Lovington celebrated the opening of a new wellness center Saturday with a ribbon-cutting, and the center is already off to a healthy start with over 500 registered members.
The $16 million project, that created over 100 construction jobs, was funded by the hospital district, which began the planning phase two and half years ago.
“You have the ideas in your head what it’s going to look like and how it’s going to operate, and to see something turn out better than what you envisioned, and to see it running smoothly, is a great feeling,” said City Manager James Williams, who was part of the advisory committee on the project.
The facility is 42,000 square feet and has $300,000 worth of top-of-the-line equipment by Technogym, a leading brand in exercise technology. It has a competition-sized pool (which the school district will use for competitions), a gymnasium, two fitness rooms, a rock climbing wall and a walking and jogging track.
There’s a 16-foot projection screen in both the gymnasium and the pool area as well as projection screens in the two fitness rooms. A soccer field next to the facility and a park with a walking path are still being built.
David Shaw, Nor-Lea CEO, said the hospital facilitated the project as a preventative measure to combat the city’s high rates of heart disease, chronic respiratory disease and stroke.
“We saw that health care was changing and there needed to be a more holistic approach melding medical, behavioral health, nutrition and exercise,” Shaw said.
Shaw said the hospital’s goal is to get 2,000 memberships and the center already has over 500 registered members.
Director Mitchell Palmer shared similar perspectives on health and wellness. He said he thinks of exercise as an alternative medicine. After years of working in wellness centers, Palmer said he began looking at health care from an economic standpoint.
“When you go into the field you don’t think about it on an economic level, but if we all get healthy, the burden of health care costs go down,” Palmer said. “You look at countries that have socialized medicine and you hear politicians talking about it. If we ever want something like that, the one thing we have to do is lower the cost of health care and the first way to do that is to get healthy.”
You can only use the facility if you’re 16 or older, but there are designated times and classes for children.
“We didn’t really design this to be an entertainment center,” Shaw said.
Dixie Drummond, mayor of Lovington in 2006, is grateful the facility is mainly for adults.
“I’m an avid swimmer and I have no place to swim except Lovington pools, and it’s always full of kids,” Drummond said.
An annual membership at the Lovington Wellness Center is $51 per month, with discounts available.