Monday, January 18, 2010

PEI's Eastern School District discourages exercise?

Here's the story. There's this company out in Prince Edward Island (PEI) called UFIT. It was founded in 2002 and it aims to provide non-judgemental, safe places to promote exercise. As evidenced in the photograph above, UFIT classes generally take place in school gymnasiums and everyone is welcome - from children where kids under 10 are free with parents, through to seniors and the cost to attend is/was only $5/class or $45/ten classes with each class lasting an hour.

Sounds great right?

Well at least it did.

You see PEI's Eastern School District is effectively shutting them down. Apparently local gyms complained that the rates the schools were charging UFIT to rent their gymnasiums impacted on their businesses.

The Eastern School District's response? Despite the fact that there was no exclusivity to UFIT's booking of school gymnasiums, despite the fact that one might think the schools would want to encourage exercise, despite the fact that comparing group fitness classes held for an hour a day in a local school gymnasium to a full-on, all day gym is like comparing taking a night class in a community college with a carrying a full-course load in University, as of February 1st the school district's hiking up UFIT's rent, restricting UFIT to holding only 3 days of classes per week per gymnasium (down from 7), and banning UFIT classes during summer break, stat holidays, March break or storm days.

Want to see what the school board's apparently trying to shut down? Here's a report from the CBC on UFIT (email subscribers, you'll have to head to the blog to watch):

Does anyone have a clue what this school board's thinking? Are they upset that UFIT's actually found a way to use school gymnasiums to effectively help keep people fit?

Think this is horrible? It might not be too late to help. According to a discussion I read on UFIT's Facebook page the school trustee's final vote on this matter isn't until February 1st. Why not send an email to Dr. Sandy MacDonald and Robert Clow and tell them what you think - Dr. MacDonald's the Superintendent of Education for the District responsible and Robert Clow is the Chair of the Board of Trustees for this sad turn of events (UFIT and the rest of the Board of Trustees will be copied on the email as well - and of course feel free to post a copy of your email in the comments here)

[UPDATE: Please read the comments - perhaps this isn't as clear cut an issue as originally presented.]

[Hat tip and thanks to loyal blog reader, RD and former Islander Chelsey for tipping me off to the story and providing me with a pile of links to make this an easy post]