Bigger, brighter, better — new fitness center open for seniors

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 7, 2017

 Fitness instructor Ruben Ascencio demonstrates how a seat turns on the recumbent elliptical machine to accommodate users in a wheelchair or walker.

Fitness instructor Ruben Ascencio demonstrates how a seat turns on the recumbent elliptical machine to accommodate users in a wheelchair or walker.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — After months of waiting and years of planning, members of the St. Clair Shores Senior Activities Center are finally able to enjoy the first parts of the expansion project to open.

Much of the expansion focused on a 2,800-square-foot fitness center, and crews have completed that portion of the work, so it is now open for members’ use.

Senior Activities Center Director Carly Podzikowski said they received notification in late May that the fitness equipment had arrived early, so the new treadmills, ellipticals and other machines were installed before Memorial Day. The new fitness center opened its doors to members May 25.

“It’s been obviously very well-received,” she said.

The fitness center is open when the senior center is open: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays. Membership prices will rise July 1 by $10, however, to allow the center to offer Saturday hours from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. With the increase, residents will pay $35 for an annual membership to the center, and nonresidents will pay $55 annually.

While a lot of the new equipment is similar to what the center offered before, just in larger quantities, many pieces of equipment are different. Senior center staff members are available during all hours that the center is open to help users discover how to use all of the new machines, Podzikowski said, because “some people are intimidated.”

Much of the equipment was purchased with those with physical limitations in mind, however, including a recumbent elliptical that has a swiveling seat to accommodate those moving from a wheelchair or a walker onto the machine, and recumbent stationary bikes that allow users to get onto the seat without having to lift their legs over a high bar.

Steve Letsinger, of St. Clair Shores, has been a member of the center for several months and now comes in a few times per week to use the fitness equipment.

“I just retired and, shoot, this is better than working,” he said. “With the new equipment, they have machines that provide dual purposes.”

He said that although the investment in the renovation, expansion and equipment purchase was “huge,” it seems worth it. He said he sees familiar faces in the fitness center every time he is there, taking advantage of the new equipment.

The view from all the large windows lining the room is “very attractive,” he said.

“They really thought this through, put the right money to the right place,” he said. 

Bette Jo, of St. Clair Shores, agreed.

“I love it. It’s nice and bright and sunny,” she said. “The size, the machines, just the atmosphere, it looks much nicer (than the old fitness room). 

“The windows make a big difference — we don’t need mirrors!”

Fitness instructor Ruben Ascencio said that other members have had similar reactions.

“They’re totally shocked and amazed,” he said, with the versatility of the equipment, the ease of use and the large, bright room. The old fitness room, he said, “was like working out in your basement,” while the new room “encourages you to want to come and work out.”

He said members used to ask him when the least popular time to come use the equipment was, but now, with an increase from 18 pieces to 28 — including four treadmills instead of two and four ellipticals instead of one — there is hardly ever a wait to use a machine.

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