HAVERHILL, Mass. (AP) — Bathed in natural light during the day with expansive views to the outdoors, the new Cedardale Health and Fitness Center borrowed the best design elements from fitness centers across the country, its owners say.

For the Veasey family, building a new center was a chance to create something they could not have envisioned back in 1971, when Ed and Zoe Veasey opened their club with four indoor tennis courts and some basic strength and conditioning machines.

“Our new center is a truly state-of-the-art design for indoor health, fitness and wellness,” Ed Veasey said during a recent walking tour of the new facility, which he anticipates will open mid-May, or possibly a bit later.

“Everything we offer was designed to help people improve their lives,” Zoe Veasey said.

For the Veaseys, the reopening in May will mark the culmination of a two-year recovery from a devastating fire in 2017 that destroyed much of the club.

The fire started in the early morning hours of March 1, 2017, and caused between $3 million and $5 million of damage. It led to the razing of the burned out facility. What remained were the outdoor pools and tennis courts, and the original four indoor tennis courts, all of which were reconditioned.

While rebuilding took place, Cedardale leased a temporary 49,000-square-foot location in Andover near Interstate 93.

That temporary site was closed on April 27.

“Our lease ends at the end of April and there is equipment that needs to be moved over to the new building,” said Diane Bolivar, marketing director for Cedardale.

The new complex is smaller than the original one, but has a much more efficient design than the cavernous Cedardale building that stood on Boston Road since the 1970s. And even though it is physically smaller, it feels bigger, more open and more spacious.

“It’s crunch time right now as our members are very anxious to come home and reconnect with their community as for a lot of them, the loss of Cedardale left a big void in their lives,” said Carolyn Veasey Jackson, daughter of Ed and Zoe Veasey.

A second home

Ed Veasey recalls being approached by members who told him they and their family members practically lived at Cedardale.

“They asked, ‘when will you reopen and how quickly can it happen,'” he said. “They also told me they didn’t realize how much Cedardale was part of their lives.”

Membership Director Lori McHugh said that since Cedardale’s pre-sales office opened in early February, more than 60 percent of past members have expressed excitement about the club’s reopening.

“The anticipation of the new club, health and wellness programs and services have drawn the Cedardale community back together again,” McHugh said. “Our legacy members have been reconnecting with staff and fellow members and sharing stories from the past two years since the fire.

“Many of our past members have found temporary gyms to work out as many couldn’t imagine working out anywhere else,” McHugh added. “Everyone agrees it’s time to come together again and the response to our opening has been overwhelming and filled with laughter and tears. It’s a great reminder that people make a community and we can’t wait to open our doors.”

The Veasey family selected Mailloux Brothers Construction of Methuen to handle construction. For brothers Ron and Russell Mailloux, it is the first large-scale industrial construction project their company has ever done.

S3 Design Inc. of Braintree was in charge of the architectural design.

Efficient design

Bryan Dunkelberger, co-owner of S3 Design, said the previous Cedardale facility was a culmination of 30 years of growth and changes in the health club industry, and because of it, the spaces weren’t designed to meet modern day health and fitness needs and had evolved into somewhat of a maze.

“We’ve designed health and fitness centers across the county and one of the things we brought to Cedardale is the ability for members to see and experience all the programs it has to offer, even the ones they may not think they want to try, because we’ve found that over time, the more you see something, the more likely you are to try it, especially if you see your friends doing it and getting results.”

The new building includes many sustainable features, such as water-saving plumbing fixtures, LED lights, ample amounts of natural light, and state-of-the-art heating and cooling systems.

Enter through the front doors into an expansive atrium building with glass ceilings 34-feet above. The indoor aquatics center features a new and larger 25-yard, four-lane pool, a smaller, four-feet deep warm-water pool designed for specialty classes such as physical therapy, tai chi and a “Delay the Disease” group exercise program for people with Parkinson’s Disease. There’s also a new and larger hot tub.

Men’s and women’s locker rooms are more spacious, are more easily navigated and feature deeper shower rooms with curtains, spaces for dressing, including dry changing spaces for women, and new key-pad lockers.

“We also installed more day lockers as we strive to keep the area free from clutter such as gym bags, while being close to the fitness center,” Jackson said.

Meal options

A full-service bar and restaurant offers views to the indoor tennis courts, and an area to socialize, enjoy a healthy meal, a refreshing fruit smoothie or a more decadent bowl of Hodgie’s ice cream.

The new and expanded kitchen dispenses with a fryolator and instead features a steam/convection cooking unit that allows for much healthier food preparation, in addition to a commercial stove and other commercial appliances.

“For patrons who want a nutritionally based meal to bring home, we have a new menu to order from,” said Ada (Veasey) McKenzie, also a daughter of Ed and Zoe Veasey. “Patrons can order in advance, pick up their meal and reheat it at home, which is a new feature. We’ll also offer grab-and-go meals.”

New take-out windows service an outdoor patio dining area.

The second floor of the new building offers a wealth of activities, including group exercise studios with cushioned flooring and large screen TVs, and a state-of-the-art cycle studio offering virtual cycling classes for group or individual use.

“This is a world of fitness where everyone is working out in one form or another,” Ed Veasey said while looking through a large window overlooking the indoor and outdoor pools that will soon be teeming with activity. “From this vantage point you can see Route 125 in the distance, while at the opposite end you can see Boston Road.”

New spaces

A mind and body studio that was designed for activities such as meditation and tai chi can also be converted into space for business meetings, bridal showers and other events that can be coupled with fitness activities.

Too bright? Just flip a switch and automatic curtains will subdue the sunlight.

A one-tenth mile synthetic running surface overlooks a strength equipment area with artificial turf for activities such as sled pushing.

There are pickleball courts too.

“It’s the fastest growing sport in America,” McKenzie said.

Active spaces for children include a junior sports court with lowered basketball hoops and padded walls, and a “Kid Zone” room for arts and crafts.

“A big part of our philosophy is wellness coaches, who we encourage all of our members to take advantage of,” Jackson said, explaining that these coaches will be available to help members determine their fitness level, set fitness goals and help them achieve their goals.

“We offered this before but we’re placing more emphasis on it as we now have a 3D body scanner that can help evaluate things such as body fat and posture,” she said. “We have a registered dietitian and a healthy care program that combines nutrition with fitness and wellness. And we’re partnering with Northeast Rehabilitation and area physicians to create new programs for the community, such as a healthy back program with our personal trainers.

“We no longer offer two tiers of membership, as it is now indoor and outdoor, except for fee-based specialty programs,” Jackson added.

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