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SL Fitness and Aquatic Center celebrates 10 years

Krystle Wagner • Sep 28, 2018 at 11:00 AM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — After 10 years of providing the community with a place for fitness and aquatic opportunities, celebrations are planned as officials look forward to the next decade.

In celebration of the Spring Lake Fitness and Aquatic Center’s 10th anniversary, an open house will take place Saturday from 1-5 p.m. There will be a bounce house, family-friendly dodgeball games, door prizes, and the chance to try the center’s pools, weight and cardio rooms.

Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton says the facility is a “great story for our school and community.”

“Having such an outstanding facility available for our students to utilize is really remarkable,” he said. “Then, you have membership and community use. We really have the best of both worlds.”

Watching the FAC develop from plans into the fitness hub it is today, as well as how the community has embraced it, has been “amazing,” said Jason Epplett, center’s director.

When the Spring Lake district built the new high school, it was with the intention of someday adding a competitive pool, Epplett said. A committee was formed and visited other aquatic centers, and learned that a family pool could help support a competitive pool. As the group considered options, they also saw benefits in adding a weight room and other uses, Epplett said.

Ultimately, voters in the Spring Lake school district approved the project, which cost about $14 million.

“The community, I think, saw the potential and embraced it,” Epplett said.

The more than 66,000-square-foot building opened its doors in September 2008. Epplett said they’ve used every inch of the facility.

The FAC includes a weight room, indoor running track, multipurpose gym, group exercise area, cardio area, locker rooms, competitive pool and a family pool. The hot tub and steam room are among two of the highest-used pieces, Epplett said.

Group classes and personal training opportunities are available, as well as rental space for birthday parties and other gatherings. Child care is also available and i’Move provides services at the center.

In addition to adult and youth members and guests, Spring Lake Public Schools teams use the facility. It is the home for swim teams and invitationals.

While the FAC is owned by Spring Lake Public Schools, it’s operated like a business, which Epplett attributes to its success.

Furton said the FAC is self-sufficient, and funding from the district’s general fund doesn’t go to support its operation.

“In fact, the FAC provides an annual transfer to the district to offset administrative and maintenance costs associated with the facility,” the superintendent said.

The FAC’s budget every year accounts for capital expenses, and they also save for larger items and repairs such as boiler, regrouting pools and HVAC systems, Epplett said.

When the FAC first opened, the goal was to have 500 members by the end of December 2008. There were already 800 members by that November, and the number of members grew to more than 1,000 by the end of 2008, Epplett said.

Currently, there are nearly 5,000 members, of which there are about 2,400 memberships. Some memberships are for couples, which are two people, and families, which can be several family members on one membership.

While the majority of members are from Spring Lake, others hail from Muskegon, Grand Haven, Ferrysburg, Coopersville, Allendale, Holland and Rockford.

The FAC has 50 employees — two who are full time and the remaining work part time.

“It has been a tremendous 10 years and, thanks to careful planning, the next 10 look even better,” Furton said.

The goal for the center in the next 10 years is to become the premiere fitness and aquatic center in West Michigan, Epplett said. Accomplishing that goal will require raising the bar on the services and customer service they provide, he explained.

“The next 10 years is to prove how good we can be,” Epplett said.

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