YMCA's new home, resources excite community
After more than six years of planning, the permanent home of the Rockbridge Area YMCA is now open for business.
The YMCA’s new home, in the building that previously housed a grocery store at the College Square shopping center off of Route 11, bustled with activity last weekend as around 60 YMCA staffers and volunteers moved heavy exercise equipment and other supplies into the facility, which opened at 5 a.m. on Monday.
The Rockbridge Area YMCA had been located on Walker Street since 2003. Even though the new location has been a long time coming, the community needs it, said Eric Wheeler, the center’s health and wellness director.
“This certainly gives us better resources, a better gathering place, so I know the community is very excited,” he said.
The YMCA spent $150,000 to convert its new space into a multi-purpose center.
The new facility, which has 4,000 more square feet of space than the previous one, makes it possible to offer more than one group fitness class at a time. It has additional equipment for weight training and cardio exercise, and it will feature new programs that weren’t possible in the old building, said Suzanne Mayerchak, executive director.
The YMCA plans to partner with Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital to offer physical therapy programs, for example. The facility will also have additional services for children, including an expanded child watch center where children and young teenagers can play on computers and socialize, and youth classes that teach healthy lifestyle and exercise habits.
“Here we’ll really be able to expand some of the youth programming because we’re going to have so much more space,” Mayerchak said.
In addition to the cardio and weight machines, the building has two rooms of free weights, a spin room with bikes, a group fitness room and a multi-purpose room for activities like yoga. The center will also feature a café selling coffee and healthy food items, which is set to open within the next two weeks.
“It’s very nice, much better than what we had,” he said.
He said he hopes to see the center eventually expand to include a swimming pool and a track.
YMCA members who frequent the facility said a fitness center like this is important to any community, even a small one like Rockbridge.
Doug Dorsey, 60, had a knee replacement in November, and has used the YMCA to keep in shape and recover. He encourages residents to take advantage of the chance to exercise.
“It’s a good place to rehab and for all-around health,” Dorsey said. “Unless you want to sit on a couch and be a potato, you need to be here.”
Members appreciate the improved opportunities to work out locally and stay active.
“I don’t think the overall health index of this area is all that good,” said Harrelson. “I think that anything you can do to get people to exercise is good.”The YMCA’s grand opening celebration is scheduled for April 17.
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