POSTED ON OCTOBER 18, 2006:
Finding a New Center
Tulsa Parks' Henthorne facility reborn, re-invigorated
"Are you here to play bridge?"
Little more than a month ago, this may have been a rhetorical question coming from the staffer manning the reception area at Henthorne Community Center, located at the park of the same name, 4825 S. Quaker Ave., considering the facility specialized in senior citizen activities.
But since the beginning of September, a revised greeting might include a question like, "Are you here for the Salsa Party, the Hip Hop class, Massage for Couples, Reflexology, Breathwork or Brain Aerobics?" And people, the list goes on and on.
More than two and a half years ago, Henthorne Community Center was operating in the traditional form of any other community center in ways that people could come together to socialize, familiarize themselves with different cultures and gain some knowledge by participating in education classes that were offered.
"Through budget changes, it (Henthorne Park's community center) was closed for traditional purposes and used as a rental site for parties, showers and special activities," said Vickie Henry, Tulsa Parks' manager for Henthorne Park.
During this time, Central was demolished to rebuild a new center. Henthorne then became a place for Central's seniors to meet with friends, play cards and do other things targeted to the older Tulsan.
Henry said she and her staff were acting as "rovers" during the two-year close taking care of whatever needed to be taken care of at which ever park their assistance was requested.
"As the time the senior programs would be leaving got closer, thoughts turned into, what exactly would happen to Henthorne?" said Larry Latham, recreation coordinator.
About 10 months ago, Henry was given the choice to take over as manager of Henthorne, or place concentration on a different Tulsa Park. She was given an open book. "It was great!" she said with an enthusiasm that months ago must have helped get the project off the ground.
Henry, with the help of Latham and Patricia Rodriguez, recreation coordinator and Yoga leader, reinvented Henthorne Park's center. On Sept. 1 the community center was known as Henthorne Active Life Center. Its concentration takes a holistic approach to health and fitness for all ages and is unique in the Tulsa Parks system.
Henry's interest was in the adult fitness area to service their needs not only for the common, sweaty definition of fitness, but also for education leading to a healthier life with alternative options.
According to Henry, the definition of fitness encompasses a wide-range of activities from physical fitness to education of alternative wellness practices but mainly begs the question, "What do the people want to do for fitness?"
Henry said if she can introduce different options for people to help take care of themselves and offer them a better quality of life, then she has fulfilled her purpose. Because what works for one person may not work for the next.
Although the Active Life Center supports health fitness and wellness for all age groups, it focuses mainly on adults who are neither die-hard fitness experts, nor couch potatoes. Henry wants to focus on those in between these extremes in a community setting since she realizes not all people like or feel comfortable in a typical gym.
The main goal of the Active Life Center is community awareness and incorporating fitness into lives of those in the community to make it a part of their daily routine. Henry said she wants to draw in the seniors who don't work in order to keep them up and active.
Her other point of interest is to appeal to women who don't work outside of the home. "We want to catch mothers on their way home from taking the kids to school or running an errand so they can exercise while socially interacting," she said.
"It is important to get people moving," said Rodriguez. She said Henthorne is implementing music and dance classes into their group fitness programs because it is fun and people may forget they are working out. The Hip Hop class is for youth ages 10-15. The Salsa Class, taught by international dance choreographer Estefan, is aimed at ages five and up. These classes are both full at this time.
Henthorne is especially proud of one of its new features at the Active Life Center: the fitness room that comprises an elliptical, stair master, recumbent bike and treadmill. The fitness room is for ages 16 and older, with a $30 per month fee.
Brain aerobics, taught by Latham, is offered to those of any age wanting to sharpen their minds with brain puzzles such as Sudoku, contour drawing, creative memoir writing, improv comedy and problem solving. This class will be offered Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 10:30am with a $20 fee.
Latham is also teaching a course called "The Mystery of Vitamins." This course is to help participants understand what each vitamin or supplement does and also to understand how to read the labels on the products. This class is for ages 16 and older and will be once a month. The next class will be offered on Oct. 25 from 6pm to 7pm and the fee is $3.
Breathwork, led by Terri Wilcox, is a class to help others learn different breathing techniques to transform the "chemistry, physiology and psychology" of the human body. The first class began on Sept. 28 and will run through Oct. 26. It will be held on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30pm for ages 16 and older. Fee: $50.
Henry will teach First Aid and CPR classes once a month. First Aid is on Oct. 20 and Nov. 17 from 9am to 2pm, and the fee is $15. CPR will be taught Oct. 11 and Nov. 15 from 9am to 2pm, and the fee is $15.
Henry and her team hope to provide more group fitness classes including Jazzercise. She welcomes any group fitness teachers who have ideas for fitness and think they would fit into Henthorne's definition of the word.
Latham said it is a possibility that people associate Henthorne with only senior activities rather than a park for all ages since it was closed for more than two years.
"We have been off the beaten path for so long that just getting people to know we are here is going to take a Herculean effort," he said.
Latham expects all the new activities to be "up and running at full speed" by the first of the year.
Since reopening, Henthorne has gathered a mailing list of over 400 businesses and professionals who receive the monthly newsletter.
Henthorne Park and Active Life Center is located at 4825 S. Quaker Ave. (Two blocks east of Peoria on 48th Street). For more information, call 918-746-5053 or visit www.tulsaparks.org to view the Tulsa Parks Fun Guide, which summarizes all the events at each of Tulsa Parks from September to December.
The Fun Guide is also available at any of the Tulsa Parks' recreation centers.
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