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Class schedule changes upset some residents


Monday, February 12 (9:00 a.m.): With its indoor pools, exercise equipment, training sessions and classes within its expansive facility, the Tice Creek Fitness Center typically is a haven for residents during winter months. Of late, those experiences are not without some complications – or changes.

These topics drew much discussion during the Jan. 18 Aquatics and Fitness Advisory Committee meeting. Recent changes of class and club times in the Fitness Center facility stoked much conversation and some complaints. Ann Mottola, GRF’s director of Community Services, explained that changes were made to better accommodate the twohour annual assessments for all residents and orientations for newer residents.

Within the pool area, the heater for the main pool, used for lap swimming, had to be turned off in mid-January. As of press time, staff was awaiting inspection by Knorr Systems, which services the heater. It was not yet known whether the heater could be repaired or if a replacement would be needed. This doesn’t affect the exercise pool or the spa in the Tice pool area.

Because of the heater issue, the Tice Creek Lap Pool was closed and the outdoor Hillside Pool opened for lap swimming and masters swim starting on Feb. 5. This temporary setup will remain in place until the heater is fixed. (See the article in this week’s issue of the News.)

A roof panel also remains stuck open above the lap pool, with a project to replace it still awaiting approval from the city of Walnut Creek for a permit to install.

What rankled residents the most were changes to times and dates for classes and clubs, particularly the popular water aerobics classes and Ballet Club sessions in the Fitness Center.

Mottola said the changes were prompted after auditing fitness trainers’ schedules.

“There was a great imbalance, and some of the trainers were doing more personal training than assessments and free classes,” Mottola said. “If we didn’t stop this and try to put some type of processes in place, newcomers are never going to be able to get the service levels that a lot of more tenured residents have.”

Kristine Drinovsky, Fitness Center general manager, said that there were 154 orientations for new residents in November.

“That’s good, but we really need to do about 354,” she said. The total for December was 188, which was down from 213 in December 2022. Meanwhile, personal training sessions totaled 342 this November and 362 in December.

“So that’s why we did make a shift, because it’s very important for everybody to get the needs that we have with the orientation and assessment,” Drinovsky said.

This comes as the Fitness Center management is trying to fill two openings. There is an offer out for one of the positions, Mottola told the committee. It’s hoped that adding new staff with aquatics backgrounds will help accommodate the water aerobics demand, she said.

In the process of overhauling the schedules, some club times were changed, including the Ballet Club’s. Mottola said those changes were prompted because no space was available to accommodate increased demands from other clubs to use a room at the Fitness Center at specific times.

Maggie Virkus, president and teacher for the Ballet Club, spoke during the residents’ forum about how her club’s members “felt they were on a path forward” in partaking in a discipline that requires much physical and mental concentration. In December the club learned its time suddenly was being reduced.

“Besides lacking transparency and diplomacy, the process lacked courtesy,” Virkus said. “And the rumors were rampant. That’s no way to govern a community. All of that needs to be fixed before the next time we’re faced with such a tumultuous reshuffling of resident schedules. I beg you, do not do this annually.”

Advisory committee member Christa Kell questioned a lack of input from residents in the process.

“I so appreciate the fact that you’re looking at different demographics, looking at what you’re offering in terms of services,” Kell said. “But I am absolutely appalled that scheduling changes would be made without input from the residents. But I know that you can’t please all of us old folks all the time.”

Mottola said that the communication about scheduling changes should have been better.

“I will not make an excuse for the fact that communication was blown,” she said. “It was not done right.”

Mottola said the intent is to “look at the greater good for the greater number” and this is something that should be reviewed annually, given that resident demographic shifts are a constant.

“We’re going to be able to service more residents that are paying this fee into the coupon. At the end of the day, we as staff really have to be stewards of that,” she said.

Mottola also hopes a speedy outcome awaits the lap pool heater issue.

Typically, the lap pool is maintained at 83 degrees, with the exercise pool set for 88 degrees and the spa at 102. The temperature in the lap pool is constantly being monitored, Mottola said. A sign posted outside the pool updates residents on the current pool temperature, along with noting that the heater is off, pending repair. At one point last week, the sign indicated that the pool temperature was 70 degrees.

The heater was shut off in mid-January when workers noticed issues with the burner assembly, GRF Trust Maintenance Supervisor John Raith said. This heater was installed by Knorr in 2017. Assuming it might have a 10-year life expectancy, the heater may have reached its useful life span, Raith said.

How to contact the GRF Board

Residents who would like to contact the GRF Board can do so in the following ways:


• Mail: GRF Board, P.O. Box 2070,WalnutCreek,CA94595

• Message phone: 1-925-9887710

• Drop-off: Board Office at Gateway