The Juniper Swim and Fitness Center is filled with surprises.
As you approach the facility, located in the heart of Bend, the first thing you notice is the metal framing that creates an enclosure so the Olympic pool can be used year-round. Sitting next to it, is the outdoor activity pool that would make any 4-year-old start shaking involuntarily just at the idea of using it.
“A lot of people come and use the outdoor activity pool during the summer,” said Sarah Romish, assistant manager of the facility. “When we start prepping and getting it ready for summer, kids will line up along the fence and just watch.”
But inside the facility is where the real surprises are.
There is so much going on at the 80,000 square foot pool and fitness facility that it takes nearly 30 minutes to tour it. For locals, it’s obviously a great amenity surrounded by 24-acres of park with playgrounds, walking path and tennis courts. For visitors it is a great way to get in that workout with better equipment than most major hotels offer or to get a swim in.
With single visit rates and 10-visit passes, the facility is a great value to visitors for them to keep up with their workouts or to swim with the kids in a safe environment. Yes, you can swim in local rivers and streams in Bend but be prepared for chilly water and currents. As a public facility the Juniper Swim Center always has lifeguards on duty watching the water and bonus the water is heated.
With a two indoor pools, plus the outdoor activity pool area and the large indoor/outdoor Olympic pool (think Safeco Field were the Seattle Mariners play) swimming is more than covered at the facility. There are even three sets of locker rooms, one at each entrance and four family changing rooms for those parents with multiple kids.
But the facility is about more than just swimming – it’s about fitness too.
The weight room/fitness center is something to behold, bigger than several private gyms I have belonged to, with the state-of-the-art equipment. All the cardio equipment of elliptical, treadmills and stationary bikes are pointed out the windows for stunning views of the park and it’s a great space with natural light and kept clean. But if lifting weights isn’t your thing, don’t worry; there are many other options – more than 200 group exercise classes a week, in fact.
Bend is known for is excellent mountain biking. But in the winter it can be a cold and snowy. How about a cycling class indoors and out of the elements? The facility has a number of classes on stationary bikes. There are dance classes, water exercise classes, yoga classes, low-impact aerobic workouts, if you think of it, they probably have it. All of the classes are drop-ins, so no need to pre-register before you head out, which makes it convenient for people staying in Bend on business or just seeing the sights.
There is an on-site child care for the kids, when you want to get a workout, but don’t have a place for them. They provide certified daycare for up to two hours and there are no televisions in the “Kid’s Corner” so they won’t be plopped down in front of a movie, they will be playing and making new friends.
“We really do have the best of both worlds with this facility,” Romish said. “If it’s nice outside you can use the park and run or walk on fitness path, play tennis or be outside in the park, but if you want to come inside, there are plenty of indoor activities to do, too.”
So let’s face it, with all the great food and beer that Bend has to offer, hitting the gym – or the pool – probably isn’t a bad idea with the Juniper Swim and Fitness Center, it’s centrally located and easy to drop in.
About the Juniper Swim and Fitness Center: Juniper Swim & Fitness Center is owned and operated by Bend Park & Recreation District. Juniper is a community health, fitness and recreation facility open to people of all ages and abilities. The state of the art facilities and quality fitness programs ensure you Get Fit & Have Fun!
What to bring: Depending on the activity you are looking to do, dress appropriately. There are several sets of lockers, so storage isn’t an issue.
Tip: During the summer months, the facility is busy due to the great outdoor pool facilities. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get in and out. Also, the center does offer single visit or even 10-visit passes. So visitors can take advantage of the amazing facilities. There are multiple classes offered daily, so check the website for more information.
Season: The facility is open year-round.
Getting there: From downtown, take Greenwood Avenue and head east toward Pilot Butte. After passing Third Street, take a right on Sixth Street. Continue on Sixth Street for two blocks, the street goes into the parking lot.
By Patrick Johnson