HIGHLAND PARK – An apropos ceremonial cutting of workout resistance bands signified the grand re-opening of the Recreation Center of Highland Park at an event on Tuesday, September 5. Since April, construction crews expanded the Center’s fitness floor, created a new stretching area, relocated and built a new group exercise studio and personal training studio, and updated the fitness reception and lobby areas. Renovation of the Recreation Center was a Phase One project identified the Park District’s GreenPrint 2024 Master Plan. The project was completed September 1, 2017 on schedule and on budget for $900,000.
“The response from our members and the public has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Debbie Pierce, Manager of Facility Operations for the Recreation Center. “The biggest surprise for people is the open, bright, and airy feel of the new spaces.”
With a boom in popularity for its fitness programs the Recreation Center was bursting at the seams. Over the past three years, membership at the Rec Center increased by 14 percent. Last year, the Center had 3,500 members and over 225,000 visits. The top priority identified in the Center’s annual fitness member survey was the need for more space on the fitness floor as well as dedicated space for stretching.
“We were very creative with the space and the existing footprint,” said Mitch Carr, Assistant Director of Recreation and Facilities. “Our architectural team at Woodhouse Tinucci maximized the space we have and created an exceptional design.” Survey feedback from members helped the team pinpoint areas that required the most improvement.
To minimize disruption to members and the public the Center remained open during construction. “It was important to keep the facility functioning as close to normal as possible,” commented Pierce. “It was a team effort coordinating logistics of facility reconfigurations to ensure the renovation project moved along on schedule and at the same time keeping as many areas as possible open for use.”
The project included:
- Expansion of the fitness floor – By relocating adjacent studios and bumping out walls the main fitness area now has an additional 850 square feet of floor space — giving more room for workouts. The free weight and strength training areas were also expanded and a designated stretching area was created adjacent to the main floor. New state-of-the-art strength training equipment, flooring, and lighting complete the new space.
- Relocation of the Main Group Exercise Studio – To accommodate the expanded main floor the Group Exercise Studio was moved to the lower level multipurpose room space located to the right (north) of the main gym. The new group exercise studio features a new state-of-the-art sound system, floating bamboo floor, the largest Queen Ax functional training system in the Chicagoland area, and is stocked with top of the line fitness equipment. The expansive windows allow sunlight to bathe the room and giving users views of the natural tall grassland areas just outside the building.
- New Training Studio – With the relocation of the group exercise studio to the lower level, a portion of the available space upstairs was built out as a new training studio. The 650-square-foot studio is used for personal and small group training clients, and features new Queen Ax functional training equipment. Providing trainers with dedicated space translates into a better training experience for clients. Trainers have convenient access to certain pieces of equipment and some clients prefer a private environment for their training. Locating the personal training studio adjacent to the fitness floor allows trainers and their clients to move from a warm-up on the treadmill straight into the studio for training. The new design also provides full access to all free weights and machines as part of a personal training regimen. The result — a more efficient workout experience for clients.
- Reconfiguration of the Fitness Lobby – A newly configured fitness desk and lobby area provides better flow for patrons and increases access control to the fitness and track areas. Now, as you go up the stairs you have direct eye contact with the person who will welcome you in to access to the track, studio, or fitness floor. New amenities of the lobby include an expanded day locker area. Just behind the lobby is a “member’s only” gathering space to cool down from a workout or socialize over a cup of coffee.
Submitted by the Park District of Highland Park