Marlon Richison, manager of the TCMH Fitness Center, works with Helen Laffoon of Houston on one of the new treadmills. Laffoon is a regular participant in the Fitness Center's exercise class for seniors.

The air is on at the Texas County Memorial Hospital Fitness Center, but sweat is rising as members try out three new treadmills at the exercise facility.

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation recently donated $5,300 for the purchase of the treadmills for the TCMH Fitness Center. The treadmills have been in place and in use since early June.

“The treadmills are the most popular equipment at the fitness center,” said Marlon Richison, manager of facility.

The treadmills are part of a line of cardio equipment that includes stationary bicycles, elliptical machines and a step machine.

Richison placed a request with the Healthcare Foundation for assistance with funding for new treadmills in early 2010 when the fitness center was down to only two functioning treadmills.

“We haven’t received a new treadmill since 2005,” Richison said. “These will be a great benefit to our members.”

The treadmills are refurbished professional grade, Star Trac Pro machines. Richison explained that the refurbished machines are $1,700 apiece and come with a two-year warranty.

“These machines are two years old or less,” Richison said. “They retail for $4,500 and probably come from gyms that lease their equipment and change it out on a regular basis.”

The new treadmills have a six-inch impact cushion on the rolling floor of the machine, compared to the older fitness center treadmills having only a one-and-a-half-inch cushion.

“The thicker impact cushion is easier on the knees and joints of our members,” Richison explained.

The new treadmills have a built-in heart monitor that can be utilized while using the machine.

“The heart monitor feature is very good for the seniors that use the treadmills and for those with heart conditions,” Richison said.

The electronics on the new machines are also upgraded and feature two small fans that can be activated to blow air on the person using the treadmill.

“Everybody loves the new machines,” Richison said. He added that the impact cushion and fans are the two most popular features on the new machines.

“The fitness center members and I are very grateful to the Healthcare Foundation for this generous gift,” Richison said.

Jay Gentry, director of the TCMH Healthcare Foundation, noted that the foundation was instrumental in starting the TCMH Fitness Center many years ago.

“The foundation purchased mats and other equipment to help the fitness center get its start,” Gentry said. “The ongoing health of our community has always been important to the Healthcare Foundation and its board of directors.”

The mission of the Healthcare Foundation is to improve the health of the women, children and men in Texas County. Gentry and the foundation board saw the recent purchase of the new treadmills as a way to continue to improve the health of county residents.

“We know that many area residents utilize the fitness center on a regular basis,” Gentry said.

Of special importance to the Healthcare Foundation is the “senior fitness” class offered free of charge twice a week at the fitness center. Many area seniors attend the class and use equipment — particularly the treadmills — in the fitness center before or after the class.

“This was a significant donation for the Healthcare Foundation, and we hope that through the use of these treadmills our donors will continue to improve the healthcare of our community for many years to come,” Gentry said.

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation is the non-profit organizational arm of the hospital that develops relationships and financial resources to support the healthcare programs, projects and services of the hospital.

For more information about donor programs at TCMH contact Gentry at 417-967-1377 or 1-866-967-3311, ext. 377.

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