More space, newly donated equipment, new look.
That's what you'll encounter if you walk inside the newly located and rejuvenated Bay Oaks Recreational Campus gymnasium's weight room.
The Town of Fort Myers Beach Parks & Recreation Department recently moved its weight room equipment from a room featuring just over 400 square feet to a bigger room involving 1,300 square feet. The transfer, done in early October, was out of necessity to lure more members to the facility.
Bay Oaks newly located Al Oerter Weight Room has more than three times the size as its predecessor.
"We were able to update everything with almost all donations," said Randy Norton, Bay Oaks' Promotions, Events and Athletic Coordinator. "I'd say we have almost triple the usage already. Everybody loves it and we've received tons of compliments. It's been a very positive thing for our memberships. It has also increased the value of memberships."
Norton said the old weight room could fit only three to four people comfortably and lacked proper cardiovascular equipment. The new room has a capacity of 50 people, and at least 30 new members have signed up since the move.
"The old room just couldn't accommodate our needs. We had people coming in to work out, but they would leave because it wasn't big enough. They felt almost claustrophobic," said Norton.
Beach resident Brian Raymond, owner of the Fort Myers Fitness, donated all three treadmills, elliptical machine and stationary bikes. Former Beach resident Serge Renaud donated the freestanding bench for presses and an anonymous person donated a kickboxing set.
"Our staff did a lot of the renovations. We cleaned up and repainted everything and laid down a new floor," said Norton. "The whole cost of the project was under $700."
The weights facility is still called The Al Oerter Weight Room, in memory of the four-time U.S. Olympics champion discus thrower who lived on the Beach and donated a lot of equipment to Bay Oaks before he passed away.
The old weight room stood for 15 years, including three of the past four years that the Town has owned the facility, before a temporary move across the gymnasium to another room last spring. That room now serves as a multi-purpose room for exercise classes and Bay Oaks Social Seniors meetings.
Those interested in testing the new weight digs at Bay Oaks will be charged $4 for a day pass. The Fort Myers Beach Town Council recently approved free annual memberships for residents; nonresidents can pay $35 for the yearly rate and $20 for the seasonal rate. Corporate memberships are also being discussed.
Bay Oaks currently has roughly 150 family memberships, of which 111 of those are islanders. Peak time is now usually between 2 to 5 p.m., a slow part of the day in the old weight room.
"Come check out our new weight room," said Norton. "It has everything you need to get in your workout."