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.
“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.”
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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Elco van der Geest, brother of SBS presenter Dennis van der Geest, has not only received help from his own staff. De Kring Primary School offered a “neighbor” gym to work out in.
“But the June disco, which was still empty due to the shutdown, also made the space so we could give group lessons there. We do boxing bag lessons at Eagle Gym,” van der Geest says.
“All this support is heartwarming”
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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