Huntley parks' fitness center gets new disabled-friendly equipment

  • Nick Winter, left, and Evan Bennett, employees of Midwest Commercial Fitness, unpack new disabled-friendly fitness equipment Tuesday at the Huntley Park District Fitness Center. The center, which now has 20 new machines for cardio and strength training, reopens Monday.

      Nick Winter, left, and Evan Bennett, employees of Midwest Commercial Fitness, unpack new disabled-friendly fitness equipment Tuesday at the Huntley Park District Fitness Center. The center, which now has 20 new machines for cardio and strength training, reopens Monday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/26/2015 7:35 PM

Huntley-area residents with disabilities soon will be able to work out at the Huntley Park District's Fitness Center, which is being equipped for their needs.

Workers are renovating, repainting and carpeting the 4,000-square-foot facility at 12015 Mill St. through Sunday. The fitness center has wheelchair ramps in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will reopen Monday with new disabled-friendly equipment -- a convenience not many public or private fitness facilities offer for a growing disabled population, said Bill Hepperle, park district fitness supervisor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's a complete overhaul," Hepperle said. "It was much needed ... the previous equipment was easily 20 years old. We're getting 20 pieces of equipment; out of those 16 are ADA-accessible. The only other park district around here that has ADA-accessible equipment is out in Carol Stream."

Huntley Park District contracted with Midwest Commercial Fitness to install the Cybex Total Access line of fitness equipment, which includes wheelchair accessibility for strength training and Braille with iconography for visually impaired patrons. Cardio workout equipment, such as treadmills, have wider and longer belts with bright color palettes for the visually impaired.

The more than $80,000 renovation was funded primarily -- 70 percent -- through state special recreation funds earmarked for park districts to help them meet ADA guidelines, Hepperle said.

With the upgrades, the park district can better serve special needs programs, such as the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association and those at Huntley Community School District 158. A total of 35 students combined between NISRA and District 158 use the facilities currently.

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NISRA caters to roughly 25 students from Huntley, and District 158 is expected to have about 60 special recreation students in the upcoming school year, Hepperle said.

"It's growing every year," said Hepperle, adding that by 2024, District 158's special needs population is expected to increase to 72 students. "Our community and the surrounding communities where we are located, the special needs population is extremely inflated compared to other suburban communities. This equipment will hopefully bring them out. It will be a good, positive, motivating change for everybody."

The fitness center now draws roughly 470 members from Huntley and surrounding towns, including Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Hampshire and Lake in the Hills.

The equipment is a boon for disabled students in Huntley High School's Life Instruction Guiding Huntley Transition Program for 18- to 21-year-olds learning to be independent after high school, said Liz Kienzle, District 158's transition facilitator for special needs students.

"This is absolutely fantastic," she said. "The students are absolutely thrilled to be using this new equipment. This is our second year we've been using the fitness center there. Next year, we are going to be even doing personal training with the students so they learn to use the equipment on their own, even after they leave the program. We are going to be targeting students' weak areas so they can build their endurance and stamina ... to keep up their jobs. We have five students this year, and will have 10 students next year."

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