Cedar Falls Rec Center makes positive impact in community

Since the Cedar Falls Recreational Center’s opening in 1993, it has been a major contributor to way for people to come together to reach their goals.  Many lives have been positively impacted through the recreation programs offered through the rec center. Bruce Verink, recreation and community programs manager has seen first hand the positive influence the rec center has had on the community of Cedar Falls.

“The little kid who is busy watching the clouds in the sky in the outfield, we have to teach him what hand the glove goes on, and toward the end of the season the ball gets hit up in the air and you see the kid shield his eyes, turns away, puts his glove up, and somehow the ball goes into the glove, the smile on the kid’s face, the smile when they get their first hit, is something special. It tells us we are doing something right.” 

The rec center has many summer options for kids to get exercise ranging from baseball to swimming lessons, and in the winter the rec center hosts a “indoor playground” for kids to get exercise and have fun while doing so. The rec center tries to appeal to all and make sure kids have a safe place where they can stay healthy.

“Having a place for kids to keep off the street and out of trouble can cause the staff some trouble, but it is worth it to keep the kids safe,” Verink said. Verink has seen the indoor park become a great social event for children to make friends and let all their energy out in a controlled environment. “We had a kid after our indoor park, he went home and fell asleep face first in his SpaghettiOs, and that tells us that our program is doing something positive for those kids, but it’s not only the kids.”

Verink has seen relationships build not just between kids, but between their parents as well.

“The parents want us to keep offering it in May when it is warm enough to play outside, but the parents like it because bringing their kids here gives them a time to talk to other adults that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to talk to,” Verink said.

While the gym isn’t being used to give children some play time, the rec center runs fitness classes for adults. Vicky Hartmen is a teacher for one of those classes and loves seeing people get in the gym and achieve their goals.

“It’s a really good place to get together with other people. I love helping people reach their fitness goals. I love doing the classes. I love working out with everybody and just being in a positive atmosphere with people of all ages and levels working together,” Hartmen said.

Junior Kade Halupnick also uses the rec center to reach his fitness goals while making new friends.

“Before I started going to the rec, I was lazy and always sitting on my couch playing video games. Then I got to the rec and started working out and got a passion for it and just kept going. I started to lose weight and got in shape. I went from over 200 pounds to where I am at now which is around 160, and I couldn’t have made that transformation without the rec. The rec gave me an outlet to lose weight,” Halupnick said.

“I’ve met a lot of new people through the rec that I wouldn’t know today, and I’ve also been able to get fit, and more importantly, stay fit.”

With people of all ages coming to run around with their friends in the indoor park, do some hot yoga with their friends, ball up on the court or just hit the weights, the rec center has a big juggling act to make sure there is always something for everyone.

“We try to offer something for everybody at every age for something everyone can afford. We are trying to make it as affordable as possible to stop in and use their leisure time for the health of it to try to be in better shape or even build a social life. Our classes are vital because they have a sort of peer pressure that keeps people coming back because they know the other people are counting on them to be there,” Verink said.

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