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Lack of space no longer an issue for new YMCA facility
When the Yuma Family YMCA reopens at a new location in early summer, visitors will have about three times the usable floor space available as compared to the existing building at 2550 S. 4th Ave.
More space means more exercise equipment and more services, said Chris Wheeler, Yuma Family YMCA executive director.
“We are finally going to have a full service YMCA. Everything is new, and if it is not new, it is bigger. It will be huge. One of the big issues we've had in Yuma has been the limitation of space and not being able to offer the programming and services traditional full-size YMCAs have. Yuma will finally see a YMCA with a depth and breadth of programming designed to meet the specific needs of the community.”
Construction of the new 29,000-square-foot facility, located inside the former NCO call center at 1801 W. 32nd St., is expected to begin within a couple of weeks and should be finished and opened to the public by late May or early June.
As part of a push to get Yuma residents healthy, there will be plenty of brand new exercise equipment available at the Y, Wheeler said.
“I am breaking the bank by providing new equipment. We have the latest and greatest of all the cardio and workout equipment and strength training – a lot of things that are proprietary to the Y right now that you just can't get at any health club.”
The new YMCA will feature a cutting edge floor plan focused around a new approach to healthy living, Wheeler added.
“You are going to see a changed focus from just getting big and buff to sort of all-around overall health. Let's not just get you moving on a treadmill. Let's talk about the way you eat. Let's talk about stress relief – the real reasons that are causing you to be unhealthy.”
The new YMCA will also feature amenities designed to make the building a family friendly environment.
“The Y is all about family,” Wheeler said. “It is really a family-based gym. We have so much in the way of family programming and we have to be able to cater to that demographic.”
The new amenities will include an expanded child supervision area where kids can play as their parents work out. There will also be a special family locker room where families can remain together instead of being separated.
For older kids, a teen center will give them a place to come and relax with their peers. The center will feature large screen TVs with modern gaming consoles and a billiards table.
There are also plans to make the YMCA inviting to senior citizens. Existing YMCA programs for them are “going to expand and just rock,” Wheeler said.
And the Y is always open to the impoverished who cannot afford to attend other gyms.
“There will never be an instance at the Y where someone is turned away because of inability to pay – ever,” Wheeler said. “I raise money so I can give it back. It is a zero sum game. If the money comes in, it goes right back out. I spend every penny of it here. We gave about $55,000 back last year.”
The relocation of the Y comes as part of an agreement that will result in Yuma getting a cancer treatment center and a new Elks Lodge. The new lodge will be located in the same building as the new YMCA, but with a separate entrance. The new Yuma Regional Medical Center Cancer Treatment Center will be located at the site of the old Elks Lodge, 2300 S. Elks Lane.
“The deal was a win-win-win for the community and for the Y,” said Jason Howe, vice-chair of the YMCA Board of Managers. “YRMC and the Elks deserve huge credit for their work in making this expansion possible.”
Altogether, it will cost about $500,000 to complete the new YMCA. About $400,000 of that cost is being taken care of by YRMC and the Elks Lodge.
“I cannot thank them enough,” Wheeler said. “If it had not been for those two organizations, this would not have been possible.”
Wheeler and the rest of the YMCA staff are “extremely thankful to be a part of this project,” he continued. “All of the organizations involved in this project are focused on building a healthier community, and this opportunity to expand our facility means the Y can offer even more healthy living programs.”
In the future, the move to the new facility “will give the Yuma Y the ability to increase community based collaborations and work on unique partnership opportunities,” such as the current undertaking between the Elks, YMCA and YRMC, said Cody Beeson, chair of the YMCA Board of Managers.
The remaining $100,000 needed to complete the Y will be provided for through donations gathered during YMCA fundraisers.
“The Y is a nonprofit and we have to get out there and raise that money,” Wheeler said. “We are still in the process of raising it.”
In the future, Wheeler plans to add a gymnasium to the YMCA complete with a full-sized regulation basketball court. But that will require an additional $500,000 to accomplish.
“It is really going to require good effort on the part of the YMCA Board of Managers and the community,” he said. “If we can raise the funds, I will do it tomorrow.”
The Yuma Family YMCA is part of the Valley of the Sun YMCA Association, one of the largest human services nonprofit organizations in Arizona. Members are welcome regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, age or ability to pay.
The mission of the YMCA is to provide each member with every opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of those around them through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. The ultimate goal is to inspire positive and lasting social change.
For more information, log onto www.valleyYMCA.org/yuma or call 317-0522.