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FITNESS | PHANTOM JIM RAT

Log On, Then Work Out at This State-of-the Art YMCA

October 19, 1998|PHANTOM JIM RAT

Beware. The Phantom Jim Rat is snooping around Southern California, looking at the best and worst in health clubs. Jim isn't just any rat. He's been teaching for four years at various clubs in the area and is certified by the Aerobics and Fitness Assn. of America.

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The Village People sang its praises. And when the song is played at sports venues, you can always spot someone spelling out its letters.

But the YMCA was well-known, of course, long before the 1978 hit. The Y, a.k.a. Young Men's Christian Assn., has always promoted physical fitness with a quiet, dignified, reserved approach.

Not at the Ketchum-Downtown YMCA. It screams fitness. This place is jampacked with classes and state-of-the-art equipment. The most impressive piece of equipment is called Fitlinxx, and the Y is the only place in Southern California that has it, says fitness director Rosanne Malogolowkin.

It works like this: After going through a screening with a trainer to figure out your fitness goals, you receive an ID number. To activate each LifeFitness circuit machine, you enter your ID the number; the machine tells you how much weight and how many reps to do. It even tells you the equipment to use next.

Free-weight fans, just pop Ivanko weights on a bar and pump away. There are also Maxicam and Hammer Strength machines.

If you like to work out the ol' cardiovascular system, you might think Christmas has come early. This Y is a what's-what of cardio equipment. On the second floor of this 86,000-square-foot facility are eight LifeCycle stationary bicycles, two rowers, two Versa Climbers, four LifeCycle recumbent bikes, three StairMaster Spinnaker 3000 CE bikes, five LifeFitness flex deck treadmills, six StarTrac 4000 treadmills, two Precor EFX 544 elliptical trainers, four LifeFitness elliptical trainers and 12 StairMasters.

But wait, there's more. On the third floor are a track, more LifeCycle bicycles and Spinnakers, two Trectrix Climb Max stair climbers, two ski machines and a heavy bag.

The Y holds some 60 classes per week. I took Marci's 6:45 step class and found her routine to be easy, but not too easy, to follow.

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* If you have a gym or health club you think the Phantom Jim Rat should scope out, fax to (213) 237-4712 or e-mail: health@latimes.com.

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The Rat Trap

On a rating of one to four RATS, four being best, here is how the Jim Rat rates the Ketchum-Downtown YMCA:

* Parking: Plenty of parking in the Arco Center garage. Get your ticket validated at the front desk and you get three hours for $1. What a deal. ****

* Locker rooms: I don't remember my YMCA locker room looking like this. It's clean and the carpet looked as if it was vacuumed a lot. Don't bring a towel; they have them here. The shower areas are nice, and there are steam rooms and dry saunas. ****

* Juice bar: Just a soda machine and water fountains. But, hey! This is the Y! *

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Ketchum-Downtown YMCA, 401. S Hope St., Los Angeles; (213) 624-2348. A single-day pass is $10 before 4:30 p.m. and $15 after. Basic membership is $52 a month plus a one-time fee of $125 for adults, but membership assistance is available. Club hours are 5:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

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