Allina Health to close St. Paul fitness center, seniors petition against it

After decades of early morning workouts, seniors in St. Paul say Allina Health’s ExerCare Fitness Center has become a second home. But now many are in disbelief as Allina Health plans to close the gym by the end of the month.

"I was devastated," Mary Louise Sirigiano said.

"By closing this what are you saying about how we value wellness, how we value seniors?" Candy Vittorini continued.

Many of the fitness enthusiasts at ExerCare are more than 65 years old. They credit the center for giving them a social life in their later years.

"There is no other place like this," Vittorini said. "There is no place with a sense of community."

They also say there’s no other place for them to find the specialized training needed for seniors with their medical histories. Now they’ve created a petition to keep the center alive, claiming Allina Health is falling short of its mission to prevent illness.

Allina Health declined an interview and sent FOX 9 this statement on Wednesday:

"Allina Health is proud of the fitness and wellbeing services the Milton M. Hurwitz ExerCare Fitness Center has provided for the community and the tremendous contributions of our dedicated employees. We have made the difficult decision to close the facility in late October because it operates at a significant annual loss that we are no longer able to financially absorb. We are grateful for the staff, members and members of the community who have supported the center and recognize the impact the closure of the center will have on them. We are working with our community partners to identify other options for members to consider in the future."