March 22, 2012

Fitness Center Celebrating 10 Years in Business



For a decade now, area residents have had it a little easier when it comes to trying to stay in shape. The Scotland County Fitness Center will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this spring.

The Rec/Plex was born as an idea back in 1997 as a byproduct of a Scotland County Health Department survey assessing the health needs of the community. Area residents identified a need for exercise opportunities, spurring the creation of the fitness center board.

The first of two Neighborhood Assistance Program awards helped the project get off the ground. Local donors received 50% percent tax credits for donations made to the fitness center. The money made it possible for the group to purchase its current location, a 1.34 acre lot that included a 120'x80' building.

The purchase was made March 21, 2001 through the foreclosure sale of the former MicroEnergy facility, which had housed a manufacturing business.

"We were very fortunate to have had that opportunity," said board member Tom Deberry. "Building that size a building would have cost us four or five times what we paid for the entire package."

The building was renovated to house a wide variety of exercise equipment as well as an indoor walking track, game room and community meeting hall.

The facility officially opened to the public on March 9, 2002, offering access to two treadmills, two stationary bicycles, one power rower and two elliptical machines as well as a weight room featuring 17 Nautilus weight machines.

An official grand opening was held later that month with Judge E. Richard Webber as the featured speaker.

In the fall of that year, the fitness center group caught another major break.

Missouri Governor Bob Holden announced on September 27, 2002 that the Rec/Plex in Memphis was among the 104 organizations in the state approved for the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP).

This second run at the NAP proved even more beneficial for the fitness center, as the tax credits were modified upward from 50% of the donation to 70% percent of the donation.

Over the next three years, gifts poured in, helping the Rec/Plex maximize the $287,000 in tax credits.

The second NAP paved the way for the construction of the new gymnasium at the fitness center.

The full-size basketball court was built in 2005, and now hosts numerous basketball tournaments and leagues as well as volleyball and other activities.

"This has truly been a community project," Deberry stated. "A lot of people contributed in many different ways, from donating to the NAP fund drives, to volunteering, offering equipment for use during the construction and much more. So many people got behind this idea from day one and made it a reality."

While the facility has seen numerous changes, one thing that has remained relatively the same has been the cost of memberships.

In over a decade, the fitness center board has been able to maintain the cost for a year-long family membership below $300. In 2002 that membership cost was $275 and today it is still only $297.

Individual memberships are also available as are varying membership lengths of monthly, three months and six months. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary, the Rec/Plex is offering a 10% discount on six-month memberships.

Member cards are available at Gerth's in Memphis or by contacting manager Melissa Emel at the Rec/Plex.

The current board of directors at the fitness center consists of president George Koontz, vice-president Tom Deberry, health department representative Laurie Jack and board members Fred Clapp, Jason Emel, David McRobert, Susie Lister, Joel Kapfer and Dallace Shumacher. The board meets the second Monday of each month.

In addition revenue through membership fees, the Rec/Plex operates with the aid of a number of grant programs. Funding from the Missouri Foundation for Health recently helped the group purchase new heavy-duty treadmills.

Future plans are calling for expansion of the restroom facilities to include showers and the group is actively pursuing grant funding to help make the project possible.

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