Something is happening in downtown Columbus.
At first, it was subtle. That's not the case any more.
Downtown, long the business and nightlife hub of the city and region, has become a fitness destination.
Yeah, you heard me. If you want to get in shape -- or stay in shape -- downtown has become the place to be.
The YMCA has always been a fixture downtown, but the new one across from Country's on Broad has pumped new energy into the downtown fitness scene. They're spilling out of the spin and exercise classes and onto the downtown streets.
But it's not just the Y. Almost every weekend in the spring, summer and fall there is an organized run or walk downtown. And since the opening of Big Dog Running Company in the 1100 block of Broadway, it seems as if the runs have multiplied. And it's not just organized runs -- walk around downtown during the lunch hour and you will see men and women of all shapes and sizes running the lunch hour away.
Every week, there seems to be more and more of them.
Then you take Ride On Bikes, the first real fitness business to gamble on downtown. On any given Tuesday night, spring-to-fall, organized rides roll out of the Ride On shop and head to the Chattahoochee RiverWalk. Sometimes it's 40 or 50 riders. One night this summer, I counted more than 120 cyclists roll by in a peloton down Broadway to the river.
Just regular folks being healthy.
And it has gone beyond cycling and running. CrossFit has taken hold downtown. It is an intense, demanding physical challenge that involves weightlifing, flipping tractor tires, sprinting, rowing, jumping rope. It wears you out just to watch it.
Several gyms downtown feature CrossFit or CrossFit-like programs. You can be shopping at the Broadway market on a Saturday morning, and folks are in the open space near The Uptown Tap throwing around large tires and heavy equipment in timed challenges.
At 5:30 many mornings, a group of CrossFit athletes train in the 1100 block of the Broadway median. There is also yoga, pilates and a place for Uncommon Athletes.
Go down on the river any afternoon and you will see paddlers working the rapids in kayaks. As the whitewater course in the Chattahoochee takes shape, you will only see more of these exercise cowboys.
The fitness thing is even moving into the food. Iron Bank Coffee has opened with a menu that caters
to those watching their weight. Many of the downtown restaurants, like The Loft, offer dinner specials for those who have been participating in the bike rides.
A yogurt shop is opening next to Big Dog Running Company. A yogurt shop downtown? Times are a changing.
If you think downtown is about working and drinking, you got it all wrong.
There is something happening down here and you ought to come see it for yourself.
Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, email@example.com.