State Capitol employees, as well as elected officials and lawmakers, will have one less excuse early next year for not getting physically fit.
A fitness room is being developed in the southwest side of the Capitol's basement. Some of the money to renovate the former appellate court clerk's office, as well as some workout equipment, is being donated.
The center, complete with a small area for showers, is scheduled to open Feb. 1, said John Morrison, administrator of the state's capital assets management division. Hours of operation will be determined later. Plans are to not charge employees and officials for using the center.
The center will open about a year after Gov. Mary Fallin announced the creation of a fitness center along with a ban on tobacco products in all state-owned and leased properties and vehicles in an attempt to improve the health of Oklahoma, which typically is rated far below other states.
“The leading causes for poor health in Oklahoma are largely preventable illnesses like diabetes and heart disease linked to obesity,” Fallin said Thursday.
“By providing a fitness facility for Capitol employees and staff, we're setting an example for the rest of the state as we work to improve our physical fitness.”
Fallin, during her speech to open this year's legislative session, said the tobacco ban would mean closing of a smoking room in the Capitol for lawmakers and employees.
Several lawmakers who smoke groaned at the news.
When plans started being made to convert the smoking room, it became apparent the 10-by-13-foot room was insufficient to be used for any type of fitness center.
Besides, after putting in a different air ventilation system and other work, the space still smells of tobacco smoke, said Doug Kellogg, building manager for the Capitol.