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FITNESS CENTER THRIVING

 

December 1, 2017

Dorothy Nobis

Human Resources/Bloomfield Fitness Center Director Donna Clifton (left), and Clifton's Administrative Assistant, Angela Romo, right, encourage fitness center member Jose "Alex" Valdez while he was working out at the center recently

When the City of Bloomfield was forced to cut expenses last summer, one of the services the city considered cutting was the Fitness Center. The center shares space with the Bloomfield Public Library and the meeting rooms at the Cultural Center, 333 South First Street.

"The City of Bloomfield had to make some very difficult decisions on how to balance our budget in a sharply declining economy," Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein said. "One of the decisions was closing down the Fitness Center, due to its yearly loss in revenues."

When the citizens of Bloomfield learned of the potential closing of the center, they took their concerns to the Bloomfield City Council, urging the council to keep the center open.

"City employees, Human Resource Director Donna Clifton, and Administrative Assistant Angela Romo, stepped up to see what might be done in order to prevent the closing of the center," Eckstein said. "After some researching, it was decided that the staff at the center could be eliminated by adding surveillance cameras and a pass card entry, which would save money." Other cost cutting adjustments were made and the council opted to keep the center open to benefit the community.

"The City Council heard the wishes of the community and the value of keeping the fitness center open," said Donna Clifton. "They went with my recommendation of having a keyless entry for fitness center members. We increased membership fees slightly to be competitive and to keep the facility self-sustaining." The decision to keep the fitness center open was met with support and appreciation by those who use the facility, Clifton added.

"They were happy the mayor and city council listened to them," Clifton said of the members. "They were happy to continue their workouts with their friends and they didn't have to go out of town for their workouts."

Angela Romo had personal reasons for wanting to keep the fitness center open. As an administrative assistant, Romo works at the center when needed.

"I have a soft spot for the (Cultural Center) building and people started telling me they regretted seeing the facility not be available," Romo said. "I've known the (center) members for a long time and I wanted it to be successful."

Clifton and Romo were already working together at Bloomfield City Hall. Romo is an assistant to Clifton and the Human Resources Department, so they were happy to be able to work together to keep the fitness center open. Having lost one full-time and four part-time positions at the center because of budget cuts, the responsibility of increasing membership, maintaining equipment and managing the center fell to the two of them.

"Angela was a wealth of knowledge because she had worked for the center," Clifton said. "She knows it inside and out and her knowledge base comforted me as we moved forward. She's a great asset and she knows everyone at the center."

While 2017 has been a year of learning about running a fitness center for Clifton and Romo, they are proud of the increase in membership and that the center is fully self-sustaining financially.

But the past 12 months have not been without challenges. Clifton and Romo continued their regular duties with the city and took on the fitness center challenge as part of those responsibilities. "We felt our workload was a little heavy but we wanted the center to succeed for the community," Clifton said.

Having someone local who can fix the machines remains a challenge, Romo said, adding an out-of-town company must be used to help maintain the equipment. That equipment includes Universal 2 Power Circuit Plus, cardiovascular machines, treadmills Universal Stair Stepper and Schwinn Airdyne bicycles.

Most of the members at the center are senior citizens, Romo said. "They like the treadmill, bicycles, and weight machines," she said of the seniors. "And we have people waiting to get in at 4 a.m.!"

"Over the past year, I've heard lots of positive feedback from our citizens about the fitness center," Mayor Eckstein said. "They not only thank the City of Bloomfield for keeping the center open and efficiently run, they also praise Donna and Angela for their hard work and going the extra mile for our citizens to do what they could to keep the fitness center open."

Bloomfield City Manager Eric Strahl echoed the mayor's appreciation for Clifton and Romo's efforts with the fitness center.

"Since assuming responsibility for operations at both the city's fitness Center and the Multi-Cultural center, Donna and Angela have not only improved operations and finances, but have also increased memberships and the public's accessibility to the facilities," Strahl said. Their work has made both the fitness center and the Multi-Cultural Center stronger community assets."

The center is open from 4 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week. The center offers corporate memberships, senior discounts and regular, student/junior and family memberships. A racquetball court and gymnasium are also available to members. For more information or to reserve space for special events, call Donna Clifton or Angela Romo at 505-632-6300.

 

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