CoMo Commentary: My Love-Hate Relationship With The ARC

Top Ten Things I Love About The ARC

1)  The facility – not only is it designed beautifully, but it is exceptionally well maintained.  Big windows, open spaces, a logical layout all set the stage for a good experience.  And I love the “diving man.”  I am sur00e there was a controversy about this piece of art at some point in time (isn’t there always?)  I find him beautiful, and inspirational, and everything public art should be.

2)  The parking lot – sounds silly, but do you frequent any place where the parking spaces are just a little too small or not angled correctly?  I do.  And let’s be honest, those are the kind of things that often add unnecessary stress to your day.  At the ARC I can park my husband’s ridiculously large, gas-guzzling truck without getting in anyone else’s way.

3)  The ambient temperature – another one that sounds a little stupid, but have you ever belonged to a gym that is so hot you start sweating when you walk in the door?  What about a place so cold that your muscles never actually warm up?  Not fun.

4)  The equipment – they have a huge variety of cardio and weight equipment.  And 99% of the time, 99% of it is working.  The last gym I belonged to looked awesome when you toured it.  But once you joined and actually tried to work out, you quickly realized half of the state-of-the-art machines were out-of-order.

5)  The diverse clientele – true diversity across the board including age, color, race, religion, national origin and I ASSUME sexual orientation.  The entire rainbow of CoMo’s citizenry is represented at the ARC every single day.

6)  The price – monthly memberships for a single person or a family are all relatively inexpensive.  Specialty programs, classes and events are usually also priced in a cost effective manner.

7)  The pool – bottom line – it is a beautiful facility.  My kids are not old enough to enjoy the big slide yet, but we enjoy the kiddie area and the Lazy River.  And it is only $1 per person during “Little Swimmers,” an amazing deal.

8)  Little Gymmers – on Monday and Friday mornings half the large gym is open for toddler age children to enjoy with a parent or guardian.  Again the price is $1.  After living in Columbia, Missouri for half a year and basically NOT getting to know any other parents despite going to the park EVERY DAY, I discovered Little Gymmers.  Soon after, I formed an amazing playgroup with families I met in the ARC’s gym.

9) Special Programs – from Bring Your Own Bike, when young children are allowed to ride their bikes on the track, to the 90-Day-Challenge – a fitness evaluation and competition, to West African Dance Class, which features live music, if you can’t find something to motivate or entertain yourself, you aren’t trying.

10) The Vibe – um?  what does that mean?  Well, much like public art, the vibe is in the eyes of the beholder – or the soul or the participant – or something like that.   Obviously to some coming to the ARC is a social experience.  Without a doubt it is a place to be seen – but it seems like that applies to the folks older then 65 and younger then 15.  In between are serious athletes, weekend warriors, over-weight housewives (Hi!!  that’s me) people with special physical needs, families working out together, new mothers pushing strollers.  Some people are adorned in the latest in footwear, others are wearing 20-yr-old t-shirts (Hi! that’s me, again) still others are wearing bluejeans.  The ARC feels like a community where people are both friendly and minding their own business – what could be better than that?

Top Three Things I Hate About The ARC

1)  The reception desk – there is no excuse for the unprofessional, unorganized nature of the front desk.  Staff members are eating their lunches, texting on their phones and playing cards on the computer while they are being paid with MY TAX DOLLARS.  This lack of professionalism overflows into all aspects of what they are trying to accomplish – do parents have to pay for Little Gymmers or just the kids? – you will never get the same answer twice in a row.  Is the Zumbathon $5 for members or $8 – the computer is telling them one thing, the printed materials tell them something different.  Even when they are trying to get it right, it seems the organization is not supporting them.  And their computers are sooooooo slllllloooooowwwww.  If two people show up at the same time there will inevitably be a line.

2)  The website – pathetic.  I believe it is because it is tied into the city’s Parks and Rec site and is not a stand-alone site.  But really – pathetic.  If you want to know if Little Gymmers is cancelled – show up at the gym and look for a sign written on a whiteboard.  Want to hear about a special event? – it may show up on the site – Zumbathon – it may not – Western African Dance Class.  My friends and I take cell-phone photos of the  flyers that are put up on the counter in the lobby so we can inform each other about cool things coming up that we might want to attend.  Pathetic.  And really – a huge financial opportunity is being missed.

3)  The lack of diversity at Little Gymmers, specifically.  As a mother of a brown child, it is disappointing to show up week-after-week and see only pink kids enjoying this cool opportunity to blow off steam in a climate controlled environment.  As we enter the building each week, I see families in every shade and I hope that their kids will be joining mine on the trikes.  Week-after-week, I am disappointed.


  1. The Recordkeeper says:

    I agree with the things you love and generally think the ARC has a lot going for it. I would add one more “hate” to your list: The ARC really fails in serving families with kids between roughly 8 and 12. Kids this age are simply too old to suitably served in a room oriented to the needs of toddlers and pre-schoolers and yet there’s no other place for them to be or anything for them to do unsupervised, which means their parents can’t use the facility to work out. We quit and used a private gym with more amenities for several years until our son was old enough to shoot hoops unsupervised. This is such a fixable problem, too bad they seem uninterested in fixing it.

  2. For those uninformed like me, the ARC is Columbia’s Activity & Recreation Center, located at 1701 W. Ash Street

  3. Point 3 of your dislikes isn’t really the ARC’s fault.

  4. There’s more things to love about ARC than to hate. the reception thing made me laugh, sorry for the inconvinience, tho!

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