A newly renovated gym awaits White Sands Missile Range community members who made the resolution to get fit.
WSMR Bell Gym has been under renovation since December 2014, and although the gym never closed, there were sections that were closed off through October 2015.
“I’ve worked on (getting the gym renovated) for five years and it finally came to fruition,” said Bill Velez, WSMR Bell Gym fitness facility manager. “It’s very satisfying. So far everybody’s happy.”
Among the list of renovations are: newly renovated locker rooms, new floors, new doors throughout the entire facility, new water fountains with the capacity to fill up water bottles and drink water at the same time, and a 60-foot expansion of the weight room. There is also new paint and new lighting throughout the entire facility. The facility was also equipped with a new fire alarm throughout the entire building, where it was non-existent before. The alarm directly informs the fire department whenever there is an emergency. The reception area was also expanded so the gym staff can greet people.
Some walls of the old weight room were torn down in order to make room for the 60 foot expansion. The weight room has also been soundproofed and received an installation of heavy duty flooring. Velez said the changes to the weight room are much like the university gyms.
“I’ve been coming here for a couple of years and the renovation is really a good thing,” said John Arce, an electronics engineer who uses the weight room at lunchtime. There’s more space now for more weights. The locker rooms and restrooms are also a lot better.”
The basketball court is still closed due to the pending installation of 2,800 pound heaters. Velez said the installation should be complete by March 15 to allow people to sleep over for the Bataan Memorial Death March event scheduled for March 20. The builder is also working on exterior landscape for the gym that should be complete Feb. 1.
The surrounding areas, such as the baseball field and the tennis courts also received a facelift. The baseball field received a new fence and new dirt. The old dirt in the baseball field had been forming boulders. The tennis courts are being resurfaced. There is also construction at the Sgt. Brian Pedro field to have a walkway constructed from the restroom to the track. Another walkway will also be constructed from the school to the track.
Some of the changes the gym has implemented aside from the new upgrades was the implementation of the new CrossFit class, which has brought in an average group of 14 to 20 people per class. One of the two racquetball rooms was also turned into a cycling room. There is still another room left for racquetball but Velez said he predicts the attendance will remain low and he hopes to tear down the wall to expand the cycle room.
Velez said he also hopes to build a divider wall in the aerobics room in order to have aerobics and CrossFit conducted at the same time. He also hopes to have a divider in the basketball court in order to be able to play two sports at the same time. There are currently plans to have the basketball flooring done next year. Velez said he’d also like to get a tunnel built that would connect the buildings to one another in order to make the customer a little more comfortable when traveling from building to building, especially during the winter.
“I’m just thinking about the customer,” Velez said.
A Wellness Program was implemented in 2014 that allows employees three hours to work on their health and wellness per week by visiting the gym and participating in classes. The program lasts six months and participants can reapply for the program if positive results are seen. The most recent wellness program started in October 2015 and will run through April 2016.
“I wanted to start exercising so I came during my lunchtime, it got me away from thinking about food,” Arce said.
The gym has also received a new set of mountain bikes: 14 specifically made for males and six made for females. Velez said the plan is to be able to rent out the mountain bikes for the day. Before rental, Velez said he will have participants attend a training course. The classes are scheduled to begin Jan. 15.