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YMCA to show off $700,000 renovation

YMCA membership engagement staffer Sarah Murray greets a YMCA member in the new lobby of the renovated facility. YMCA membership engagement staffer Sarah Murray greets a YMCA member in the new lobby of the renovated facility.

The Hendersonville YMCA is set to show off a $700,000 renovation and promote an emphasis on healthy living through exercise, better diet and education.

The remodeling work replaced walled-off offices with glass boxes where YMCA supervisors can see what's going on around them. The lobby is brighter, more open and inviting. The men's room entrance was reconfigured to make room for an elevator that will carry people upstairs to the gym. The fitness room, which opened last month, has new machines and big-screen TVs. Unseen but imperative was the new roof.
The new facility is no clangy free-weight centered precinct of the sweaty jock. What most people think of as the workout room — with treadmills, weight machines, elliptical machines and stationary bicycles — the Y calls the Wellness Center.
Showing a visitor around the new fitness digs, Executive Community Director Jesse Shepherd pointed to a glass-walled office that belongs to Staci Hooper, whose title is healthy living director.
YMCAJesseShepherdJesse Shepherd"That is very much the direction we're going," he said. "This used to be the wellness director. But because we're taking more of an approach into healthy lifestyles, working with partners like Pardee, working with the hospitals, changing that title is more of our shift at looking at the whole person's health."

'No dark corners'
Among the other new features are a new health education room, a remodeled child-watch center and a repainted and spruced up teen center. The job cleared away clutter, replaced walls with glass and generally brightened things up. The changes also brought tighter security for all spaces and programming for children.
"I keep saying with a glass storefront and us having staff everywhere, there are no dark corners in this Y," Shepherd said. "It's safe, from top to bottom."
He wants welcoming faces to engage YMCA members throughout the building.
"We're adding a position of a volunteer coordinator," he said. "I really want us to look at volunteerism and how we can fully take advantage of the energy in our community. I want to have them here in the lobby, help people feel at home, get them oriented around the Y. They'll do tour work.
"I love the idea of having what I'm calling an equipment docent up in the gym. You don't need someone to hand you a basketball. They all do that. But I love the idea of having Y personnel, whether it's a volunteer or staff, in every area of the center."

TVs, FitLinxx dropped
Although brighter and more spacious, the remodeled wellness center lacks some features the old workout room had. It no longer has individual TV sets on the treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes. Unlike the old FitLinxx machines, new weight machines are not programmable through a tracking system, which saved individual settings for weight, position and reps and kept a record of workouts.
"We 're looking at different options," to make up for the loss of those features, Shepherd said. "We want to make sure that when we roll out something new, we roll out something that's a significant improvement. That's kind of in the works.
"In the meantime, though, we have personal trainers and we have the wellness staff on the floor in general who are happy to help. We had a couple of folks who were nervous about the new machines, who were used to FitLinxx." The staff showed them how to use the new machines, he said.
As for TVs on individual workout machines, he said, the YMCA in other locations has seen cable providers charge for each set, a cost that the local Y did not want to incur.
Upstairs, Shepherd showed off the modest executive suite.
""I have a cubicle," he said with a wide grin. "We practice what we preach. I told someone the other day — they were appalled that I didn't have an office — and I said, 'This isn't a kingdom and I'm no king. This is the Y.' When we get money we spend it on programs. We try to spend our money on doing good in the community."
LaTisha Steele, the vice president for operations for the WNC YMCA, said membership has been growing and she hopes that it will continue to grow. Although the facility is not running any specially priced memberships in association with the grand opening, she hopes "the building renovation itself, word of mouth" will sell the YMCA.
"We always have trial memberships," she said. "So anytime people can come in and try us out for seven days. They can just come in for the tour. We always have good rates going on."