For employees of the city of New Albany, fitness is only a few steps away.
The city employees’ fitness center, part of the police station on Village Hall Road, has been in operation since 2007. But in the beginning, the city didn’t know how it was going to supply the necessary equipment to fill the room.
About $10,000 had been set aside for the gym, but Police Chief Mark Chaney says that money wasn’t going to go far. However, after requests for used equipment were made, two companies – Abercrombie & Fitch and Discover – offered monetary donations to make the vision a reality. A&F donated $1,500 and Discover gave them $1,000 to purchase new equipment.
“Between the two companies, we were able to get this off the ground,” Chaney says of the gym.
The fitness center is now home to two treadmills, an elliptical machine, a variety of strength training equipment and weights ranging from 10-100 lbs.
“We have a good balance of cardio and weight training,” Chaney says.
The gym is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all of New Albany’s city employees, with access gained through wireless proximity readers that are sensed at the gym’s entrance. Scott McAfee, the city’s public information officer, says the gym is utilized by roughly half of the New Albany Police Department and 30 percent of other city staff members.
City employees such as Angie Hobart, a zoning officer for New Albany, utilize the fitness center regularly because of its convenience and availability.
“It’s a great asset to the city,” says Hobart, who exercises for an hour Mondays through Fridays, as well as every other Saturday.
Occasionally, she travels to New Albany from her home in Delaware County just to work out.
On top of being easily accessible to city employees, the city gym also offers an opportunity for its police officers to stay healthy. Chaney says the fitness center benefits the department because exercising helps officers be more prepared for physical challenges while on duty, which translates to fewer injuries and less time on sick leave.
Chaney himself exercises in the fitness center roughly three times a week, setting an example that his fellow officers find difficult to ignore.
“Leadership trickles down,” says Officer Kris Daniels. “It’s leading by example. It’s peer pressure, (but) it’s positive peer pressure.”
Even New Albany residents benefit from the gym. On the south end, a spacious open area lined with floor mats is used for a women’s self defense program taught by the police department. Women of all ages take part in the program, including a number of mother-daughter duos.
With every city employee able to access the gym, one might think space would be tight, but Daniels says employees’ differing routines help keep the gym relatively free of crowding throughout the day.
“With shift changes and whatnot, it just works out,” says Daniels. “It’s good for our size right now.”
Many who use the gym are not training for any particular event, but are simply working to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “Most of us use it just to stay fit,” says Chaney. “(But) everybody’s got their own personal goals.”
And though the fitness center is located within the police station, Chaney says it’s important to remember that the gym is meant for everyone employed by the city to use and enjoy.
“It’s not a police chief’s or police-only workout facility,” says Chaney. “It meets (the city’s) mission to keep everybody healthy.”
Rose Davidson is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.