Elliptical trainers and dumbbells have taken the place of guards and shackles above the 19th St. parking garage in Galveston.
For about 20 years the top two floors of the county parking garage housed inmates, but more recently the old jail has been transformed to a free gym for county employees.
The perimeter of the 5th floor was originally designed to transport inmates from one side of the jail to another without having to disrupt other inmates. Now it’s an Elvis themed walking track, measuring a fifth of a mile and appropriately named Jailhouse Walks.
The top floor offers outstanding views of the island that employees can enjoy while using weight and cardio equipment, all personally donated by Galveston County Judge Mark Henry.
Judge Henry said the idea came from a wellness committee he formed in 2011. The goal was to provide a workout space that could be used by employees on their lunch breaks.
“Coming from the Air Force, maintaining health is important to me,” Judge Henry said. “I wanted a space that encouraged our employees to make healthy choices.”
Employees have taken an active role in the facility’s success. Tuesday through Thursday exercise classes run by county employees are offered during lunch.
The project has also led to the creation of the gym reimbursement program.
Since the facility isn’t convenient for employees who work off the island, commissioners approved a $40 per month gym allowance for all county employees. In order to qualify, employees must prove through electronic gym logs that they work out at least nine times a month.
The old county jail can still be used for its original purpose. Judge Henry said it can be made ready to house inmates after one day.