Working it Out


Finding a health club in Sacramento is akin to spotting a Starbucks-they’re everywhere. OK, Starbucks, with its one-on-every-corner presence, may have health clubs beat, but there are a lot of places to work out as well. On page 120, we provide a list of area health clubs; many offer guest passes, making previewing them before you commit an option.

Here, we profile four locally owned clubs, each with a decidedly different flavor. One club provides weights plus cardiovascular and resistance-training machines. Another offers the same, plus a full menu of classes and free child care. A third club has medical personnel on staff. The fourth club goes completely against the grain, eschewing machines in favor of-among other things-60-pound duffels of sand.

So grab that Frappuccino, read on, and discover that there really is a health club out there that fits your personality. No more excuses! Get fit!

Roseville Health & Wellness Center

1650 Lead Hill Blvd., Roseville; (916) 677-1200; Hours: 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Any club that offers hair dryers and spray-on deodorant in the women’s locker room, personal entertainment centers on all cardiovascular equipment and on-site massage therapists is bells-and-whistles central. However, what stands out most about this club (and its sister club in Folsom): It has medical professionals on site. RHWC doubles as a rehabilitative facility, but access to pain management physicians, a chiropractor, physical therapists and massage therapists is available to members, too.

In addition, upon joining, you get two complimentary sessions with one of the club’s personal trainers, who will go over your goals, health history and do a MicroFit Assessment, a computerized fitness assessment that looks at cardiovascular fitness, fat percentage, body mass index and more. A personal fitness routine then is created for you. (Personal training is available for an extra charge.)

All of the above amenities are intriguing to me, but what really gets me salivating about working out at RHWC is the opportunity to take a dip in the heated saltwater pool, which “adds more buoyancy and is very soft on the skin,” says general manager Lisa Marrero. I am under no illusion that I will mistake the health club pool for the ocean, but water junkie that I am, I think a workout in the saltwater pool would be cool nonetheless. Too bad an infected finger the week I visit prevents me from partaking in any form of water activity.

But my finger doesn’t foil my ability to experience some of the club’s other offerings. Take the Mat Pilates class, held Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. This combination of yoga, Pilates and weight lifting proves good for even the most coordination-challenged, which I tend to be. Instructor Barbara keeps a watchful eye on participants to make sure form isn’t sacrificed, and at times when I look confused about a particular move, a fellow student graciously steps up to get me back on track.

At 6 the following morning, I decide to work out solo on one of the club’s dozens of cardiovascular machines. I am getting into the rhythm of the treadmill, mesmerized, alternately, by televisions set to CNN, channels 3 and 10. (You can tune into a desired station by plugging earphones into the equipment. Or pop in your own CD. Otherwise, club music is satellite radio.) Suddenly, I notice a group of eight to 12 people descending on treadmills around me. I soon realize that I am now in the middle of the Tuesday/Thursday Breakfast Burn class. If you can’t outnumber them, join ’em, I figure. So I decide to get in on a little of the “burn” action myself.

“Jog,” the instructor charges. I jog.

“Let’s run,” she says. I run.

“Let’s take it to the max.” And before I know it, I’m at a 61/2 to 7-minute-mile pace, which for a 10-minute-mile runner is pretty steep! Unfortunately, after about five minutes of this, the group disappears just as swiftly as they arrive and I am left to my own devices. But that’s OK. At RHWC, I can be easily amused by the numerous pieces of equipment, various classes and helpful seminars, not to mention the aforementioned pool.

Ahh, the pool. Maybe someday . . .

-Elena M. Macaluso


More than a dozen types of fitness and aqua classes (including aqua classes geared toward seniors), Spin classes, and self-defense classes for women, children and men; fitness-related seminars and programs, including sports-specific training and “Out-door Adventures!” which include group rafting and skiing trips; personal training; a cafe selling everything from smoothies to sportswear; heated saltwater pool; whirlpool spa; complimentary towel and locker service; child care; hair dryers and other amenities in locker rooms; personal entertainment centers on all cardio equipment; resistance-training machines, free weights and fitballs.


Those who like a lot of cool perks and the idea of having medical professionals on the premises.


Those who like a bare-bones club at a bare-bones rate.
FEES: $89 per month, but if they can fit you into a category-student, senior, corporate, etc.-they will, and the rates could go down as much as $30.


30-plus men and women in the mornings and evenings; seniors midday.


Anytime. This 30,000-square-foot facility can handle a large crowd with ease. If you’re taking a class, especially a Spin class, show up early to get a good spot.


Taking a monthlong jaunt to Europe? RHWC will freeze your membership while you’re away.

