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Kids Gym will be part of Westwood renovations

August 2, 2018

STERLING – The Sterling Park District has decided to move ahead with plans for a Kids Gym as part of its $1.25 million renovation of the Westwood Fitness & Sports Center.

If all goes according to plan, sometime this fall adults will be able to drop off kids for supervised exercise and fun while they are working out.

The new kids area now houses the CrossFit program, which is moving to a larger multipurpose area that had been used for activities such as wrestling.

Kids Gym will be free for total fitness pass holders. For nonmembers, there will be a nominal fee that has yet to be established.

When the park district board met last month to discuss the latest renovation plans, the Kids Gym was discussed only as a possibility. Board members had several questions regarding issues such as staffing, liability and an acceptable age range for the kids.

The renovations will be done in phases, so the board will vote on each job as it is bid out or approve spending for any work that is done in-house.

Some of the details are still being figured out, but the gym will consist of a large indoor playground with Exergame equipment that mixes exercise and games. The park district wants it to be more than just a baby-sitting service.

“There will be an Xbox, but it might be hooked up to a bike, so they’ll have to ride the bike to play games,” Parks Executive Director Larry Schuldt said. “There’s a game for the wall that has lights pop up and they have to chase and touch the lights.”

The park district is leaning toward opening the gym for kids ages 3 months to 12 years. This will be a new service for Westwood, so the park district is carefully doing its homework.

“We’re talking to our insurance company and consulting with the Department of Children and Family Services as we do this,” Schuldt said.

There will be some important rules for the adults to follow. Children can be there no more than 2 hours at a time and adults must be at the facility the entire time the kids are in the gym.

The park district isn’t ready to announce hours for the service, but says it will do its best to be responsive to users’ needs. The Kids Gym also will be used for youth fitness programs and party rentals.

“We’re not doing this to generate revenue, but we are hoping that the service will boost membership,” Schuldt said.

There has been a significant spike in membership – up to 96 percent in 2 years – every time renovations have been done to the fitness center, Schuldt said.

The Kids Gym is part of a larger modernization plan that will include a juice bar, a portable basketball court with a wood floor, a functional training center and new equipment for the fitness area.

Functional training is a growing fitness trend that focuses on developing strength and mobility needed for everyday life activities.

The money for the entire renovation project would come from $3.5 million in bonds the park district recently received, while an additional $25,000 has been budgeted for promoting the changes to the facility.

The park district has been working to modernize the Westwood complex since 2010. The Westwood Tennis Center opened in January after a $1.7 million project was completed.

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