Blog: Dome Stories

A healthy way to hang out

It’s not surprising to hear that domes attract more users during a cold snap. What is surprising is the year-round attendance of a group of guys at West St. Paul’s Regional Athletic Center. They show up just about every day – in good weather and bad – and walk between three to five miles around the track.

Girls playing soccer inside soccer air domes

They look like guys who’d rather throw down a few pints than speed up their heart rates. They’re not decked out in trendy Lycra and spandex t-shirts. They just know walking is good for them. And they like the camaraderie.

“The older you get, the more you have to walk. The surface inside the dome is easier to walk on. My knees and feet have stopped hurting since I started walking here,” says Jon Fischer.

“I belong to the YMCA,” said John Corrigan, “But I think it’s more beneficial to walk here instead of on a machine like a treadmill.”

Heartbeat Under a Heated Dome

Walkers inside an inflatable dome

The real payoff seems to be the friendship and sense of community that’s evolved at this facility. When one of the regulars, Milt, went missing for a couple days, his walking buddies took it upon themselves to find out why. Turns out Milt was in a car accident. He’s back on track now – wearing a temporary neck brace. The accident slowed the 92-year-old’s pace to two miles a day instead of his usual five.

Municipalities that operate domed facilities are providing benefits to their communities. The self-described “old guys” in West St. Paul know that besides having a warm, safe walking environment, it’s more about the friendship. “The people here are really friendly. You can’t find nicer people,” Fischer says. “The best part is meeting up with your friends. It’s a social event.”