Exercise program students turn out to support teacher
More than 30 people showed up Tuesday night for the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting in support of fitness instructor Jerry Vance.
Vance, who has taught classes for the department for 34 years and runs the Sweat Shop and Wet Sweat exercise programs, received notice in December that her contracts would not be renewed. Since that time, however, the contract has been extended through February.
Recreation Director Roger Moellendorf said the department wants to open the door to new fitness opportunities as well as to other classes that will appeal to more people.
Requests for proposals will be accepted through 5 p.m. Feb. 15, he said, and Vance is welcome to submit her proposals.
But Vance supporters said they believed the recreation department was making a big mistake.
Ron McHenry, who has been taking Sweat Shop classes since 2005, said Vance’s classes were unique because of their long-standing success.
“A lot of us here feel that Jerry’s program is really necessary,” he said, adding that he saw no reason why her programs and any new programs that come along couldn’t co-exist.
Vance’s lawyer Scott Heaton told commissioners he thought they should exert some influence.
“I do want this board to put pressure on the director,” Heaton said.
He said the reason Vance’s class participation numbers were down in recent years from the 35-plus who once attended was that she had been moved into a smaller room that could comfortably accommodate only about half the people she once served.
He also said the fee structure Vance has set up works well for participants.
Vance told commissioners that she believes she has “greatly added to the health of the community” through the thousands of classes she has taught, and that she only hoped her program would be able to continue.
Ursula Carlson, who said she has taken classes from Vance since her early years of child-raising, praised Vance’s fitness regime with its focus on body-only exercise, rather than equipment. She said Vance’s classic style would never be outdated and called the workouts “cutting edge.”
She also told commissioners that Vance has never had any problems in all the years she has had a contract with the department, and that she hoped “that proven success has some weight with you.”
Commission chairwoman Donna Curtis told those who spoke on behalf of Vance that the commission was not in a position to make a decision on the department’s proposals, but that “hopefully staff will listen.”
Because the issue has stirred up so much controversy in the community, the item will be heard during the board of supervisor’s March 4 meeting.