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Tinley’s new fitness center opens Monday

Jennifer Williams manager Tinley Park Park District's fitness center talks Thursday about some features facility which opens Monday Tony Bettenhausen

Jennifer Williams, manager of the Tinley Park Park District's fitness center, talks Thursday about some of the features of the facility, which opens Monday at the Tony Bettenhausen Recreation Center, 8125 W. 171st St. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 12, 2013 6:07AM



In the quest to provide the latest and greatest equipment and setting for working out, the Tinley Park Park District is using a combination of fitness and fun.

The district’s new 29,000-square-foot fitness center opens Monday at the Tony Bettenhausen Recreation Center, 8125 W. 171st St., replacing the aging center at 17500 Duvan Drive.

Equipment and features include a sophisticated computer to conduct a body fat analysis and high-tech bikes that make getting fit more like playing a video game.

There’s a jungle-themed playground where Mom or Dad can stow the kids — supervised by district employees — while the parents work out.

Family and friends of district employees have been invited to break in the new equipment and see if any glitches need to be worked out. A grand opening event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, with staff offering guided tours of the center.

To spur new memberships, the district, through the end of the month, is waiving the initiation fee.

Jennifer Williams, fitness center manager, said just two pieces of equipment from the Duvan Drive building made the trip over to the new center. The district is leasing all the equipment used in the new facility, allowing it to upgrade pieces as the technology changes.

Some of the new things members will see are exercise bikes outfitted with video screens that let riders take part in a simulated bike race or chase after coins and green dragons in one of several exer-games.

The center also is equipped with an 18-station, full-body workout circuit, with nine machines devoted to toning upper-body muscle groups and nine for the lower body.

A four-lane lap pool — the Duvan center’s pool had three — will be available, starting in January, for use for private parties, and swim lessons will start in February, Williams said.

Outside the locker rooms, there is a water bottle filling station that dispenses filtered water, and upgraded saunas for both men and women are adjacent to the locker rooms.

In about a month, a new teen center will open in the lower level. Currently, teens and seniors share the same room on the main floor.

The new “Pit Stop” will feature a TV lounge, study area and video games, including Xbox and PlayStation 4. One video game will require players to pedal a bike to operate the game, and another game involves reaching up on a wall to touch a series of lighted panels.

Another room on the lower level will be the new home of the rec center’s batting cage, which now is in the main gym.

Park district officials had briefly considered — then quickly discarded — the idea of doing extensive renovations at the current 33,000-square-foot fitness center. That building is about five decades old, last renovated in 1994, and officials realized the multimillion-dollar investment in trying to breathe new life into the existing fitness center wasn’t worth it.

The district used a combination of bonds and cash on hand to finance the $6 million cost of the new center, for which ground was broken in October 2012.

The current fitness center building is for sale — the district initially was asking about $1 million for the property but that’s been dropped to less than $500,000. If there are no interested buyers, the district is considering options that include demolishing it and using the property as a storage yard for the district’s maintenance department, district spokesman Matthew Libs said.



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