After welcoming members by way of its doorways for almost 25 years, the Fontana Fitness Center closed on Dec. 31.
Owners Paul and Rose Fontana opened the fitness center and pool in 1998 on Kaliste Saloom Road to accompany their occupational remedy observe, however the couple is retiring.
The occupational remedy observe, which makes a speciality of industrial occupational remedy rehabilitation, will proceed beneath therapist Gary Guidry.
“It’s unhappy to let it go. But we have to retire. We produce other issues we have to do whereas we’ve our youth,” Rose Fontana mentioned. “It’s been very rewarding.
“How many individuals can retire realizing that what they did truly made a distinction in folks’s lives? We helped folks in (Paul’s) occupational remedy work and within the health program to dwell their lives as full as it may get.”
Building the Fontana Center
The Fontanas opened separate occupational remedy and bodily remedy clinics in 1986. After 10 years, the couple determined to deliver them beneath one roof, constructing the middle’s present location on Kaliste Saloom Road.
The constructing was divided into two sections – one facet for occupational remedy that simulates totally different work environments and one for bodily remedy and health. Upstairs have been rooms for group courses, all of which could possibly be modified.
They additionally constructed an enclosed junior Olympic-sized pool that’s temperature managed.
The pool has been a particular function on the Fontana Center, mentioned Cindy Soileau, who works the entrance desk and leads a 5 a.m. water aerobics class. She mentioned the middle has had members who cannot do ground workout routines or take part in courses, however they will use the pool for his or her health wants.
Paul Fontana mentioned a girl who was overweight would stroll within the pool, her oxygen tank on a float beside her. She continued till her well being improved sufficient that she was in a position to stroll with out the oxygen tank and later joined water cardio courses.
And after a number of years, Fontana mentioned he was serving his annual gumbo meal on the fitness center’s second ground when he appeared up and noticed the girl. She was crying and instructed him she was in a position to make it up the steps for the dinner.
“It’s been overwhelming and rewarding,” Fontana mentioned when requested about watching the middle’s members progress bodily.
Many of the middle’s members are over 55 with a few of its oldest members being over 100. Fontana mentioned he is watched as one shopper, who was 70 when she joined, misplaced greater than 100 kilos.
The middle additionally has labored with college students who studied train science, occupational remedy, bodily remedy and different medical fields.
“We’ve had a number of employees over time as a result of we have been like a springboard for lots of people’s careers,” Rose Fontana mentioned. “Many of them are additionally now doing significant work, life-changing work.”
‘It’s not only one factor’
What made the Fontana Center greater than a health middle was the setting, Soileau mentioned. Before she labored on the middle, she was a member for a few 12 months.
“There was no intimidation right here. That was the principle factor,” she mentioned. “Nobody was judged right here. It was all about being wholesome and staying wholesome. That’s one of many key issues that made this place in contrast to some other wherever round Lafayette.”
It’s additionally been a spot for folks to search out help amongst different members, mentioned Martha Harris. Harris handles the middle’s bookkeeping and billing and her workplace is on the identical ground because the health tools. She typically leaves her door open, prepared to speak to all the members.
“You do not simply come right here to train after which depart. You come right here and you find yourself making buddies, sharing a life story, laughing,” she mentioned. “It’s not only one factor. It’s an expertise to come back and work out.”
Harris additionally brings in Chester, a yellow Wheaton Terrier, who turned up within the middle’s parking zone in 2013 and not using a chip or collar. Harris agreed to undertake Chester when an proprietor could not be discovered. She’s since taken him to remedy canine courses and introduced him in each Wednesday for members to go to with and pet.
Chester helped members open up, typically sharing their life struggles, and offered a typical subject for members to bond over earlier than forming significant friendships.
“What he does with folks, they let their guard down when he is within the combine,” Harris mentioned. “They’ll simply form of begin speaking about no matter is on the forefront of their thoughts.”
It’s a testomony to how members felt protected on the Fontana Center. Paul Fontana mentioned one member would come to the fitness center as a refuge when her husband was battling Alzheimer’s. She might swim her laps, cry, get refreshed and return house to proceed caring for her husband.
When the Fontanas knew they needed to retire, to spend time with their youngsters and 10 grandchildren, they appeared for another person to purchase the health middle. They reached out to different gyms, recreation amenities and different teams that could be keen on shopping for and conserving the health middle going.
But in the end they could not safe a plan for the health middle.
“We respect (our members) for being right here and being part of our household for therefore lengthy,” Paul Fontana mentioned. “But you’ve got to proceed doing what you are doing.”
It’s a sentiment that train physiologist and group health teacher Jessica Arabie echoed.
Arabie, who will begin instructing courses at CrossFit Herd, mentioned she was devastated when she discovered the health middle would shut. She’s watched as members, who she mentioned have handled employees like they’re a part of the household, have met milestones of their health and bodily restoration journey.
“Do not cease shifting. Keep going irrespective of the place it’s,” she mentioned. “I firmly consider train is the fountain of youth.”