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Alliance Health opens rehab centre in former Dirk’s Fitness location

The health-care business officially took over on Sept. 1 after the former fitness centre ceased operations the day before because of financial issues.

Alliance Health has moved into the former Dirk’s Fitness location and plans to operate a comprehensive rehabilitation centre, as part of a wider plan to enhance its community presence.

The organization officially took over on Sept. 1 after the former fitness centre ceased operations the day before, a sign on the front doors explained. 

The sign indicated that Alliance Health will charge membership of $50 per month, no long-term contracts are required, the building’s hours will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, staff members will always be present, physical and mental health services will be offered, and Kyra Klassen has been hired as the fitness director.

“We are super excited about opening … to serve our community,” Klassen told the Moose Jaw Express

The Express learned about the ownership change after a former Dirk’s Fitness member reached out with concerns. 

“People are just mad,” the member said. “I’m out $600.”

Landlord Jamey Logan explained that Dirk’s Fitness owner, Joseph Dirk, likely could not stay open because "it wasn't going well." The two parties had worked out an agreement with rent — an exchange of equipment for rent, or asset sale — but Logan’s company eventually took over operations in mid-August and kept the gym going until a new tenant was found.

“There’s businesses having a difficult time (due to the economy, but) I think this one is the direct result of COVID and trying to get people back,” he continued. “COVID, as you can imagine, absolutely kicked the crap out of gyms and physical fitness facilities … . If you weren’t watching your pennies, it made for a tough situation.

“And then once he started up, on the back end of COVID, he didn’t seem to have the membership base as he did pre-COVID.”

Some members contacted Logan expressing their concerns but were not necessarily angry at him or Alliance. Instead, they were frustrated that their membership was now worthless. 

Alliance Health owner Mark Lemstra contacted Logan about leasing the space because he thought it would be suitable since it was close to the hospital. He also thought it could work well with the business’ new mental health and addictions centre in Wakamow Valley.

Lemstra told the Express that Dirk’s liabilities are with the landlord, members and other groups, which means Alliance Health will not re-pay members’ gym memberships since it would financially break the company. 

“I understand the members will be upset, but I don’t have their money,” he said.

Alliance Health plans to spend $380,000 to purchase 12 new cardio machines and 34 weight-training machines since the current gym equipment is old. 

The company’s next goal is to start a five-in-one seniors’ centre where residents can live in the same building from independent living to assisted living to long-term care to palliative care to end-of-life care, Lemstra said.

Enabling seniors to live in the same room for their remaining days would ensure that the health authority doesn’t send them to another community if space is unavailable here, he stated. 

Alliance Health wants to open this seniors’ centre in the former Ross School because it’s a beautiful building that has sat empty for 10 years, but it has been unable to reach an agreement with the owners, Lemstra continued. 

“If we could come to terms with them, then I could say we’re going to start doing things tomorrow. But I’ve been negotiating on the Ross School for years and I can’t get them to give me the space,” he remarked. 

Alliance Health plans to work with Church of God to upgrade several sports fields near the latter’s Trinity Lane campus as part of an overall effort to do many things in Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon and Yorkton. 

“I just think all these cities need services and I would like to provide (them),” added Lemstra. 

Edit: This story has been edited to reflect the fact Dark Side Gym did not promise to honour the memberships from Dirk's Fitness. 

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