By Jill Nagy
Members of the Southern Saratoga YMCA have been enjoying an upgraded wellness center, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Capital District YMCA.
The branch, at 1 Wall St. in Clifton Park, was one of three chosen for upgrading. The others are Guilderland and East Greenbush. Funds for the upgrades came from membership dues from the Capital District YMCA, of which Southern Saratoga is a part. There was no separate fundraising campaign.
The Clifton Park facility was built in 1994. The project was the first major renovation of its wellness center, according to Executive Director Sarah Heslin.
In the process, the exercise machines were replaced. New flooring and ceiling tiles were installed, along with energy-saving lights. Everything received a fresh coat of paint.
In addition to the machines, which can be programmed for each user’s needs, the center has an area equipped with free weights.
Many YMCA members were accustomed to their routines with the old equipment and were reluctant to try the new machines, Heslin said. However, a corps of personal trainers and wellness coaches are on hand to help train members on the new equipment. Once they learn, she said, they are surprised at how much different they feel after a workout.
Once reluctant, they are now pleased, she said.
Some of the old equipment could be traded in, but it was too old to go to other YMCAs, Heslin said. Although built in the 1990s, all three centers tapped for upgrades were considered "aging facilities," she noted
Although that was not the aim of the upgrade, membership in the South Saratoga YMCA has increased. One new trainer got five or six new clients right away, according to Heslin.
For now, "the facility is pretty much maxed out space-wise" with some 13,000 members. The staff is concentrating on meeting the needs of current members. New classes were added along with a series of demonstrations of the new equipment. A "women of weights" program is planned for the near future.
"Program-wise, we want to help more members meet personal goals," Heslin said.
Because of the space limitations, the center is not looking for a lot of new members, Heslin said. But all the same, they are waiving the $100 joiner fee for members who sign up in September.
Members are encouraged to work with personal trainers in order to become proficient on the new equipment and develop routines that meet their needs.
The YMCA charges an additional fee for the services of a personal trainer: $40 for one hour, with lower hourly rates when members purchase five- or ten-session packages. Wellness coaches, who generally have less training and experience than personal trainers, greet members when they come to the center and show them how to use the equipment. There is no extra fee for the services of a wellness coach.
While Heslin is pleased with the upgraded wellness center, she still has a wish list for the YMCA: more space, a new swimming pool, a new aerobics studio and improved locker room facilities. However, she noted, "you have to look at what the community can afford."
All of the Capital District YMCAs are engaged in a five-year plan for replacing cardio equipment. Treadmills were replaced the first year; stationary bicycles, the second year.
The Southern Saratoga YMCA is housed in a two-story building at 1 Wall St. The telephone number is 371-2139.