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Columns

St. Charles Park District: Norris Recreation renovations usher in bright new fitness experiences

New and improved!

Most people, when they read that line in an advertisement or hear it on TV, become a little skeptical. Really, they think, what’s so new? Where’s the improvement?

That’s definitely not the reaction when members and guests enter the newly-renovated Norris Recreation Center in St. Charles. In this case, the signs of exciting changes are obvious and welcome. There’s an updated fitness center, topping out at a whopping 6,300 square feet. An elevator to improve building accessibility. A new cycle and group training studio. Plus, all the stuff that the public doesn’t see – such as upgraded electrical power panels and air handling systems – but that are essential for the building’s efficient operation and patrons’ continued comfort.

The renovations are all part of a program designed to enhance customer experience and address client needs, according to Andrea Masoncup, assistant superintendent of recreation.

“The new fitness center will create a more optimal exercise experience since everything is now in one space, as opposed to the smaller, individual workout areas we had previously. And the renovation of two of our old exercise rooms into a mini-gym and cycle/group training studio will add more options to users’ exercise routines,” she said.

The renovations began in mid-May 2017 with the closure of one of the cardio rooms to begin installation of the elevator and creation of a storage room. Three outdated racquetball courts, storage room, cycle studio and weight room were torn down to create the new fitness center. The other cardio room and free weight room were renovated to create an additional mini-gym for court activities and a studio that can be used for cycling and TRX classes, as well as small group training and open member use. Other remodeling projects included restoration of the lobby and child care areas, outfitting them with new ceiling tiles, carpeting and floor tiles, as well as furniture, lockers and child care equipment. Amenities such as wall-mounted TVs in the fitness center, as well as some new cardio machines equipped with personal viewing screens, escalate the fun factor. Behind-the-scenes tasks such as cleaning the duct work on the main level, polishing the concrete floors, and painting walls and ceilings brought both essential infrastructure and outward cosmetic needs together.

Overseen by The George Sollitt Construction Co. of Wood Dale, the project came about through discussions with St. Charles School District 303 officials, which owns the Norris Recreation Center facility and works cooperatively with the St. Charles Park District management team. A project of this scope was long overdue for the building, which is more than 40 years old, according to Masoncup.

“When you think of all the fitness options available, the challenge is to stay current with what private and public companies are offering. People are looking for that kind of experience and ambience, and this renovation hoped to meet those goals,” said Masoncup.

The new 6,300-square-foot fitness center replaces the 1979 addition to the building. Instead of segregating cardio and weight training equipment in separate studios, all fitness equipment will now be available in one large, open space, which allows for a more efficient and flexible workout experience for users.

“We want to support the way people use a fitness center,” said Masoncup. “People like to be able to move easily from one piece of equipment to another, as well as vary their routines by going from cardio to strength training.”

The fitness center segment was completed on Oct. 26, while pool shell refinishing, painting and infrastructure work is targeted for a mid-November wrap up. A celebration for all aspects of the Norris Center renovations is scheduled for Dec. 9, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. to which the public is invited.

The John B. Norris Recreation Center celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015. Its history is a long and illustrious one, beginning with the gift from Dellora A. and Lester J. Norris of the 70 acres of land that eventually became home to St. Charles East High School. The philanthropic couple also gave the city $4.25 million for the cultural arts and recreation centers on the school grounds that bears the name of their son, John.

Located at 1050 Dunham Road on the campus of St. Charles East High School, the Norris Recreation Center offers a full range of fitness equipment, classes and related health services, such as massage therapy and personal training, as well as a comprehensive tennis program for youth and adults, and a full aquatics program at its 50-meter indoor pool.

For more information about membership, services and fees, contact Rachel Vuorenmaa, membership services supervisor, at 630-377-1405. For additional information about the Norris Recreation Center renovations, contact Andrea Masoncup at 630-677-0303.

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