A Visit to the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre in Banff National Park

I stopped by the Banff Upper Hot Springs mid-afternoon on a warm summer day.  The parking lot was packed and it was probably a 30-minute wait to get in!  Having gone the day before in the early morning (no lines, no waiting), we decided to skip a second visit to the hot springs and instead try out Banff National Park’s Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre.  Glad I did!

You won’t find a whole lot of mention in the travel books about the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre as it is not really a tourist attraction.  It is more of a place where the locals go to get away from tourists.

As it turns out, there are a lot of reasons to visit the Sally Borden facility.

  • Are you looking for less-crowded indoor activities in Banff due to rain or inclement weather?
  • Did you go to Banff Upper Hot Springs during peak hours and saw the line and said “what now?”
  • Is your hotel pool is too small, too crowded, too noisy, or just plain non-existent?
  • Are you looking for indoor rock climbing, yoga classes, a “real” fitness centre or other fun activities away from all the tourists?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, the Sally Borden Centre is a good option.

Located on the outskirts of the town of Banff, the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre is a fully-equipped exercise and recreation facility.

What I like most is the huge swimming pool.  I think it is Olympic sized or at least close to it.   I thought there was something different about the water too, at least when I was there.  It felt clean and refreshing.  Maybe they use less chemicals than the traditional hotel pool.  The pool is great for doing laps.  And after swimming, there’s a whirlpool and for the kids, a wading pool.

I liked the weightlifting and exercise equipment.  It was what I’d expect from a real fitness center.

Activities

If you are looking to spend a day being active, there’s plenty to do.  Beyond the swimming pool and exercise equipment, there’s a steam room, rock climbing gym, indoor running track, squash court, gymnasium, exercise classes, yoga classes, massage, training sessions and other services.

Getting There

The Centre is easy to go to from the town of Banff.  It took me about 10 minutes to get to from Banff Hot Springs on the other side of town.

The Sally Borden building is in the middle of the Banff Centre, a arts and cultural facility with lots of events.  It feels like you are in a college campus and parking is similar.  If you are lucky, you can park in a small row of parking spots next to the Sally Borden building, then climb the steps up to the Sally Borden building.  Otherwise, there are a few parking lots further away that are a short walk to the Sally Borden building.

Hours and Events

Before going, it is good to check out the hours.  There are classes and events going on so not every activity is open at all times or open to the public.

The best bargain is to get a day pass and go on a day with bad weather and stay several hours trying everything out.  The day pass drop-in rate is very reasonable and you can stay all day and have access to more.

For hours, rules, and a schedule of activities, see the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre website.

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