art equipment and classes (at really good prices)

Sara Harman in East Baltimore's Cooley Center, which has a little bit—and a lot—of everything

Image caption: Sara Harman in East Baltimore's Cooley Center, which has a little bit—and a lot—of everything

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Maybe your New Year's resolution needs a reset, or that favorite shirt doesn't quite fit the way it did last season. Perhaps you're just searching for some extra midday energy. Whatever the reason, you've decided it's time to get fitter and start working out. Here's one excuse Johns Hopkins employees can't use: There's no affordable fitness center near me.

Whether based at Homewood or East Baltimore, Mount Washington or Bayview (or you live nearby), affiliates have access to a fully loaded fitness center with all the high-tech trimmings and group classes available at professional gyms. Each center aims to keep up with fitness trends, whether it's the latest iteration of yoga or an amped-up cardio workout to burn serious calories. Here's a rundown of what each of those facilities has to offer.

Ralph S. O'Connor Recreation Center

Opened in spring 2002, the Ralph S. O'Connor Recreation Center is a 63,000-square-foot facility located inside the North Gate of the Homewood campus. Annual memberships are available for all Johns Hopkins staff, faculty, spouse/partners, and affiliates. Buy a six-month membership for $96, or an annual membership for $192. Summer memberships are also available. "We like to say you can get a membership for less than two burritos a month at Chipotle," says Jackie Lebeau, the O'Connor Center's assistant director for fitness.

Main physical features: The center has a climbing wall with 13 top-rope areas, climbing routes of varying difficulty, and numerous cracks, flakes, and overhangs. The center's 3,400-square-foot fitness room contains 65 pieces of cardio equipment, including treadmills, stair-steppers, recumbent and spin bikes, elliptical and lateral trainers, and a line of resistance training equipment. For an old-school workout, the center's first-floor weight room has recently been renovated and now features six lifting platforms, free weights, kettlebells, and isolateral resistance training equipment.

A group class at Homewood's O'Connor Recreation Center

Image caption: A group class at Homewood's O'Connor Recreation Center

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Wet outside and want to go for a run? The center has a three-lane, 1/10-mile indoor jogging track. To get you in superhero shape, a jungle gym offers a pegboard, pull-up bars, monkey bars, an adjustable stepper, and gymnast rings for a functional training circuit.

The center also features locker rooms, basketball courts, racquetball/squash courts, and a six-lane, 25-yard lap pool.

Don't know where or how to start? For $30, you can schedule a 60-minute session with a personal trainer, who can design an exercise program, teach exercise techniques, and offer a little extra motivation. The center staff will help match you with a trainer who can best help you meet your specific goals, lifestyle, and schedule. Semiprivate personal training for two people and fitness assessments (to learn your resting heart rate, body weight, BMI, etc.) are also available.

Group fitness classes: This summer, the O'Connor Center is offering group classes for spinning, Zumba, SB Body Barre (a high-energy fusion of Pilates, yoga, and ballet-inspired movements), cardio, strength training, yoga, Pilates, and others. There's plenty of variety here. The spinning classes, for example, differ day by day; one class features hills and drills, while another has you spin while watching a movie.

Newest feature: The O'Connor Center now offers F45, a 45-minute circuit-based, high-energy workout. Johns Hopkins is one of only seven universities to offer the innovative class, and the first on the East Coast. Founded by former professional Australian rugby players, F45 features a new mix of exercises every session. The class focuses on cardio on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Strength is the focus on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Saturdays, the workouts are fused into a 60-minute "Hollywood" workout. "Our members are loving [F45], and the classes have been packed," Lebeau says. "It's a team-based class with functional exercises, and you never repeat the same one twice." F45 is available for $75 for a 16-week session.

Mount Washington Fitness Center

Located on the Johns Hopkins at Mount Washington campus, the Mount Washington Fitness Center is an 8,600-square-foot commercial space popular with Johns Hopkins employees, Mount Washington Conference Center tenants, and the local community. The center, open 24/7, offers monthly memberships ($39 for Johns Hopkins employees, students, faculty, and alums) and single-visit guest passes ($10). Darin Voss, the facility's director, says that membership has grown steadily over the past year, thanks to word of mouth and an attractive slate of fitness programs and challenges. "We look and act like most professional chain gyms," Voss says. "We have all the modern equipment, and we also have contests all the time, like weight loss challenges, that keep people coming back and engaged. Plus, they're fun."

