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Shoptalk 8-8-06 NOAC is Back By Frank Etheridge

Photo courtesy NOAC Boxers punch bags at the renovated NOAC on a raised balcony that overlooks the indoor swimming pool. With a storied history that dates back to its 1872 inception, the New Orleans Athletic Club (222 N. Rampart St., 525-2375, was determined to reopen despite damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. In fact, operators took the opportunity to improve the facility while they were repairing it.

"We reopened on June 30, and everything's going great," says membership director Seth Shear. "The old members seem to be happy with all the changes we've made, and we're attracting plenty of new members."

Shear reports that NOAC has enrolled several hundred new members since the reopening. Part of that success, he says, can be explained by the major downtown businesses and hotels that are restaffing with new employees who are interested in NOAC. As part of a reopening promotion, the club is offering a reduced induction fee; it currently is $150, down from previous levels of $250 and $500.

During the nine months it was closed, NOAC underwent significant renovations. "We repaired the entire place, and the result is a more pleasant, up-to-date building," Shear says of the 54,000-square-foot facility.

Wind and water damage to the basketball gym, racketball courts and indoor track led to beautiful new flooring in those areas, Shear says. A new air-conditioning system has been installed, too. However, what members might notice most is the new exercise equipment and designated rooms. There are now rooms serving only as yoga and Pilates studios and an exercise room reserved for women only. The new women's work-out room, as well as other exercise rooms, have been equipped with new Nautilus weight machines. New cardiovascular equipment will be installed soon, Shear says.

Some things at NOAC haven't changed. "We still offer a superior class schedule," Shear says. "There are classes for fencing, ballroom dancing, boxing, step aerobics, aquatic aerobics. The classes are included in the membership dues, so you don't have to pay separately for classes like at some places." Networking Women The Bridge Lounge (1201 Magazine St., 299-1888) is hosting a monthly Women & Wine on Wednesdays event aimed at providing women with a venue where they can exchange ideas, discuss issues or just relax with friends. This month's event is from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16. Other Women & Wine on Wednesdays are scheduled Sept. 20 and Oct. 18.

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