Sun City residents used to going to the various fitness centers in the community were left to find alternatives when Recreation Centers of Sun City officials closed them last month.
The Sun City fitness center closure came after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order closing certain businesses, including gyms and spas. The closure order was supposed to expire July 27, but the governor extended it indefinitely.
Regular exercise is important, especially for senior citizens, in maintaining a string immune system and keeping the body from degenerating. The lack of exercise is significantly noticeable, according to resident Gail LaLumiere.
“Without continued exercise it is shocking how quickly it starts to affect an aging body,” she stated in an email.
The extension of the order closing fitness centers left Sun City residents to continue with their alternative methods.
Ms. LaLumiere utilized the fitness centers for pilates, treadmills and weights, and is a Starrs Swim Club member.
“Fortunately the pool is open, so I continue that exercise,” she stated. “In this heat it is hard to get other exercise and I do much better with a routine in a group. I was walking neighborhoods until it became too warm.”
She has also tried Prime Video for zumba, yoga for over 50 and interval workouts, and she does stretching before swimming. “I have not left the community to try working out elsewhere,” she stated.
Resident Carol McDade turned to golf. She used to go to gym twice per day and golf once per week. But now it is just golf — and more of it.
“Now my clubs are always in my car,” she stated. “When the temperature is under 100 I go to all the driving ranges for an hour or so.”
But with temperatures consistently surpassing the century mark, that option is limited or eliminated.
Walking is generally encouraged by medical professionals as good, consistent exercise. With temperatures in the 110s, residents could turn to one of Recreation Centers of Sun City’s unique features — the indoor walking track at Fairway Center, 10600 W. Peoria Ave. — or walking the halls of Fairway or Sundial Center, 14801 N. 103rd Ave.
However, those options are no longer available.
“The walking track at Fairway is not open at this time as it is part of the fitness center area currently closed per Gov. Ducey’s Executive Order 2020-43 and extended per 2020-52,” Joelynn Higgins, RCSC communications and marketing coordinator, stated in an email.
The auditorium and club hallways at Sundial were historically open for walking, according to Ms. Higgins. However, for a consistent application of the closure for indoor fitness activities, these areas at Sundial were to have been closed for walking activities at the time of the closure of fitness centers, she added.
“Going forward, this activity will no longer be permitted until indoor fitness centers are permitted to be open,” Ms. Higgins stated.
Resident Loretta Darling was disappointed in the closure of Sundial to walkers.
“Now the only place available to walk is the Arrowhead Mall,” she stated in an email. “This does not make a lot of sense as the Arrowhead Mall is crowded with shoppers as well as walkers while the Sun City auditorium had very few people walking at a time.”
There is an outdoor walking track at Marinette Center, 9860 W. Union Hills Drive, available during center hours, 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Tennis and pickleball, including the covered courts at Marinette, are also open, with restrictions, according to Ms. Higgins.
“Pools are currently open for swimming and walking; no club activities (other than Master Swimmers at Bell) per RCSC facilities reopening plan,” she added.
Some resident argue the rationale of closing the indoor walking track. Phil Schoen believes it is a stretch to consider the track part of the fitness center, although it is adjacent to the workout area.
“The track is a part of the gym about as much as the pool is part of the gym,” he stated in a letter to the editor in early-July. “Even when you check in you don’t say you’re going to the machines when you sign in, you say you are either going to the track or workout area.”
He and Randy Asendorf believe RCSC officials have the ability, through the governor’s order, to request their fitness centers be open. Mr. Asendorf goes further, believing the RCSC fitness centers are not covered under the order.
“The fitness centers operated by the Recreation Centers of Sun City are private, not for profit, and, in phase one, open only to RCSC cardholders,” he stated in an emailed letter. “Does the governor’s order apply to RCSC fitness centers?”
Resident Bob Eschenbacher stated in an email much of his exercise program has gone by the wayside because opening and closing is based on political whims. He also scoffed at the requirement of face coverings while exercising.
“Wearing a suitable face mask while working out in a gym? Who came up with that one?” he asked. “Consistency is wanted.”
Resident Barb Chait suggested regular trips to the grocery store could substitute for exercise.
“Since the elderly are often forgetful, waiting to read your prepared list keeps you walking an extra mile,” she stated, injecting some levity into the situation. “Also, you get to know the staff, asking questions about where produce is located. So, it is a social exercise as well.”