FRUITVALE: Free seniors’ gym a huge hit: CAO

“We are surprised and delighted at the number of seniors and middlers using the gym; and on a very regular basis.” ~ Lila Cresswell

Gym day has become a routine for a large portion of seniors in the Fruitvale area.

When fitness partners Sharon Brown, Cathy Seifrit, and Pauline Jorgensen are not working up a sweat outside, be it walking or snowshoeing, the crew of ladies punch in at the GYM for a cardio fix.

“Right now it’s really good because if it’s icy and we can’t walk, we’ll just go to the gym,” said Brown.

She is not the only Beaver Valley senior or middler taking advantage of a new free workout facility in the basement of the Fruitvale Memorial Centre.

The GYM went from idea to reality when the village received a $25,000 seniors’ grant from the government this spring and was backed by other local contributors. The funding covered the cost of brand new equipment such as a rowing machine, a couple treadmills and ellipticals, a stationary bike and much more.

There are currently about 340 members and 18 awaiting access cards, Lila Cresswell, village chief administrative officer, noted late last month.

“When we started we assumed the take up would be about 80 to 100 members,” she added. “We are surprised and delighted at the number of seniors and middlers using the gym; and on a very regular basis.”

In the middle of September, the village saw about 12 to 15 users per day.

That climbed to 25 to 30 users per day by the end of October and Cresswell could only assume what last month looked like pre-number crunching.

The users are from all over the Beaver Valley, roughly 50 per cent from Fruitvale, 35 per cent from Electoral Area A and the remaining coming from Montrose.

The total cost of the GYM was $37,000 and funded by donations and grants – $25,000 from the New Horizons for Seniors grant and the $12,000 balance from local and regional businesses, societies and community groups.

“I think this is one of the most successful small projects that the Village of Fruitvale has undertaken and the feedback from the users has been unanimously positive to date,” said Cresswell.

Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini couldn’t agree more. She said the response from the community has been overwhelming.

“It’s been interesting talking to all the massage therapists and physiotherapists, even in Trail, and they say that they have tons of patients who are using it, so they’re actually all on board and sponsoring us as well now by sending us donations to keep it going,” said Cecchini.

“It’s been really exciting and fun,” she added. “Every time I go in there I feel like such a hero because they’re all like ‘This is the best thing that has happened in the valley.’”

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