Letter: Make fitness part of the art of aging

Recently, I attended a RAAC-sponsored lecture on “The Art of Aging in Rappahannock” at the county library. Among the many topics presented and discussed, one of the most notable concerned health-care issues. As somebody who recently relocated permanently to Rappahannock County after almost 25 years as one of those “subspecies” called weekenders, I was interested in finding a conveniently located fitness center in the county.

I checked the Rappahannock Directory and found what I was looking for on page 46 of the 2012 directory – a Rapp-Fit Fitness Center, located at the high school. However, when I went on-site for further information, I was informed by a very helpful school administrator that this service to the community had been discontinued, apparently for difficulties finding monitoring personnel.

This is unfortunate, as the nearest fitness centers are either at the Warrenton Aquatic and Recreational Facility or the Powell Fitness Center in Culpeper, both a 40-mile or so round trip from where I live. Furthermore, the costs for non-residents at these two centers is twice the cost for residents, reaching into hundreds of dollars annually, and if one includes transportation costs for gas for several weekly trips to these out-of-county fitness centers, the cost per annum would reach well over $1,000.

Yet here in the middle of Rappahannock County, and easily accessible to all with ample parking, there is a fitness facility complete with a weight room and a cardiovascular room with multiple exercise machines and a relatively low-cost annual membership. County residents would pay $100 annually or $50 for senior citizens (62 and older), county employees and active volunteer fire and rescue personnel. In short, in addition to providing health-care benefits to the community at large, it might also help burst some of those “self-contained bubbles,” referred to in the editorial column of your last edition, by bringing several different sectors of the community together.

If it is a question of budget, perhaps the number of hours of access to the facility – previously listed as 8:30 to 4:30 weekdays and 8:30 to noon Saturdays – could be reduced and the monitoring done on a partly voluntary basis. An annual membership fee from 100 people would bring in around $10,000 and help defray the costs for monitoring personnel. Perhaps a teacher might want to supplement their salary, or senior students could use this opportunity as part of a proposed curricular community service mentioned on the front page of last week’s Rappahannock News (“Learning through service”).

In any event, if the object is to age gracefully together and maintain a mens sana in corpore sano, which is standard and not vulgar Latin for a “healthy mind in a healthy body,” the revival of a community fitness center at the Rappahannock County High School would be a good step in the right direction.

Gregory Ludlow
Castleton

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