Indoor recreation programs a must for many users

Lenie Bennett walks by the stretching station at the indoor walking circuit at the senior fitness class.
— Angele Cano

Though Hay River is known for its outdoor enthusiasts, there are groups who say indoor programming is just as important.

That’s why recreation facilities and programs indoors are used more heavily and frequently used in the wintertime, said town director of recreation, Lyle Hannan, who has been working in the field for 12 years. While there are no organized stats for how often indoor programs are attended during the winter months in Hay River, Hannan said the increase is significant.

“What I do know from experience is that use tends to go up in the winter by approximately 50 per cent ,” he said. “Other lifestyle options that are obviously not available in the winter tends to make people migrate indoors.”

This is why some indoor programs and classes are eliminated in the summer months, said Hannan. Throughout the summer, the department completed a survey on satisfaction with recreation facilities and what people would like more of. On the whole, Hay Riverites were pleased with what was offered.

“Most municipalities scale back or eliminate some indoor programs in the summer because they can’t get people to come in regularly,” he said. “Attendance is more sporadic and there are other options open for people.”

Sheena Findlay, active communities co-ordinator for the NWT Recreation and Parks Association, said some outdoor programs she introduced a few years ago have gained momentum, including Nordic walking. The frequency of applications for Get Active grants has increased, and so more communities have been holding many more events throughout the winter.

“The numbers have increased for the Nordic walking challenge we’ve put on for two years now,” she said. “Also there have been more applications for communities to hold events throughout the winter and the applications are getting pretty creative, from bootcamps to yoga and sliding, to underwater hockey.”

Individuals attending the senior fitness class at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre say attending the class is integral to their winter fitness programs. Minnie Butt lives in DeLancey and doesn’t have as much access to the walking trails in town. At home throughout the week, she said she makes an effort to stay physically active by stacking wood.

“Sometimes it’s too cold outside and the conditions of the walkways aren’t good,” she said. “Especially for seniors this is a good program to have. I’m not that feeble yet but it can still be hard walking with all that snow and ice. If you’re not walking every other day, it’s not going to do you much good.”

— Angele Cano