If you live in the Gilbert area and are looking to get fit, look no further than the Larry Joe Harless Community Center.
Next month will make it eight years that Kristi Brown has been giving the town’s residents a reason to get out of their homes and improve their fitness at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center. In the summer, she conducts Zumba and Dance Fitness lessons. She also holds Water Aerobics as well as a walking club, but only during the fall and winter.
Brown says prior experience taking dance lessons inspired her to implement these clubs into the Harless Center, also nicknamed the “Brick Clinic”.
“I used to go to the Presto Cardio Club and that’s what started me,” said Brown. “They started putting me on stage and I started doing dance classes there with them. They do yoga and really just everything up there.”
She wants people who come to her clubs to enjoy themselves first and foremost.
“They just come in and have a good time and just keep moving,” said Brown. “I don’t tell them to do exactly what I do. They have to do it at their level, have fun and let the music take them there. We come in and I tell them some details about how I do a hand signal that shows low, like an L that shows low. I tell them to just keep moving and to not hurt their knees, because then it hurts to squat.
“We talk a little bit about food sometimes and not eating so many carbs and slowing down on going to fast food restaurants. We talk about a few things and then we go into class and they dance and move. Sometimes we do Zumba stuff and sometimes we do just dance fitness stuff that’s just hip-hop style.”
It’s safe to say that Brown cares about her community and that she doesn’t want people to be stuck at home not doing anything. Those are a few reasons why she is offering these clubs to them.
“This makes them feel happier,” said Brown. “They feel better when they go home, like, ‘Oh I did something.’ They develop friendships. It’s for their fitness levels and health. At the center, it’s not always a party. Sometimes there’s regulars. There’s always people that come in and out. There’s always a group of people. It’s a judgement-free zone and you just come in and be yourself. We always keep our secrets. We talk about things that help people improve their mental health. If they need to get it out in Zumba they can get it out. A lot of it is mental and they make lifelong friendships because people stay in touch. I want more people to come to the clubs. I want to see their physical and mental health improve and I want them to love themselves and be healthy.”
According to Brown, some people even have certain insurances that pay for them to be a member at the Harless Center. Brown admitted that her Water Aerobics lessons and walking club would come back if more people came to the Harless Center. However, she also stated that there are classes for everybody.
“With a membership, they can do everything at the center,” she said. “They can swim, go to the gym, come to workout classes, walk the track, and play basketball. If they get a membership they can come and do everything. Being a member can get them all kinds of benefits and it’s a good place to be for their all-around health. The more people that come, the more programs that get to be put in the center.”