The Moab Recreation & Aquatics Center outdoor pool is ready for its first swimmers. The pool opens to the public on Saturday, May 19. (Photo courtesy Moab Recreation & Aquatics Center)

At any given hour, weights are being lifted, bikes are spinning, treadmills are running and pool goers are in and out, back and forth.

Welcome to the Moab Recreation & Aquatics Center (MRAC) – the 24,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art fitness facility that opened last March.

Now, one year later and 1,700 individual members and counting, the MRAC has become a motivational mainstay for the community.

“Our goal is to accommodate the greatest number of user groups in the community,” said Terry Lewis, the MRAC director and longtime fitness enthusiast and exercise proponent. “We started the center to offer something for everyone, and as we go we’re working to fine tune the facility.”

The $7 million center – that aquatics manager Patrick Baril calls a “battleship” – includes an indoor 6-lane competition swimming pool with 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards and 18 ft. water slide; an outdoor 3-lane lap pool with adjoining current channel and bubble pool; an outdoor leisure pool; the 2,400-square-foot fitness room with free weights and cardio machines (many with Visio technology); a fitness classroom; men’s and women’s locker rooms; and a child care center.

While Lewis gives equal attention to all areas, the aquatics programs and offerings are the backbone of the center and its members and visitors. Ironically enough, Lewis, who grew up in Moab, had her first job as a teenager at the Moab Swim Center – the former swimming pool where the MRAC now sits.

But it is Baril’s vision and expertise that keep the swimmers – and the 350,000 gallons of water in the three pools – afloat. As an athletic trainer and pool operator, Baril has been living and breathing swimming pools, and his fair share of chlorine, for nearly three decades. In fact, Baril was the first swimmer to brave the 38-degree indoor swimming pool before it opened to the public last year.

“I’m from Michigan – cold water is nothing!” he said.

Today, dozens of swimmers jump, dive and swim in various pool activities in the aquatics program Baril has developed. MRAC currently offers lap swim, open swim, lessons, water polo and aerobics. In the works, he said, are aquatic volleyball, masters swim, kayak roll certification and other aerobic classes.

“We want to maximize the use of our facility,” Baril said. “We truly are trying to fill all the wellness needs of the community.”

Kristi Paul, a local triathlete, depends on the daily lap swim offered at the MRAC. Paul has been a competitive swimmer since she was 8 years old and, more than two decades later, her love for “chlorinated water and painted black lines” is paramount to where she lives. Paul says she moved back to Moab from Telluride, Colo., primarily because of the MRAC opening last year.

“Race training happens all year, and most cities have year-round access,” Paul said. “Not every sport in Moab has to have a risk factor…I’m a huge advocate of the advantages of swimming. There are only positive impacts on your body.”

Out of the water, MRAC features daily group exercise classes, spinning, mat pilates, lifeguard and CPR certification, a semi-annual triathlon and other cross training fitness options. Members and guests can find MRAC program details at the center’s front desk or online. And, importantly, all members can receive a cardio and weight room orientation to learn how to use the machines properly.

“We strive to offer an inclusive experience,” Lewis said. “From the 15-year-old wanting to weight lift for the first time to the 80-year-old recovering from hip surgery – we provide exercise and recreation for all ages and abilities.”

Daily admission fees to the MRAC pools range from $1 for a nonresident toddler to $20 for a visiting family of up to six people. It is an additional $3 to $15 for access to the fitness facility. Admission is nearly half these costs for residents of Moab. The true value of membership is for local residents who can access the facility continuously throughout the year. The outdoor pools, which open Saturday, May 19, can be accessed via the summer season pass that costs as little as $60 for youth and $75 for adults. Year-round passes are the most affordable option starting at $145 and $245 for adult aquatics and full access, respectively, and $270 and $445 for families. Monthly and punch passes are also available.

“We are cognizant of the local tax payer’s inherent participation in the facility becoming a reality,” Lewis said. “We do as much as possible to ensure revenue comes from other sources.”

It is because of the somewhat higher prices for visitors that the MRAC is able to offer such low, affordable rates and memberships, Lewis said.

The MRAC is currently evaluating how to effectively offer a senior wellness program.

“It is our mission to provide very affordable and accessible recreation to the Moab community,” she said.