Recreation getting back to a normal

Kevin Kuklok exercises on an elliptical machine at the Wellness Center.

The Tellico Village Recreation Department is taking notice of an uptick in activities and classes as more people are starting to get back outside thanks to warmer weather and gradually decreasing COVID-19 numbers in Loudon County.

The county’s daily rates dropped 2.5% last week as total cases are falling, which has more people hitting up the Village’s three recreation centers.

Simon Bradbury, Tellico Village Property Owners Association recreation director, said the Wellness Center, Chota Recreation Center and Kahite Community Center are still abiding by social-distancing and sanitization guidelines as more classes open up.

“We’re still doing 6 feet, but we can do more people and so our classes are going from 25 to 30,” Bradbury said. “The workout room here at the Wellness Center has gone from 35 and now it’s at 40. We’re still at 6 feet, but more people can come. We’ve also got 52 classes going on now, which is more than we’ve ever had and that’s probably because we’re doing smaller numbers. We used to have like 70 people come, but now it’s smaller numbers where there’s 30 people and we can offer more. People like it and now we’re using the Chota gym. I’ve got classes back-to-back down there and here at the same time.”

Memberships across the board are increasing, and Bradbury believes this could be a record-setting year for the department.

“Projections for this year, we’re exceeding what we’ve projected,” he said. “We don’t have last year’s numbers yet, but we’re up to like 750 and on the individual we were at like 1,000. Most places when you look at national averages, they are probably at 75% or 80% on a decline and closed. That’s because we’re not just a health club, but we also have pickleball, we have tennis and the way that we manage things to where people feel comfortable coming back.”

Kevin Kuklok is one of many Villagers who enjoys using the recreational facilities and physical therapy sessions through Tennessee Orthopaedic Clinic.

“Actually as long as the gym was open and when the gym opened back, I was back the first day,” Kuklok said. “I do three things here in the Wellness Center — I do this elliptical a couple days a week, some light weights, some cardio and a little bit of isometric. I’ve got some medical issues that I work on through a physical therapist, and then I do yoga here a couple of days a week here. I’m a big fan and have been doing that now for about 12 years. I really find that to be a wonderful benefit of this membership.”

The Tellico Village Recreation Advisory Committee has been busy this spring and one of the hot topics of discussion involves changes coming to Tugaloo Park below the Yacht Club docks.

The POA on April 21 approved a plan to staff attendants at the park and closely monitor all activity.

Bradbury said initial plans were to charge non-Village residents to enter, but those were tabled after further discussion. A valid driver’s license or Tellico Village residency card will be required upon entering the park and pavilion starting after Memorial Day.

“There was this image that outsiders were coming in and doing bad things to our place, even though we studied it and found out that there’s no real difference between people coming from outside of the Village and inside the Village that are doing bad things down there or messing things up,” Bradbury said. “This is Loudon County and we’re part of Loudon County and we’re all Loudon countians, but you’re saying we can’t let outsiders in? We’re going to have a staff down there and they’re going to have a portable entry building where people are going to stop and show their driver’s license.

“Part of it is because we’ve got so many years like the boat folks down there with the docks, we’ve got families and children that swim, we’ve got the dog park going on, we’ve got functions at the pavilion and we’ve got kayaks going on,” he added. “It’s not really been managed before, and now we’re taking a step to manage it. That’s going to be something new this summer.”