Cha-Ching turns into huff ‘n puff

Faces & Places
by Donna Douglas
First Appeared in the Barrie Advance
March 26, 2000

Cha-Ching turns into huff ‘n puff

Remember $1.44 days? Thursdays were $1.44 days at Woolworths and I fondly remember in my mother – writer juggling days grabbing my wee son and treating him to a tool for his workbench in the hardware section of the downtown Woolworths. I also remember enjoying a BLT for $1.50 in the Woolies restaurant. And where would I have been without Bob Ronald who sold us our first computer for the kids… a spanking new Commodore 64.

Well, things change.

When Woolworths closed a few years back, Ken Firth re-generated our department store needs for awhile with The Bargain Shop. And then the building which anchors the north end of a major block in Barrie’s downtown core stood empty. Loblaws turned into a bingo parlour, Clark’s Furniture turned into the Salvation Army, Barrie Tent and Awning turned into a men’s hostel and the downtown face changed again.

Changes one more as this month the Woolies building became home to two innovations. The Barrie Community Health Care Centre has opened marvellous new facilities in the north half of the building. And, City Centre Health Club has opened 14,300 square feet in the south end of the building.

The Barrie Community Health Care Centre is a provincially funded non profit corporation dedicated to providing medical, dental, therapeutic, social and psychological health care to its members. And its membership is open to anyone wanting to be involved in the centre’s mandate. As well as hard core medical programs, the BCHC also offers a mothercare program for moms and tots; a single moms’ supper support group; physiotherapy exercise classes for those who suffder with arthritis and stroke … the list goes on and on. You can take Tai Chi with Judith McKay at BCHC. (see oops) You can participate on the Board of Directors or one of the centre’s active committees.

BCHC had its start up as a fledgling idea housed in what were new facilities at 80 Bradford St. Growth and a desire to locate in the city’s core necessitated a move to these expanded facilities. The health care centre now opens into The Medicine Shoppe, a private pharmacy which moved from the former Robinson Hardware building.

And, across the hall from the health centre is the new City Centre Health Club. Like BCHC, this health club is integrating many services … exercise, aerobics, weights , and various wholistic therapies such as reiki, massage, chiropractic, nutrition and physiotherapy. Because the staff includes a nurse, a personal trainer and a physiotherapist, members of the health cflub can work out kiinks and work around their vaarious physical limitations.

Kim Brown and Pat Cloutier have been burning the miudnight oil as they get ready for their March 25 opening of City Centre Health Club. Though the official opening is days off, membership has been growing steadily as people who work downtown take advantage of the on-site day care, the steam room, private women-only weight room and an exercise area with a springform floor to take pressure off the knees, back and pelvis. yearly, monthly and daily membership rates are in effect, with an introductory special available just now.

Kim and Pat have worked together in their computer and electronics cabling company; this time they are combining their interest in fitness with their interest in business. Kim says they have 10 people on staff and their facility is open from 5:30 am to 11 pm Monday to Friday and 8 am to 8 pm Saturday and Sunday.

A special afternoon exercise series for those over 50 is on the schedule and those attending can enjoy group or individual activities.

Kim tells me that setting up the facility has been a night-and-day experience since deciding to renovate this huge space and equip it with specialized machines geared to handle any fitness level. City Centre even has equipment for those in wheelchairs who want to do upper body work.

Anyway, as I stood in the main weight and running room, I couldn’t help but see the old Woolworths and the electronics department and restaurant.

What a transformation!

Of course, I suppose people said the same thing when Woolworths opened in this location, taking the propertyt over from Ball Buildall’s planing mill. And prior to that I’m told the site housed a train station and was the final destination of a privately owned rail line that ran from Waterloo to Barrie. In fact, if you drive along Donald Street, uyou might be able to pick out the station … it was moved to Donald Street and turned into some lucky person’s house!

Ah … change.

Thanks, Community Health Centre. Thanks, Kim and Pat.