Looking Back on 2019 from a Fitness Perspective

While much of the news in Calgary this year has been a bit gloomy, 2019 brought more to celebrate than despair about on the fitness front.

After an early spring dose of smoke, Calgary had one of the least smoky summers in years. It was a welcome surprise to be able to camp, hike and go outside the whole summer without having to check the air quality.

Calgary also got two more parks to enjoy this summer. A gravel pit was repurposed into a Dale Hodges Park, a beautiful environmental park with trails and lookout points. A parking lot which housed a summer market in East Village was turned into Bounce Park. Located right by the library, the park is brightly colored and features a basketball court, ping pong table and other games.

On the active transportation front, Calgary officially opened up the cycle tracks to skateboards, rollerblades and scooters. Bikes were also allowed on Roam Transit this year, so people without bike racks or cars had options to go biking in the mountains. A safe passing bylaw for passing bikes in cars was also passed. The bylaw requires a further passing distance from cyclists and puts Calgary in line with other provinces and the US.

Plenty of infrastructure was also completed all around the city. The much awaited Seton YMCA opened in the deep southeast. It is currently the largest YMCA in the world and houses a surf simulator, lazy river, lane pool, wave pool, 3 gyms, a small track, 2 rinks, fitness areas and studios.

The Tsuu T’ina Seven Chiefs Sportsplex also opened and is open to the public. Its boasts 2 indoor rinks, an outdoor covered rink, a fieldhouse, fitness centre and track.

The YWCA also opened their new facility which includes a fitness centre. Located in Inglewood, the fitness centre is open to everyone and money from it goes to help support the YWCA’s programs. They offer free one week trial classes for anyone looking to try it out.

On the negative side, news was bleak for some of the City’s older facilities as both the Inglewood Pool and Beltline Fitness Centre were slated for closure due to budget cuts. Residents appealed to save them and both recreation centres were spared for another two years. Both of the facilities are very affordably priced, so use them while you can and hopefully they will stay.

The impact of most budget cuts will not be seen until next year though it did end up impacting the city maintained outdoor rinks at the tail end of the year. The Prince’s Island Skating rink will not open and Prairie Winds Park has one fewer rink operating. There has also been in a reduction in free holiday swimming.

The mobile skatepark program has also ended. 3 skateparks were completed this summer though including one at the Genesis Centre, the first one in the city’s northeast.

Calgary did lose some of it’s Olympic legacy, voting against bidding to host the 2026 Olympics. The sliding track and ski jumps at Winsport closed due to not getting Olympic funding and many athletes left or retired.

On the private side while some gyms and studios have closed, many new ones have opened. Boxing/MMA inspired gyms along with HIIT fitness chains are spreading around the city. High end fitness studio Barry’s also opened. Their only other Canadian locations are in Vancouver and Toronto.

Despite Lloyd’s closing a few years ago, the roller skating community continues to live on, renting spaces in gyms and other locations. Lessons are also offered for those that want to learn or get better at it and it doesn’t look like roller skating in Calgary will stop for a long time.

Lastly, the central library which opened in 2018 has embraced exercise and movement as part of it’s programming over the last year. It’s given people the opportunity to try Zouk, Swing, Hustle and other types of dance. It also hosted many yoga classes. The library can be a great hub for activity as well as books.

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