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ARC vs. MRC: comparing gym and pool facilities

Getting into a gym routine is difficult, especially if you’re just starting it.

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By Ashley Mussbacher (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: February 25, 2015

Image:  Brittany Cardinal

Image: Brittany Cardinal

Getting into a gym routine is difficult, especially if you’re just starting it. If you’re new to the scene there are several key variables you have to take into consideration before you start committing to a gym. Your U-Pass will allow you access to both Matsqui and Abbotsford Recreational Centres (MRC and ARC, respectively), but first you should think about what you want from the facility.

Gym facilities

ARC offers an impressive 58,000 square feet of recreational space, including areas devoted to machines, free weights, and even an indoor track. The co-ed gym is equipped with several benches, at least 10 treadmills, and a large mirrored wall for checking your technique.

  This gym is devoted mostly to machine and weight training, so if you’re into ballistic workouts you’ll have a hard time finding space to move around. There isn’t a whole lot of floor space, since the administration recently restricted it to the track and weight room. However, if you’re focused on cardio and machine training, and don’t mind a crowded workout space, this is the perfect gym for you.

MRC is a lot smaller than ARC, but where it lacks in space it makes up for in organization. There is a women-only section, and though it has fewer machines, it is rarely busy. MRC doesn’t have an indoor track, but there is an outdoor one right next door. If your workout consists of on-the-spot training like jumping jacks, push-ups, free weights, machines, and the treadmill, and you’re uncomfortable working out with a lot of people around, then this might be the choice for you.

The only downside is, like at ARC, there is hardly any floor space for stretching and ballistic training, and those who wish to work out in the women-only section must first walk through the men’s section to get to it.

Get ripped at the ARC or the MRC. (Image:  Graeme Beamiss)

Get ripped at the ARC or the MRC. (Image: Graeme Beamiss)

Pool facilities 

For me, the pool is what makes or breaks my relationship with a gym.

ARC’s pool facilities are fitness-oriented. Until recently, ARC had a high diving board and a small slide, but they took both of them out. Now the pool facilities consist of a six-lane pool with a standard diving board, a toddler pool, one figure-eight-shaped hot tub, and a sauna.

For the size of the gym, this part of ARC leaves much to be desired. The hot tub is usually full, and the swimming pool is reserved for lessons, unless you come during the public swim hours. So, if you want to swim lanes, you’ll have to check the schedule. There are no barriers in the room to help keep the noise level from escalating, so if you want to sit in the hot tub and chat with a friend you might have to yell. One thing the hot tub has going for it is the 50-inch plasma screen that shows hockey and football games — but good luck finding room to sit.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, MRC makes up for what ARC lacks in pool facilities. Though there are no lanes, it is more family-friendly with one large wave pool with a high diving board, as well as a toddler pool. The hot tub is larger than the one at ARC, and though it’s still crowded, it is quieter — perfect for unwinding after a workout. MRC also has both a sauna and a steam room for those times you want to feel like you’re in the tropics.

Overall, the choice of which gym you want to frequent depends on your fitness and recreational goals.

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