Cowichan Aquatic Centre expanding fitness services

Those looking for more than just a quick gym orientation will soon benefit from enhanced fitness services at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.

Those looking for more than just a quick gym orientation will soon benefit from enhanced fitness services at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.

Patrons spoke, North Cowichan council has listened and while personal training will be available at some point in the future, it won’t be the type aimed at preparing athletes for triathlons or body building competitions. That’ll be left to the private gyms.

In 2009 council banned personal training at the facility after a significant outcry from private gym owners who were displeased the municipality was creating competition for them during such tough economic times.

Times have changed, however, and there are more private gyms in the Valley now than back then, but council maintains the goal remains to not compete with the private gyms.

“I really don’t think we as a municipality should be in the business of competing with the private sector that’s supplying and providing this type of service,” Coun. Al Siebring said. After further discussion with staff, he and other councillors learned the services would still leave plenty of room for the niche gyms to thrive.

Coun. Kate Marsh was on board.

“There are already apparently outside trainers going in and not saying anything and they’re probably charging their clients and they’re using our equipment. I think other communities realize this is an important thing to offer and I think we should offer it, too.”

But what exactly will be offered is still fuzzy. North Cowichan’s Parks and Recreation Director Ernie Mansueti tried to explain.

“What we’re really trying to do here is introduce people to recreation. We don’t want to train people to go in triathlons, that’s not what this is about,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is to be able to get people going in the right direction when they ask the basic questions. I think what we’re really trying to do here is keep it as introductory as we can.”

He added it has the potential to benefit the private gyms as beginners improve and want to seek enhanced training elsewhere.

“We’ll get them going to where they’ll want to go to do more stuff,” he said.

Mansueti said 12 out of the 13 similar community facilities elsewhere on the Island provide personal training services — Comox does not but only because it doesn’t have the physical space.

“We’re the only one on the Island that doesn’t provide this service for our patrons,” he said.

Council will debate the level of services offered and the user fees attached to those at a later date.