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While some people are packing on the pounds this holiday season, the Rossford Community Recreation Center is splashing out with new equipment and fitness programs to help burn off extra seasonal calories.
Armed with $50,000 in city funds, Rossford's Parks and Recreation Director Ivan Kovacevic has been buying new pieces of gym equipment for the center, including state-of-the-art exercise bikes and elliptical machines.
The director has set up a cardio room with the new equipment, established an on-site babysitting service, extended the center's hours, and added new fitness classes and programs such as spinning, youth basketball, and healthy cooking for kids.
"What I'm looking at doing is making a major statement on everything that we have to offer here," said Mr. Kovacevic, who took up his position at the city in February.
"By adding all the pieces of equipment, by adding the new room - that's going to bring people to our facility. The more people it brings to our facility, then our programming is going to grow from that too."
Among the new additions are two "Expresso Bikes" on which users can take virtual rides through forests, deserts, coastlines, and even Mayan ruins.
There is also a new treadmill, an elliptical machine, and two similar but lower-impact machines called Adaptive Motion Trainers.
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Two more pieces of equipment - a rowing simulator and another elliptical machine called the Cardio Wave - will arrive in the next few weeks.
The center has also acquired 12 spin bikes for fast-paced stationary cycling or spinning classes and a weight-lifting machine from another gym that recently closed down in Perrysburg.
Mr. Kovacevic said he hoped the additions would inspire new people to join the center, from families with children to businesspeople from Toledo and the Crossroads shopping area.
Although it is too soon to see any surge in membership, the center's current members seemed more than happy with the new equipment.
Kristina Yoder, 18, a nursing student at Mercy College of Northwest Ohio, said she had been thinking about joining a different gym, but decided to stay at Rossford when she saw the new cardio room.
"I think it's cool. I'm really excited!" she said.
Kevin Davis, 54, an accountant from Rossford, said he began working out at the recreation center a week ago, and enjoys using the Expresso Bikes.
"I used to ride a lot," Mr. Davis explained. "This way I can bike without all the weather hazards and traffic hazards."
Mr. Kovacevic said he expects more people to join in 2009 after making New Year's resolutions to get fit. Relatively low-cost membership rates should also be a draw, he said.
"I think it's easy to forget about health and fitness when the budget's tight, when the economy's tight," Mr. Kovasevic said. "Now, with what we can provide here with the cost that we can provide it at, we make a very affordable alternative for people."
Membership rates will rise slightly next year. Annual adult membership for Rossford residents will go from $70 to $90, and family rates will rise from $90 to $135. However, there are special rates for young people and seniors, starting at $3.67 a month.
People will also be able to join the center on a monthly or quarterly basis in 2009, rather than committing to a full year.
Mr. Kovacevic said any extra money from membership will go toward continued improvements at the center.