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Cortez Recreation Center hires new personal trainers

Two private contractors join Rayna Hale

The Cortez Recreation Center has hired two new personal trainers and three new fitness instructors for the fall season, its largest increase in fitness staff in years.

In a meeting Thursday, personal trainer Rayna Hale introduced Sarah Dunlap and April Gray to the rest of the staff. They will start offering personal training sessions on Sept. 18, which is also when the new fitness instructors’ classes will begin. Supervisor Michelle Devall said the new hires are part of a push by the rec center to offer a wider variety of fitness programs.

The rec center tends to have a high staff turnover rate, she said, so this year she asked for Hale’s help to find qualified people who might be willing to stay for the long term.

“I’ve always wanted to have as many fitness people as I could here, but I just didn’t know how to get to them,” she said. “So I needed someone to recruit them. In comes Rayna Hale.”

Hale has worked at the center for about nine years. She said she was motivated to help find more personal trainers, because she’s the only one the city has employed for a long time, and the workload was becoming too much for her to handle alone. She and Devall also wanted trainers who could specialize in working with younger people, since most of Hale’s students are over age 55.

Both Dunlap and Gray recently moved to Cortez, although Gray said she went to high school here. Gray recently got her trainer’s certification, but she worked as a labor and delivery nurse in the Navy for about four years. Dunlap has worked as a personal trainer for about 20 years, specializing in triathlon preparation. She moved to Cortez when her husband, Jason Dunlap, became vice president of finance at Osprey Packs.

“I pretty much thought I would be a stay-at-home mom in this town,” she said. “But I can’t stand that. I have to be out doing stuff.”

Kerri White, Sarah Sticha and Val Whitehorse recently started as fitness instructors. Whitehorse teaches several classes, including dance aerobics and “functional fitness.” Sticha and White’s classes include Pilates and high-intensity interval training. Hale said some of those options, such as Pilates, haven’t been offered at the rec center for as long as five years.

“One of the things that I’ve tried to create is a diversity in classes,” she said. “Things that are slow, things that are fast, things that are out of the box, things that are in the box. ... We’ve got a lot of great things going here.”

She said the new trainers might offer special programs for expectant mothers, triathletes or other groups that show interest. Most classes at the rec center cost $4 per session. Personal trainer fees vary, but Hale said she usually charges about $20 per session. Anyone can sign up for a class or contact a personal trainer at the front desk of the rec center.

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