By Hope Quay
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch 

Powerhouse sees enthusiastic response since opening in June


Roger Dey

The front of the Powerhouse sports a Lincoln Lynx graphic, emphasizing its objective of serving Lincoln youth.

Just a few months ago, work on Rick Freeland's dream of a non-profit fitness and recreation center for Lincoln had just begun. Now, Freeland and his wife Patti have converted the dated mid-century building that once housed the First Bank of Lincoln into a sleek and modern gym facility.

"I think we started work on March 10th," said Freeland, who opened the doors to the Power House in early June. It's a project he's been dreaming about for 20 years.

Assisted by Patti, their daughter Stacey, and a couple of community members who volunteered labor and supplies, Freeland planned and executed the building's transformation, paying for most materials and equipment out of pocket.

"I modeled it after a gym in New York City," Freeland said of the makeover. "I took some of the feel of that. I really wanted Lincoln to be proud of this place."

"He wanted it to be world-class, in miniature," Patti added.

Boasting a variety of workout equipment, a pool table and Nintendo room, a break room stocked with refreshments, and a media and theater room that also doubles as a space for fitness and self-defense classes, the Power House has been met with enthusiasm since it opened its doors a little over a month ago.

"Right now, I've got around sixty adult memberships," Freeland said. "I have an 87-year-old, an 84-year-old and an 80-year-old who all come in here and get on the machines. I have a couple of stroke patients, a couple of cardiac patients, just a little bit of everybody. A lot of the kids...are working, but they'll come in here and work out for an hour. Summer is going to be time for Patti and I to finish things up, and when school starts we're going to have to have our game on."

Although gym members range from middle schoolers to octogenarians, Freeland's main goal was always to create a safe and welcoming environment for Lincoln's middle and high school students; a place where they could hang out, work out and receive mentorship and encouragement, as well as a secure and comfortable place for local women to exercise.

"What I'm finding so far is that 99 percent of the women who come in here are intimidated," said Freeland, who, with Patti, raised three daughters and provided a safe house for victims of human trafficking for several years. "They think 'I'm overweight, there's no hope, I've never worked out on machines,'" he said. "'First of all,' I tell them, 'I grew up in a house full of women, and I can look at you and say you don't have that far to go.' Our view of ourselves is rarely objective."

"You pick out something that's fun...park yourself on the recumbent bike, find yourself a rowing machine, just relax...listen to the music. If you make it a good experience for yourself, you'll keep coming back," Freeland said.

Membership is free for teens aged 12-18.

"I'm letting kids in here who are under 12, under the auspices of their parents or with permission, when I'm here, because there's too many kids under 12 that need this place," said Freeland.

An adult membership to the Powerhouse is $20 a month, or a suggested $5 donation to use the facility as a visitor. As a non-profit facility, all membership fees and donations go to maintain the facility, pay the rent on the building and keep the lights on.

During the hours the gym is open to all, Freeland or Patti are always present to supervise. Adult members who would like to use the facility at their convenience receive a key and are free to do so any time.

Regular gym hours are currently 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Saturdays are a shorter day, but Freeland would like to start offering longer hours on Saturdays as well. He is in the process of vetting responsible adult volunteers to assist in a supervisory capacity.

"I want to see that everything starts out right. One serious wrong move could ruin the gym," he said. "I've been talking to different adults, and I've got a handful of really good adults...I'm establishing a staff before school starts."

The Power House runs entirely on volunteer power, and Freeland encourages Lincoln teens to take pride of ownership in the facility.

"We have a bunch of kids that can't wait to become staff here," he said. "I really don't think we're going to have any problems; the people that have become a part of this gym have...been wonderful. They've just been a delight. They come in and treat the place respectfully - they treat it like it's their own."

Throughout the realization of his dream, Freeland hasn't lost sight of his original intent to eventually hand the Power House over to the community. He would like to raise the funds to purchase the property – something he says the current owner would also like to see happen.

"If that does happen, I'm going to put the pool in out back, before I hand it over to the community," he said. "I just want the town to know how encouraging they have been. This has been really wonderful."

Roger Dey


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