By Michael Levesque, assistant editor and staff writer
This spring marks the 30th anniversary since the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) opened its doors to UMF and the community.
Since the building’s first official day on April 27, 1991, a lot has changed. Among these changes are the students and community members who use it, the staff who keep the building functioning, and the equipment inside. Noticeably missing from that list is the building itself. The Fitness and Recreation Center today greatly resembles the building that was made almost 30 years ago. “This office here used to have lockers where the group fitness instructors would change but it also had the director, the assistant director and the administrative assistant,” says Linda Blodgett as she gestures around the room her office is in. Blodgett has been working at the university since 1989. In 2001 she moved from the business office, where she started, to the FRC. “I was in the business office, it didn’t look like it does now,” said Blodgett. “Coming down here was much more comfortable for me – I haven’t regretted it. I have been on this campus for 32 years and I just love working down here.”
The familiar sight of the FRC has created an intimate atmosphere that many students and community members have come to value. “What I love the most is the sense of team camaraderie,” said Danny Terhune, a student and Physical Education instructor at the FRC. “[I love] the staff as a whole, you truly feel seen.”
“We’re such a unique facility, where the community comes in here and it’s really kind of neat,” Blodgett added. “Our staff that works here gets to know the community members and they see them outside of this place and our community members are always greeting them. It makes the students feel at home. It’s really really nice.”
Since the building’s erection in 1991, the building has adapted to the fitness and recreation needs of the community members. One year after the building was first opened to the public, the pool was installed. “Fitness is always evolving,” says Blodgett. “Body building was big back then. Group fitness was [also] really popular. Now it’s evolving into strength training.”
In order to meet the ever changing needs of the members of the community, constant work and refinement is done to the equipment within the FRC – with a cost as well. “There’s a lot of challenges,”says Blodgett, “the price of equipment is going up…[as well as] the maintenance of it. The cost of maintaining this equipment is a lot. There’s not a lot of companies around here that maintain equipment.” The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to the challenges at the FRC. “Trying to keep our membership up [is a challenge]. Our outside members, not just the students… are huge,” Blodgett says.
Even as the challenges continue, many in the community still treasure the building and the community with it. “I hope this place stays here forever,” says Blodgett. “I just hope that UMF… realizes how much this facility means to the people – students and community members… I hope it stays for the next 30 years because it is a great facility and it’s great for our students… You know, our students that work here learn so much about dealing with the public, it gets their confidence up. A lot of our graduates that work here say they haven’t found a facility they like more than here.”
“I love how I get to share my love of fitness with these coworkers as well as students in my class,” Terhune says. “This helps me as an education major really practice my skills as a teacher outside of my normal classes.”
Ben White, Director of Fitness and Recreation at the FRC, was pleased to announce some of the celebrations for the 30th anniversary coming in the spring. “A canoe race, mountain bike race, and 5k run” are all scheduled for the spring, according to White. As of right now these activities are scheduled for April 30th, 2022 – three days after the official 30th anniversary day. A reception will also be held later than afternoon. “The hope is that we get as many alumni back that we can that have worked here or that have gone to school here. I know a lot of alumni that went to school here that have never stepped foot in the building,” Blodgett says.
More details about the celebration in April are expected to be released on the FRC Instagram and Facebook pages as well as through their newsletter. The front desk at the FRC can be contacted at (207)-778-7495.
Community members inside the FRC prior to the completion of a basketball court. Photo courtesy of Linda Blodgett.
Construction on the Fitness and Recreation Center building. Photo courtesy of Linda Blodgett.