by Lisa Tome
For years, Mike Montgomery hoped that someone would open a gym in western Cecil County.
His wait is over.
Montgomery and his wife, Malinda, who met after seeing each other during their own gym workouts more than a dozen years ago, have opened Barnes Corner 24 hour Fitness also known as BCF 24.
"We didn't have any gyms in the community. This is something I've always dreamed of," said Montgomery. "I couldn't meet my own fitness goals because I had to drive a half hour. This area needed this service. We have 20,000 people within a few miles of here. There is a demand for it."
The Montgomerys called on an old friend to help.
Andrew Kubala, whom Mike had coached when Kubala was an athlete at West Nottingham Academy, had been working as a personal trainer in the Washington D.C. area.
Kubala came back to the area to serve as BCF 24's fitness director.
"I grew up here. I am a West Nottingham Academy grad and have been in the fitness industry for more than a decade," said Kubala. He is one of the nearly dozen employees at BCF 24.
Kubala said that part of his role as the fitness director is to educate people about overall health. "The end goal is a healthier county. That starts at home and with our members," he said.
Since Montgomery was building a business, he decided to make it convenient. He built the gym next to his existing business, Mike Montgomery, Inc., an auto repair shop. It's a longstanding tradition for members of Montgomery's family to own businesses in that area. His grandparents owned Rakes Flower Shop in the same location where the lobby of the gym currently stands.
The center offers strength training, cardio, group classes, personal and group training, yoga, and more. There is also interactive childcare available for an additional fee. A fitness bar and the sale of nutritional supplements and products are being added to the list of services. The facility is currently 8,500 square feet with room to grow. There is 2,500 square feet reserved for an addition.
The cardio equipment includes elliptical machines, treadmills, stairclimbers, bikes, and recumbent bikes. There is a group exercise studio, free weight area, fixed motion machines and more. "When I built this, we put in something for everyone. It's a non-intimidating atmosphere and we ask all members to respect other members," said Montgomery. The current membership includes teens to seniors in their 80s.
Montgomery said the 24 hour a day access is appealing to those who work shift work. Classes, which are included with the membership fee, begin as early as 5:30 a.m.
More than 300 people have joined since BCF 24 opened in early June. The official grand opening is set for September 20 and 21 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Guests can meet the center's staff and learn about specials.