GRMC’s New Ahrens Fitness Center @ Postels Opens this Month Facility Possible Thanks to Philanthropy

GRMC’s New Ahrens Fitness Center @ Postels Opens this Month

Facility Possible Thanks to Philanthropy

There’s a lot of philanthropic muscle behind the new Paul W. Ahrens Fitness Center at Postels Community Health Park.

Thanks to more than 300 gifts to the $500,000 project—including support from many fitness center members and lead gifts from the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, the Claude W. Ahrens Charitable Trust, and the Michael and Susan Witt Foundation—all of the interior and equipment needs of the new fitness center have been entirely funded with charitable donations.

The fitness center, a service of Grinnell Regional Medical Center, had been housed on the hospital campus since 1997, thanks to a $750,000 gift Claude W. Ahrens made then in celebration of his son, Paul. As part of its current Moving at the Speed of Life comprehensive campaign, GRMC has been working to bring all its fitness and wellness activities downtown to the Postels building to support a growing wellness program.

PWA@Postels History

Located at the corner of Broad Street and Commercial Avenue, Postels Community Health Park was donated to GRMC by Joanie and Arnie Heimsoth and Dick Postels in 1999. From the beginning, the health park has offered acupuncture, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and therapeutic massage. The new fitness center—with its main entrance on Commercial Street—is now home to more than 400 members.

“Recreation, health promotion, and wellness have always been important to our family,” says Susan Witt, daughter of Paul Ahrens and granddaughter of Claude and Dolly Ahrens. With guidance from Witt and her sister, Julie Gosselink, the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation, the Claude W. Ahrens Charitable Trust, and the Michael and Susan Witt Foundation have contributed gifts totaling $130,000 for the new fitness center as well as for the new GRMC Auxiliary Chemotherapy and Infusion Suite.

In honor of these gifts, the activities room and the Spinning room at the fitness center will be named for the Ahrens Foundation. In addition, a chair in the chemotherapy area is named in celebration of Dolly Ahrens, who fought and lost her battle with breast cancer.

“We are excited to help with these improvements to the new home of the fitness center and the new chemotherapy suite,” Witt says. “We wanted to support the new chemotherapy and infusion suite as a tribute to the work the hospital does for patients fighting cancer. This new space provides comfort for patients going through a very difficult time and provides hospital staff with what they need to help patients while they receive these treatments.”

The GRMC Auxiliary Chemotherapy and Infusion Suite opened to patient use in August 2013 thanks to a major gift from the GRMC Auxiliary.

Witt and Gosselink are continuing a legacy of philanthropic support to GRMC that started back in 1918 with their great-grandparents, John and Mary Ahrens. The couple attended a fundraiser that year seeking funds for the construction of Grinnell Community Hospital. They purchased a painting for $200, a large sum for such an item in 1918, in support of the new hospital. This painting held a place of honor in the John and Mary Ahrens home where their son, Claude, grew up.

Nearly 100 years later, the Ahrens family continues a long-standing history of healthcare philanthropy and leadership. Witt served 13 years on the GRMC board of directors and was its chair from 2009 to 2010. She is currently a member of the GRMC foundation board. Gosselink is a past member of the foundation board.

“Without a doubt, the relationship of support and leadership given to GRMC from the members of the Ahrens family over generations is extraordinary. This organization and the entire area has benefitted tremendously from this commitment to the community. I can’t overstate our gratitude to Susan and Julie,” says Todd Linden, GRMC president and CEO.

“I worked closely with Claude when I first arrived at GRMC 20 years ago,” Linden adds. “He had an amazing philosophy about giving back to the community that continues to live and grow. I learned a great deal from him and I have relied on Susan and Julie both as trusted members of our governing boards for their advice and counsel.”

Check Out the New Fitness Center @ Open House Event

Renovations and additions to the Postels building for the fitness and bodytraining center include new doors, windows, a handicapped accessible entrance, bathrooms with showers, tons of new fitness equipment, and a small walking path.

The PWA@Postels also now features:

  • Fitness classes such as Spinning, boot camp, a 30-minute Mini band workout and yoga all in dedicated rooms.
  • Office space for retail physical therapy services.
  • A kitchen where members can enjoy coffee or healthy smoothies after a great workout or participate in cooking demonstrations.
  • 24-hour access for members.

A series of open house activities will be held at the facility on Tuesday, October 21. The public is invited to attend.

  • Coffee Time – 7:30 to 9 a.m. Smoothies by Purple Cucumber, mini scones, coffee and tours
  • Mom and Me Time – 10 a.m. Baby time with books and staff from Drake Community Library. Moms can check out the fitness center
  • Workout Lunch – 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Light lunch by McNally’s deli and tours
  • Happy Hour – 5 to 6:30 p.m. Appetizers from Memories Maid, wine, and tours.

For membership information, please call 641-236-2999.

Meanwhile, Back at GRMC

GRMC is moving its physical and occupational therapy services to the former location of the fitness center thanks to a major gift from Grinnell State Bank. Construction on the F.A. Jones Physical and Occupational Therapy Center will begin in late October on the first floor of the Ahrens Medical Arts Building. In addition to physical and occupational therapy services, the area will also house some exercise equipment for those who prefer to exercise at the medical center for the access to healthcare if needed. The exercise pool remains in its current location as well.

Gifts to GRMC’s Moving at the Speed of Life comprehensive campaign are supporting:

  • Extensive renovations to the emergency department to modernize it.
  • The creation of an urgent care clinic.
  • The establishment of an endowment for mental health care services.
  • The creation of a new chemotherapy and infusion department.
  • The purchase of a state-of-the-art daVinci® surgical robotic system and new CT scanner.
  • The replacement of equipment for obstetrics and radiology departments, patient rooms, and nutrition services.

“There is no question that the entire area, not just Grinnell, benefits from GRMC,” Gosselink says. “We are excited about the future of the medical center and the opportunities that the projects in the Moving at the Speed of Life campaign will offer for all of us.”

For more information about making a gift to the Moving at the Speed of Life campaign, please contact Denise Lamphier, GRMC director of communications and development, at 641-236-2589 or

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