Murray Park Center director welcomes you back to the gymFeb 22, 2022 09:39PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Marci Williams (in hat) leads a spinning session at the Murray Park Center. (Photo courtesy of the Park Center)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
No sooner had Murray City released the new Parks and Recreation Master Plan, announcing major expansion plans for the Park Center, than it immediately shut it down—temporarily. COVID forced Murray Park Center Director Marci Williams and her staff to take advantage of the hiatus to refresh the facility.
Being flexible comes naturally for Williams, who is also a fitness trainer, in addition to being director of the gymnasium.
“My entry into the field was as a lifeguard and swim instructor. My entry into fitness instruction was as a ‘Slim & Trim’ instructor in 1980, and I trained with Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. Since there was no actual training for the fitness business or rec centers in the 1980s, I gathered multiple credentials and certifications as they were available,” Williams said.
Williams also points out that she is the mother of six and grandmother of seven. She came to Murray City as an experienced gym manager in 2002.
“I was able to open multiple facilities with various specialty services,” Williams said. “After 22 years with the Sports Mall, I left to open and consult a new facility with emphasis on wellness education, chiropractic, physical therapy, and alternative health services. In 2002 I was hired as the Park Center director and have worked for Murray City for almost 20 years. I was attracted by the special events, aquatics, and recreation services the department offered.”
A Murray High grad, Williams has had to stay on top of the rapidly changing field of sports fitness. With the advent of spinning in 1995, she became a master trainer and taught the class from that point on.
“I love the constant evolution of our services. This is also the biggest challenge. Working to find staff that can handle all ages, recreation skills, aquatic certification, and ever-changing fitness trends is like mining for gold. We are blessed to have plenty. I look at the evolution and demand of gym usage. As an example, pickleball was unknown until seven to eight years ago, and it now takes up as much as volleyball and basketball. We want to continue that evolution so we can adapt to ever-changing interests, programs, and facilities,” Williams said.
The Park Center is also set to evolve. The new master plan calls for the building’s expansion, “adding elements such as family-style changing rooms and restrooms, dry locker rooms, more fitness and studio space, a party room, storage space, social space or homework room, and potential gymnasium.”
“We had incredible support from our community, and that feedback put the expansion of the center as the No. 1 priority. I hope to see us meet that priority with proper budgeting and continued community input,” Williams said.
While new facilities or equipment may be in the Park Center’s long-term future, Williams appreciates many new things that have turned up at the facility.
According to Williams, “I am now seeing a new ‘wave’ of users, from our existing clientele as well as those who have never utilized all we offer. When we had to shut down operations in March 2020, I knew we would have a mountain of mental health concerns. To many of our users, we are more than just a ‘gym,’ we are family and provide necessary access that they depend upon, both physically and mentally.”
However, Williams recognizes the value of the Park Center isn’t necessarily invested in its capital assets.
“One of our best-kept secrets is our staff,” Williams said. “We have numerous part-time staff who have been with us since the beginning. Their commitment to the community and what they do is inspiring. Personally, I believe in the value of community. That is what inspires me to show up ready to serve every single day.”