May 13, 2009

Wellness Center to move to new location

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

Living in a rural community has a lot of great advantages, but there are some things that most rural communities just can’t offer, like affordable and quality wellness opportunities.
Fortunately, Watford City is a progressive community that is always looking for ways to make this an even better place to live, including adding the Healthy Hearts Wellness Center to its list of amenities. However, after 15 years of use and a change in the way people view their health, Watford City has outgrown the current center.
But not to worry, as most progressive communities do, Watford City has come up with a solution to this dilemma.
“The Wellness Center is not a profitable business for the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems,” says Gene Veeder, McKenzie County Economic Development director. “Although they want to keep the center going it just isn’t wise for them to invest more money into it. So the MCHS and the City have decided to partner in an effort to create a better center.”
With help from the Roughrider Fund, the McKenzie County Commission and the Watford City City Council, a decision has been made to purchase and renovate the B & H Body Shop located on Main Street in Watford City for the new Healthy Hearty Wellness Center.
“Through the current center, staff has strived to achieve programmatic growth and enhancement over the years as well as personal excellence in its members,” says Dan Kelly, MCHS CEO. “However, the current building is inadequate and the time has come to evolve to more effectively meet member health needs.”
The current center cannot keep up with fitness industry trends because of its size and capacity. This combined with the building’s need for repairs made the purchase of the new building inevitable.
“When it came right down to it, the more cost effective thing was to build rather than remodel the old building,” adds Veeder. “Through a phone survey that we conducted, it is apparent that the Wellness Center is an important asset to the community, so we feel that it is a good thing for the Roughrider Fund to help with.”
According to Kelly, Wellness Center members often travel to Williston or Dickinson to attend fitness classes due to the limitations of the Watford City center. Despite this, attendance has increased by 20 percent from the first quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2009.
“The increase in members demonstrates member commitment and interest in the center,” comments Kelly.
In its proposed new location, the new center will have ample square footage – 3,000 square feet more than the current center. It will be more easily accessible and will have an improved layout for new and upgraded fitness equipment, weekly cardio and strength training classes, space for a water exercise component, including hydro-therapy and an updated coffee bar and seating area.
“We are really excited about the expansions,” says Tricia Sundeen, Healthy Hearts Wellness Center manager. “It’s great that a town our size can get what we started 15 years ago and even better that we can have this kind of upgrade for the people of our community.”
The new center will have something for members of all ages as well as expanded programming for seniors and 24-hour access to the center.
“We are early in the process and dates may change as we gain more details,” says Kelly. “But we anticipate an occupation date for the new center to be six to nine months.”