Money seems to have been well-spent by members of the Anniston City Council when they handed it over to the parties responsible for building the new Aquatic and Fitness Center at the Anniston Sports Complex at McClellan.
The pool itself is particularly designed for holding racing competitions. Eighty-three-degree water — not bathwater warm, or summer-camp cold, it’s fine for casual lap-swimming — fills eight lanes wide and 75 feet long. For safety’s sake, it’s no more than seven feet deep, which means no diving allowed except in competition.
But the pool is just one part of the city’s aquatic and fitness center.
The center is situated adjacent to new ball fields and an old running track and is just up the road from the soccer fields, meaning families involved in multiple activities can enjoy safe, easy movement among them.
The indoor pool is attached to the Army’s old Miller gym in a manner that allows space for brand new LifeFitness workout machines and free weights. Parents can sweat there while the kids bounce balls in the handsomely renovated gymnasium — generous window space lets the former keep their eyes on the latter.
Elliptical and stair-step machines fill a different area, where the user can either look out windows or watch individual TV sets.
There’s a second-floor section, accessible by elevator or stairs, where smaller rooms accommodate meetings, birthday parties and organized aerobics classes. Again, lots of windows let everyone keep an eye out for one another.
Back down at the pool, the concrete deck is wide, clean and inviting, in part because storage caddies hold flip-flops and towels while swimmers are in the water, thus cutting down on clutter.
Six ladders, including a set of steps for older folks with aching joints, get everyone in and out efficiently — remember, even though it’s an indoor pool, when thunder and lightning are in the area, lifeguards will close it down for a short time.
But when the weather is nice, a particularly nifty touch is the adjacent patio, complete with picnic tables and benches. The patio is almost seamless with the pool thanks to several sections of windows that open like garage doors.
Unfortunately, however, although basic features of Anniston’s newest home for burning calories are nice, some practical amenities are lacking. That means if your visit is a family affair, you need to be well-organized before you leave home.
The locker rooms (OK, the gentlemen’s side is what this writer has seen) are surprisingly small. If you put six people and their stuff in there, you’re pretty much out of maneuvering room. That’s because there are no tables, shelves or countertops that would allow people and their belongings to spread out. Two benches, that’s it. Overnight storage in lockers is not allowed.
One resourceful dad simply drew the curtain on the handicapped shower stall and used that as a dressing area for junior.
If the family is planning to swim during a busy period, you’d do well to hose the kids off before you even leave the house, for the locker room’s “wet area” has only three shower stalls.
As for the showers themselves, they have those annoying low-flow water systems that can scarcely get a body WET in five minutes, never mind soaped and rinsed.
C’mon people, we have Coldwater Springs pumping out 30 million gallons a day — could we at least think about bumping up the water pressure?
For the short term, a useful alternative is located way at the other end of Miller gym, where old regulation Army showers blast a body clean quite nicely — if that body can tolerate cold water. (Hot water has been promised, after a little more renovation work is completed.)
Anniston Aquatic and Fitness Center
• Olympic-sized pool, weightlifting and exercise equipment, racquetball court, basketball gym, sauna and steam rooms.
• 130 Summerall Gate Road, Sports Complex at McClellan.
• 5:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
• Daily fee $10; includes all amenities.
• Monthly passes are $40 for individuals; $35 for seniors and students; $55 for families; $45 for senior and student families; no contract or signing fee.
• Group Xpass offers 16 fitness classes for $25.
• Call 256-847-7349 for information on swim lessons, lifeguard classes, fitness classes and more.