Odessa residents received a gift a couple of months ago and it came in the form of the Community Fun and Fitness Center (CFFC) which opened its doors on May 15, 2010. CFFC was founded by Martial Arts instructor Cheryl Cleveland – who by the way holds a world record for the most boards broken by a woman. Cheryl has taught martial arts in the community for years and formerly held classes in the New First Baptist Church of Odessa through Odessa Martial Arts. When her classes outgrew the space in the church she set her sites for a new facility and she didn’t need to look very far.
The community center which is adjacent to the church has sat dilapidated and abandoned for about 20 years. Cheryl served as a volunteer for a church sponsored food pantry which used the space for storage of the donations for the pantry. When Cheryl first saw the space, she began to imagine the possibilities of using the space for classes. The trouble with the building was that it had a bad roof and a substantial mold problem for which the church had no money in its budget for repairs. Cheryl approached the church directors with a proposition: she would make the repairs to the building in exchange for a lease. The only challenge that stood in her way was how to pay for the $100,000 dollar repair estimate.
Initially, Cheryl applied for over one hundred grants but as you might imagine grant money is extremely hard to come by in this economy. In order to proceed with her dream, the ever tenacious Cheryl mortgaged her house and maxed out her credit cards to pay for work she could not perform herself. Problems plagued the project from the very beginning. A roofing contractor walked off the job after taking the more than $20,000 dollars that he originally estimated for the job.
Other contractors wanted an additional $30,000 dollars to fix the problems the first contractor created. Window replacements were delayed by six months because yet another contractor failed to pull the necessary permits before beginning the job. There was also a lot of confusion among county agencies about who had jurisdiction and responsibility for licensing and permitting. And then termites were found in the walls when work began on the central air-conditioning. The renovations took well over a year with much of the dirty work performed by Cheryl and a small but mighty army of friends, family and member volunteers. Nevertheless, Cheryl and company endured and the center held its grand opening on May 15 of this year.
CFFC is comprised of three main studios. The largest is the martial arts room which houses martial arts and self-defense classes. There is also a yoga/dance studio and an arts/education classroom. Additionally there is a lounge and computer lab and the Mathew James Zajac Lending Library where members can borrow books, movies and tapes. The center is open Monday through Thursday from 10:00 am until 9:00pm with a variety of classes scheduled each day. In addition to Martial Arts for all age groups, the center also offers fitness classes in yoga, pilates, and Zumba throughout the week. CFFC also offers educational and enrichment classes in ballroom and hip hop dance, mathematics, creative writing, art and photography and Spanish.
Class fees are donation based with a baseline donation of $5.00 per class. A onetime membership fee of $25.00 per individual or $50.00 per household offers members a lifetime membership at the center. During the summer, the center is also offering a day camp on Monday and Wednesdays between 1:00pm and 3:00 pm for kids between the ages of five and eleven where participants play games, run obstacle courses and compete in scavenger hunts. The cost of the camp is only $5.00 per day per child. Compared to other programs and other facilities, CFFC offers a tremendous value for families in the community.
Ginger Alemaghides manages membership at the center in addition to being a yoga and pilates
instructor there herself. Instructors are selected based upon their professionalism, community focus and desire to give back. The staff is friendly, helpful, supportive and knowledgeable. The center adds new programs and classes nearly every week so if you’re considering joining a gym or trying something new like yoga or Zumba, the Community Fun and Fitness Center of Odessa has an affordable, fun and rewarding program for you.
CFFC is located at 1234 Gunn Highway, Odessa, Florida 33556. The telephone number is 813-
842-3202. If you visit, please tell them that Karyn sent you!