Ferreira Fitness Center (Uptown Fitness Center)

1420 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 923-1593. Hours: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

You can’t get a post-workout smoothie at Ferreira Fitness Center.

Those looking for a Spin class or a lap pool may want to turn away.

And those requiring head-to-toe matching workout outfits-on themselves and other members-need not apply.

But if you’re looking for a low-key yet friendly environment to do a basic weight-lifting and cardiovascular workout, we’ve got your place. Machines, free weights and some cardio equipment fill up Ferreira Fitness Center’s 4,800-square-foot interior. On the days I visit, two small televisions, sound muted, and the radio-set to KWOD 106.5 (a plus for me) in the evening and KCCL 101.9 (BOSS Radio) in the morning-provide entertainment.

But what this club lacks in pizazz it makes up for in sincere friendliness. Club members-a bona-fide cultural melting pot made up of young guys, before-or-after work types, bodybuilders, 20- to-40-something women-say hello to me, the newbie (at a small place such as Ferreira, it’s easy to pick out the new kid on the block), and to each other. Greetings are exchanged; a “spot” is requested here and there. As owner Jai Kumar points out, “We’re like a family here. Everyone looks out for one another.”

Apparently so. When I visit in mid-October, a message board is on display, signed by current members in memory of a former member who’d recently died of stomach cancer. “I’m going to bring it to the funeral on Saturday,” Jai tells me. Another thing I notice: how comfortable the atmosphere is. Jai and afternoon manager Ben check to make sure you’re doing OK and let you know they are available if you have questions but are unobtrusive; fellow members aren’t spending time scoping out your “stats.” Working out at 6 one Thursday morning, I realize I am the only female among six to eight men, but I am not uncomfortable. I never once feel out of place-or worse, unsafe. In fact, I may not have took note of this particular fact had it not been my job to “observe” my surroundings. This bare-bones club located on Sacramento’s somewhat precarious Del Paso Boulevard at first strikes one as a “guys’ gym”; it’s kinda cool to realize that initial impression is simply a facade-even cooler to challenge stereotypes we may have about certain health clubs or businesses in general.

“Nice to have you here,” Jai says, after helping me figure out a foreign-looking piece of equipment.

Nice to be here.

-Elena M. Macaluso


Free weights, resistance-training machines and cardiovascular equipment. Water, energy drinks and dietary supplements are available for purchase. Complimentary towel service offered.


Those seeking a less-crowded club and who don’t mind-perhaps even covet-a club that offers strictly machines and free weights.


Those looking for classes, a pool, steam room or sauna.


Vary according to how long you sign up for: $5 for a one-day pass to $225 for a year’s membership. A three-month membership or longer includes a personalized exercise program and instruction as well as nutrition consultation.


Men and women ages 18 and older.


 Anytime. Even during “peak” hours (6-7 a.m. and 5-6 p.m.), there were about half dozen to a dozen people in the gym.


Free parking is available on the street in front of the club or behind the building; personal training available upon request for an extra charge.

Bodytribe Fitness

920 21st St., Sacramento; (916) 444-2384; Hours: flexible, roughly 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, depending on client needs and what owner Chip Conrad is willing to accommodate; call for details.

Wednesday afternoon, 12:15. “I will torture you,” Bodytribe owner Chip Conrad says in jest, an impish smile lighting his face. “We’ll have lots of fun.”

I wonder.

His gym is completely original: a vast living room/weight room/art studio, adorned with various free weights, bar-lifting stations, area rugs, potted plants and odd-looking apparatus. Alternative rock (today’s pick; another day, another genre) enlivens the room. I sense this place could never become boring-especially the way Chip runs it.

After a brief warm-up, Chip has me do dead lifts (while squatting down properly, pick an item up off the ground and then stand up with the item) to gauge my capabilities and work my whole body. I learn to do windmills (hold a 15-pound weight in one hand up toward the ceiling, assume a proper posture, slowly reach for the floor with my other hand) and Turkish getups (hold the weight up, move from flat on the floor to standing and back down again). Balance, strength and coordination all come into play. This is different, and fascinating-a little weird but fascinating.

Pretty soon, I’m doing old-fashioned push-ups, tug-of-rope resistance pulls and eight-count burpees (squat, extend, push up, squat, stand and then jump-the old P.E.-class killer, which, by No. 5, has me both laughing and gasping). I drag a small weighted steel sled around in circles behind me in giant lunging strides (perfect training for snowy conditions, I think). I work with Clubbells, also known as Indian clubs: Resembling mini baseball bats, they weigh from 5 to 80 pounds and can be used for general muscle-group or sports-specific training. In skilled hands like Chip’s, the movement becomes art.

