by Shannon Daly
As the rest of the country continues to suffer through unusually frigid weather, I’m glad to be in one area of the nation actually experiencing NORMAL winter temperatures. Even by ‘normal’ standards, however, this weather is too cold for me personally. Last week I wrote about activities you can participate in with your family if you like being outdoors during the winter. For those of us who want to stay active, but wish to do it in controlled temperature settings, the Central Park Recreation Center is one of the best facilities for this purpose. If you haven’t been there, I urge you to stop in and take a tour. The CPRC has two pools, a large lap pool which features a slide, and a smaller leisure pool which features a “lazy river” and a zero-entry option, (a gradual slope entrance into the pool rather than stairs or a ladder,) which is safer for younger children. My kids love hanging out in the leisure pool and playing in the water fountains, or jumping on one of the facility supplied tubes and lackadaisically drifting around the river. Swimming lessons are offered for all ages, and the pool dedicates much of the day to open swim time. If your body creaks like mine every time you move, you might be interested in trying some of their adult aquatics classes to stay fit. Aquatics are a great way to strength train without the strain of gravity and free weights. CPRC offers year round Aqua Aerobics, Aqua Zumba, and Water Walking in the river. It’s hard to believe that walking a ‘Lazy River’ can give you much of a workout, but if you walk in reverse of the natural flow, you will probably find yourself breathing pretty hard, and developing some lovely muscle tone. The rec center also offers numerous sports/team classes for kids year round including basketball and gymnastics during the winter session. These lessons/practices-games are a great way to introduce your child to sports without the pressure of joining more competitive leagues with higher costs, longer seasons, and constraining time commitments. You can also find adult activity classes, but currently they are fairly limited on what they offer. Year round it looks as if you can participate in Pilates,Yoga, Zumba and Group Training which sounds similar to CrossfFit. They do have a separate room for ‘spinning’ class or Indoor Cycling as well. I haven’t actually taken any of their classes so I can’t speak to the quality of them, but based on my experience with other gym schedules, their offering is fairly limited if you’re looking for traditional classes like aerobics, step, or body pump. They have Silver Sneakers classes for active seniors, and provide opportunities for arts/crafts fairs. If childcare is an issue for you, Kid Watch is $5.00 per child for 90 minutes of supervised childcare. The CPRC is a full fitness facility which also includes cardio equipment, a weight room, full sized basketball court/volleyball court, and a multi-purpose room with adjoining kitchen which can be rented for private parties. They offer birthday packages if you’d like to consider having your child’s party here as well. This recreation facility is part of Denver Parks and Rec., so you have the opportunity, if it better suits your family, to purchase memberships that grant access to other recreation centers in the area as well. When I accessed the Denver Parks and Rec website, I was confused at their membership offerings so I called for clarification. Recreation facilities are categorized as Neighborhood, Local or Regional. The categorization is based on size of facility, and amenities offered. Therefore, the CPRC is actually considered a Regional Recreation Center, so make sure you are looking at that membership tier for prices. The good news is a regional center membership grants you access to ALL 27 Denver Parks and Rec facilities, so you have the flexibility to visit another center if it is closer to your place of work, or you want to meet up with friends in a different neighborhood. If a full membership is too much of a commitment for you, they also offer punch cards, and you get a family discount when you purchase more than one membership per household.
The BEST news I found, however, is that due to Denver voters’ overwhelming support of Measure 2A in 2012, ALL Denver students ages 5-18 get FREE access to every DPR facility with the acquisition of a My Denver card which can be attained at any of the 27 recreation centers. In order to get your child’s My Denver card, you will need to head into any of the recreation facilities with proof of your Denver address, and a report card, or proof that you are your child’s guardian, to fill out the appropriate paperwork. You can also print the registration form from home and submit it at a recreation center near you. The MY Denver Card can also serve as your child’s Denver Public Library card and replaces any previously-issued card from Denver Public Library. To activate library privileges, present the MY Denver Card and picture ID at any Denver Public Library (parent in-person signature and ID required for children under the age of 13). Please note, once activated, your MY Denver Card replaces any previously-issued Denver Public Library card.
All in all, the Central Park Recreation Center is a great value, and offers myriad opportunities for the entire family to stay active year round, but especially during these cold dreary months when Mother Nature may not cooperate as much as we’d hope. See you there!