Mississippi College

Baptist Healthplex Celebrates 10th Birthday

September 21, 2007

Baptist Healthplex members can work out, hang out or just chill as the $12 million facility at Mississippi College gears up for a major milestone, its 10th anniversary next month.

Everybody connected with the fitness complex off the Clinton Parkway is invited to be part of the celebration on the Clinton campus Oct. 8. Today, its bursting at the seams with 4,900 members, including 1,500 MC students, state-of-the art equipment, meeting rooms, the Baptist Medical Clinic and much more.

With more than 100,000 square feet of space, the Healthplex will offer low calorie cake and refreshments, plus a live DJ spinning oldies and contemporary tunes beginning that Monday morning at 7 a.m. The fun concludes at 7 that evening. Prospective members are urged to stop by and check out the joining specials.

"It seems like it's flown by," said Baptist Healthplex fitness director Patrick Conn, who's been with the facility from the beginning. An adjunct professor of kinesiology at MC, Conn has seen other fitness venues in the South. "I haven't seen anything better."

At the facility, Conn also does personal training and spinning classes. But the complex isn't just for the 20-something and older crowd. In about a month, the Healthplex will offer new fitness programs for children.

Testimonials about the value of the Healthplex are pouring in as the anniversary date approaches.

"Most people that live in Clinton don't even know about this place, and they should," said Ed Daigle, a member since 1998. "I have found it's a great place to exercise and socialize."

When Bill Butler began working at the Healthplex ten years ago, he sold memberships from a trailer in the parking lot. Today, he said, "the members have played a major role in keeping me feeling young and active."

Whether it's going swimming, shooting hoops, hitting the weights or jogging around the indoor walking track, there's plenty to do. The complex is also home to such businesses as Jackson Eye Associates, Baptist Physical Therapy, and offices for doctors and nurses. It's got juice bars and serves coffee, and has meeting rooms for civic clubs to gather. MC students, faculty and staff believe in it.

"If I need to study, I get on the treadmill and take my notes," said MC senior Haley Fowler, 21, of Hattiesburg. An English and accounting major who hopes to go to law school, Fowler joined the Healthplex as a freshman and MC's new Homecoming Queen sees no reason to leave. "Usually I run on the track upstairs. Everybody is really friendly."

MC faculty and staff have strengthened friendships as Healthplex regulars, too.

"My wife and I go together every weekday," said Wayne VanHorn, chair of MC's Christian Studies and Philosophy Department, and a Healthplex member since June 2005. "We have developed a circle of friends that we only see at the Healthplex."

A former Baptist preacher in Columbia, Miss., VanHorn doesn't just stop to chat with his buddies. He faithfully uses the walking track, does 40 minutes or so most days on an elliptical machine or treadmill. "I have found the hot water whirlpool and the cold plunge to be particularly recuperative after a good aerobic workout. As a member, I have utilized the steam room and sauna as well."

VanHorn, 50, cities regular exercise as a key component of his weight loss plan. So far, he's lost 74 pounds, and he gives much of the credit to his Healthplex workouts.

Others in the MC family and in the greater Jackson area are singing the praises of the popular gathering place that opened its doors in 1997, a 50-50 partnership between Mississippi Baptist Health Systems and Mississippi College.

"The Healthplex is fantastic," said President Lee Royce, who played up the facility during a recent meeting with the MC Staff Club. Royce practices what he preaches - he's a member and avid racquetball player at the Healthplex.

For more information, contact program director Jan Cossitt at jcossitt@mbhs.org or call 601-925-7900.

PHOTO: Pictured is Baptist Healthplex fitness director Patrick Conn providing a Clinton resident, Katy Jones, with personal instruction.

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