Many of us who may now be just a little bit out of shape will fondly remember when Bedrock Fitness Ltd. opened in the refurbished old Ponoka Arena in 1988. This family fun centre gave individuals, families, teams, and groups of all ages a unique and challenging way to exercise, to work off some pounds, and to have fun getting into great form and maintaining good health at their own pace and schedule.
The original 1200 square foot Bed Rock Gymnasium was located in the southeast bay of the completely renovated 1947 arena structure, which was owned by the Moussa Brothers, operators of Ken’s Furniture. This brightly lit and fully equipped fitness facility quickly became very popular for patrons from throughout the town and county of Ponoka, and in order to accommodate shift workers and everyone’s busy schedules, Bed Rock owners Billy Jean and Kevin Rowland added a coded door lock to the south entrance and eventually the addition of a 24-hour pass for regular members.
Kevin Rowland firmly believed that fitness was not just a craze but a way of life for everyone from youth to seniors to have fun exercising their way into good health at a vigorous or casual pace among friends, neighbours and teammates. Bedrock was always a great and friendly place to stretch and squat and strain, to clean and jerk and pump some iron, to run a few miles on the treadmill, and to work up a real good sweat. Each day, the congenial supervisors were always pleased to see their ever growing list of local members huff and puff, vibrate and vent, while working hard through their various programs and challenges. Even though there may have been just a little stiffness and pain at the end of the workout, they usually came back feeling real good about their ongoing efforts and accomplishments. It was also super to see community sports teams come down with their coaches to workout and to see the mothers come in with their children for some fitness fun.
The operation of Bedrock Fitness was quickly blessed with a warm and friendly family type atmosphere, with Kevin and Billie Jean running the noon and evening fitness classes as well as floor hockey sessions, while Bobbi-Jo was the massage therapist and organized the aerobics sessions, Reid had a big hand in the development of the building and heavy maintenance, and Bill and Marlene Goodbun looked after the office and other daily needs, as well as watching the grandchildren. With Bedrock Fitness and Goodbun’s Bakery in operation, the locals often joked that the family was fattening the people up at one end of town and thinning and slimming down at the other. In 1989, local athlete Wade Kroening approached the ‘Bedrock Bunch’ with the idea of starting an annual 10-kilometre running race in and around Ponoka, with the proceeds going to community and national causes. Before you could say ‘ready-steady-go’, the Bedrock Fitness 5 and 10K Fun Run was hosted every spring for 17 years, with close to 120 men, women, children and families participating in the always popular event.
A major milestone for Bedrock Fitness came in 1998 when they moved 150 feet south to an old iconic local building that had served the community under several businesses for a number of decades. Through extensive renovations the new facility included a licensed deli, which was later changed to a 10-person Swedish steam bath, a large under heated floating floor, which played host to the Shotokan Karate Society, floor hockey, dances, and many other fitness orientated groups.
In 1997, Bedrock Fitness Centre became a major sponsor for the start up of the Ponoka Stampeders Junior ‘B’ Hockey team and supported their operation for several seasons. They also promoted the very popular Summer Kid’s Fitness Camp programs, which were hosted the ever-enthusiastic Chris Backus and Rick Camp. Along the way, owner Billy Jean Rowland avidly competed as a body-builder, winning the Northern Alberta Championships in March 1990, and grabbing a second in the Alberta Championships in April 1990, and a third in the Western Canadians in 1991. Bedrock was also proud to play host to up and coming local athletes like former National Hockey League player Harry York, who trained hard at the facility for many summers, and encouraged others to do the same. After Bill and Marlene Good Bun sold their bakery, they took over the food concession at Bedrock Fitness, and when Kevin and Billie Jean Rowland and their family moved to Shiloh, Manitoba in 2006, Bobbi-Jo Christensen ran the centre until it closed in 2008. Kevin served in the Canadian Army for eight years at Camp Shiloh and later Gagetown, New Brunswick, including two stints in Afghanistan, then after retirement he went to work for Invesa Systems, while Billy Jean owns her own home business and still enjoys assisting up and coming young swimmers.
The Bedrock Fitness Centre family will always be very proud and will always cherish the fond memories of being able to be a part of the vibrant Ponoka community for many years, while establishing their busy fitness facility as a sounding board for the ever-changing ideas that the staff would introduce to people of all ages promoting the countless fun and benefits of enjoying an active lifestyle. This same building still operates today as a new energetic entity called Dirty Deeds and Detailing, while the spirit and tradition of family fun and fitness still carries on in our community at Curves and Rip-N-Ronnie’s.