WOOD RIVER — Many communities, too small to have a YMCA or other fitness facility, provide an exercise area for local residents at little or no charge.
One such town is Wood River, which has a wellness center inside Wood River Rural High School. Anyone who lives in the Wood River school district is able to use the fitness area for a onetime fee of $10, which covers the processing of an entry card.
Users can walk around an elevated track, which is in the school’s new gym. They can also use a variety of exercise equipment in the wellness center, also in the new gym.
The wellness center is stocked with treadmills, weight machines, stationary bikes, ellipticals and a resistance machine. There are even a couple of high-priced Peloton machines. People can watch TV on two screens while they’re working out.
More than 500 cards have been issued, said Lori Dibbern, the high school’s administrative assistant. Every card holder has to pass a background check for child or elder abuse.
The new gym and exercise area are some of the improvements funded by a $4.4 million bond approved in 2004. That bond also paid for a 455-seat auditorium, a second set of locker rooms and improvements to the main gymnasium and locker room facilities.
A few kids were playing basketball in the new gym Monday afternoon.
Brooke Graves brought two of her children, Reid, 14, and Emersyn, 11, to shoot baskets. Reid, an eighth-grader, was warming up for a junior high game that was to begin at 3:30 p.m.
Graves said that athletic activities are a good way to spend time with her family, and they like being active. She is “just really grateful” that Wood River has the facilities, paid for through tax money.
She comes to the facility at least three days a week. She and a friend often use the walking track. Sixteen laps comprise a mile.
Graves and her husband, Corey, have two other children. Twin boys Aiden and Easton are sophomores. Basketball, she said, is the family’s favorite sport.
Brooke graduated from Wood River in 1996. Corey graduated from Grand Island Senior High in 1993.
The wellness center receives important funding from the Wood River Centennial Community Foundation, Dibbern said.
Spin classes take place in the fitness area. Speed camp is held for students on the elevated track.
In addition to members of the public, some teachers also use the wellness area, which is separate from the weight room used by Wood River student-athletes.
People can use the facility whenever a janitor is on duty.
During the school year, hours are 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Summer hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.