Both are doing their morning workouts at the Queens Fitness Centre on Liverpool’s Waterloo Street. Giffin joined the gym three years ago to improve her health and become more active. Gilbert became a member about six months after his wife joined, seven or eight years ago.
It was a cold winter evening, and it was 6 p.m. on Jan. 11, 1997. That’s precisely when the Queens Fitness Centre opened its doors to the community.
After almost 15 years, the fitness centre closed its doors for good last Friday morning, Dec. 16.
Three people were involved with the gym’s conception, including the then principal of South Queens Junior High School (SQJHS), a teacher and a member of Liverpool’s RCMP detachment, says Bill Wolfe, who was on the centre’s board of directors and involved with multiple committees.
Liz Boland became the fitness centre’s manager in 2007. But before that, there was no manager. The board of directors was in charge of management, and there was a coordinator, staff member and a number of volunteers.
Eventually, the number of staff was increased because of the amount of work running the fitness centre required.
“We were running with one coordinator and one attendant, and we realized that because of the pressures on the volunteer board … that we needed to increase our staff,” says Wolfe.
So as of 2007, paid staff members included the manager, two fitness attendants and a student.
Because the fitness centre was in the junior high school, SQJHS students benefited from the facility during the day. The fitness centre was open to the public in the mornings and evenings and open just for students during the day.
“This was a hopping place for a while because this was a new concept,” says Wolfe.
Boland agrees. She says there were more than 200 members. Boland and Wolfe also agree membership numbers were pretty consistent over the years, with about 150 to 250 people. Membership normally decreased in the summer but rose again in the autumn and winter.
Board of directors
The directors were responsible for a variety of things involving the fitness centre. Each director was on one or more committee.
The personnel committee dealt with meetings, staff and hiring, among other things. Those on the marketing committee were responsible for getting the word out about the gym.
Wolfe says he and Boland went to several businesses with PowerPoint presentations to let people know about the fitness centre.
Those on the facilities committee took care of general maintenance. They also had the responsibility of reporting to the board.
A fundraising committee held events to raise money for the centre.
“We had things like hot dog sales, car washes (and) pancake breakfasts,” says Wolfe.
Over the years, Wolfe and Boland worked on the personnel, marketing and fundraising committees.
The board of directors met monthly to make decisions concerning the fitness centre.
With the fitness centre’s closing, the board of directors had its final meeting two weeks ago and has disbanded.
The equipment from the Queens Fitness Centre was donated to Queens Place.
Wolfe says the centre had a lot of sponsors over the years. Mark Reynolds, owner of Reynolds PharmaChoice, donated money to the gym for cardio equipment.
Boland says Reynolds donated funds for several years.
Queens Fit Pro
Queens Fit Pro is a program that was developed by the board of directors. Boland and Wolfe say it will continue at the new fitness facility.
The Queens Fitness Centre got grants from the Queens Community Health Board and Health Promotion and Protection to start the project, says Boland. She says the doctors also supported the plan.
“They had vouchers in their offices,” says Boland.
The vouchers “were worth half the cost of a three-month membership, and they were given out to patients the doctors thought may benefit from coming to the centre,” she adds.
It’s been running for three years, Boland says.
She says some of the people who joined the gym as part of Queens Fit Pro ended up renewing their memberships and continuing to use the gym.
Because Queens Place won’t have the space for all the former gym’s equipment, some will be sold.
Wolfe says the money from the equipment will support Queens Fit Pro.
“Sad,” says Wolfe about the gym’s closing.
Boland and Wolfe agree without hesitating, what they’ll miss the most is the people.
“Interacting with the members,” says Boland.
Wolfe says he hopes they will continue to see fitness-centre members at Queens Place.
“It’s like an extended family here,” says Wolfe.
Though neither Boland nor Wolfe plans to be involved with Queens Place in an organizational capacity, they plan to become members and continue to use the gym.
Boland and Wolfe say they’re grateful to the South Shore Regional School Board, South Queens Junior High School, sponsors they’ve had, the community support, past staff and directors, the Region of Queens and the gym members.
Back in the gym and on the rowing machine, Giffin says people will get used to the new centre, but she says she liked going to the Queens Fitness Centre because of the good atmosphere.
It’s like a big family, she says.
Gilbert says seeing the gym close will be sad. Using the fitness centre was like a social event, he says.