'We're a family' - free fitness room in 8th year at Westside Community Center
It's still going strong, 10 hours a week, managed by nine-year center employee Tracie Dear, with assistance from part-time worker Branden Wehmeier. Both are certified fitness trainers.
The facility is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 to 7 p.m.
The room is in the lower level of the middle building (1620 W. Bijou St.) at the Community Center.
Coincidentally, during the earlier years of Buena Vista Elementary (1911-2009), the space - about the size of a large classroom - was used for the school's gym.
Various types of equipment are available, “offering cardio workout equipment, circuit weight equipment, free weights, speed and boxing bags plus exercise bands and balls; offering multiple types of resistance training,” the Community Center website reports.
As Dear phrased it, “this room is fully capable of helping people get to their fitness goal, whatever it is.”
Adults young and old are welcome, and “it's never crowded, never busy,” she said.
Dear would especially like to see more people from the neighborhood come in. As it is, she noted, many who use the equipment are already at the center for other programs, particularly the senior-based Silver Sneakers exercise class.
Fitness participants are free to work at their own pace, on any equipment that's available. She and Wehmeier are on hand to ensure safety, answer questions and add to the camaraderie.
Both describe the room as a casual setting without the intimidation factor that can exist in some gyms. “We care about the people who come here as human beings,” Dear summarized. “We're a family.”
“There's a strong community factor,” Wehmeier added. “People are together, talking and relating.”
A Westsider most of her life, Dear has led the center's fitness program for the past two and a half years. She previously had 14 years' experience as a massage therapist and neural muscular therapist.
Wehmeier moved to Colorado from St. Louis, Mo., about three years ago. He also runs his own online-based fitness business and works at the YMCA.
The Community Center was opened in 2011 by fitness trainer Jessica Hickman. She recently relocated from the area with her military husband.
The exercise room's equipment consists mainly of pieces left behind by the city in April 2010 - when Woodmen Valley Chapel took over management of the center - and those donated by the church in the years since then.
Westside Pioneer article