Elkader Fitness Center remodels, expands

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The Elkader Fitness Center underwent a recent remodel and expansion, adding bathrooms, showers, new flooring, insulation, windows, air conditioning, emergency exits and a ceiling, among other things. There’s also a basketball court with an adjustable hoop, making it easy and fun to play for all ages. (Submitted photo)

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

It was in 2008, in the aftermath of the Turkey River flood that devastated downtown, when local community members armed with a vision and a mind for health and fitness were inspired to start the Elkader Fitness Center. 

Community members like Amy Holst and Julie Kane purchased equipment from the previous fitness center, which was a casualty of the flood. Joleen Jansen established a non-profit venture with other Elkader locals, and a slew of volunteers and businesses contributed time, talent and money and turned the fitness center from a vision into a reality. 

Fast forward 12 years, and the center is once again undergoing changes due to a new vision—a vision of a remodel and expansion to better meet the growing needs of the public. 

Due to the growth in membership, requests for additional equipment and a public yearning for more fitness classes, those who comprise the fitness center board of members looked to purchase land or a building, gain investors or do a simple remodel for the past several years. For various reasons, none of those options came to fruition. 

It wasn’t until Cletus and Tanya Keppler, owners of neighboring Royal Products, found another location that expansion and remodeling became possible. 

The entire process was a collaborative effort, which included the Kepplers and the fitness center board, along with numerous contractors and companies who were used to modernize the High Street facility and bring it up to current safety guidelines. 

They added bathrooms, showers, new flooring, insulation, windows, air conditioning, emergency exits and a ceiling, among other things. 

The addition of the basketball court was the biggest challenge according to board members, since it started as an open space with no ceiling or windows. That space now has a basketball court with an adjustable hoop, making it easy and fun to play for all ages. 

Other new features include a handicap bathroom, two additional bathrooms and three showers. 

The remodel will also allow the fitness center to serve more members, add classes and equipment and teach more than one class at a time. 

However, according to board members, the current remodel is only phase one of the expansion. A second phase will include a remodel of a portion of the bottom floor—the basement—which will give members a space to lift free weights for bodybuilding. A vision for phase three, or a “long-term wish,” would add a running track on the third floor. 

This is not to say the Elkader Fitness Center doesn’t already include many things to offer the fitness-minded individual, especially when it comes to having access to personal trainers or certified instructors who teach classes for kettle bells, yoga, Pilates, HITT, balance and cardio/weights. The best part is none of the classes require a membership to participate. 

The fitness center also offers a wide variety of cardio equipment, circuit machines and weights. All of it comes with membership rates the board described as “some of the lowest cost 24-hour facilities in northeast Iowa, and with a FOB entrance key, you can come and go as you wish.” The 24-hour nature is part of the allure, as it allows people to work out when it fits into their schedule. 

All of this information is available on Facebook, Instagram and elkaderfitness.com. 

As for why you should join the fitness center, besides the obvious health benefits and ability to maintain your workout regime and routine despite the fickle Iowa weather, it’s also cost beneficial and space saving for your home, since you won’t need to purchase any equipment.

Most of all, though, it opens the doors to developing friendships and allows for continued socialization, which, in a world isolated for the past several months, doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. 

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