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Eden Prairie Community Center

The City’s Own Total Fitness Center

“Many people drive by the Eden Prairie Community Center on their way to the high school or during some other errand,” said Valerie Verley, “but they are often surprised to learn just how much we offer under one roof. Thanks to tournaments and meets that we host, as well as the space we rent for small, private events, we tend to get many people through our door we otherwise wouldn’t have. The number one comment we get is this: ‘I had no idea this was all here!’ 

Valerie is an athletics expert in full, having studied sports management, exercise science and kinesiology at Concordia before earning her master’s in recreational management from the University of Wisconsin. She began working for the city of Eden Prairie as a recreation supervisor in 2011, and within four years had risen to community center manager. 

Today Valerie and her team run the whole show: three fitness studios, three ice skating rinks, just as many swimming pools, two racquetball courts, a full gymnasium, and more than 220 fitness classes every single week.

“We’re home to the Eden Prairie High School’s boys’ and girls’ hockey teams and swim and dive teams, the Eden Prairie Hockey Association, the Foxjets Swim Team and the Eden Prairie Figure Skating Club. But we really do serve everybody here: toddlers taking their first swimming lessons, college kids with summer gym memberships, moms and dads who bring their kids to our supervised play area while they sneak off to the gym, and even people in their nineties (who I aspire to be like one day).

“You can purchase a day or week pass if you would just like to feel our facility out, but most people choose monthly memberships. That’s the best way to try all of our classes, such as BodyPump, Zumba, Barre, Pilates, yoga, and aquatics. BodyPump is especially popular. It is essentially a form of choreographed weightlifting that is fun, accessible to novices, and extremely effective at strengthening and protecting your body. 

“Zumba is another one of our classes which draws a huge crowd. It’s choreographed dancing – and is really more of a party than anything else, with fun lighting, great music, and even some ‘theme classes’ throughout the year.

“As a community center, part of our mission is to truly accommodate everyone in the community. We offer aquatics classes for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, Delay the Disease for people living with Parkinson’s, Walk with Ease for those who are suffering from arthritis, and TREC for people battling cancer.

“The important role we play in so many people’s lives made the pandemic especially difficult for us. That’s why we created our virtual membership, which lets people stay connected with their favorite fitness instructors during live-streaming and on-demand classes. We’re continuing to offer virtual classes even as the world finally returns to normal. They’ve remained popular with people who have mobility issues, as well as those who have moved away and appreciate bringing one of their favorite parts of Eden Prairie with them.

“We have also changed the way we offer mind-body fitness classes. We used to charge extra for them, but in recognition of the toll that the pandemic has taken on our community’s mental and physical health, we now include yoga, Pilates and meditation classes with all standard memberships.

“Our membership rate is still recovering, but I am confident we’ll soon welcome more people to our facility than ever before. Though it might sound cliché, we do create a genuine sense of community here. Not only for our guests, but also for our employees who range from 16-year-old lifeguards to retirees who only work at our front desk because they love interacting with people. We believe that is something you won’t get at just any gym.”

Please visit edenprairie.org to learn more about the Eden Prairie Community Center, their classes, and their upcoming Fall Into Fitness event on Saturday, October 9th. It’s the big welcome back celebration, where new members can join with no enrollment fee and sample the community center’s most popular fitness classes.

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