Arena Club owners Keith and Kathy Rawlings never intended to become entrepreneurs, yet today they embody the American spirit of free enterprise. Mr. Rawlings was working in real estate in 1995 and his wife in surgical instrument sales, when a unique opportunity became available. Mr. Rawlings's company had brokered the sale of an 18,000 square foot racquetball club and the buyer withdrew his offer at the last minute.
"Keith had a vision of turning this facility into a family health and fitness club," Mrs. Rawlings recalls. "I remember thinking we could never afford to do something like that...and the next thing I knew, we owned it!"
The Rawlings opened Harford Health and Fitness in Aberdeen in 1996 with just 300 members and less than 15 employees. From the beginning, the Rawlings committed all of their time, energy and financial resources to improving and expanding their dream for the benefit of the community. In 2003, they opened the Arena Club, a full-service health and wellness facility in Bel Air, which included an indoor arena and the largest aquatic complex in Harford County.
Today, The Arena Club's 80,000 square foot facility features state-of-the-art fitness equipment with personal TV monitors, three different training circuits, a fully-equipped strength training area, group fitness studios and an indoor turf field. The Club's aquatics center includes a 25 meter lap/recreation pool, 12-person whirlpool with waterfall, wading pool with beach entry and waterfall, and a heated leisure pool. Two waterpark-sized waterslides, a water basketball court and a 9-feet deep diving well round out the aquatic recreational features. The pools are covered with a dome for cool weather use. Outdoor components include playing fields, sand volleyball facilities and a picnic area.
Pre-K programs and before and after school programs are available at the Club. Family memberships include 2 free hours of child care per day. The staff increases from 200 to about 250 in the summer, in order to staff a variety of summer camps and the aquatics complex. The Club's certified personal training staff help with individualized fitness programs, as well as, physician-ordered physical therapy and rehabilitation for adults, children and athletes of all sports. A nutritionist is on staff to round out the program.
"All of our staff are highly qualified," Mrs. Rawlings says. "Our personal trainers are degreed or certified and we require that they take advantage of regular continuing education opportunities."
Staff members realize that the first 6 weeks of any fitness program are crucial, so they pay special attention to ensuring the environment is as user-friendly and non-intimidating as possible. They meet with newcomers, suggest classes they may find helpful, and encourage them to work with a personal trainer as necessary.
"Our purpose is to serve people," Mrs. Rawlings says. "We want everyone in the family to feel welcome - from Grandma to the the infant. We want them to succeed and we will do everything we can to help them achieve their goals."