Monroe County YMCA buffs up

Pictured is Monroe County YMCA personal trainer Colin McFarland demonstrating an exercise on the facility’s new MX4 training system.

After several months of remodeling following damage from severe storms last summer, the Monroe County YMCA is set to showcase a collection of new features later this week.

An open house for the facility located off Route 3 south of Columbia is scheduled for this Saturday – though those who frequent the Y are sure to have encountered some of the changes this building has undergone over the past few months.

As previously reported, the recent renovations began following harsh storms which hit the region at the start of July – particularly a June 30 storm that caused extensive damage to the YMCA’s roof.

With the roof torn up and not fully tarped for a subsequent storm, resultant flooding did additional damage to much of the facility’s furniture as well as the floors.

Monroe County YMCA Executive Director Kris Fulford noted at the time how several rooms in the building were filled with multiple inches of water.

Fulford spoke more recently about the work the Y has seen over the past few months.

As far as repairs, the bulk of the work centered on replacing the building’s ceilings and floors, specifically the carpeting and all the hardwood which was warped as it soaked up  rainwater.

A substantial amount of the Y’s furniture also had to be replaced. Fulford specifically mentioned the front desk and other items in the lobby.

Recent work went well beyond just fixing damage, however. As Fulford described, the storms proved to be something of a blessing as the Y was able to acquire approval from corporate for additional capital funds for renovations.

“If it had not been for the storm and the opportunity that was provided to us, it probably would have been another four to five years before we could have raised enough money to be able to make the type of adjustments that we were able to make as a result of the damage and needing to repair all these areas,” Fulford said. “It truly provided us an opportunity that we wouldn’t have had for years to come if it wasn’t for a need to renew all of these spaces.”

Fulford expressed how expansive these renovations have been. One of the smaller but still noteworthy additions to the facility is a third pickleball court added while the gym floors were replaced.

She also mentioned an upgrade to flooring in the fitness center to replace carpeting previously in the room.

Renovations were also made to the two rooms next to the fitness center: a specialty group exercise studio and functional fitness studio.

The functional fitness studio, as Fulford said, features a variety of equipment catering to the types of exercises that help the body train for everyday activity.

She specifically mentioned the MX4 training system, a wall-mounted setup allowing for several different exercises, and the S-Drive Treadmill which allows users to do the workouts one would typically perform with a sled but in a space much smaller than a typical sled track.

Fulford offered a further explanation of what functional fitness is.

“It is utilization of movement that is important in everyday life,” Fulford said. “So, it is a lot of pushing and pulling and squats and the activities that you need to be able to function every day and to be effective and healthy in your day-to-day activities. A way to see functional fitness is that it’s exercise that mimics everyday movements.”

As for the specialty exercise studio, Fulford said it serves as a new home for spinning classes as well as HIIT workout programs, with flooring specially designed to handle the impact of weights and activity from the HIIT programs.

She also mentioned a new LED lighting system in the studio that allows for different displays during programs.

Additionally, the Y’s Child Watch room has been relocated to the other side of the lobby where the community room previously was located.

The space for the Y’s TEAMWORK program for young adults with disabilities has also been relocated off the lobby.

Fulford further mentioned improvements to the second floor group exercise studio as well as changes to the lobby, with a smaller main desk and other adjustments increasing floorspace to ease traffic and congestion.

Fulford summarized the renovation project, explaining that construction didn’t involve any major additions to the building and instead centered around simply using available space in a better way.

“It was better utilization of the space that we have within the facility,” Fulford said. “Reallocating some of the larger spaces to fitness and putting our TEAMWORK and our Child Watch in spaces that were more appropriately sized for those activities.”

She said there is still some work being done on the facility, with mirrors set to be installed and an opening between the functional fitness room and fitness center to be put in sometime in the next month or so.

In general, Fulford spoke very positively about the work that’s been done in the facility, emphasizing how pleased she is to be able to improve the Y sooner than the previously projected five years down the line.

“Overall, what we hope is that the community is excited about what we’re able to provide now in health and wellness,” Fulford said. “Our goal is to better serve the community and keep up a little better with the industry trends.”

A community open house to highlight these renovations is scheduled for this Saturday, with functional training studio demonstrations from 9-11:15 a.m., family swim from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and tours from 9 a.m. to noon.

For more information on the Monroe County YMCA, visit gwrymca.org or call 618-281-9622. 

Fulford also commented on an incident at the Y recently brought to the attention of the Republic-Times involving its swimming pool.

She noted that a tile in the pool had to be repaired, and the facility passed an inspection as it reached out to a state safety inspector, adding that safety – particularly regarding the pool – is a top priority at the Y.

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Andrew Unverferth

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