HARLEM — Workers at the J. Rozier Hansborough Recreation Center spent Monday unwrapping treadmills, elliptical cross trainers, cycles and free weights.
The city rec center, located on West 134th Street, received 12 new top-of-the-line pieces of strength and cardio equipment as part of a $300,000 Parks Department plan to spruce up several recreation centers in Queens, The Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn. About 90 new pieces of equipment are expected to be delivered during May.
"I've been here two years and one of the main complaints has been that it's been a long time since we've seen new equipment," Hansborough's manager Ellis Mercer said.
Hansborough received the same type of equipment, from company Life Fitness, that is found at expensive gyms like Equinox — minus a few bells and whistles such as attached televisions, said Life Fitness sales representative Lisa Wild. The machines are for high volume use, designed to be in motion 18 to 24 hours per day.
The new free-weight Hammer Strength equipment is the same kind used by the National Football League and National Basketball Association, Wild added.
Annika Holder, assistant parks department commissioner for public programs, said the citywide equipment upgrade initiative is designed to increase membership at New York's 32 recreation centers, which cost $150 per year for membership.
"For 41 cents a day for adults, it's a steal," Holder said. "We want to encourage New Yorkers to get moving, and everyone likes to see something shiny and new."
Holder said the new equipment went to areas where there is a high rate of obesity and weight-related diseases. Other fitness centers being spruced up are Lost Battalion in Rego Park, Queens, West Bronx Recreation Center, J. Hood Wright Recreation Center in Washington Heights and the Red Hook Recreation Center in Brooklyn, among others.
There have also been some internal Parks Department tweaks to make sure new equipment is ordered more quickly and maintained properly.
Previously, it took up to eight months to order new equipment because of the bidding process. Life Fitness now has a contract with the city that will allow new equipment to be delivered in about a month.
"If one of our centers says they need an abdominal machine, we can turn that request over much quicker," Holder added.
The equipment maintenance contracts have also been rewritten so the provider is penalized if the machines are not kept in good working order. All 1,000 pieces of equipment in the city's recreation centers have been placed in a database that can be checked for age and needed repairs.
The Parks Department says the out-of-service rate for equipment is 1 percent, down from 6 percent this time last year.
As soon as workers carried the new exercise equipment off the elevator at Hansborough, long-time volunteer Edward Willams was there to check it out.
"I have to watch and make sure no one breaks anything because this has been a long time coming," said Willams, a member of the center for more than three decades. "We were losing people because we didn't have the new equipment. These are going to make a lot of people happy."