While most still were sleeping, Hays Recreation Commission’s new fitness center officially opened for business this morning.

The facility’s doors opened at 4:30 a.m., welcoming members for their first workout in the 13,000-square-foot, stand-alone facility located just north of HRC’s main office, 1105 Canterbury.

HRC initially opened its fitness center in 2011 and saw a need for a larger facility to give members more space and more services, said Roger Bixenman, HRC superintendent.

“It feels good it’s grown this much to get a larger facility, and we look forward to the future here,” Bixenman said.

The building is approximately four times larger than the previous fitness center, and features separate spaces for cardio and strength training. The former facility was a bit crowded, with weight-lifting machines located near cardio training equipment, he said.

“I think that was one thing with our small space, sometimes people just weren’t comfortable being so close together with all of our equipment,” Bixenman said. “This allows us to spread out a little bit more.”

It also features two spacious classrooms for various aerobics and yoga classes, with built-in suspensions for aerial yoga classes that will be offered at the new facility. The locker rooms also are significantly larger and are equipped with three showers in the men’s and women’s facilities.

Approximately $100,000 worth of new equipment has been added, with new options in cardio and strength training. Flat-screen televisions line the walls throughout the gym, and a circular desk near the facility’s entrance gives staff members a 360-degree view of all areas.

The project cost a total of approximately $2 million, and was financed by a local lending institution. HRC receives funding through a USD 489 mill levy, but the project did not increase taxpayer funding or affect the school district’s budget, Bixenman said.

Moving the fitness center to its own facility also will benefit HRC’s other programs. The former fitness center will be occupied by leisure programming, which never has had its own space and has seen significant growth in recent years, Bixenman said.

It also will free up gym space, as group fitness classes previously were held in HRC’s basketball/volleyball courts.

The expanded facility also will offer expanded hours; members can access the facility from 4:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. weekdays, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Hours could be adjusted again in the future based on public demand, he said.

Residents also can pay a one-time drop-in fee for short-term use of the facility, or pay only for group classes. Members must be at least 14 years old.

HRC has no immediate plans to increase membership rates, and promotional specials will be offered this month to commemorate the grand opening.

“I know our current members are really excited about the new facility,” Bixenman said, noting HRC is hoping to reach more community members who are ready to begin healthy habits. “Our goal is always to get somebody to develop a healthier lifestyle.”

For more information about the facility, visit haysrec.org.