Running new recreation center is dream job for former VCU player
Growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., Torrance Archie lived just a few a doors away from his neighborhood recreation center. Now Archie runs Henrico County's newest recreation center.
He is senior coordinator at the Eastern Henrico County Recreation Center (EHRC), 1440 N. Laburnum Avenue. The center opened in October and launched a full slate of fitness classes and activities this week.
Archie made a few stops between his days of hanging out at his hometown’s rec center and directing this 25,773-square-foot center.
He said his memories of his neighborhood center influenced his career choice. And the time he spent on the basketball courts there came in handy later.
Archie played basketball at Daytona Beach Community College before transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University in 1996.
He recalls that his two years playing as a power forward on the VCU team were good ones. He started every game in his basketball career at VCU.
“I loved playing for Coach [Sonny] Smith. He treated us like we were his own kids.” Archie said.
Archie also said he enjoyed meeting teammates who came from all over the country to attend the university. He also met, Seatra, the woman who would become his wife.
In fact, the couple married shortly after he graduated from VCU in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism.
Less than two months after they married, Archie left Richmond to pursue a dream of playing professional basketball.
His new wife supported his decision. Archie lived and played semiprofessional basketball in Sweden for two years.
Back in the U.S., it would be a few more years before Archie found a job that called on him to use his recreation degree. He joined the Henrico County Recreation and Parks division about four years ago.
Archie said that when he heard the county was building the center in eastern Henrico, he thought working at the center would be his dream job.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “It’s a blessing for me because this is what I love to do. I love to work with the community.”
Archie and the staff at the center are on a mission to help residents get in better shape while taking advantage of all the center has to offer.
About 37 percent of Richmond area residents exercise on a regular basis, according to the Richmond City Health District.
The center has a lot to entice you to get off the couch. Zumba, weight training, and yoga are some of the classes it offers.
Many of the classes are open to anyone – even those who don't live in Henrico County. Participants pay fees to enroll.
One unique feature at the recreation center is the fully-equipped fitness center. It’s the first of its kind at Henrico County rec centers.
The fitness center has 11 pieces of equipment for a cardiovascular workout, such as exercise bikes, treadmills and ellipticals, 12 pieces of weight equipment, and four large screen televisions to watch while you work out.
Archie and Rueridh McNicol, the center's fitness coordinator, said they want everyone to feel comfortable using the fitness center even if they have never picked up a dumbbell.
“All of our staff have personal trainer certifications, degrees, or group exercise certifications,” said McNicol, in a Scottish accent that's hard to miss. “We staff the center with a fitness instructor at all times. Everyone goes through orientation to help them feel comfortable with the exercise machines.”
Archie said four or five senior citizens were among the first members to join the fitness center.
“The ‘young ladies’ hang pretty tough,” Archie said. “They have a good time. They walk the track first and then come [to the fitness center] for a good workout.”
The fitness center, open only to county residents, also is popular among residents who come before and after work.
Sylvia Paige used to walk at Virginia Commons Center but now comes to the center in the mornings before she goes to work.
“I think it’s wonderful. I love it,” said Paige as she walked on a treadmill on a recent morning, shortly after the center opened at 8 a.m.
David Armstrong drives from western Henrico to use the fitness center.
“I was looking for a gym and heard about it from my co-workers. Its 10 bucks a month – that’s why I chose it,” he said.
The fitness center draws those who are looking for a structured personal workout. Now that classes have started, participants can register for group activities.
On Saturdays, a youth basketball league fills the rec center with parents and eager kids running across the gleaming gym floors. Archie should feel right at home.
* * *
The Eastern Henrico Recreation Center offers a number of fitness classes, including:
• Get Fit Boot Camp mixes cardio, calisthenics and body weight exercise with interval and strength training.
• 20/20/20 is a fusion workout that includes 20 minutes of low impact aerobics, 20 minutes of basic strength training and 20- minutes focused on stretching and balancing.
• Zumba mixes Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves.
• Women on Weights introduces women to the benefits of strength training with free weights, giving confidence to use weights safely and effectively.
• Intro to Yoga helps you improve balance, flexibility, posture and circulation and will enhance your ability to relax.
The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.
Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.
Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.
At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.
Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.
The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.
Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.
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Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress
The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.
Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.
On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.
‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.
Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.
In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.
So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.
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