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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Main Fitness Center here is about to get a major makeover.

The $3.3 million project, set to begin Aug. 1, is expected to completely overhaul the facility.

Renovations include a bigger entrance and lobby area, new juice bar and pro shop, refurbished restrooms and locker rooms, refinished racquetball courts and new fixtures. Workers also will redo all the walls, ceilings, floors, lighting and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units, said Pat Coleman, the main fitness center director.

Plans also call for the Japanese government to build a two-story addition to the main facility that will house the base’s Health and Wellness Center and offer free weights, cardio equipment, martial-arts rooms, aerobics, an extra basketball court and exercise floors.

That project, with an estimated price tag of $10 million to $13 million, should begin in 2005 or 2006 and give the fitness center ample space to elevate it to the Air Force’s Golden Eagle status, the equivalent of a five-star rating.

“We’ll be coming back to a fully brand-new building,” Coleman said. “It’ll be user-friendly and patron-friendly, too. It’s going to be an awesome place.”

Although Yokota’s main fitness center won’t officially be shut down until 8 p.m. Friday, a mini fitness facility opened last week in Building 4, complete with about a dozen machines providing users a quick cardio workout. Also, a makeshift fitness center is opening Aug. 1 at the Natatorium and Teen Center on Yokota’s east side.

Indoor basketball, volleyball and racquetball won’t be available during the renovation, Coleman said. The community will have outdoor options in those sports.

Even with the opening of the Building 4 facility, some patrons indicated they’re upset about the reduced services.

“I understand the renovation, but it seems like they could’ve arranged it a little better,” said JoJo Hernandez, a civilian worker at Yokota. “The treadmill and Nautilus machines I use will be at the east side,” meaning she’ll have to split her exercise periods between the base’s east and west sides. “I don’t like it, but I have no choice,” she said. “I still need to go work out.”

Staci Reinebach and Cherae Ensor, both dependents, were more worried about the impending closure of the base’s indoor volleyball courts. The two play for the Yokota women’s team.

“That’s what we’re a little frustrated about,” said Reinebach. “We’re trying now to hook up with some off-base teams to scrimmage them and use their gyms.”

For about a week, Coleman said, the main fitness center will offer only limited access as workers reconfigure the temporary locations.

“Building 4 could get crowded,” he said. “The most it can handle is about 15 people at a time. It’s a small place, for quick-hitters on the main base.

“During that one-week period, I recommend taking it off. Maybe do some jogging, push-ups and sit-ups. That one week isn’t too much of a hardship to get something really neat. I think people will like it when it’s finished.”

The renovation is expected to take 10 months but could last up to a year, Coleman said. Although no decisions have been made, he hopes the two temporary locations remain open after the renovation is complete.

Yokota’s main fitness center has become one of the Air Force’s premier overseas facilities, frequently notching four-star status. Coleman credits the commitment by Pacific Air Forces. “Readiness and fitness go hand in hand,” he said, “so there will always be funding for it.”


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