May 19, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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Kenamju's renewed store opens in March after fire breaks out: 'I'm painting myself now'

Kenamju’s renewed store opens in March after fire breaks out: ‘I’m painting myself now’

Gym owner Elko van der Geest – who belongs to the famous judo family – paints on a ladder at the Kinamgo Sports Center in Harlem. He’s busy after a fire and heavy smoke damage destroyed his gym. A room has now opened and Van der Geest expects to open fully in March.

Elko van der Geest and Rosa Hiltermann – Elko van der Geest

“Per se, I’m fine,” van der Geest says. “I notice that a lot is coming to me, with corona and this fire of course.”

It was in November last year when the fire broke out in the technical room. At first, the damage didn’t seem so bad, but the smoke made a mess and damaged all the gyms.

“The technical room contains all the major systems, such as ventilation, boiler and electricity,” Van der Geest continues. “We had to replace them all over the building. It took more time. We also renovated the floors and the molded ceilings. They were completely black.”

Work crew

Athletes can temporarily practice in the judo hall. The swimming pool, fitness room and yoga should be ready for use in the first week of February. “We’re all doing a lot of work here now. The staff has helped too.”

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Elko van der Geest (right) giving instructions – Michael van der Putten/NH New

“All this support is heartwarming”

Eclo van der Geest

Much has been coming to the 42-year-old former judoka lately: “I’ve always been in control. So all that support is a pleasure. Really very nice.”

So Van der Geest is looking forward to being able to open in full in March. “You still want to meet your clients. But there’s still a few months of waiting: We still have to get through it. When it’s over, the gym will be more beautiful than ever. Now let’s paint this first.”

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