Health Fitness took over management of the town-owned Cornerstone Aquatics Center in July, with an eye towards improvement.
Michael Kerrigan, the center's new general manager, was raised and still lives in West Hartford, and has long been familiar with the facility.
After making what he said were the key hires of Jill Hiriak as membership and marketing manager and Nick Daddabbo as aquatics manager, Kerrigan and his team began to assess the facility, which is owned by the Town of West Hartford and operated by the company he works for, Health Fitness.
He said it was clear that there could be changes made, both to the building and the way the center functions, that can elevate the property for West Hartford residents. They showcased it all at an open house, on Jan. 7.
"When evaluating it in July, there was real opportunity for growth in fitness programming," Kerrigan said. "Customer service and creating a culture of being welcoming. I thought there was a real need for that."
One of the biggest changes that guests will notice is a new common use room that will be used for fitness classes such as yoga, Pilates, and Zumba. Those classes will begin on Feb. 1. He also hopes there will be growth in the existing gym.
"The gym is one area where there is a lot of opportunity for us to grow," Kerrigan said. "Our heart and soul is the aquatics center, but now we have these elements of fitness."
Another change is the creation of a family changing room that will ease the way families with young children use the facilities.
"This was really a huge need for this facility," Kerrigan said. "It didn't have anything like it before. Families that are coming here for swimming lessons, where should they bring them to change? There were lines for them to change because there was just a single changing room that is out in the lobby."
The new family changing room has a common area with attached private changing rooms that will allow more families to use the facility at the same time.
In terms of pools, those remain the same, but Kerrigan wants to elevate what classes are offered in those facilities to guests. They're going to introduce classes like water yoga, start a diving team, offer a summer swim team, and hold an aquatics summer camp.
"It's a very unique community pool," Kerrigan said. "We are serving infants to our older retired community - all with a variety of needs and a variety of services that they want. A variety of programming was really what was asked for by membership. They wanted more classes."
Kerrigan doesn't want Cornerstone to be a place where its members come to swim and leave.
"We don't want to just be a place where you come and swim laps or use the treadmill and that's it," Kerrigan said. "There's a need for more and it's about hiring a very diverse staff that can meet all of these needs."