The Missoula Parks and Recreation Department is making sure winter is no excuse for being inactive.

Parks and Rec has opened a new Sports and Wellness Center in the gymnasium of the City Life Community Center, located at 1515 Fairview Ave.

“They had approached us about leasing and managing the gym. We saw it as an excellent way to expand our winter recreation options in Missoula, which are always in demand,” said Ryan Yearous, recreation specialist for Parks and Rec.

Until opening the new center, Yearous said one of the only indoor activity areas Parks and Rec had was the Currents Aquatic Center in McCormick Park.

The new center will offer a variety of activities and open gymnasium times, including fitness classes, yoga, Zumba, pickleball for adults, and indoor tennis and soccer for kids.

Pickleball is probably the least recognized game the center offers. It is like a cross between tennis and ping pong. Played on a badminton-sized court on the gymnasium’s floor, with a short net, players smack a wiffle ball back and forth using large wooden paddles.

For those unfamiliar with the game, there is always a representative from Parks and Rec on hand to teach during the pickleball open gym times. During January, there are open play sessions every day of the week except Fridays.

The Sports and Wellness Center does not have membership fees. People simply pay each time they come, or can buy multiple-visit punch cards at a discount. A few of the classes, like tennis, are several weeks long and do require registration before they start, Yearous said.

“We want to make it easy. Most of the events are just drop-in. Whether it is open gym during the lunch hour or kids’ programs for after school,” Yearous said.

Leagues for adult sports are also being put together, with forms available on Parks and Rec’s website or at the center.

Open gym sessions for adults, which include volleyball, basketball, soccer and pickleball, are $5 to attend. During the month of January, everyone is able to attend one of the youth or adult drop-in classes for free by filling out a form when they arrive.

Class schedules and other information can be found online at missoulaparks.org, by calling Parks and Recreation at 721-PARK, or at its office at 600 Cregg Lane.

Dillon Kato is a journalism student at the University of Montana and an intern at the Missoulian. He can be reached at 523-5251 or at dillon.kato@missoulian.com.

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