Throughout, Chip demonstrates an exceptional knowledge of body mechanics and the means to create efficient, powerful, fluid movements. He coaches relentlessly. “Keep the bar up, rotate, good, shoulders back, nice and proud.” Nice and proud? I feel my butt getting kicked, even as I do the relatively simple farmers’ walk, stomping briskly around the room, cradling a 60-pound duffel of sand.

At the end of the very rapid hour, gassed, I go, “Wow!” I’ve worked my whole body, lungs and heart-but I feel like I’ve traveled to a new country and only scratched the surface of the riches to be found there. “I’ve always liked medicine balls,” I say, seeing a cluster in a corner. “Next time!” Chip promises. “We’ll have fun with those.”

I have no doubt.

-Alan Humason


A completely unique setting for one-on-one, pair and small-group training sessions, grounded in the long-running Physical Culture movement (Conrad refers to Bodytribe as “Sacramento’s Home for Physical Subculture”), focusing on total body development and movement itself, pure and simple. Principles here include: a passion for strength, training without mirrors, embracing training as playtime and having no fear-being prepared to try anything that makes sense.


In-depth, strenuous, multifaceted sessions using all sorts of fun tools like kettlebells, chains hanging from barbells, duffel bags loaded with sand and Clubbells-all legit instruments, some with intriguing histories. Rotating installations of wall art enhance the atmosphere. “Combine real exercise physiology with a little imagination, and the fitness world can be painted on a totally different canvas,” Conrad says.


Anyone seeking treadmills, stationary machines, cable TV or conventionality. Conrad conceives his club as a “sanctuary” but not one for being anonymous, hiding out from yourself or scoping out the opposite sex for a hit.


One-hour sessions range from $35 to $60. Minutes to Muscle (M2M) program is $75 per month. Kickboxing is $60 per month. Classes and workshops range from $10 to $75.


Wide mix, from core in the 20 to 40 age group and midtown professionals to women in their 60s. True believers, fun-loving but focused. With its abundant plants and scattering of furniture, it’s a kind of Cheers for people of a particularly keen fitness ethos. It’s also the “best place to see rock stars get sweaty,” according to Sacramento News & Review.


Anytime you can make it; midmorning and midafternoon hours are pretty good; call to make an appointment.


Conrad’s Minutes to Muscle (M2M) program: a 30-minute “fun, brutal, supervised” workout, crafted for your individual needs, that involves five exercises per session, aimed at increasing metabolism while building strength and flexibility. Also: special classes in weight training, kickboxing and “tons of workshops.”

Peak Performance

2795 Second St., Davis; (530) 759-7746; Hours: 5 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Saturday morning, 8:30. Jennifer Mathias, one of Peak’s staff trainers, handles my new-member physical evaluation and program setup. I’m in good hands: She has a degree in exercise science from University of California, Davis; a master’s in sports performance from California State University, Sacramento; is a nationally certified athletic trainer; and is a nationally certified strength and conditioning specialist. Polite, friendly and nonjudgmental, she takes time to methodic-ally assess what I think is my borderline-dire condition.

We discuss my overall health and activity levels, my diet, my fitness goals. Next she tallies my height, weight, blood pressure, resting heart rate, body mass index, age, waist and hip girth, and (last but not least) my body fat. Each step of the way, she tells me if I’m OK (my heart numbers are solid), where I’m outside of ideal ranges and what I can do to improve.

Then we hit the gym, where Jennifer crafts a series of seven exercises, each three reps of 10, to get me going. The seated chest press feels a little funky on the left side-owing to weakness from an old busted clavicle (mountain bike crash; nasty business)-so maybe less starting weight makes sense. The seated rows and shoulder presses begin to gas my triceps, but this is good-you want to push muscles to their limits, give them a day or two to recover, then go back for more work.

While I’m doing leg presses, Jennifer makes a stunning observation: My right leg is apparently just slightly shorter than my left. The implications are various enough to warrant future exploration. Damn! I am amazed as my imperfections continue to pile upon me.

Her final gift to me is the ball crunch. I sit on a large inflated rubber ball, slowly roll out until I’m lying back on it, and then do (yikes!) stomach crunches, trying to keep my balance upon this now-sinister orb. “Gawd, I hate crunches!” I think. But being a man (with that wholesome Fuji apple physique to overcome), I know they are good for me, so I do them, hoping blood vessels don’t burst in my eyeballs.

With cardiovascular and flexibility targets added to the strength routines, I now have a complete program I can follow that is concise, achievable, one that I can increase over time. I can rebuild the better me. I’m ready for a shower-but feeling great, I’m ready for the rest of my days, as well.

