The Canada Games Centre, near the top of Two Mile Hill, opens every weekday morning at 5:30 a.m. I did not get there until 7:00 a.m. and that was an effort.

As I walked in, I kept passing people on their way out. They were already done their workouts. I approached one of those early birds and discovered she is looking after her two-year-old granddaughter and likes to get a workout in before the wee one arrives.

Over by the windows to the hockey rink I see what must be three dads watching the end of an early morning practice of the Mustangs, a local elite hockey team. I peek into the pool and see the swim lanes full of Whitehorse Glacier Bears swim team members. This is a busy place early in the morning.

By 8:00 a.m. the rink is empty and the pool is left with just a few seniors doing slow laps — plus a conversation group in the hot tub. One of the ladies in the pool is reading a book and another is doing step-ups, eyes closed, as if in meditation. A relaxed feeling has settled in — almost like being in nature, with the building, like a forest, absorbing any harsh sounds. The splashes in the pool and “whirr” of the treadmills and fans, rather than being annoying, seem to have the same effect as the rustling of wind through the trees.

Maybe I was zoning out a bit, or maybe my 1:00 a.m. bedtime was catching up with me. I was badly in need of coffee, and Subway, which opened at 7:30, accommodated.

I ran a few laps on the third floor track and paddled a kilometre or so on the kayak machine. It wasn’t a stellar workout but it was something.

I had a few questions for the lady at the front desk and I asked them in between her welcoming people (often by name) and applying wristbands, which shows they have paid. I found out that she hands out over 1000 wristbands every day. That doesn’t include students and others taking paid swimming lessons or people watching their kids.

Several people were registering for a fitness class called Butts and Guts that was about to start. I decided to give it a try. Michelle, the teacher, was very fun. She encouraged, laughed, gave options for us non-regulars, and even stayed around after class offering to answer questions or concerns.

I was getting ready to leave when I noticed a group of seven seniors sitting and drinking coffee. They were not just there for the coffee. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they walk on the track and then take the time to visit. They were looking forward to warmer weather when they will be moving their walks outside, but for now they are happy with the indoor track.

It was 10:30 a.m. by the time I headed out the door. A new shift had rolled in — a half a dozen toddlers in the Play Centre and four to fi ve moms with strollers running laps on the track.

If I ever had any doubts about the value of the Canada Games Centre being worth the expense, they are gone now. This is where you find Whitehorse’s everyday athletes.

Class schedules and hours of operation for the facility are available at http://www.whitehorse. ca/cgcschedule.