Naperville Park District to make more room for exercise classes at activity center

  • Some popular Zumba classes at the Naperville Park District's Fort Hill Activity Center have been moved to the gym instead of a group exercise room to accommodate more participants. The park district is building out an unfinished area of the facility's second floor to include a larger group exercise studio to hold such classes.

    Some popular Zumba classes at the Naperville Park District's Fort Hill Activity Center have been moved to the gym instead of a group exercise room to accommodate more participants. The park district is building out an unfinished area of the facility's second floor to include a larger group exercise studio to hold such classes. Courtesy of Naperville Park District

  • Popular programs at Naperville Park District's Fort Hill Activity Center, such as this low-impact group exercise class, have been moved to multipurpose rooms instead of fitness studios in order to fit more participants. But the park district plans to open a larger group fitness room by fall to hold more people in a designated space.

    Popular programs at Naperville Park District's Fort Hill Activity Center, such as this low-impact group exercise class, have been moved to multipurpose rooms instead of fitness studios in order to fit more participants. But the park district plans to open a larger group fitness room by fall to hold more people in a designated space. Courtesy of Naperville Park District

  • Fort Hill Activity Center opened in August 2016 and about three years later, the building will include an additional, larger group fitness room to fit more participants in popular classes.

      Fort Hill Activity Center opened in August 2016 and about three years later, the building will include an additional, larger group fitness room to fit more participants in popular classes. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 

When Zumba is in the gym instead of the dance studio and low-impact exercise is in the multipurpose room meant for board meetings, it's time for more space.

That's what Naperville Park District officials say roughly three years after opening their largest indoor recreation space, the Fort Hill Activity Center, in August 2016.

The popular workout venue has 8,900 members, and 4,000 of them are signed up for group exercise classes, said Brad Wilson, director of recreation and facilities.

The popularity of the classes has made many of them too large for the roughly 3,000-square-foot rooms designed for group exercise on the facility's second floor. So, in a project with a guaranteed maximum price of $1.9 million, the district is building out some unused space on the second floor to include a 4,000-square-foot group workout room to meet the need.

The area where the new room will be was included in the $24 million building's footprint on purpose with the knowledge the facility easily could become popular and need to expand, officials said.

The project is expected to begin construction this summer and be completed in time for the fall program season, said Eric Shutes, director of planning.

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Wight Construction, Inc., the same firm that built Fort Hill under a $20.9 million construction management contract approved in February 2014, is managing the expansion project. Work also includes some minor renovations, such as moving vending machines from the second floor to the first to be near the cafe area at the main entrance.

"The main part of this project is the expansion of that studio space," Wilson said. "Really, it's needed based upon the popularity of our group exercise programs."

Park board commissioner Bill Eagan said the expansion is a worthy project, but he voted against it because he'd rather see the district put the money to another use.

"Now we're spending another couple million bucks on Fort Hill, and it's going gangbusters," Eagan said. "But what would happen if we delivered what the residents wanted, and that would be an indoor swimming pool."

Eagan said the park district could have taken the money for the new workout room and put it first toward construction of a smaller indoor recreation center with a pool at a different site, possibly the future Wolf's Crossing Community Park.

"We can come back and expand Fort Hill," he said.

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