Iqaluit's Atii Fitness closes its doors as city prepares to open new centre

“We're really hoping to continue to be advocates for fitness,” said Chris Stewart, president of the Atii Fitness Society Board on the future of the organization.

Staff hope club's volunteer model will carry over to new city-owned facility

Users work out during one of the final classes at Iqaluit's Atii Fitness Centre, which closed its doors last week. (Travis Burke/CBC)

It's the end of an era for some in Iqaluit: Atii Fitness Centre has closed its doors for the last time, as the workout equipment is being moved to the city's new Aquatic Centre when it opens in the new year.

With 12 years of memories and friendships, the last week at the gym was accompanied by a lot of goodbyes. 

"I'll miss the classes... the community spirit, the volunteers, everyone working together. It's a really great community atmosphere here and I will really miss that," said gym member Sara Holzman as she left one of the final fitness classes.

Last Thursday the lights went out and the process of moving weights, treadmills and other fitness equipment got underway on Saturday.  

Now, Atii Fitness it looking to take on a new life. 

"Over 12 years we've learned a lot of lessons... and we want to share that with people who are either starting up a new business or looking for advice," said Chris Stewart, president of the Atii Fitness Society board.

"We're really hoping to continue to be advocates for fitness and to be able to help other businesses, [and] the city, with some funding and other types of things a non-profit association can offer."

Club was run by volunteers  

When the society was started, the City of Iqaluit was a major supporter of the project. A post from Atii on Facebook about the closure says "we have always known that once the city was to be able to construct its own facility... we would support the city in the same way they supported us 12 years ago."

Atii Fitness is run by volunteers, with everyone from board members to maintenance staff donating their time. It's a model that volunteer fitness coordinator Mandy Hickey hopes will be formalized for the new location.

"We're hoping they are going to follow the volunteer model for us to keep teaching, but nothing in writing as of yet," she said.

The city is still finalizing its plans for the centre, which is set to open next month.

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