REC renovations move forward

-Messenger photo illustration by Joe Sutter
REC Associate Director Matt Hanson looks over the smaller strength training room where new machines have been installed at the REC, in this image made from multiple photos. Several machines in this room are new to the facility.

Renovations and staying up-to-date are a focus at the REC in downtown Fort Dodge.

That’s why the recreation and fitness center has put close to $180,000 into new equipment and building improvements, said Dave Pearson, executive director.

“We had $50,000 just in the spin studio,” Associate Director Matt Hanson said.

A few years ago, there was a big focus on the cardio room upstairs, Hanson said. This past year, the focus moved to downstairs.

“We’ve been putting a lot of money and effort into redoing that downstairs weight room,” Hanson said. “We’ve done it in two phases. The first phase we did early in the year, when we replaced a lot of equipment in the larger room of our strength room.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Stephan Cook takes part in one of the multi-stage workouts at the REC Colesium, which provides fitness and strength training using a variety of equipment at once.

“Just a few months ago we replaced a lot of equipment in that smaller first room when you go in,” he added. “We’ve been very excited about that. We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback.”

That includes new types of strength equipment, like a hack squat machine and a leg press.

“We’re rebranding the REC a little bit, with new colors,” he said. “It used to be reds and browns. Now it’s more black, grey, teal — just trying to give it a more updated, modern feel.”

The spin studio also has all new bikes this year.

“It’s an amazing transformation there,” Hanson said.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
REC Associate Director Matt Hanson demonstrates how the new fitness bikes light up when used.

Each of the REC’s locations — downtown, at Iowa Central Community College, and the coliseum — has a unique feel to it, Pearson said.

Officials on the REC’s governing board continue to consider how to find a new location for the main downtown center, although there’s not much that can be said about it yet.

“That’s been a challenge. There are a lot of moving parts,” Pearson said. “There’s definite thought continually going into this on how we could make this work, because there are a lot of different businesses involved.”

The city of Fort Dodge recently did not get a grant it was hoping for to build a parking ramp downtown, which would have been part of moving the REC to a new building connected to the Warden Plaza.

“That was a definite roadblock for us, because that was a key thing that needed to happen,” Pearson said. “There’s always alternative ways to get it done, and we are definitely being proactive on still getting something to work.”

The plan to move near the Warden came to light after earlier plans, to tear down the Coliseum and build a new larger facility at that location near the curve in First Avenue South, also did not come to fruition.

In the meantime, the REC is taking advantage of what it has, including new classes at the Coliseum. Pulse Experience classes Tuesday and Thursday mornings give participants a heart monitor to display vital signs as they’re doing the workout.

“They can monitor their heart rate, see what zone they’re in so they can better calculate their workout and see where they are,” Pearson said. “So they’re getting that maximum benefit.

“That’s been a nice addition that we’ve seen over the year, especially for people who want more of that personal one on one instruction. That class is smaller, but we wanted it that way.”

A great number of classes are offered between the different buildings, from spin class to hot yoga to water aerobics, all included with the price of membership.

“The heart and soul of the REC is those fitness classes,” Pearson said. “We try to make fitness as enjoyable and as fun as possible, and the relationships build from there. If you have people seeing results and building that camaraderie, you keep a long-term member.

“I know the instructors have been working hard to keep enhancing those, and changing with the times,” he said, noting that a lot has changed since he first became director. “It used to be more women taking fitness classes, and now you see, it’s still probably majority women, but its much more equaled out men and women in group exercise classes. That’s I think a good reflection on our team, and our fitness instructors.”