New name, state-of-the-art home for inclusive training centre

What was once known as the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being is starting the new year with a new name and new home.

The Brock Functional Inclusive Training (Bfit) Centre, as it’s now called, moved into the Walker Sports and Abilities Centre at Canada Games Park at the end of last year. The state-of-the-art facility is located at 2021 Canada Games Way, adjacent to the University’s main campus.

Bfit pursues innovative, multi-disciplinary research and provides supervised community exercise programs to improve health and quality of life in older adults, cardiac patients and individuals with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, as well as amputees.

Bfit Centre Manager speaks with a Power Cord member exercising in a wheelchair while a SeniorFit member does standing exercises nearby.

Bfit Centre Manager Ally Fast (BKin ’12) connects with Bfit members Bob Asham (Power Cord) and Ed Klimek (SeniorFit) as they complete resistance training as part of their customized programs.

Due to its close proximity to Brock, the new 10,000-square-foot space enables students to travel a short distance to volunteer and participate in experiential learning opportunities.

“Our membership has grown from 100 members in fall 2013 to more than 500 members in under 10 years,” Bfit Director Deborah O’Leary says. “This new state-of-the-art facility provides members, students and researchers with a safe space to be active, and the new Bfit name reflects the full spectrum of activities taking place.”

Bfit’s mission is to promote health, prevent disease and work to help rehabilitate and reintegrate people by enhancing quality of life across the lifespan through exercise and activity.

Helping O’Leary to co-ordinate the major undertaking of moving all the equipment from the old Lockhart Drive location was Centre Manager Ally Fast (BKin ’12).

“We began our move Dec. 19 and worked hard over the holiday break to ensure our programs were fully operational and members could resume activities when we re-opened our doors Jan. 3,” Fast says. “We are very visible now. There has been a lot interest and visits from people walking on the suspended indoor track or here with their children and grandchildren for hockey.”

Along with the return of existing members, Bfit has seen an influx of new members in recent weeks.

Three seniors exercise on rowing machines while conversing with the Bfit Centre Manager.

Bfit Centre Manager Ally Fast (BKin ’12) engages with Bfit members (from left) Bill Wiley, Ursula Savage and Paytra Schurmann-Smith as they participate in rowing exercises as part of the SeniorFit program.

“We’re very excited and grateful to occupy the new space,” David Ditor, Power Cord Exercise Program Director, says. “As open concept as it is, the new space also allows for more intermingling between members of our separate programs. I look forward to how we will further new best practices in rehabilitation and research, while also offering the lived experiences for student development Brock is known for.”

Social opportunities have always been a big part of supporting the emotional well-being of Bfit members.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our members were hit very hard by the isolation and barriers caused by lockdowns,” Fast says. “This new space offers all the same opportunities to have conversations with staff, students and volunteers with the newly added benefits of also being able to increase the sense of connection to the larger Brock community.”

Bfit members have had the chance to sit and watch Brock’s varsity teams practise and to meet up with family and friends to watch children and grandchildren participate in tournaments.

“This new space provides even more opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to gain real-world experience with diverse groups of people,” SeniorFit Program Director Kimberley Gammage says. “Being situated in the Walker Sports and Abilities Centre opens up possibilities for new research collaborations and community partnerships.”

Bfit operates Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. Parking is free with a three-hour limit. For more information, visit the Bfit website.

This spring, the Bfit team hopes to host an official in-person grand opening once the roll out of its new branding and website are complete.

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