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‘The hangout place after school’

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyMembers of the public test out fitness equipment during the opening of the Gypsum Recreation Center Saturday in Gypsum.
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GYPSUM ” When the Gypsum Recreation Center opened for business last December, officials with the Western Eagle County Recreation District hoped to sell 2,500 memberships by the end of 2007.

By June 1, they had already sold 2,866 memberships.

“We have definitely surpassed all of our revenue projections,” said Scott Ruff, manager of the center. “Our goal now is to offer even more programs.”



Ruff and recreation district Director Steve Russell reported about the facility’s success during last week’s Gypsum Town Council session. In addition to the membership numbers, their report showed:

– 1,752 members (61 percent) are from Gypsum.



– 769 members (27 percent) are from Eagle.

– 345 members (12 percent) are from other local areas.

The facility also has sold 904 punch cards and 6,160 daily admissions. The most popular programs are:



– 7,700 guided rock wall climbs

– 928 child sitting patrons

– 309 in gymnastics

– 130 swim lessons

– 90 birthday parties

Ruff noted that center use will likely dwindle a bit this summer as people choose to recreate outside, but the facility is already positioning itself for a strong fall.

“We want this to be the hangout place after school,” Ruff said.

The center is planning a combination study club/sports program for local elementary and middle school students.

“We are brainstorming new ideas and more opportunities for our users,” Ruff said.

Just six months since its opening, the center already has a loyal cadre of exercisers. J.T. and Jennifer Friestad, for example, bought memberships the day the center opened and have been among its most regular visitors.

“I’m one of the biggest losers and that’s a good thing,” says J.T. Friestad.

As of last week, Friestad had clocked 112 visits to the rec center and he has lost 40 pounds as a result. “Every night after work I try to go,” he says. “To me, its a small lifestyle adjustment. The car kind of directs itself into the parking lot and it’s something I look forward to, really, at the end of the day.”

Friestad has a routine of alternating aerobic exercise with weight training. “Exercise has been more key than diet in my losing weight,” he notes. “We’ve only made minor changes to our diet.”

Friestad, an employee of Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, said his company wellness program reimburses most of the cost of his Gypsum Rec Center membership. He wants to take off another 10 to 15 pounds, but he acknowledges that will likely prove more difficult than the 40 pounds he’s already shed. His wife has lost 20 pounds as a result of her workout routine.

Friestad said that business at the center is a bit slower since the weather turned warmer, but that’s fine with him.

“January was crazy busy after people made New Year’s resolutions. It was hard to get on a machine. But that only lasted a couple of weeks.”

But whether crowds at the center are thick or sparse, Friestad plans to continue as a regular visitor.

“It’s got everything. You can work out and go swim in the pool and take a hot tub or sauna. It’s a first-class facility. We are really lucky to have it.”


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