After 50 flights, climbers step out onto Penobscot roof

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

Sweat and physical activity was the price of admission Friday to enjoy one of Detroit's iconic breathtaking views.

About 20 members of the Anytime Fitness downtown welcomed the first day of spring by climbing 50 flights of stairs to the open, partly sunny observation deck atop the historic Penobscot Building.

"I work down the street and I walk 20 flights of steps every day at my job," said Natalie Clemons, who works at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. "For someone that will be 56 in May, climbing 50 stairs is a pretty big accomplishment."

The staff of the workout center down the street from the Penobscot said the goal of the event is to help get people moving. Participants can reach the top of the building in under an hour, making it a quick workout during the workday.

"Most people work at places where they sit at a desk all day," said Naomi Lerman, personal trainer at Anytime Fitness. "We wanted to have a fun activity where people can get involved in community fitness."

Besides the health benefits walking a flight of stairs may have, for some this is an opportunity to get a sneak peek atop the historic landmark.

"It looks like the observation deck hasn't been open since the 1940s," said Kim Farmer, vice president of operations and leasing for Triple Properties, which owns the Penobscot. "The goal is to have it open by summer 2016 and to charge a fee for the view like some of the big cities do at iconic buildings around the U.S."

Phil Eagleson, a tennis coach from Detroit, was the first to reach the top.

"I run the stairs a lot, but nothing like this," he said. "Not everyone has the opportunity to see Detroit from the top."

Anytime Fitness hopes to make the climb a regular event during the spring and summer, as well as offering stair climbing at Joe Louis Arena.

Don Pacholski drove from Westland to take part in the climb. "This was quite a workout, but the awesome view was well worth it."

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