Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Workout space isnít just about fitness

BCRD director says new gym is a community center first

Express Staff Writer

Students from a Blaine County Recreation District Pilates class at the Community Campus in Hailey test out the districtís new cardio equipment. The new facility was built in previously unused locker rooms at the campus. Photo by Willy Cook

Most fitness centers focus solely on fitness, but Jim Keating, executive director of the Blaine County Recreation District, said he thinks of the district's new space at the Community Campus in Hailey as a community center first and a workout facility second.

"We don't have advanced fitness capability," he said. "We're just trying to inspire people."

The district will open the "FitWorks" studio to the community today, Nov. 17.

The fitness center, which consists of two studios and a cardio and strength-training room, was created from space that had been occupied by locker rooms when the building housed the Wood River High School.

Since the district began leasing 27,000 square feet of space in the building, which is owned by the Blaine County School District, the locker rooms have been unused.

Measuring about 6,000 square feet, the new gym is a little over one-tenth the size of the Wood River Community Y in Ketchum. Still, all the essentials are there—treadmills, three types of stationary bicycles and several strength-training machines. Cameron Randolph, the district's aquatics and fitness director, said that for basic, entry-level fitness training, that's all that's needed.

"There's a need for accessible, affordable physical education," she said.

"We're busting at the seams just to meet that need," Keating said, adding that the new center can become a family-oriented fitness stepping stone for south valley residents, just something to "get them moving."

"I hope the center is something to inspire people to move to a new space," he said.

The center offers classes both through the Recreation District and through private partner organizations such as Sun Valley Tae Kwon Do and College of Southern Idaho, which offers a popular class called "Over 60 and Getting Fit." Keating said his goal is to promote private workout centers with more advanced equipment and training as "graduated steps" for center users who are looking to improve their fitness even further.

The district isn't looking to compete with health centers such as High Altitude Fitness, Keating said. The center's focus is more holistic, providing family recreation rather than personal training.

"We don't need to be all things to all folks," he said. "We're more of a community center with a fitness capability."

The district runs after-school programs and youth sports leagues in addition to providing space for birthday parties and maintaining the Wood River Trails system that runs from Bellevue to Hulen Meadows. It also maintains Nordic skiing trails in the valley.

The fitness center, Keating said, is a place where busy parents can take a class or squeeze in a workout while children participate in the district's youth programs.

Randolph said it was important to the district to use the unused space it already had, not to build a new structure, which could cost millions of dollars.

This "recycling," as she calls it, resulted in the district's project coming in at roughly $500,000. Randolph said this use of space allowed the district to save money and also fit with its philosophy of "sustainable recreation."

Randolph said the center hopes to partner with St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center in the future, hosting seminars on nutrition and childhood obesity.

Valley residents can take advantage of tours, free Zumba classes and workout access, demonstrations by Sun Valley Tae Kwon Do and even a bouncy house at the district's fitness center open house today, Nov. 17, from 4-7 p.m. at the Community Campus.

The workout studio is open from 5:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, with weekend hours from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. Basic membership costs $25 per month for teens and seniors, $30 for adults and $55 for couples. "Plus" passes also provide access to Recreation District-run classes and discounts on other programs, and range from $40 for teens to $50 for couples.

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