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First Look at Rec Center

New facility opens to the public May 22.

Get ready for fun! At long last, the $19.2 million, 65,000-square-foot Cub Run Rec Center will open its doors to the public, Sunday, May 22.

Ribbon-cutting is at 1 p.m. Then from 2-8 p.m., the public is invited in to try out the amenities for free. The fitness room and both pools will be available, and class demonstrations will be held in the pool-area multipurpose rooms. But that's not all.

"OUR NATURALIST, Tammy Schwab, will do a demo that day with snakes and will have nature exhibits on the patio outside the multipurpose rooms," said rec center manager Doreen Henry. "There'll be arts and crafts for the kids, and she'll talk about the nature programs here."

Built on 37.3 acres next to Westfield High, the new rec center is at 4630 Stonecroft Blvd. in Chantilly. It contains a 9,600-square foot weight-training and cardiovascular-fitness area, 25-meter competitive pool, separate leisure pool with slides and play areas, whirlpool/spa, locker rooms, multipurpose rooms and offices. And, boy, is it ever a welcome addition to western Fairfax County.

"It's the first rec center we've opened in 17 years," said county Park Authority Chairman Hal Strickland. "We're excited about it, and I know the citizens are, too. Now, we're anxious to invite the public to see their new center."

Hours are Monday-Friday, 5 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Call the center at 703-817-9407 for specifics about when the leisure and competitive pools are open.

The state-of-the-art facility will also offer a mix of recreational classes including aerobics; yoga; martial arts; tumbling; tap, ballet and ballroom dancing; swimming and arts and crafts. Group fitness classes include strength and balance training and cycling, and "parent and me" classes in aquatics, sports, art and nature are for moms and dads to enjoy together with their preschoolers.

"And besides classes you register for, we also have our XYO (Exercise Your Options) program," said Henry. Through it, patrons may participate on a space-available basis in classes such as Kick, Step, and Jump and Pump, for free with a pass or daily admission.

From the reception desk, people "can choose to go left to the fitness area, or right, into the activity rooms for classes, events and meetings," said engineer Chris Hoppe, Park Authority project manager for the rec center.

"Or they can go straight ahead to the stairs, down to the left to the leisure pool or to the right to the competitive pool, mezzanine and bleacher area," said Strickland. "Or they can stay on the first level to observe both pools [through the glass wall]."

People may also use their laptops in the pool-observation area. Said Henry: "We'll have wireless Internet service, and you can purchase minutes from the front desk."

THE FITNESS area is double the size of those in the other county rec centers. "Citizens demanded a large fitness area to meet the demographic needs of the families out here," said Strickland.

Besides all the latest equipment, it contains 22 flat-panel, closed-circuit TVs, and a fitness attendant should be on duty at all times. "Customers can establish a rapport with our personal trainers," said Park Authority spokeswoman Judy Pedersen. "Or the fitness director can set up their own programs with them on the FitLinxx system," added Henry.

This system helps people keep track of how long they've spent on the cardiovascular or strength-conditioning machines. Said Pedersen: "It's like a virtual trainer and keeps you accountable."

A glass wall separates the competitive and leisure pools, so activities may function in each one without affecting the other. With children happily playing and splashing in the water, the 4,860-square-foot leisure-pool will be noisier. Its water will be warmer and, therefore, also great for water aerobics classes for senior citizens.

But competitive swimmers on the other side will have colder water, and the wall will block out most of the noise so they can have quiet at the start of their meets. However, both pool areas have large windows looking out on scenic views of the forested hillside.

Strickland said most of the money went into the fitness area and leisure pool. "It's our only indoor leisure pool in the system," noted Pedersen. "And it's really spectacular, with a whirlpool spa with seating and a lazy river."

"People can walk against the lazy river current channel to build up their endurance, or with the current," said Henry. "Your body moves with the flow of the water, so you can float and move along." And, added Pedersen, "There are lots of water features for children. It really looks like fun."

The coolest, attention-grabbing elements are the two slides in the leisure pool. "They're awesome slides," said Pedersen. "The taller, three-story slide rises 24 feet above deck level, goes outside the building, does two skim-arounds and goes back in again," said Hoppe. "And it's a fully enclosed tube so people can use it even in cold weather."

The two-story, 16-foot-high slide has an open tube that spins around three times before landing in the water. "It makes two 360-degree turns and a 180-degree turn," said Hoppe. "Kids think it's cool."

The water is zero feet deep at entry and 18 inches deep in the section containing a play structure — like playground equipment for pools — with water jets, cannons and sprays. Where children re-enter the water after coming down the slides, the level will be 3 1/2 feet.

Another highlight is the vortex — with water continuously moving in a circle, faster than the lazy river, to spin people them around." There's also a warm-water spa/Jacuzzi with jets pushing out pumped water.

The competitive pool has 11 lanes and will also provide Westfield High students with a new pool to use for competitive swimming. Like everything else in the new rec center, it's handicap-accessible. A ramp leads into the pool and, said Hoppe, "We even have a water-powered lift to transfer people from wheelchair to water."

CUB RUN is also the only county rec center with a drowning-detection system. Designed by Poseidon Technologies, special cameras will spot swimmers in distress and summon help. "If you stop moving — go deep and lay still — an alarm goes off and someone will go get you," said Strickland.

The cameras send a message to a computer that triggers a pager. "It pages people in the lifeguard office, in the lifeguard chair and also the manager on duty," explained Henry. "It has them go to a particular part of the pool, on a grid system, to find the person." But, added Pedersen: "It doesn't replace the lifeguard — it's an enhancement."

Two large meeting rooms — which can become three via a moveable wall — hold 243 people total and will be used for community events, after-school activities and rec-center programs. There's also a party room downstairs (call 703-817-9407 to reserve it), plus four, family dressing rooms and baby-changing areas in both locker rooms.

"A lot of care's been given to small details — from the check-in to the locker rooms to all the amenities," said Pedersen. "And as a mom, I really appreciate it."

Outside, in the Sully Woodlands, are 5,000 feet of trail, a stream crossing and walkways. So the naturalist will offer related natural-resource programs. Said Henry: "We have a lot underway for Scouts, already, and schools can sign up for tours."

See www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks for Parknet to see rec-center class information and to sign up for indoor and outdoor classes, trips and work toward Scouting badges; or call 703-222-4664. For more information about the Cub Run Rec Center, call 703-817-9407.

"My ultimate goal has been to provide service to the public," said Henry, a Park Authority employee since 1986. She managed the South Run Rec Center for 10 years and has been involved in Cub Run's planning, the past two years. "I think this is a wonderful rec center," she said. "Once the gates are open, people are going to start flooding in."