NORWICH – After months of renovations,the Norwich Family YMCA is one step closer to officially opening a cutting-edgeworkout room that combines health and wellness with interactive technology.
The organization’s new interactive fitness room is just one part of a larger $300,000-plus construction project recently spearheaded by the YMCA that includes a complete overhaul of the facility’s 3-story high kids’ gym area. Staffers closed the kids’ gym in 2013citing conditions that made it unsafe.
“We were getting ready to make some upgrades, but we found we could almost buy a new kids’ gym for what it costs for upgrades to the old one,” said Jamie Mullen, Norwich Family YMCA ExecutiveDirector.
That in mind, the YMCA Board of directors decided to purchase a new kids’ gym. But before installing it, they also found between 10 and 15 feet of unused space from the top of the old kids gym to the ceiling. Mullen said that sparked an idea to install a concrete floor halfway up, thereby splitting the one-floor room into two separate rooms.
Thanks to additional funding gifted by the Roger Follett Foundation, the project got underway in the fall. When all was said and done, the YMCA was provided 800 square feet of floor space that hadn’t previously existed.
“It required us to shrink the kids’ gym area a little bit, but we gained a lot of extra space without taking on a significant construction project,” said Mullen.
With two rooms to work with, a new kids gym was installed on the bottom floor and opened to members earlier this year. The top floor, however, would take on a unique approach.
“We wanted something in that top space that could target mainly younger adolescents – middle school age and may be older – in an effort to combat childhood obesity,” Mullen explained.
According to the Center for disease control and Prevention, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. Obese children are likely to become obese adults, says the CDC, causing long-term consequences including heart disease, type two diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.
“The national childhood obesity rate is alarming,” said Mullen. “We wanted this new fitness room to attract, retain and promote wellness, but we didn’t want it to look like another normal room. We wanted to use technology that would attract kids to make exercise more like a game … If we can get kids to be more active and engaged, we feel that we could help combat the national epidemic of childhood obesity.”
Once again, the YMCA Board of Directors and trustees took a unanimous vote – this time to purchase new exercise equipment to attract a younger crowd by blending interactive technology with fitness. Equipment was purchased through a Chicago-based company called MotionFitness, a leading producer of interactive exercise equipment.
With everything now in place, the YMCA hosted a soft opening of the new interactive fitness room during Healthy Kids’Day on April 26. The event gave people a chance to test the new equipment and get a preview of what’s to come. “People were really excited to see it,” Mullen said, noting how unique an interactive fitness room is. “We are told by MotionFitness that we are only the fifth facility in the entire country to have an entire room constructed for this type of equipment.”
The YMCA is currently recruiting and training more employees to use the new equipment which has delayed the official opening of the interactive fitness room for the time being. A training seminar hosted by Motion Fitness for YMCA employees is scheduled for May 15. Mullen said hopes are to open the room to members shortly after.
For additional information on the Norwich Family YMCA, fitness programs and the new interactive fitness room, call 336-9622 or like the Norwich Family YMCA on Facebook.
Credit to The Evening Sun