Strength-training equipment at the Mount Washington Fitness Center

Image caption: Strength-training equipment at the Mount Washington Fitness Center

Main physical features: The fitness center offers strength training, cardio, and functional fitness equipment. The arsenal of strength equipment includes circuit training machines, free weights, kettlebells, dumbbells, benches, and a squat rack. Want a cardio workout? Hop on the center's assortment of treadmills, ellipticals, recumbent bikes, seated bikes, rowers, and steppers. Functional equipment includes cable machines, TRX straps, stability balls, medicine balls, bosu balls, and bands.

The second floor of the facility houses a full-sized volleyball/basketball court for pickup games. Volleyball is offered on Tuesday evenings, and basketball is on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. A padded walking track is located on the mezzanine above the gym. The center has men's and women's locker rooms, each with a sauna and fully stocked showers and towel service.

Certified personal trainers are available for private and small group training sessions.

Group fitness classes: Group exercise classes are offered on weekday mornings, afternoons, and evenings. The current slate includes Yoga Flow, Vinyasa Yoga, Cardio and Strength, Zumba tone/step, and core. The center's cycling studio is home to spin classes from 6:45 to 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

Unique offering: The Mount Washington Fitness Center is home to the Believer's Fitness Boot Camp, an energetic fitness and fat-loss program using circuit, Tabata, and HIIT style of training. The classes are one hour long and blend elements of CrossFit with kettlebell training, battle ropes, and other elements. "The boot camp is fun, challenging, and intense," Voss says.

Denton A. Cooley Center

The Cooley Center is located on the northwest corner of the university's East Baltimore campus, at 1620 McElderry St. All those who work within the JHU and JHMI communities are eligible, including employees of NIH, NIDA, Broadway Services, Kennedy Krieger, and contractors with a valid JHMI ID badge. The center, managed by Elevation Corporate Health, underwent a major renovation in fall 2002 and continues to be updated annually. Most recently, the locker rooms received a "mini-renovation" and the weight room floors were replaced, according to the center's director, Sara Harman. To become a member, standard employees can pay in full for three months ($126), six months ($206), or one year ($400), and payment can be made via payroll deduction. Postdoctoral fellows receive a discount on membership, and fees for house staff and full-time students of the schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health are subsidized. All other Hopkins-affiliated students receive discounted rates.

Main physical features: Cooley has a little bit—and a lot—of everything. The center features a full-size basketball court, two racquetball courts, and locker rooms with showers. For runners, a 1/16th-mile indoor track lets you get in some speed training. For those who want to get and stay strong, the center has both free-weight and women-only weight rooms, each with dumbbells and barbells, a cable crossover machine, power racks, a weight machine circuit, and other standard equipment. The circuit room has treadmills, ellipticals, upright bikes, arc trainers, and more. Personal trainers (priced by the hour) are available to go over the equipment with you and will initially review your health history, eating habits, exercise habits, and fitness goals.

The 9th Floor Fitness Center at the Bloomberg School of Public Health is a satellite location of Cooley. The 9th Floor features recumbent and upright bikes, treadmills, ellipticals, a rowing machine, adjustable weight benches, dumbbells, and other equipment, plus locker rooms and showers.

Group fitness classes: Group exercise classes are offered throughout the week. The current slate includes Basic Yoga, Kettlebell Plus, Butts and Guts, Pilates, Spinning, Boot Camp, Power Pump, and more. The TRX Cross Training course offers both cardio and strength training, by using suspension training straps and other functional fitness equipment. "This class will challenge every part of your body" reads the course tagline.

Unique offerings: Throughout the year, the Cooley Center staff launches challenges to help motivate or introduce members to something new. Prizes go to the winners. For example, earlier this summer staff asked, How many push-ups can you do without stopping? The winner received a free pass to the outdoor JHMI Alumni Pool, located adjacent to the center. The facility is also home to various intramural leagues, including basketball (winter), racquetball (year-round), indoor soccer (fall and spring), dodgeball (winter), and volleyball (spring and fall). All league participants must be current Cooley Center members.

Bayview Fitness Center

Located in Suite 2100 of the Mason F. Lord Building Center Tower on the Bayview campus, the Bayview Fitness Center offers a cardio area with treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, and indoor rower. Membership is available to all JHMI ID holders, with annual fees ranging from $324 to $408, depending on affiliation/status. The center, operated by Elevation Corporate Health, has a Cybex weight training circuit designed for beginners looking for a full body workout. For more advanced lifters, the center has a fully furnished weight room with dumbbells and free weights, Smith machine, kettlebells, full cross cable station, and TRX suspension trainer. Its newest additions are the free motion multipurpose squat and deadlift machines. This summer, the center offers group classes, Monday through Thursday, including Step, Pilates, Iron Yoga, Boot Camp, Power Sculpt, Abs, Cardio Mash-Up, and Yin-Yasa Yoga, along with express fitness classes in a 30-minute format.