Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Karen Smyers Visits the South End Fitness Center

The pool @ SEFC
Elle: So we've been going to SEFC for 4 years now. I found out about it from a lovely man I met while sitting at a bar. That's how you find out about this place - it's a hidden gem in the city, no one knows about it. It's the most affordable gym in the city - it has a full size basketball court and the only public 25 meter pool. And the pool is glorious. It has high, cathedral ceilings, and often there aren't many people there, in fact, sometimes I have the whole pool to myself. When that happens, I say out loud, on the pool deck, "I'm so glad I reserved the pool today." But there is a down-side, they are thinking of tearing it down to build high-end condos. Seriously, it's like an 80's movie. The big, bad, rich contractors are coming in to displace the local, fun-loving neighborhood folks. So there is a movement to save this unique, local fitness facility. But if no one does anything, the big, bad contractors are going to come in and demolish it.
(Cue 1980's neighborhood folks doing a, 'Hey, let's rally and save this place!' montage to the tune of "I'm Walkin' on Sunshine.")
Karen speaks

Webb: The Friends of South End Fitness Center invited Karen Smyers, Hall of Fame triathlete to talk to members. (Readers of our blog know that we have a knack for crossing paths with her: see here, here and here.)  I was floored to learn that she trained at SEFC in 1995 when she won her historic Ironman World Championship in Kona. I see a lot of water bottles on the pool deck with local triathlon races decorating their sides. It makes me wonder, Am I swimming next to a future World Champion? Or maybe a former world champ.

Obviously we are big fans because of the pool; however, this really is a community fitness center. There are many basketball leagues that use the court. The strength and cardio areas are a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-economic/class crossroads that would make any sociologist drool. If I were to guess who the most represented group is it would be hospital interns and residents. I  want them to be healthy and sharp. Don't you?

State Rep. Byron Rushing,
Karen Smyers and
Dr. Robert Simms
Elle: So the take-away here is that this is a special place, it's not fancy, but it's affordable, and for a lot of the people in Boston and this particular area, that's really important. And to take that away would be not just sad, but somewhat of an injustice. It's a small place that doesn't have a loud voice, but I'm hoping that by posting this, we're doing our part to bring this issue up to a larger audience. Hopefully to bring more media and voice to the local community that needs this space so much. Here are some links for those interested in supporting the cause:

Residents rally to save the SEFC
Save the South End Fitness Center
Friends of SEFC hold open house
Demolition of fitness center at odds with public health

And of course, come visit!

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