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The Gym: Zama City's Premier Fitness Centre Celebrates 10 Years

Holding its grand opening on May 19, 2012, “The Gym” is now celebrating 10 years as Zama City’s 24-hour fitness facility.

The Gym offers access to its facilities for only $40/month, and there are special rates for 6-month and year-long memberships.

Their impressive array of high-end workout equipment includes ellipticals, rowing machines, weight benches, treadmills, exercise bikes, a pulldown machine, free weights, strength training equipment, a leg press and more.

Lisa Wardley is the Director of the Zama Recreation Society (ZRS). She is also a councillor for Mackenzie County (Ward 10/Zama), a director for the Mackenzie Frontier Tourist Association, and she holds many other positions on several boards in the Mackenzie Region.

On behalf of the ZRS, Wardley explains how The Gym came to fruition in Zama City.

How did The Gym start?

Wardley: The Gym is celebrating 10 years of service in our community. It operates under the Zama Recreation Society.

The ZRS is inching closer to 40 years of community service. This organization operates most of the community facilities in town including the Zama Community Hall, which has a brand new kitchen; the outdoor rink; the park, which features a fish pond and swimming area; and a fully serviced campground with summer glamping cabins and new year-round family cabins.

We have been working over the last two years to create a fully serviced event venue able to provide a unique facility for weddings, reunions and other special events. The ZRS runs programs for all ages, community events, homeschool supports and so much more.

What did The Gym look like in the beginning?

The ZRS spent a few years researching a space for a 24/7 fitness facility. We looked at numerous options, but nothing really worked.

When Mackenzie County and the Zama City Public Library moved into a new space, it freed up their old building, which was in a convenient location. It was the original ATB Bank in Fort Vermilion, and it had been repurposed to Zama City for library space.

How did The Gym originally function?

The Gym runs under the ZRS, and it mostly operates on membership fees and fundraising. We had an amazing partnership with Apple Fitness, which helped us design the gym and put together a wide variety of equipment, which put our space to maximum use. We moved to text and e-transfer for membership sign up and renewals, which streamlined the labour required to manage it.

How big was the team at the time?

The visionary team behind the initial set up was basically three individuals, along with additional fundraising assistance from the full ZRS board and volunteers.

A bison stands in front of a gym
Billy the Bison

What have you learned from your experience with The Gym?

It’s always a great investment to spend the extra time, and sometimes the extra funds, to reduce the labour required to manage or monitor. We spent extra money on higher-quality equipment to reduce maintenance, and it was one of the best decisions we made.

Are there any funny or memorable stories you’d like to share?

Billy the Bison is Zama City’s orphan bison. He is about six years old now, and he grew up in town. He loves hanging out at The Gym.

In what ways has The Gym changed?

We are slower now than when we first started, especially because we have fewer oilfield workers in the area. We have added more partnerships and programs such as yoga and ladies workout times, and we hope to add additional rehab and physio supports to meet the needs of our community.

In what ways has your leadership style changed?

It hasn’t—as a board of directors, we have worked together a long time. We work hard to meet the needs of our community by pushing the boundaries of tradition.

What does the future look like for the Zama Recreation Society?

It’s exciting! The ZRS has close to 40 years of history increasing the quality of life for our community members, and we’ll continue to do so.

We’ve recently added new facilities like the new kitchen; we’re incorporating food security opportunities with Alberta’s most northern freeze drier; we’re promoting urban agriculture; and we’re expanding the campground to include cabin options and possibly seasonal campsites.


Article by Tormaigh and Jenelle Van Slyke Gym Photography by Kayla Wardley | Other photos submitted

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