Faced with anticipated competition from a national fitness chain, the Columbia Association's Supreme Sports Club in Owen Brown is getting a face-lift and extending its hours.

Besides upgrading the athletic equipment, CA officials plan to repaint the club's exterior and interior, renovate the lobby, re-landscape the area and install new ceiling lighting. New artwork and signage also will be added, said Rob Goldman, vice president and director of the Sports and Fitness Division for the Columbia Association. When CA's 110,000 square-foot fitness club reopens on Sept. 7 after a two-week closure, the Supreme Sports Club will be the first 24-hour gym in Columbia. Currently, the club closes by 10 o'clock most weeknights and at 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

"Columbia Association has had independent surveys done since 1985, and consistently 10 to 15 percent of our members either prefer [the club] is open a little later or earlier on the weekdays and on the weekends," said Goldman. "If there is a competitor in town, we want to make sure that our members are happy and won't consider going elsewhere."

In addition to the $80,000 that was already earmarked for annual upgrades, the Columbia Association board approved $221,000 for the renovations. Another $80,000 per year was approved for staffing during the new hours. The Columbia Association operates an array of recreational facilities, including the Supreme Sports Club and other large fitness centers in River Hill and Harper's Choice.

Life Time Fitness, a Minnesota-based national chain with 35 clubs in eight states, is expected to open next year in Columbia Gateway Center. It will be the chain's first in Maryland. Its closest clubs are in Fairfax and Centreville, Va.

The Columbia location is expected to be two stories and approximately 109,000 square feet with an additional 30,000 to 50,000 square feet of outdoor space for swimming pools and other activities. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, the Life Time Fitness club will offer fitness equipment and personal training, organized sports leagues, two full-size gymnasiums, indoor and outdoor lap and recreational pools, family activity areas including water slides and a 6,000-square-foot day-care center. A spa and cafe will be open to members and nonmembers.

"The appearance is far less than a traditional health club and much more like a spa or resort type of facility," said Jason Thunstrom, a spokesman for the 12-year-old company.

Its membership fees are somewhat higher than those for CA's Supreme Sports Club. A returning CA member pays just under $40 per month for the sports club, and a family membership runs about $50 a month. Day passes are $14. (Package plans, which provide access to CA's outdoor pools, golf clubs, ice rinks, tennis clubs and all of the fitness centers, cost about $50 per month for an individual.)

At Life Time, memberships cost approximately $50 per month for individuals, about $85 per month for couples and close to $110 per month for families. Day passes are expected to cost between $20 and $25 each. Life Time members are not required to sign a contract and can pay for membership on a month-to-month basis, whereas CA and many other private fitness clubs require yearly contracts.

The majority of Life Time's centers, said Thunstrom, are in suburban areas with a higher-than-average household income. The arrival of Life Time is expected to continue to put pressure on CA to upgrade its existing amenities.

"We're always committed to offering new programs and new facilities every year," Goldman said.

Anticipating competition from a private club, the Columbia Association's Supreme Sports Club will reopen Sept. 7, round-the-clock.John Roberts gets a cardio workout at Columbia's Supreme Sports Club, which will boast extensive renovations as well as extended hours beginning Sept. 7.Russ Antico exercises at the Supreme Sports Club, which Columbia is upgrading in response to the expected local arrival of Life Time Fitness in 2005.