Hundreds of local residents gathered Friday and Saturday at the PATH Recreation & Fitness Center to experience the new Culpeper facility during its official grand opening.
“We were absolutely thrilled with the number of people who came out,” Tracie Massey, the center’s director, told the Culpeper Star-Exponent Saturday morning. “Our current members are loving their new home, and we’ve had a lot of new people come in to check everything out.”
Operated by the Culpeper Wellness Foundation, the all-new Culpeper Recreation Center helps achieve the local nonprofit’s goal of “improving health and promoting wellness in Culpeper, Madison, and Orange”.
Massey stressed that people don’t need to be members to use the new center, which is across the street from the Culpeper office of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. The center is located at 19002 Crossroad Parkway, just off US 29.
“Anyone can come in and participate for a small fee,” she said. “And we have various scholarships and programs for people who might need help.”
Lauren Owens was at the center on Saturday with her 7-year-old son Raylan for a tumbling class.
“There’s nothing like it in Remington, where we live,” Owens said. “We either have to go to Warrenton or Culpeper.”
Raylan said he enjoys the challenges presented by his tumbling class.
“I like to do everything,” he says. “People are nice.”
Owens is not a member of the establishment, but was interested in looking around during his grand opening.
“I don’t think we will join, but I’m happy to be able to participate in some children’s classes,” she said.
Sarah Deal, a teacher with Culpeper County Public Schools Phoenix Alternative Education Services, said she hopes the new recreation center will benefit her students.
“I think they could work with us to help create special programs that could teach coping skills and positive emotional and physical outlets to these kids,” Deal said.
Of her own physical condition, she said the center’s employees support her and encourage her to try new things.
Deal has been a member for three years, previously working at Culpeper Sport & Fitness, which closed in March when PATH’s fitness center replaced it.
“They have super friendly staff and great coaches who often give me helpful suggestions and give me the confidence I need to expand on what I’m trying,” she said.
Deal had her two daughters, Natalie, 10, and Reagan, 7, with her at the grand opening.
“I like it,” Natalie said of the installation. “There are a lot of cool new things, like golf.”
The three tried out a high-tech golf simulator that, in addition to golf, offers bowling, disc golf, hockey, baseball and more. People can sign up to use the simulator in groups or get individual instruction in the different sports.
The new facility is 27,000 square feet, with two full-size multi-sport courts lined for basketball, volleyball and pickleball, as well as batting cages and activity rooms that can be rented out for parties or lessons.
The center’s fitness area opened in March, offering members cardio and strength-training equipment, group fitness classes, and personal and small-group workouts.
“People who had no idea it was under construction have arrived and are just blown away,” said Culpeper Wellness Foundation President Shari Landry.
Landry said the foundation’s board voted to move forward with the new facility amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Council members have shown foresight and courage in investing in the Culpeper community for generations to come.
“They took a huge leap forward with that,” she said. “But it’s something the community has needed for a long time, and it’s taking off.”
Donors paid for a quarter of the more than $6 million project, contributing $1.5 million in donations, Landry said.
Warrenton’s PATH Foundation has pledged half a million dollars to help build the facility off Lovers Lane. The center is named after the PATH Foundation.
Noting that the county is building a recreation center at the Culpeper Sports Complex next to Eastern View High School, Massey said she hopes to work with her organizers to provide complementary programming.
“There’s a lot of demand for all of us,” she said. “We hope to avoid competition and instead focus on the strengths of each establishment to provide what the community needs.”
During the inauguration, visitors took advantage of free activities, courses, giveaways and special offers, and were able to enter a raffle for a free one-year membership.
“If you missed the grand opening, please stop by and we’ll be happy to show you around,” Massey said. “We are excited to share this great fitness venue with everyone in the area.”