-Alan Humason


Wide range of cardiovascular and resistance-training equipment, free weights, exercise classes and online “ask the trainer” e-mail service; four on-staff trainers with degrees, certifications and experience in exercise science, nutrition, strength training and conditioning; separate women’s-only workout room; authorized Spinning facility; satellite radio and TV; complimentary towel and locker service.


Those who like a wide variety of classes included with membership. Classes are offered in yoga, Pilates, ab and back conditioning, kickboxing (using a bag or sparring), body sculpting, balance and stability, Jazzercise, even belly-dancing. Members also get two free hours of one-on-one personal training per month (one-hour sessions each).


Those who want to avoid mirrors. (They line most walls.) Cell phones aren’t allowed in the gym. There is no pool, sauna, steam, whirlpool or massage. The 10,000-square-foot facility is clean; equipment is kept in excellent condition at all times. But with 2,500-plus members, the club can be crowded and noisy at peak times.


Single: $49 per month ($49 initiation fee); couple: $84 per month ($98 initiation per couple); child (14-17 years old): $29 per child per month ($39 initiation per child). Corporate, senior (62 and older), student and “short-term” membership packages available; ask for details.


Mostly 30-60 age group, local business owners, professionals, retirees, soccer moms, plus a cadre of college students. Members tend to be more “serious,” less into chitchat and hanging around. BEST TIME TO GO: Weekdays 1-4 p.m. is the least crowded; otherwise, activity is brisk. Weekends: Mornings are busy; afternoons are quiet.


Free parking; free child-care facilities. (First come, first served; 15 kids maximum in facility.)

In February 2005, Sacramento ranked seventh out of 25 in Men’s Fitness magazine’s ranking of the fittest cities in the United States. The Camellia City took the No. 2 spot (out of 25) in the magazine’s listing of most athletic cities, just behind Minneapolis.

Sacramento Area Health Clubs 

Arden Hills Country Club
1220 Arden Hills Lane, Sacramento; (916) 482-6111; Hours: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. Guest passes offered for a fee.

Better Fit Fitness Center
1770 36th St., Sacramento; (916) 739-8780. Hours: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-noon Saturday-Sunday.

Body Basics Training Studio
701 Howe Ave., Suite F-15, Sacramento; (916) 486-4033; Hours: 6 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-noon Saturday. Training by appointment only. Complimentary fitness consultation. Fees: $25-$85 per session.

Bodytribe Fitness
920 21st St., Sacramento; (916) 444-2384; By appointment only, except 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday for Minutes to Muscle program. Guest passes offered. Personal training rates from $35 to $60 per session, monthly programs from $60 to $75 per month. Classes and workshops range from $10 to $75.

California Family Fitness
(916) 987-2030; Clubs located in Carmichael, Elk Grove, Folsom, Orangevale, Rancho Cordova, Rocklin, Roseville, Sacramento. Hours: generally open 5 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

California Muscle Health Club
7031 Watt Ave., North Highlands; (916) 334-2639. Hours: 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.

Capital Athletic Club
1515 Eighth St., Sacra-mento; (916) 442-3927; Hours: 5:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.

Cordova Fitness
9555 Folsom Blvd., Suite G, Sacramento; (916) 363-6584. Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon Sunday. Guest passes offered. Fees: (for monthly individual membership) $32-$40.

Creekside Fitness
1671 Creekside Drive, Folsom; (916) 983-6425; Hours: 6 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Guest passes offered.

Curves for Women
(800) 848-1096; Clubs located in Antelope, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Fair Oaks, Folsom, Lincoln, Loomis, Orangevale, Rancho Cordova, Rio Linda, Roseville, Sacramento. Hours: generally open 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8-11 a.m. Saturday. Guest passes offered.

Davis Athletic Club
1809 Picasso Ave., Davis; (530) 753-5282; Hours: 5 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Davis Swim and Fitness
303 Ensenada Drive, Davis; (530) 753-5683; Hours: 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Guest passes offered.

Ferreira Fitness Center (Uptown Fitness Center)
1420 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 923-1593. Hours: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Guest passes offered.

Fierce Fitness LLC-Personal Training Studio
2300 Sutterville Road, Suite A, Sacramento; (916) 452-8606; Hours: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday/Wednesday, 5:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday/Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday.

Fitness Connection
3416 American River Drive, Sacramento; (916) 977-0803. Hours: 5:45 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

Fitness 180
120 Church St., Roseville; (916) 784-7667; Hours: 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. Guest passes offered.

Fitness Together-Folsom
711-6 E. Bidwell St., Folsom; (916) 984-4884; Hours: 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and by appointment. Guest passes offered.

Elizabeth Marxen contributed to this story.