BELLA VISTA – Access to the Property Owners Association recreational facilities is a hot ticket these days.
And that doesn’t surprise Jessica Anson in the least.
Anson, water sports director and manager of Branchwood Recreational Center, said the demand was due to members’ commitment to fitness.
“When Covid shows up and you get locked up with nowhere to go, your health and well-being are both physically and mentally affected,” she said. “This is what makes leisure centers important. Members tell us that these places are their interaction with others and they make them feel safe.”
The Property Owners Association has fitness facilities in Branchwood, Riordan Hall and the Metfield Clubhouse. Staff are doing everything they can to ensure safety until restrictions are lifted, Anson said. This includes ensuring that all exercise equipment is 12 feet apart and disinfected frequently.
“We disinfect everything all the time,” she said.
Members who have to wear a mask at all times, unless they are actively exercising, currently have to make appointments to use the facilities. That’s something Anson admits, it’s not ideal, but works well.
“Appointments were always in demand,” she said. “I bet the phone at the Branchwood front desk rings 100 times a day. Appointments always start on the hour. When an appointment is available, we will let the member know the next available time.
“The times can be booked for up to seven days and we have people who are here every day.”
Bill Puskas is one of those regulars at Branchwood and spent time lifting weights last week while still wearing his mask. Puskas said the new guidelines currently in place have not been disruptive.
“You just work it out,” he said. “They know the rules and make the most of them. When I want to use a treadmill and they’re all down, I just go to another machine or do something else.”
Branchwood also has the only indoor swimming pool in the area and is usually a popular spot for members during the cold winter months. This year is particularly challenging as the guidelines restrict only 10 people in the pool at a time.
“We started with limited water classes in October and had 10-week sessions,” said Anson. “With only 10 people in the pool, including the teacher, that’s only nine people per class. We used a lottery system that allows participants to sign up for these classes.”
Reservations are also required for other swimming opportunities. Members get 45 minutes for lap swimming per slot, one hour for adult swimming and one hour for open swimming, which includes many families with children, Anson said.
“We have adapted well to any changes,” she said. “It took a little adjustment for everyone at first, but then everyone got used to it. These are places where people can help keep their sanity, move their bodies, and see people they haven’t seen in a while to have.
“Our facilities have really helped bring some normality to people.”
Even those who haven’t used the facilities in a while.
“Covid has brought us a lot of people who may not have used our facilities in a while,” said Anson. “Lots of people work from home and need a break. We’ve seen a lot of it.”