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Fitness centre expansion leads to increased membership

The exercise room at Howard Armstrong Recreational Centre (HARC) badly needed a makeover.
Lee Cole pushes his limits at the Howard Armstrong Recreational Centre in the newly expanded fitness room.

The exercise room at Howard Armstrong Recreational Centre (HARC) badly needed a makeover. Ward 3 Councillor Andre Rivest made it his personal mission to not only fix the tiny, outdated area, but also improve the overall standards and image of the facility.

Rivest spent a lot of time, on behalf of his constituents, going to city council to get money to get new equipment and expand the weight room.

Despite running into political red tape, Rivest never lost sight of the goal and what it meant to the people he represented.

HARC recently received $36,440 for new exercise equipment and an expansion.

"It wasn't an easy process," said Rivest. "My original request was denied, but this is what the public wanted, so I kept at it."

The $36,440 was spent on almost doubling the size of the weight room and the purchase of two new treadmills, stationary bikes, rubber floor, two television sets, weight machines and hundreds of pounds of free weights.

"There was a lot of demand for free weights," said Rivest. "Almost everything is new now and it looks great. One of the top priorities of Greater Sudbury is healthy communities and this fits in. The new room caters to a larger group of people. Valley East is being acknowledged and that makes people very happy here."

Rivest wasn't the only local resident jumping for joy over the new weight room.

A bead of sweat trickles down the face of Lee Cole as he pushes himself through a bicep exercise on a cable-pulley machine.

But, he loves every excruciating second of the exercise on the new gear.

"I think it's great that there's all this new equipment and a bigger room," said Cole. "It's nice to have a place close to home to get into shape. This is something that really was lacking. I had a membership (at a gym in Sudbury), but it was too far away. I wouldn't have come here before.

I needed the free weights and now they finally have the right equipment. I will be here four to five days a week now."

Clyde Abigail doesn't get claustrophobic anymore in the larger room.

"With the expansion, we have room to move and exercise now," said Abigail. "There's a lot of versatility with the new equipment. I have become a regular since the expansion. The community was really in need of this. Everything you need or is offered at big gyms is here."

The expansion has already provided a bountiful revenue harvest for HARC.

"The biggest thing about the expansion is that it increased the amount of patrons using the building and more people are buying memberships," said Jerry Lynch, HARC aquatic and recreation centre co-ordinator. "Revenue has increased and that's a positive sign. It's a big change to the overall appearance and image of the centre."

Rivest isn't done with putting his touches on the centre.

"I am also working on another phase, which would be a $25,000 expansion for aerobic exercising...It has yet to be ironed out, but hopefully it can be done next year."

The new HARC fitness room had its official opening on Tuesday night.


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